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Blake's 7: Sand

Tanith Lee is back. Last time she brought us a telepathic ghost, who possessed Cally in order to suck out her life energy, so that she could build herself a new corporeal body; whilst simultaneously turning the rest of the cast into colour-coded, satin-bedecked mimes. This time... well, let's just say that she outdoes herself on every level. Which is something of an understatement.

There's a green planet. Five years ago a scientist called Don Keller went there, and never returned. Now, an old transmission from him has been picked up, reporting that his entire expedition is dead, and that he's soon to follow. He's found something on the planet that he believes could be of use to the Federation - something remarkable and unique. An obviously emotionally-involved (and consequently somewhat out of character) Servalan is interested in the transmission, and so are the Scorpio crew. Off they race to find out what it's all about.

Servalan and the bloke from Howard's Way (looking fabulously sparkly) listen to Don Keller's tale of dead colleagues and planetary weirdness. There's Daniel Hill in the background, look. Nice to see him again. It's been years.

Elsewhere, the Scorpio crew wonder what it was that Keller found, and whether it's likely to be of any use to them. That's not actually the crew there, obviously, but since poor Soolin had absolutely nothing to do again in this episode, I thought it was only fair to give her a screencap of her own.

Having landed on the planet, Servalan's ship is soon utterly swamped by the planet's sparkly, green sand. Attempting to make it to Keller's base on foot, one of the crew is set upon by the sand in the middle of the night. I love how his death clearly means nothing to Servalan beyond the personal inconvenience.

The Dynamic Duo teleport down, ready to see what they can discover. They've got this teleporting thing down to such a fine art now. The moment they arrive, they're back-to-back with their guns up. I wonder if they practiced this stuff.

Sadly it's all rather curtailed by sparkly Howard's Way man, who blasts them both, and manages to catch Dayna in the arm. She returns to the ship, leaving Tarrant to explore alone. Lovely line here, when Vila comments that he hates the sight of blood, and Dayna tells him that she's sure it's mutual.

Unknown to the crew, there are small traces of green sand on Dayna's boots. In no time at all, the sand has reproduced itself, and begins to spread about the ship.

And soon after this, Orac is spouting love poetry.

Avon actually looks quite taken by it here, although he doesn't when he's moving. Anyway, clearly something strange is going on.

Having killed the sparkly Howard's Way man, Tarrant comes face to face with a stranded Servalan. Despite reminding her of her complicity in his brother's death, he's incapable of killing an unarmed target in cold blood. Since Tarrant can't contact the Scorpio, he's as stranded as Servalan, and they agree to co-operate for now.

The Keller base, besieged by vast quantities of the sparkly, green sand. Tarrant and Servalan take refuge, and soon the sand has risen up to cover the building completely.

Back on the Scorpio, Vila is ankle deep in sand, and much the worse for wear.

Down on the planet, Servalan comes clean about Don Keller. Probably. It's all so out of character that I prefer to believe she's lying. Anyway, apparently he's a former lover, who left her years ago. Tarrant, in one of the amazing leaps of logic that he occasionally manages, has got it all figured out. The sand is not just sand. Well, naturally. This is a Tanith Lee script. It's mind-altering, telepathic, vampire sand. It kills everybody that it comes into contact with, by sucking out their energy; but now that it's got a breeding pair, it plans to keep them alive, in order to provide it with new little baby humans to feast upon. Because everybody who's trapped in a room buried in sand immediately starts thinking about getting pregnant? I guess that's where the mind-altering bit comes in.

If you have never been a Tarrant fan before, you've surely got to love him for looking at a green planet, and coming up with a theory like that. It's the best bit of thinking ever.

I really, really want to believe that this is down to the sand. It's the only comfortable explanation. Anyway, now they really can't kill each other, because if it doesn't have a breeding pair anymore, the sand will shrug its shoulders and eat the survivor. It's notoriously fickle, is telepathic, vampire sand.

Back on the ship, Vila is deteriorating fast, but in the process drops his drink. It has an immediate destructive effect on the vampire sand.

Down on the planet, courtesy of Servalan's tears, Tarrant and his teeth have noticed the same thing.

She didn't cry that much. He expanded upon the theory courtesy of a beaker.

Unfortunately, with escape now a possibility, Servalan no longer needs to keep Tarrant alive.

But Avon has a plan. Clearly one that he's very proud of. The space dust clinging to the Scorpio's hull has been agitating the planet's atmosphere all along. If they zoom in closer, hopefully it will trigger a rainstorm. There's no escaping the sand otherwise, for them or for Tarrant.

Who has more than sparkly vampire sand to worry about just now anyway. Distracted by the sudden rainstorm, they once again stop trying to kill each other in order to escape from the base.

Servalan is apparently as unwilling to kill Tarrant as he was to kill her, if for entirely different reasons. Before she can quite make up her mind, he's been teleported away, so she goes back to her ship. Fortunately for her, her pilot is still alive, although his survival is rather inexplicable. The sand had its breeding pair, so by rights it should have eaten him, but I guess it forgot. Since he's played by Daniel Hill, I suppose I shouldn't complain too much about that.

Back on the ship, Tarrant tells the others who he spent the night with. This causes everybody bar Avon to storm off in disgust, although there's only one room, so I don't know where they're storming to. It's pretty rubbish flouncing if you can only go six feet away. And why the anger anyhow? If he'd shot Servalan, he would have been eaten by the telepathic, vampire sand.

Back on her ship, Servalan sobs over her lost love Keller, and also muses soulfully about Tarrant. "I didn't kill you... yet." No, not yet. There's still four episodes to go, though. You might get another shot before we're done.

And stop crying. You're much better suited to evilness and cold-blooded murder.


( 2 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )
Nov. 17th, 2012 10:36 pm (UTC)
I love reading your recaps! This is particularly yayful because I hardly ever watch Sand so it was just nice to see it again, you actually make it sound quite brilliant. Which I don't remember being true last time I watched it.

I went to a B7 convention with Tanith Lee at it once, everyone had to quietly pretend her episodes were fine and lovely and that we totally understood her WEIRD WEIRD take on 'characterisation'.
Nov. 18th, 2012 09:47 am (UTC)
She's an interesting writer. She seems to write perfectly well, and her ideas are certainly different. She just seems to be writing for a completely different show. It's frustrating when you're watching an episode that could be absolutely fine, but has Servalan bursting into tears. In any other episode Dayna would never have gone back to the ship due to a grazed arm, either. She'd have gone after the bloke who shot her, and probably blown him up. And shot him as well for good measure.
( 2 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )

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