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Blake's 7: Pressure Point

I don't think that there is any single episode of anything that better encapsulates the spirit of BBC sci-fi than this one. The cast run down more corridors than the Doctor Who lot could even dream of, and the scenery wobbles all over the place. Surprisingly little happens, as so much is taken up with the corridor-running (and quite a remarkable amount of ladder-climbing). And yet this is a very good episode. It could use some tightening, perhaps. A few less corridors? A little less time spent on ladders? The story itself is very effective, though. Most of that is down to the ending.

Servalan and Travis are seeking to kill two birds with one stone. Firstly the pesky Earth rebel Kasabi, and secondly the pesky space rebel Blake. Having uncovered a planned team-up between the two, Servalan and Travis set about capturing them both. For once everything seems to be going their way, but Blake and his team, as ever, are able to escape their clutches. Undeterred by the death of Kasabi, Blake leads the gang on a mission to destroy the Federation's super-computer. Destroy the computer and you destroy the Federation. Really? They don't keep a back-up? Anyway, this is where all the corridor-running and ladder-climbing comes into play, as the computer is kept some nine hundred storeys below ground, and each ladder is at the end of a long corridor. Clearly the designers didn't believe in any kind of efficiency. Battling awkward security devices as they go, Blake and the others fight their way through to the heart of the complex, where the super-computer should be waiting - only to find that the room is empty. Blake's gradual realisation that the whole idea of the computer is a trap, is very well done. This is an episode that builds victory upon victory for Blake, from the moment he escapes Travis's first ambush, to the moment the gang burst into the chamber where the computer should be waiting. From then on it's all down hill.

Blake outlines his latest plan. It's typically mad, bad, and dangerous to have anything to do with, but at the same time it does give us a lovely shot of the flight deck.

Servalan models the latest in designer psychopath headgear.

Travis interrogates Earth rebel Kasabi, in an effort to find out where she's set to rendezvous with Blake. Sadly, every time his jaw moves, his eyepatch starts to come away, which does rather destroy the image of cybernetic embellishment. Not that that new patch does much to help the illusion to begin with.

You know, generally speaking, if there's a member of the cast who never gets given anything to do, and suddenly they're an important part of the mission, it's reason to be suspicious.

Awaiting the signal to move, Vila and Avon display their by now traditional joy and enthusiasm over the mission. Meanwhile, Avon has once again chosen to give us his famous impression of the interior of an Austin Allegro.

Trapped in an old building, their teleport bracelets stolen, the gang must await the arrival of Travis. At this point, Gan leans on the pillar that's beside him in the picture. Let's just say that I suspect it may not be made out of stone.

Gan then throws himself at the door, in order to break out of the building. This is a brilliant moment. Note Blake bracing himself against the wall there, as the whole lot wobbled quite brilliantly the first time that Gan tried to break open the door.

Travis arrives, fully expecting to find Blake and co sitting patiently in wait of their arrest. Have you not been paying attention for the last seventeen episodes, Travis?!

A hi-tech minefield, which our intrepid foursome have to cross in eight seconds or less, in order to avoid being explodified.

Quite a lot of ladders in this episode.

This bit made me smile. There's an electrified floor to prevent entry to one section of the computer complex, so the gang swing across using the parallel bars that just happen to have been left conveniently on the ceiling. What kind of building puts random parallel bars on the ceiling?! Especially over a section of electrified floor. It's like locking your front door, but leaving a window wide open right next to it.

After corridors and ladders and deadly traps galore, Blake bursts into the computer chamber, and finds... nothing.

It practically shatters him - which is the moment at which Travis arrives with his guards. The gang are arrested.

But then Servalan arrives (with a large shiny insect on the front of her dress, which is different). She orders Travis to release Blake and co, for Jenna has a gun pointed at her back. Elated by this reversal of fortune, everybody dashes for freedom. Travis, however, has other plans. He also has a strontium grenade. It quickly brings down the roof.

And the roof brings down Gan. He tells Blake to run. "I'm not worth dying for!" before another explosion decides the issue for them. Poor old Gan. He never did get to do anything, but we've nonetheless got to know him well enough for those words to seem perfectly in character.

Blake has no choice but to leave the body behind. Jenna has brought their teleport bracelets, but they're too far underground for them to work.

Back behind the rockfall, Travis and Servalan are well and truly stuck. "They'll dig us out eventually," says Travis; with the emphasis on 'eventually', presumably. Servalan is not best impressed.

Blake and co aren't in the cheeriest of moods right now either.

There's nothing for it but to get as far away from Earth as they possibly can.

An effective episode then. I like the trap that sees the gang imprisoned in the old building early on; and although their escape is a little too easy, it's quickly followed by a fun assault on the computer building, which itself turns out be a nicely paced shock of defeat. Blake's elation at his assumed victory is a good demonstration of his colossal ego, and the arrival of the guards, just as his failure sinks in, shatters everything beautifully. Then there's that last burst of success that comes with Jenna's arrival and the dash for the surface. Victory from the jaws of defeat - but only for a second. Gan's death is so sudden, and so accidental. Travis wasn't even trying to kill him - in fact I doubt Travis even knows Gan's name. No drawn out death scene, either. It's an example that I wish more shows would consider following.


( 4 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )
Aug. 20th, 2012 04:19 am (UTC)
Building Design
I'd guess all the long corridors and traps & parallel bars & whatnot are to give everyone the impression that they are accomplishing something as they head deeper into the complex. Also, of course, it slows everyone down to give the Federation soldiers time to come collect the bodies (live or dead).

Quite how having it wobbles supports this, I am not sure.

(By the way, why is this tagged Doctor Who?)

Edited at 2012-08-20 04:49 am (UTC)
Aug. 21st, 2012 01:07 am (UTC)
Re: Building Design
Yes, delaying tactics would make sense, certainly.

It's tagged for DW because I mentioned it, I suppose.
Aug. 20th, 2012 05:52 am (UTC)
Now they are back to Blake's 5! Will they ever actually be 7? Somehow I'm reminded of the game Chutes and ladders or Atari Donkey Kong with all the pipes and climbing. lol. That is an interesting dress Servalan is wearing. Cheeky bug! I thought the bug might have been a weapon. It's big enough and looks like it's made of solid silver.
Aug. 21st, 2012 01:08 am (UTC)
It would be cool if the bug fired lasers or something, but I doubt the technology (or budget, at any rate!) was up to that.
( 4 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )

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