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Blake's 7: Rumours Of Death

One of the most popular episodes of B7 here. It focuses on Avon, which is probably the main reason for its popularity, but it has a lot else going for it as well. There's a darkness to it, which makes a pleasant change from the usual space swashbuckling, and both Avon and Servalan get some good scenes with actual substance. It's also rather nice to have Avon speak real dialogue, instead of his endless one-liners. I love Avon's sarcasm, and I love the fabulously quotable lines that he delivers in the other episodes. They're not all that great for moving a plot along though. This time he's just being hard, ruthless and cold. It suits him. It helps to rein in Paul Darrow's tendency to over-act as well, which all adds up to make this one of the most effective episodes of the run.

After being distracted from his strangely random revenge attack against Federation interrogator 'Shrinker' last week, Avon is not to be dissuaded this time. By anything. He gets himself arrested and locked up, and holds out under torture for five days, in the hope that he'll eventually be assigned the infamous Shrinker. That's just the beginning of a trail that leads him to discover what happened to his former girlfriend Anna Grant, the only person he's ever allowed himself to trust.

In a Federation holding cell, Avon is not looking his best.

Shrinker turns up. He brings with him a laser probe, which he intends to use to burn out Avon's eyes. He's very cheery about his work, which I suppose is nice. Avon has a surprise for him though, and following a long-delayed signal, Tarrant and Dayna arrive to whisk them both away.

I love how grizzled Avon is here. He really has put himself through hell to get hold of Shrinker. The next step of the plan gives another demonstration of just how much work Avon has put in to all of this. Having found a network of caves beneath the earth, that has no exit, Avon has filled it with lights and projector screens, showing images of Anna Grant.

He also seems to have built it himself out of polystyrene and papier-mache, which really does show dedication.

Anna, as she appears in Avon's head throughout the episode. Teleported down to the caves for a good bit of intimidation, Shrinker reveals that he didn't handle her case. Another agent did, having followed Avon for months, arresting anybody who got close to him during that time. In exchange for this information, Avon doesn't kill Shrinker. He just leaves him behind in the caves with a gun, and no other hope of escape.

Avon announces that the next step of Project: Revenge is to confront Servalan. Everybody is overjoyed by this development.

Servalan (and her fabulous ear-rings) have other things on their minds just now though. A band of rebels attack and take her prisoner, as she prepares to consolidate her position as President of the Galaxy.

They're led by this woman here. She shot dead her husband at the start of the episode. The inference seems to be that she's not very friendly.

Her guards prepare to haul Servalan away.

Avon contemplates the latest step forward in his growing insanity, before teleporting down to Servalan's country estate.

Avon and Tarrant enjoy themselves playing Bodie and Doyle.

Servalan enjoys herself a little less. That's a wine cellar, which leads me to wonder why it's equipped with its own mini dungeon. Although possibly the fact that it's Servalan's wine cellar should be enough of a clue.

Interesting threesome. It's interrupted by the rebel leader of earlier. When she walks into the room, Avon recognises her immediately.

She's Anna Grant, alive and well. She interprets his shock as disbelief, but it's an unwillingness to accept the truth that's shaken him, rather than an inability to accept that she's alive.

Servalan presses the point home. Shrinker made it clear that everybody close to Avon was arrested. There's only one way that Anna can still be alive. Not only is she every bit as brutal a Federation agent as Shrinker himself, but she had been an undercover agent all along, all the time that Avon thought they were together.

She pulls a gun on him, but he's Avon, so he's naturally much faster on the draw than a crack Federation soldier. Pulling his teleport bracelet off, Avon seems to be saying that he's through - at which point a panicky Vila drags the others out, with no co-ordinate fix that will let them go back to help.

Having freed Servalan earlier, to give her a sporting chance against the rebels, Avon is now in a bit of a jam. She makes him put his bracelet back on and ask for a teleport out, suggesting that she plans to send them back his dead body. When she's distracted by another rebel, however, Avon escapes unhurt.

Servalan's expression is rather unreadable then. Did she really plan to send Avon back dead? I'm not entirely sure. I mean, yes, she's a spectacular bitch, and every bit as ruthless as Avon, if not more so. I'm just not sure about that bit - which is good, I think.

Back aboard the ship, Avon is none too sure what shape he's been left in. As days go, I suppose he has just had one of the worst. Bad days apparently lead to good episodes, though. We could probably use a few more bad days, Avon. If you wouldn't mind.


( 3 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )
Nov. 2nd, 2012 07:15 pm (UTC)
Rumours of Death and Spock's Brain
From conversations I've had with friends, it seems that this episode is a lot like Star Trek's episode, Spock's Brain: It can be used to cover a multitude of later sins.

Trekkies can chalk most of Spock's inconsistencies in the final season up to a failure to get his brain hooked up right.

B7 fans can chalk Avon's later behavior up to a steadily increasing insanity after the events of this episode.

Mind, both excuse and episode work better in B7's case, and in neither cases does it cover anyone else's inane behavior, but it's worth trying.
Nov. 2nd, 2012 09:40 pm (UTC)
Re: Rumours of Death and Spock's Brain
That's not a bad analogy; although it does sting a little to have one of my favourite episodes of B7 compared to "Spock's Brain"! It's certainly believable that Avon would have gone off the rails after discovering the truth about Anna. I'm not sure that really explains the change to his personality in series four, though. Certainly not completely.
Nov. 3rd, 2012 01:35 am (UTC)
Re: Rumours of Death and Spock's Brain
Yes, one tiny little difference between this and Spock's Brain is that Rumours of Death is actually a good episode and Spock's Brain... isn't.
( 3 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )

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