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Blake's 7: Gold

A fun spin on the old heist caper this time. I know that some fans of the show consider such episodes to be a bad idea, since they have nothing whatsoever to do with fighting the Federation, but I've never seen the problem there. They lost their only true rebel down the back of the sofa. Everybody else is simply a crook - and why shouldn't a gang of crooks try to steal some gold? It's surely exactly what they should be doing, as often as possible.

Anyway, whether thievery is a respectable pursuit or not, this week Roy Kinnear has turned up to help; which I enjoyed, even if the Scorpio gang didn't look especially glad to see him. So he was playing a git. Some people are just judgmental. He's good here as a sleazy civil servant, out to maximise his profits, and not caring who he steps on along the way. It makes a nice change from his usual turn as the comic relief.

Roy Kinnear has a proposal for the Scorpio gang. A former acquaintance of Avon's, he's called on them to help, as he has a plan that he can't carry out alone. A gold mine is about to ship out a consignment, with hardly so much as a guard for protection. The gold is put through a processor prior to shipping, which is a wibbly bit of techobabble that seems to say they alter the atomic number of the gold first, so that it's no longer gold. But if they can do that, to render the gold as not-gold in order to stop people from stealing it, surely they can turn anything else into gold, and forget about the mining to begin with? But anyway, they turn the gold into something else, and then back into gold again later. Roy Kinnear has found somebody who also has the means to turn the not-gold back into gold, and who will pay him well for stealing it.

All of this naturally requires dramatic posing with guns. Why they're on their knees this time, I have no idea, unless it's just for variety.

Meanwhile, the grown-ups are on an information-gathering expedition. I think. This whole section of plot seemed entirely pointless, but they looked happy with it, so I guess it must have been for something. Anyway, they're waiting for a lift, which is a bit less exciting than I usually like to think of gold robberies being.

Fortunately there are other people willing to be a bit more dramatic, even if they are only supposed to be standing around keeping a look out.

Apparently it's catching.

For a super-super-super-computer, who is disdainful of everything humans throw at him, Orac is remarkably helpful when it comes to gold robberies.

Vila, oddly enough, is not. He's convinced that it's a setup - well, obviously. When isn't it? - and also that it's sure to go wrong. Of course it's going to go wrong, this is Blake's 7. That's never stopped you before though, Vila. Anyway, off go the others to put their plan into motion. The not-gold is being transported aboard a cruise ship.

This requires the gang to pretend to be tourists. Some of them are slightly better at it than others.

The plan itself is quite clever. Firstly, Avon and Roy Kinnear sneak into the cargo hold, and hide the not-gold inside a wheeled crate. I don't know why Avon is glaring at it. He's back in full series four mode in this episode, and his glare is turned up to maximum.

Next Tarrant pretends that his poor, drug addict wife Dayna is dying, and persuades the doctor that she has to be rushed back home for treatment. Since the cruise ship is on a schedule, and can't be turned around, a message is sent out asking for assistance from other ships nearby.

And Vila just happens to be within range, very kindly offering to come and give her a lift. So far, so simple, although poor Dayna does actually seem to have been injected with something truly nasty to mimic the effects of an overdose. What I don't understand is what happens next.

Dayna is being wheeled aboard the Scorpio, with the not-gold hidden inside her gurney. It's perfect. So why does Avon interfere with a gun? There's no need for it. All he had to do was sit back and let Dayna and the not-gold get brought aboard. Instead he gets in the way and starts waving a gun, which causes the captain to panic.

And Roy Kinnear ends up shooting the guy in a corridor full of guards. Soon the chase is on. I don't deny that it's a fun bit of the episode, but I still don't understand why it happened.

But anyway, it leads to further posing with guns, which is always good. Hurrying Dayna and her very expensive bed aboard the Scorpio, the gang realise that the docking link between them and the cruise ship is being disconnected.

And Avon is still trapped in the middle. Although in all honesty it does serve him right. If he hadn't been lurking by the docking station with a gun, none of this would have happened.

Apparently not willing to take this into consideration, he bellows for Vila to teleport him aboard.

And is on the flight deck before the others, which is a neat trick. Together they plan how best to hand the not-gold over to Roy Kinnear's confederates, and how much they should ask for as payment. They settle on ten billion credits. I have no idea how much that is in real terms, but I think we can be fairly sure that it's a lot of dosh.

And everybody remains thoroughly optimistic about the deal, even when they find out who exactly they've stolen the not-gold for. Everybody barring Avon seems surprised by her presence, which amused me. When isn't she behind everything?! They should certainly have guessed the moment the buyers arrived. Five gangsters dressed like Darth Vader, and one of them in stiletto heels? It could only ever have been Servalan.

Avon seems strangely happy with the arrangement. They flirt for a bit, before Servalan hands over the money - in the currency of a local planet - and they all take their leave.

Only to hear, on arrival back on the ship, that the planet in whose currency they've been paid has just ceded to the Federation. This renders its currency obsolete and worthless. The gang have risked their lives for nothing, save to make Servalan rich, and further her political aims. Avon takes this with the now traditional unhinged display of good humour, whilst everybody else gets angry and throws money about. Not quite sure why they've lost, though. Can't they convert their ten billion into the new currency? If the old one has been discontinued, surely that leaves the entire population bankrupt if they can't bring their old money with them? The Federation would have little use for a planet in that sort of state. But I shouldn't argue with the storyline. It's in the best tradition of the old heist capers that the boodle is always lost, and the "heroes" left empty-handed. I suppose that's to show that crime doesn't pay, although anybody looking to Blake's 7 for moral guidance is in trouble. Most especially given the episode that's coming up next.

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