Travis’ trap has been successfully sprung: with Vila’s betrayal, Travis has control of the Liberator and its crew, Blake is critically injured, and all of the above are being delivered to the President of the Federation. The President awaits his prize at a space station in orbit of Saturn’s moon Titan, a station which appears to have been custom-built to dismantle and study the Liberator. When Avon says he has no idea where Orac’s key is, Travis tortures him. Vila continues to obey Travis’ every whim, and his former crewmates would be happy to see him dead as a result.
The President of the Federation invites Blake to an extravagant dinner, promising to give Blake time to expound his viewpoint on the Federation’s stance on freedom, all while robotic drones begin slicing into the Liberator’s hull through the windows. Is this the last supper of the resistance?
Cast: Gareth Thomas (Blake), Paul Darrow (Avon), Michael Keating (Vila), Jan Chappell (Cally), Sally Knyvette (Jenna), Brian Croucher (Travis), Hugh Fraser (President), Alistair Lock (Zen/Orac)
Notes: Thanks to Orac’s brief direct connection to the Federation computer network (and Avon’s quick thinking), a further clue about Star One is uncovered, leading the crew to Docholli in the TV episode Gambit, which takes place not long after this audio story.
LogBook entry and review by Earl Green
Review: Closing out the six-story “first season” of Big Finish’s Blake’s 7 full-cast adventures, Caged could just as easily have been a season finale for the TV series, except that in the wake of such visual effects extravaganzas as The Web and Redemption, maybe the grand scale of this story’s Liberator-enveloping space station is best left to the imagination instead of to under-budgeted late ’70s TV miniature model effects.
The President, played with slick sophistication by Hugh Fraser, is a formidable foe who never graced our screens. He’s viciously calculating, if classy, though it’s still confounding to think that Blake believes eliminating him would do lasting harm to the Federation. At the beginning of the series, we get the impression that the Federation has been dressing its functionaries in fascist jackboots for quite some time – perhaps generations – so clearly the President is not the man who set the Federation’s policies and its lack of regard for human rights into motion. He’s merely the latest head of the bureaucracy that keeps those things in place, and upon his death or resignation, another bureaucrat will simply slide into that seat. Surely Blake’s intelligent enough to recognize that (and, in the previous story of this story cycle, Jenna and Avon both make it very clear that they understand that)…but not from the way Blake acts here, which is perhaps meant to hint at the mindset of “let’s blow up Star One, even if doing so kills an awful lot of people” in his final regular TV appearance.
Caged also gives full vent to Travis’ scheming, brutally cruel nature here – definitely the Brian Croucher reading of Travis, but here seen to be both more effectively dangerous than Croucher’s Travis usually was on TV, though that confidence leads to overconfidence, which is something that he certainly felled Travis in the past.
Despite those questions lingering over the whole thing, Big Finish has reassmbled the surviving cast of Blake’s 7 in a recording studio to crank out half-a-dozen nicely-plotted new stories that slot in almost seamlessly with their television counterparts. Blake’s 7 began with an episode called The Way Back; Big Finish is clearly the way forward.