Blake's 7: TraitorNow with Vila and Gan aboard the ship, Blake turns his attention once more to gaining control of his new transport – which means he has to trust Avon, who may or may not be trying to gain control of the alien ship for himself. As Gan and Vila explore the depths of the ship, no doubt seeking treasures worthy of plundering, they stumble upon one of the control core areas for the ship’s computer, and Gan is ensnared in the ship’s organic machinery. The ship, which is seeking candidates for a replacement crew, scans Gan’s mind to learn the identities of Blake, Jenna and the others, but still finds only sketchy information and sets itself on a course to collide with a star. Avon tries to reason with the computer, while Mezin takes advantage of the chaos to try to signal a Federation ship for help, an act of desperation which instantly loses her crewmates’ trust. The alien ship blows the Federation scout away – but not before forcibly extracting information on Blake and the others from the scout ship’s database. Even as the ship’s sentient computer repeatedly demands that Blake and his fellow fugitives must submit themselves to an initiation procedure, Avon warns that they may be dealing with an unstable mind at the heart of the ship. Jenna suggests an old smuggling haven of hers for a temporary hideout, but when they arrive, they discover that the Federation has razed the planet’s entire civlization to the ground. Blake decides to drop Mezin off there, but when she sees what has been done by the government to whom she has pledged her loyalty, the Federation officer starts to come around. Christened the Liberator, Blake’s alien ship decides that it needs to refuel – and the supply depot at a heavily populated Federation colony becomes its first target, despite the crew’s wishes. The resulting “attack” now puts the ship and its crew somewhat higher on the priority list for Supreme Commander Servalan and Travis.

Order this story on CDwritten by Marc Platt
directed by Andrew Mark Sewell
music by Alistair Lock

Cast: Derek Riddell (Roj Blake), Colin Salmon (Kerr Avon), Carrie Dobro (Jenna Stannis), Dean Harris (Vila Restal), Owen Aaronovitch (Oleg Gan), India Fisher (Lora Mezin), Daniela Nardini (Servalan), Craig Kelly (Travis), Rula Lenska (Dr. Ruth Ashaya), Jake Maskall (Lt. Jorge Garcia), Alistair Lock (Derelict Ship voices), Jonathan Redwin (Cassim Rafat), Kevin Jon Davies (Councillor Adrius Singh), William Johnston (Police Scout), Barbara Joslyn (Control), Jonathan Rhodes (Prosecutor), Andy Thomas (Refinery)

LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green

Review: After listening to the first installment of this new, audio-only iteration of Blake’s 7, I complained that it just wasn’t different enough from the original to warrant the effort that went into it. This second installment, which basically tells three stories in its hour of running time, branches off into more original material than the first episode, while still checking off some of the themes and plot points of the 1970s TV series.

The first third of the story is familiar in its basics – the ship demanding to know more about who’s manning it now – but is entirely different in its execution. Freed from the budget required for visual effects, this version of the Liberator is an organic-mechanical hybrid, imagined much more along the lines of Farscape’s Moya or the Vorlon ships from Babylon 5, and an intriguing seed is planted with the possibility that the Liberator may have killed its own crew after deeming them unworthy to be aboard. Exactly why and how it might have accomplished that remains a mystery for now, and an unsettling one at that.

The remaining two-thirds of the story don’t really correspond to anything from the original series, and seem to be setting things up to dispose of the character of Mezin, who herself doesn’t have an antecedent in the TV series. With the still-vague backstory of why Blake is rebelling against the Federation, and perhaps by virtue of being a new creation, Mezin has by this point become the most interesting character, if only because everyone else keeps talking about her. One intriguing fact that comes out of all this is the very clear implication that Blake’s “rebellion” may have taken the form of an outspoken dark-horse run for office; given that Servalan and Travis seem to deal with Blake in terms of being a guerilla/terrorist threat, as per the original series, there’s a bit of a disconnect there that fairly demands explanation.

Of the characters carried over and reimagined from the original series, Avon is still the most striking in his reinterpretation, but he spends a good deal of Traitor (not to be confused with anything to do with the plotline of the original series episode of the same name) out of the picture, locked into some trance-like communion with the Liberator’s central computer (which only receives the name Zen very late in the day). Robbing the story of arguably its most interesting character seems to put an undefinable damper on the proceedings – possibly by eliminating all but token conflicts between Blake and Avon – despite being more new and original than Rebel, Traitor is just a little less exciting somehow.

Still, I’m sufficiently intrigued; Traitor shows promise for the future. I’m in for the third episode.