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Blake's 7: Warlord

We're being rebels again this week. I think, like everything else, it must depend on who's writing. I can never quite understand Avon's motivation in these things, although I suppose a certain amount of it is the personal vendetta with Servalan. He couldn't wait to be free of Blake and his annoying idealism, though. Now, Blakeless, he's not only planning to tackle the Federation head-on, he's even building himself a huge galactic alliance for the purpose. Maybe this is the sort of thing that happens when he gets bored.

So, the Federation has stepped up its operations, massively increasing the size of its empire through a campaign of terror. With drugs and random violence, they're forcing planets to surrender to them, and Avon has decided to fight back. He's called a council of leaders from the non-aligned worlds, with a plan to combine forces, and tackle the Federation's drug initiative. So long as they want to fight the Federation more than they want to fight each other, it might just work.

A gaggle of planetary leaders. I think this is what happens when the costume department does its planning in the BBC bar.

One of the leaders is almost wearing the Seal of Rassilon. I wonder if we're supposed to think he might be a Time Lord.

The future is a silly place.

Oh dear. This is Zeeona, the daughter of one of the world leaders. She and Tarrant are having some sort of romance, which is perplexing for two reasons. One, because she's awful; and two, because I've always assumed that he and Dayna are together. They certainly act like it, and have done ever since they came on board.

Zeeona has a heart to heart with Soolin. Despite the awfulness of Zeeona, to say nothing of the difficulties in playing opposite that hair, this is probably the most important scene that poor Soolin has ever had. We learn that her father was murdered when she was eight, and that eventually she had her revenge. This is, one episode from the end, the first time that anybody has bothered trying to put any metaphorical flesh on Soolin's bones. We should have been hearing about this in her first episode, or certainly in the second. This is important, character-forming stuff. A character who set out on the path of revenge at the age of eight could have been so good. A cold-hearted gunfighter, to balance Tarrant's heroics and Dayna's impetuosity. And yet we're only getting to meet her properly in a two minute scene in the penultimate episode.

The direction is really weird this week. Ordered home by her father, Zeeona seemingly floats in space as she sobs over her upcoming separation from Tarrant. Whatever.

Just when you thought the costumes couldn't get any worse. Ordered to take Zeeona home, supposedly as an act of good faith to get the alliance off to a good start, Avon apparently sees the need to change into the world's worst seventies disco shirt. It's awful. Avon, please. Never, ever wear that shirt again. Ever.

Even worse, in a strange show of solidarity, Soolin has chosen to go with a matching ensemble. What the hell has got into them all this week? Anyway, they set out to take Zeeona home, but Soolin takes pity on her, and teleports her back to base.

Her father, meanwhile, is plotting evilly. He's been up to something, to take care of the alliance members, and everybody else back at Good Guy HQ.

Orac announces that there's a bomb in the teleport room. You couldn't have noticed that when it was being planted, Orac?! Everybody rushes into the room and reacts in horror, despite all looking in different directions. Still, I suppose if there's multiple bombs then it might help explain the fabulous enthusiasm of the exploding. If not how Tarrant manages to survive without a scratch, given that, as usual, his attitude to danger is to throw himself straight at it. He's no more than six inches from the thing when it goes off.

And boy does it go off. For several minutes, things explode. They explode one way, they explode another. When all is done, Xenon base is buried beneath countless tons of rock. There's also a fearsome attack of SFX, borne by the air supply, which electrocutes most of the survivors; and when the air supply is turned off to contain it, a radioactive virus sets out to dissolve anybody who's left. Mr Pink Topknot certainly can't be accused of cutting corners.

He is, of course, working for Servalan. She has her usual attack of regret for having (seemingly) killed her enemies. Poor Servalan. It's hard work being only half mad.

Vila and Tarrant try to dig their way out. I love how Vila thoughtfully shines his torch on Tarrant's face, so we can see him as he delivers his lines. They can't see what they're digging, or where they're going, but at least they can see each other.

Or Vila can. Tarrant will just be hopelessly dazzled.

Servalan has clearly recovered her spirits.

Back at base, Vila and Tarrant struggle to lift a huge chunk of polystyrene concrete. It squeaks strangely when they knock it. Then, after five minutes of fighting to move it, Vila leans on one side, and it bounces right up. Either he doesn't know his own strength, or he weighs a couple of tons. Or Xenon Base really is built out of polystyrene.

Returning to base, Avon and Soolin are filled in on what's happening.

This causes a ferocious attack of glaring. And, sadly, a ferocious display of full length shirt. It really is the worst thing that has ever been worn on television. By anyone.

Mr Pink Topknot's ship explodes. There is a reason, I just haven't bothered telling you about it.

Meanwhile, Avon continues to glare. I think he's just caught sight of his reflection. Anyway, he's able to figure a way out of danger for the others, helping them to get fresh, uninfected air for long enough to dig their way out. One of them will have to go back in though, to turn off the transmitter of the radioactive virus, and check that all trace of infection is gone. Zeeona offers, presumably feeling responsible for her father's actions. At first everything seems to be going well. She turns off the transmitter, but shortly afterwards all goes quiet.

Which seems to be hugely satisfying to Avon. Tarrant, realisation dawning, goes rushing off. As, immediately, does Dayna. She's the best girlfriend ever. She even has his back when he's going to check on his bit on the side. Anyhow, Zeeona is dead. Why is anybody's guess. Did she feel so guilty about her father's treachery that she committed suicide? Did she think that all was safe before it was? Was she heartbroken by Tarrant's constant flirting with Dayna? There's no indication as to why it's happened, which is frustrating. Her loss is our gain, as she was truly awful, but I'd still like to know what went wrong.

Anyway, it's left to Dayna to deliver a line of infamously bad dialogue. "She took her glove off." I don't know why it's so bad. Maybe because it's such a lame final line? It's not delivered badly, but for some reason it's laugh out loud funny all the same. Poor dear, departed Zeeona, unloved by all. We shall never know why you took off your glove. We shall only ever be glad that you did.

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