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Blake's 7: Hostage

Another good episode, although I do have one or two issues with it. Travis is terrible; his plot to kill Blake is alarmingly rubbish, given his supposed military genius; the girls are left behind on the Liberator to twiddle their thumbs yet again; and Avon seems peculiarly out of character for half of it. It's entertaining all the same, and it's certainly not boring. It's just doesn't seem to have been terribly well thought out.

We begin with a space battle, which is a perfectly good place for an episode to start. This one is out of nowhere, and has absolutely no bearing on the rest of the episode, which is a bit weird. Federation ships pop up, blast the Liberator, and then disappear again. They cause damage, but it plays no part in the plot; none of it seems to be for any reason at all, storywise. It's as though the episode was too short, so they thought they'd throw in a space battle to stretch it out a bit. I'm not one to complain about gunfire and explosions, but even I find it a bit random. Still, there's nothing essentially wrong with the sequence, and it does feature some great model work. Then, no sooner has the dust cleared, when Travis is on the phone (secret sub-space transmitty thing. Whatever), announcing that he's taken Blake's cousin prisoner, and that Blake should come and rescue her immediately, or she'll be killed. Avon sends a message to Servalan, hoping that she'll arrest Travis and solve their problem for them; and then spends the entire episode angsting about it, and nearly throwing his life away in an effort to atone. And it is a good episode, so perhaps I shouldn't really complain, but hello scriptwriter? Have you met Avon?

And then there's some fighting and stuff. I definitely recommend those bits.

Chased by some lovely (if entertainingly wobbly) models of spaceships, the Liberator comes under heavy fire.

As the crew shelter, we get this rare angle of the pilot's chair, which shows us that Jenna steers the ship using an angle-poise lamp and a vacuum cleaner hose.

Elsewhere, Servalan apparently has a set of fluffy dice hanging in the windshield of her space station. She's even more evil than I thought.

Eager to save his cousin from the clutches of Travis, Blake goes down to the surface of an old, abandoned penal colony, where she lives with her father. She and Blake are clearly former lovers, which is a bit off-putting. Knock off the soulful gazing. Your fathers are brothers, for heavens sake.

Back on the Liberator, the crew are clearly enjoying one another's company. In order to escape, Avon suddenly develops a conscience, and goes whizzing off down to the planet to make sure that Blake doesn't get scrobbled by Servalan. Unlike Blake, he is not looking for company of a female persuasion:

"You're kidding. We're getting left behind on the ship again?"

Blake's uncle is Herne the Hunter from Robin Of Sherwood, which is certainly unexpected. You'd think that the daughter of a forest god would be able to get herself out of trouble. Although I suppose this is Blake's 7, where women aren't really trusted to do a whole lot.

Servalan, shown here on the way to bag herself a Travis, is probably the only person in the known universe to have a special set of space furs. She seems to change into them whenever she has to fly anywhere. Really, you'd think that the budget of the Supreme Commander of the Federation could stretch to a heated spaceship.

Blake's cousin. And lover. Yuck. Even worse, she makes Jenna jealous, which is just embarrassing. What happened to the tough smuggler from series one?

Travis has a hired gang of criminal psychopaths - which apparently are easily found scattered around the galaxy, in search of employment - and uses them to capture himself various sevens. Blake's capture may be my favourite one ever. He gets pushed down a mountainside, and lands in a bear trap. It's absolutely hilarious. Vila apparently isn't sharing the joke.

Cousin Inga causes an impressive distraction by pretending to run away. She accomplishes this by sneaking off to hide in the next room, despite being constantly watched by all five of her kidnappers at once. This gives the others the chance to escape, and set about rounding up the opposition. Or posing dramatically. Whichever is easiest.

There's also quite a lot of being dramatic with guns. Don't look at the camera, boys. It's not us that you're supposed to be hunting.

Blake and Avon mostly leave Herne to do all the tough stuff, and sneak off to have a cuddle in the bushes. I've lost track of Vila. I assume he's around somewhere.

My favourite bit of the episode. Having captured Travis, Blake and co tie his hands behind his back and leave him for Servalan. As he thrashes about on the ground, you can quite clearly see that his hands aren't tied at all. Instead he's holding one wrist with the other hand. Splendidly co-operative of him, isn't it. I suppose Blake couldn't find any rope.

I've been a bit harsh on this episode, and the truth is that it does rather deserve it. It's entertaining, yes, but it should have been a whole lot better. Jenna pouts the whole time about Blake's interest in Inga; Cally, once again, needn't have bothered turning up for work; Avon's being somebody else for much of the adventure; and Vila has reverted to the hopeless wreck that he was back at the start of series one. And yet I can't dislike it - which probably says a good deal more about me than it does about the episode. Nonetheless, there's good things ahead. Whether there's good things for Jenna and Cally as well remains to be seen.

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