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Blake's 7: Volcano

Having spent episodes one and two introducing our two new characters, episode three lets them take centre stage together. I just can't get over how much better series three is at doing this stuff. All this time and Cally still hasn't had her own episode. Jenna and Gan never did and, despite his popularity, neither has Vila. Basically, in series one and two, nobody cared about you if you weren't Blake or Avon. Obviously there's a lot that is very good about series one and two, but there's all kinds of reasons why I think that series three is the best of the lot.

So, on their first mission, Dayna and Tarrant teleport down to the planet Obsidian, where a former colleague of Dayna's father is living. The Liberator crew are hoping to use the planet as a base, to assemble a gang of mercenaries. Not quite sure to what end. Nobody really explains, but Servalan does make the point that without Blake, the Liberator crew are just criminals. Maybe that's what they plan to be now. Anyway, the Obsidian lot are half crazy, sick from radiation poisoning and utterly committed to peace, to the extent that, if their planet is taken over, they've vowed to blow it up. Consequently Tarrant and Dayna don't exactly find the help that they'd hoped for. They do find Michael Gough, though. That's always nice.

A volcano. There's a very big one on the planet, in which the locals have planted a bomb, to blow themselves up with if war-like outsiders refuse to leave them alone. We get treated to lots of pictures of lava throughout the episode, presumably in case we forget about it.

Tarrant and Dayna teleport down to Obsidian. You'll notice that Tarrant's general clothing theme is 'Errol Flynn', something that he'll be sticking to, with variable silliness, from now on. At this point, for some unfathomable reason, Tarrant asks what a volcano is. Dayna thoughtfully answers, and doesn't hit him for general idiocy, or ask how he came to be classified as an alpha level citizen without knowing that. Given that she's a borderline psychopath with a weapons fetish, who counts 'killing people' amongst her hobbies, she's impressively patient. Far more so than I, which is perhaps something that I ought to start worrying about.

Michael Gough is the head citizen of Obsidian. He has a robot butler, which is nice. Or he's made one of his subjects dress up in a foam rubber suit and pretend to be a robot butler, which is slightly less nice.

Having sent Dayna and Tarrant down to the surface, the others discuss whether the volcano is safe, and whether or not the locals are likely to be hostile. All topics of conversation that I'd usually expect to be covered before sending the children down to play, but then admittedly I've never been a space mercenary. I guess they do things differently.

The locals, it turns out, are sort of friendly. Sort of in that they're polite, but are also blindingly insane. Everybody has been conditioned since birth to be peace-loving, and if they show any signs of violence, they're killed. That's not really terribly peace-loving is it. Michael Gough's son has a bit more life in him than the average citizen, and he and Tarrant immediately enter into a superiority complex competition. It's touch and go as to which one of them is the most haughty, until the inevitable happens.

And they spend the rest of the episode flirting instead.

Meanwhile, Avon has decided to come down for a look around, and discovers a group of Federation troopers led by Servalan. Somebody on the planet has tipped her off as to the Liberator's presence, and she's here to collect.

I love how quickly the Federation has degenerated. The war only ended last week, and yet already all the ships are starting to look pleasingly steam-punky, and the captains are all grizzly and battered.

Servalan, on the other hand, is looking typically unscathed.

And is apparently whizzing about the galaxy in a giant space whale, which is certainly different. I guess they're appropriating other ships now, having lost their previously uniform fleet.

Back down on the planet, Tarrant and Dayna have been scrobbled. The troopers go to great lengths to tie them up and link them together, with a fabulously impractical length of rope, before announcing that they're going to kill them. They couldn't just have done that without the tying up?

Having pretended to be Tarrant in a snowstorm, the soldiers then get teleported aboard the Liberator. Cally thoughtfully warns Avon telepathically, although for some reason she tells him that there's three of them, when actually there's four - which is quite a bit less thoughtful. Nonetheless, Avon is his usual improbably awesome self, and manages to turn the tables, killing two of the enemy before getting shot himself.

Vila patches Avon up, and then explains that Tarrant and Dayna are missing, Cally and Orac have been kidnapped by the surviving troopers, and there's a battle fleet on the way. Avon is greatly cheered by this update.

Why is Dayna wearing a sheet of plastic? There's an infinite supply of clothing aboard the Liberator, and she's chosen to wrap herself in a carrier bag. Oh, they didn't get killed. Obviously. Michael Gough's son decided to keep them instead.

Michael Gough is less than impressed, and has his son executed for violence. Surely stopping your guests from being murdered by the Federation is the opposite of violence? I mean yes, he did bring Servalan to Obsidian, but he was nice about it afterwards.

Avon busies himself blowing up some Federation ships, although there's plenty more on the way. He then suggests to Tarrant and Dayna that they might like to rescue Cally and Orac, before they all do some getting the hell out of there quickly.

"You want us to scale a permanently erupting, galaxy-renowned volcano, to tackle an unknown number of heavily-armed enemy soldiers, who have the massive tactical advantage of being uphill, and able to see us coming, when we don't have a clue where they are?" asks Tarrant, considering it for less than half a second before agreeing enthusiastically. Dayna looks hilariously unimpressed by this, although as it turns out she gets to have all the fun.

And shoots soldiers into the volcano willy-nilly.

Then, with Servalan's battle fleet still on its way, with sights set both on the Liberator and on Obsidian, Michael Gough decides it's time to blow his planet up. Well, why not. There was nothing worth watching on TV that evening. The Liberator-ites watch it go boom, and then head off to look for another base somewhere else. Cally decides that the Obsidian natives were the only winners. Nobody else is especially convinced.

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