'Star One' This episode had been pre-empted into being the end of the series as far as I was concerned when I first watched it way back when. The massive build up that began at 'Pressure Point', and continued to unfold throughout the majority of season two, meant that the actual discovery and ensuing developments in 'Star One' would have to deliver. This was to be Blake's final mission, before potentially 'leading the rabble to victory' back on Earth and handing the Liberator over to Avon without question 'as long as the others go along with it'.
The episode begins with the deplorable loss of four thousand lives aboard the Nova Queen, who are blissfully unaware souls enjoying their Soma and futuristic chess machines before imploding ungracefully at the hands of the ore carrier. With typical cold efficiency, the operator at Keldan control remarks 'computer flight co-ordination doesn't make errors' before slipping into animalistic panic at the last second, possibly more concerned with his own fate after being responsible for thousands of passengers and half of Kelden citys population meeting a firey demise. A very sobering beginning to the episode.
Seeing a panic stricken Servalan is a treat in the second scene, as she is shown to be such a monster most of the time. Star One is on the fritz,dramatically altering weather on several planets in sixty days and after seeing the arduous efforts of Blake trying to find it in previous episodes, this development creates immediate suspense (is this Blake's doing? Or if it is breaking down on its own, Blake is wandering into something more complicated than first thought)
Perhaps the best narrative device used in this sequence is Servalan's passionate cries 'No one knows where Star One is! No-one at all!' followed directly by a cut to the LIberator cruising on a direct path to its location.
The Liberator flight deck is beseiged by differences of opinion, as usual, aside from Avon's surprise determination to 'get on with it' and move on directly to the Star One target. This would have to be perhaps the only time Avon is dismissive of reservations in following Blake, and usually being the most vocal in questioning the actions of the 'idealist', the 'glorious leader'. His justification in driving the mission forward, to be 'rid' of Blake and take the Liberator does not hold water with me, especially when his future actions of a revolutionary nature are to be considered-Blake also confronts Avon with 'You really do hate me, don't you?' to which Avon evades an answer and (to me) looks decidedly less than hateful towards his idealist comrade.
Speculation on what might have happened if the LIberator had survived the ensuing chaos and sped off with Blake and Jenna on board is in my view the most fascinating hypothetical in the series, but Jenna's comments on Avon's potential take-over of LIberator, 'Why should we?', and 'we'll finish what we set out to do, nothing else is settled', indicate that Avon would have a fight on his hands for command of the ship, even with Blake leaving to head a revolution on Earth.
Of course, I find Cally's reservations slightly out of character, in that she is for the most part the closest crew member to Blake in terms of his fanatisism and fervour to strike at the Federation. But someone had to be the 'conscience' here I guess. Again we get a glimpse at Blake's self driven quest (similar to 'Pressure POint') with him saying 'it's the only way I can be sure that I was right' when justifying blowing up Star One and therefore being instrumental in the deaths of many people.
Next we find Servalan back in full monster mode, having just tortured to death one of the Pyscho manipulators who had conditioned the team of Federation scientists on Star One, in order to ascertain that none of the team had betrayed the Federation and given away information on Star One. Her grab for ultimate power by staging her hurried coup over her superiors is another indication that crisis is growing, promising that this episode is no mere 'Tom and Jerry' Travis/Servalan/Blake standard episode. Durkhim is the perfect voice of reason here, a sounding board for the paranoia, ego, and ruthlessness that is Servalan here.
Then we see Lurena, on Star One, getting traumatised by the calm and calulating Andromedan body snatchers (which reminds me of many a Doctor Who episode), with the truly spine tingling line by alien-inside-Stott's body saying 'After all what can she do alone? She is the last one'.
On board the Liberator, we have a shift from ideological conflict to the 'let's get on with it' resolve after located the 'Garden paradise' of Star One, with bits of comedy even thrown in, with Blake informing a bemused Cally to find 'a door' to the Star One complex 'preferably marked entrance'. The look on Cally's face is priceless. The first indication of an intergalactic threat is aluded to, with the discovery of the huge antimatter minefield and the fact that Andromeda is behind said barracade.
Now Lurena is on the loose, pursued by the 'quig, march!' Andromedans. Blake, Avon and Cally have teleported down following them across the inhospitable Star One landscape. Blake and Cally are captured with Blake mistaken for Travis-Cally? 'She's my mother' Blake replies (possibly the most Tom Baker Doctor Who-esque comment I've ever heard Blake utter!). I have to comment that these comedic interludes in this episode are beautiful counterpoints to the massive feeling of impending doom and finality.
Then TRavis arrives and has a long awaited exchange with gun toting Avon, and I got the distinct impression that TRavis admired Avon for his 'talk or scream' ultimatum (wish that there had been more contact between these two rather than the somewhat predictable Servalan/Avon sexual tension that ensues in later episodes).
Jenna, in her last gasp of strength in the series, takes the helm and investigates the potential threat of alien hoardes crossing into 'human' space. And Orac making the flawed prediction that 'there is no cause for alarm' (slipping a bit from his earlier viewscreen projection of Liberator number two being destroyed in 'Redemption'). (Judith: he may not be able to read alien computers to get the information for a correct prediction)
Avon loses Travis as a terrified Lurena bursts out of the body storage broom-cupboard, and the suspense level of this episode rises steadily, now that TRavis is expected to blow Blake's cover and blow him away at the same time. Avon kills a body snatcher and reveals the true slimy horrific aliens that are here to eradicate humanity. This triple hero aspect of the episode is explicit here-Jenna taking control on the LIberator, Blake collating all the information he can as well as laying explosives left right and centre, and Avon blasting his way to the bottom of things as well. Edge of the seat stuff, and the last rallying of the true core characters of 'Blake's 7' as well.
Travis bursts in and blasts Blake to the ground (a first!). While Blake lies down supposedly dead (check the body Travis if you want to be certain!), Travis really shows us that through all the self-perceived ill treatment he has received from the Federation, the rebels and humanity in general, he is now willing to commit 'the final act' and wipe them all out.
Jenna assumes command, and informs SErvalan of the impending invasion, based on detector information that masses of alien ships are ready to storm the minefield. Meanwhile, Avon saves the day (readying him for command in series 3?) and personally kills TRavis,an act I would have loved Blake to perpetrate, because I think Travis now 'matters enough to kill'. Avon's concern for Blake really shows a level of admiration and even affection for the laeder he has gone out of his way to undermine verbally throughout series one and two (debatable, considering not one act of treachery towards Blake by Avon had ocurred). He cares about Blake being seriously hurt and this is VERY significant in my view.
The explosive charges are removed, and Lurena, the flawed heroine, blows herself and the last of the Andromedan saboteurs to pieces.
Now the final scene: Avon on the bridge, determined to take on a massive invasion fleet because of a promise he had made to Blake. The tension mounts. Then the final appearance of Blake, seriously wounded. Avon is again showing his real feelings towards Blake here, telling him to get back to bed. 'Don't You trust me?' he asks. 'For what it is worth I have always trusted you, from the very beginning', Blake's last words for two seasons. The look on Avon's face is worth freeze framing forever. He is, dare I say it, touched. This is the end of Avon's real purpose, from here on in he is alone, with the likes of Tarrant to bounce off, missing this key interaction that makes these first two seasons the most interesting.
The episode ends with suitable tension, close ups of those on the bridge, and 'Fire!' ending this pivotal episode. Snipes about sets, locations, logical plot holes such as how short a time it takes the Federation fleet to arrive etc. do not matter if you have an imagination. One of my all time faves.
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