January 24, 2022

Gabbing Geek

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Blake’s 7 “Shadow”

The crew may make a deal with the space mafia, but Cally has bigger issues to deal with.

Series creator Terry Nation wrote every episode of Blake’s 7‘s inaugural season, plus the season two premier.

However, “Shadow” marks the first time a different writer took the reins, and it actually marks an interesting development for the characters.

By that, I mean that while we’ve seen Avon being disagreeable more than once, this episode marks the first time the crew as a whole seem to be wearing on each other.  The mission-of-the-week involves Blake’s going to the Terra Nostra for help.  That’s basically the space mafia.  They have good contacts and lots of fighters, so they’d be invaluable allies to Blake in his quest to overthrow the Federation.  However, they’re still a crime syndicate that distributes a deadly drug called “shadow,” a narcotic that will get you the death penalty in Federation space from the sounds of it.

And this is where things get a little ugly.  Blake, usually the stalwart hero, makes it clear he will work with whomever he has to in order to bring down the Federation.  Gan objects over the drug thing.  Avon is Avon.  Jenna is unhappy because she has a contact with the Terra Nostra that, due to the fact she was being asked to smuggle shadow, could have gotten her killed and that’s the person they all need to see.  Vila just wants to visit the Terra Nostra’s space station since it’s apparently like Space Vegas, and Blake won’t allow it.  Cally, well, she’s mostly put on the sidelines by Vila acting up.

It doesn’t help that Vila comes back from the station with a bad hangover, but while Blake and the others are making plans, Cally goes into a coma when something attacks her telepathically through Orac.  There’s an explanation there, how this other-dimensional being was looking to invade the universe by going through Orac to Cally, and Orac’s overall nature made that possible, but Blake’s decision to go down to the planet where the prime ingredient for shadow is made to force the Terra Nostra into helping is something of a coincidence since the planet is home to a plant that, when harvested, becomes the drug, but when  unharvested, looks like clear plastic disks that can move through the planet’s sandy surface alone.  They also boost Cally’s telepathy to help her defeat that other-dimensional jerk that highjacked Orac, something that egotistical mechanical brain would be wise to remember but probably won’t.

Considering Cally used her telepathy to make sure she and Blake were telling the same stories when Blake was captured by the mob, I think it was good that this episode likewise remembered Cally is telepathic, and the way she tried to prevent Vila from going to Space Vegas shows she’s a bit more moral than some of the others.  At the least, it shows Vila’s general behavior isn’t exactly winning him any friends in the crew.

So, really, this was a solid episode with a lot of plot, much of it involving a pair of escaped slaves that managed to temporarily get away from Jenna’s contact (he was a baddie), but the fact the episode actually did something with Cally’s mental powers and showed the crew actively disagreeing with each other while Blake made some moves that made him look more fanatical and less heroic, well, that was something I could really get behind going forward.

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