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Blake's 7: Moloch

Somebody really should have given better thought to the order that these episodes run in. Just like we had two possessed Callys in a row, now we have two successive giant, living computers. You'd think they'd want to space these things out a bit more. We also have another script by 'Harvest Of Kairos' writer Ben Steed. This means that all the men are sex mad, woman-hating boors, rampaging about a planet being moronic. Boy does that guy have some issues.

So, there's a planet. It was intended to be a Federation outpost, but one of the men killed his superiors and took over. It's now a chaotic ruin of a society, largely run by Moloch, a living computer built by the planet's previous inhabitants. Moloch behaves like an adolescent boy with serious behavioural problems. Every time one of the planet's native women (who are kept as a workforce) disobeys an order, or otherwise acts in a manner that he doesn't like, Moloch orders that she be given to the men as punishment. Into this mess comes Servalan, to find out what has happened to her missing fifth fleet; and also the Liberator crew, who are tailing her. Since it's a Ben Steed script, there's a lot of out-of-character nonsense going on. This time it's Vila who gets to act against type. He's been left on the sidelines in the recent batch of episodes, so it should be nice to see him front and centre again. As it turns out, it's not. He might just as well have stayed hidden in the background. It would have to have been better than this.

Avon and Tarrant argue. It was Tarrant's turn to wear studs today, damn it. Anyway, the best way to find out what Servalan is up to is to teleport aboard an approaching troop carrier, and hide in a handy rear compartment. Vila can then use his amazing lock-picking skills to help get out when the ship has landed.

Sadly the teleport's aim is off and, whilst Tarrant lands in the right place, Vila lands in the middle of the ship.

He immediately gets found by one of the crew, a drunken lout who invites him to join the 'party'. The Federation troops manning the ship are not troops at all, but prisoners from a nearby penal colony, who have been drafted in to make up the numbers on Planet Moloch. Vila is apparently in his element, and joins in with relish. He loves his new best mate, who's yet another Ben Steed 'misogynist gorilla with sex fixation' archetype. Vila decides that he'd much prefer to stay with his new friends, and be a pretend Federation officer in a shiny uniform, than go back to the Liberator again.

Servalan, meanwhile, discovers that she's been lured to the planet under false pretences. Her missing fifth fleet was destroyed, by a mixture of the Andromedan War, crashing onto the planet, and being murdered by the two soldiers now running the place. I'm not entirely sure what they wanted Servalan for, other than to shout at her for a bit. Then Moloch tells them to give her to their men. She does fight back a bit this time though, which is something of an improvement on Ben Steed's last attempt.

Tarrant catches up with Vila, and tries to persuade him to either do what they've come here for, or go home. Vila doesn't want to do either. Hanging out with his violent offender best mates is just so much more fun. So he goes back to join them. Apparently drunken rapists are better company than spangly space pirates.

Although the whole shebang does have its drawbacks, like when you get given Servalan as a present.

Having teleported down to help, Avon and Dayna find the local Federation commander bubbling away in a water tank, where he's being kept as punishment for having tried to turn off Moloch. I'm not sure if he was always a Muppet, or if that was a part of the punishment.

Either way, the helping thing doesn't last long, as the rescue party immediately gets itself captured. They're a cheerful bunch with the costumes this week, aren't they. Everybody's dressed up like Christmas trees.

And is it just the lighting, or does Avon have insanely long eyelashes? Anyway, he's tortured for information. Having just recently had rather a lot of practice at that game, he's in no mood to crack.

Fortunately there's another rescue party on the way. Of sorts. Equally fortunately, nobody inside the room hears Vila struggling to open the door.

Rescue Party B bursts in to rescue Rescue Party A. The murdering boor that Vila's attached himself to proves to have at least a few uses, by blasting away half the guest cast. This helps to even up the odds no end. Equally convenient is how both he and a native woman who would otherwise have needed some pesky rescuing both get themselves electrocuted by Moloch ten seconds later.

The gang then prepare for a confrontation with Moloch. What does the appallingly immature living heart of a computer system look like? Just as Avon had surmised, it turns out. He must have been doing some very odd surmising.

Meet Moloch, the Muppet god at the heart of the planet. He plans to teleport aboard the Liberator and use it as his flagship. Sadly (for him) Moloch has overlooked the fact that he needs his computer as a life support system. Teleporting out of it is instant death. Which is rather unfortunate. And this time I don't mean for him. Sitting in his computer, he didn't look too ridiculous.

Sprawled in the teleport room on the other hand, surrounded by the boots of the crew, he looks like the most absurd excuse for a bad guy ever.

Meanwhile, having made her own escape, Servalan challenges the Liberator to a duel with her approaching fleet.

The gang decide that they're not having any of that, thank you very much, and Avon orders a hasty retreat. For once nobody bothers arguing. Anyway, they can see a much better episode approaching on the horizon, and they're in a hurry to get to it.

It's a conundrum, is this week's offering. On the one hand, chunks of it show promise. I'll leave out the obvious issue of Moloch's appearance. It was the seventies, and they did the best that they could. Did he have to behave like a stupid child all the time though? There was a good idea at the heart of the episode, but it got ruined by Moloch being a dick, and by the human bad guys being brainless louts. And what gives with Vila suddenly deciding that he'd rather hang out with rapists? Not half as bad as Ben Steed's other two episodes, but I do have to wonder how he kept being invited back. Anybody had to have been a better option as a writer than him.


( 9 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )
Nov. 7th, 2012 07:11 pm (UTC)
Did you know that Moloch is the hebrew word for the devil? Just thought I'd throw that in there!!
Nov. 7th, 2012 09:29 pm (UTC)
Now you come to mention it, I have heard that somewhere before. Thank you for pointing it out. I suppose it fits, with the character here being evil. It's not often that devils are depicted as Muppets, though. ;)
Nov. 8th, 2012 06:14 pm (UTC)
They are in the Sesame Street Bible.
Nov. 8th, 2012 07:13 pm (UTC)
On the sixth day, God created Frog?
Nov. 8th, 2012 03:01 am (UTC)
There was a good idea at the heart of this episode? Where? I definitely missed finding anything remotely redeeming here (Except Avon, of course, but that doesn't count. Even Steed can't quite ruin Avon, though he does his best in Power).
Nov. 8th, 2012 12:36 pm (UTC)
Re: Where?
And in 'Harvest Of Kairos', when he has him obsessed with that stupid rock all episode.

The good idea was the planet ruled by Federation deserters and convicts. It could have been a tough, ruthless world, with a hardline military government. Luring Servalan there could have been good as well, if they'd actually had some reason for doing that. The combination of Moloch and Ben Steed killed it before it got started though.
Nov. 8th, 2012 05:11 pm (UTC)
Re: Where?
Yes, but at least he saves the day. In Power he's just an idiot, and an unexpectedly sexist idiot, at that.

Not that he ever seems particularly impressed by women (other than Anna), but he's equally unimpressed with men, so that's ok.
Nov. 8th, 2012 07:10 pm (UTC)
Re: Where?
He's awful in 'Power', yes. It's painful to see. The whole episode is painful, mind, so he's not alone.

He seems quite taken by Servalan sometimes. I think there's a degree of respect there, underneath the hate. As far as Avon is ever prepared to respect anybody.
Nov. 8th, 2012 09:40 pm (UTC)
Re: Where?
He's awful in 'Power', yes. It's painful to see. The whole episode is painful, mind, so he's not alone.

Quite. It's just that it takes some special talent to make Avon completely awful.
( 9 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )

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