It’s been a while since I reviewed the first two series of Blake’s 7, but I’ve finally picked up where I left off and watched Series 3, which represents a departure – in more than one way – from the first two series, including the loss of the title character…alas, I still await a formal DVD release for Region 1…my piles of VHS tapes take too much room.
[Note: Some of this is from memory, as I watched the first half of the season several months ago, and only got to the second half recently]
At the end of Series 2, we see the crew of the Liberator about to engage against the alien invasion fleet, after sending a call to the Federation for help.
The first episode of Series 3, “Aftermath”, deals with what happens immediately after the battle. The aliens were repelled, but the Federation fleet decimated and the Federation itself is in chaos. The crew of the Liberator are forced to temporarily abandon ship, getting split up. They eventually regroup, but without either Blake or Jenna. Avon takes charge, bringing with him weapons expert Dayna Mellanby (played by Josette Simon), and they find Del Tarrant (played by Steven Pacey), a mercenary who trained as a Federation Space Captain, already on board. The crew seem to take a more profiteering and revenge attitude without Blake’s direction, but still enjoy trying to keep Servalan from attempting to establish control over the Federation again.
The series is peppered with episodes that could have easily been part of the first two seasons, but others try to bring a darker side to the characters. Cally’s telepathy comes to play several times, in several cases showing that its a liability. Avon seems to become more gullible. Vila is perhaps the most unchanged, but there seemed little focus on him, except where he got to play the part of a village fool – much the same as he did on the ship. We do learn a bit about Avon’s past (regarding his girlfriend, Anna Grant, killed by a Federation torturer, in “Rumors of Death”) and Cally’s people the Auron (in “Children of Auron”).
Comparisons between Tarrant and Blake are inevitable, down to the curly hair. But Tarrant is younger and has far less scruples, and isn’t afraid to stand nose to nose with Avon, although Avon usually gets his way. He is, however, quick to jump into a situation without properly evaluating it.
Dayna seemed more of a filler character for Jenna. Certainly a different personality, with a willingness to use guns first (a good match for Tarrant).
A notable guest star this series is in episode 6, “City At The Edge Of The World”, with future Doctor Colin Baker as Bayban the Beserker.
It seems strange to have a series without the title character, but that becomes something of a plot point – should they continue the fight, change direction, or go their separate ways.
Spoilers appear below this point.
The final episode of this series, “Terminal”, is perhaps the most compelling episode. It seemed to be a “door left open” conclusion to a series not expecting to get renewed. In it, Blake makes a brief appearance, and the crew are left trapped on a planet and the Liberator, along with its computer Zen often considered part of the “7”, destroyed. After three series, the loss of an integral part of the show can be emotional. Especially with Zen, having never referred to itself, saying “I have failed you” and “I am sorry”. That was probably the most interesting scene of the show as a whole – and it was “only” a computer.
Now that you’ve stranded your characters on a planet and destroyed their ship, what do you do? Of course, you renew the show for another series! Series 4 obviously will have some serious changes (including a new title sequence and logo). I hope to get through that faster than I did Series 3.