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Blake's 7: Sarcophagus

And then from the sublime to the ridiculous. I'll give credit to Tanith Lee: she wrote an episode that isn't boring, isn't exactly bad, and certainly doesn't languish down at the bottom of the terrible episodes pile. It's just absolutely stark raving mad.

Some women with gold skin are attempting to resurrect a dead colleague, before eventually leaving her all wrapped up in a floaty space sarcophagus. Hundreds of years later the Liberator crew chance upon it, and the dead woman inside possesses Cally. Well, why not. That hasn't happened in a few weeks. From then on things get steadily more peculiar; and they were pretty damned weird from the off set, so that's a good deal more impressive than it sounds.


A golden woman, sporting an important, plot-developmenty ring. She and her cronies dance around a bit, and make strange people appear, wearing floaty clothes. There's a warrior, and a jester, and a musician, and a person with smoke. It looks very much like something that you might dream about if you ate the wrong mushrooms.


Tarrant and Vila are wearing matching outfits this week, and the theme appears to be naff seventies leisure wear. They look like they're going to play badminton. Anyway, they find the sarcophagus ship, and Cally immediately starts behaving oddly. I love how Tarrant instantly assumes she's been possessed. He's only been on board five minutes, and already his first suspicion when confronted with weirdness is that possessed!Cally is behind it.


Oh, and then the sarcophagus ship explodes, which is very kind of it. This episode could use a few more explosions.


But Cally has the Ring Of Plot Significance. It shows her images of dancing, golden women.


The gang try to get Orac to analyse another artifact from the explody ship. It frazzles Orac, and drains Zen's power.


And leaves Cally dreaming of herself wrapped in green floaty fabric.


And Dayna in blue floaty fabric, with a lute.


Yeah.


Really, don't ask.


The dead woman from the sarcophagus is coming back to life by sucking out Cally's life force, creating herself a body based on Cally's form. Tarrant puts all this together instantly, with the tiniest scrap of evidence. I love how his mind works. He's either very smart, a sci-fi fan, or he had one hell of a weird life before he joined the Liberator crew.


Predictably enough, Tarrant's plan is to throw himself at the enemy and see what happens. There's nothing more fun than danger. She shows him a vision of her plans for him, as her bodyguard. He, Dayna and Vila are to be her slaves in floaty clothing, looking utterly ridiculous for the rest of their lives.


Tarrant is strangely untempted, which leads to not-Cally doing her best Statue Of Liberty impersonation, and blasting him thoroughly.


Fortunately for Tarrant, Avon has decided to take the sneaky approach. He challenges not-Cally, secure that whatever aspects of real Cally are inside her will protect him from harm. The implication that Cally is in love with Avon, or at least has a very real attachment to him, is strong throughout this episode, and is very much underlined here. It's something that they seemed to be toying with back when she first joined the crew, but that's been completely overlooked ever since. Much like Cally herself, really. Anyway, Avon might be safe from harm, but the ship clearly isn't.


Avon sneaks a kiss, and uses the opportunity to steal the Ring Of Grand Plottiness.


Not-Cally appeals to him for mercy. She only wants to live. She offers him a life beside her. Avon is not swayed.


Especially when he gets a glimpse of what he's expected to wear. He quickly smashes the ring.


And then the rest of the episode is taken up with Avon and Cally staring at each other pointedly.


For ages and ages and ages. It's about as subtle as one of Servalan's outfits. Don't expect anything to come of it, though. That would be a little too much like character development.

An interesting one, then. It's good to see something different being done with the show, but whoever thought that those floaty costumes were a good idea? Tarrant running in slo-mo down a corridor, wrapped in red cloth, is laugh out loud funny. I'm sure that can't have been what Tanith Lee had in mind. On the plus side, the confrontation between Avon and not-Cally gives Jan Chappell some of the best material that she's ever had to work with on the show. It's good to see her finally getting the chance to prove that she actually can act. Not that they'll be bothering to build on it, but it's a nice thing to have happen once.

Comments

( 7 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )
tinx_r
Nov. 3rd, 2012 03:36 am (UTC)
I expect the BBC got hold of a bulk lot of floaty muslin in rainbow colours. Q.E.D.

:D
swordznsorcery
Nov. 4th, 2012 12:02 am (UTC)
Yes, that's probably it! It's a shame there's no audio commentary for that one. I would love to hear what the cast thought of the costumes.
ladygretchen
Nov. 4th, 2012 04:20 pm (UTC)
As strange as the events seem to be in this episode, it sounds fun! But Cally's limp dishrag hair is killing me. It does nothing for the actress. I guess I'm just spoiled by today's picture perfect haired girls on TV! lol. Too bad nothing came of Callie and Avon, I guess you have to leave that to the FF shippers!
i_bookwyrme
Nov. 8th, 2012 06:58 am (UTC)
And another ep we disagree on!
I like this one!

Reading your reviews, though, makes me aware how much of my own canon I've constructed. I think Avon & Cally were a couple--or could have been; I think Vila was actually intelligent (Look: Staying behind at the teleport as often as possible is really a brilliant move when you're being dragged along on a revolution & really don't have anywhere else to go!)
swordznsorcery
Nov. 8th, 2012 04:31 pm (UTC)
Re: And another ep we disagree on!
I didn't dislike this episode. It's weird, but it's not bad. It's certainly not one of my favourites, though!

Avon and Cally could have been a couple, yes. I think they were considering going that way in series one. It's sort of hinted that Blake and Jenna are interested in each other, and so are Avon and Cally. Then that seemed to all get forgotten about, possibly to play up Avon's ruthless side more. It's a shame, as something like that can really help to add character depth, and further layers to a story.

And yes, I prefer to think of Vila as properly intelligent! It makes him more interesting, and Michael Keating plays his devious side very well.
i_bookwyrme
Nov. 8th, 2012 09:10 pm (UTC)
Re: And another ep we disagree on!
I wish they'd gotten Tanith Lee to write more often.

I can think of three episodes they could have given her...
swordznsorcery
Nov. 8th, 2012 11:12 pm (UTC)
Re: And another ep we disagree on!
I can't imagine anybody disagreeing with you there!
( 7 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )

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