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Novelisation/commentary of 'Pressure Point'

By David Dixon
Page 1 of 6

It is a bright spring day in the English countryside. Who would ever know that we are looking at the killing fields just outside the Federations notorious Forbidden Zone and Control, an area filled with trees and singing birds, yet an area where you can be presumably shot on sight (well I suppose the 'whirring' sound that is reminiscent of a tortured mother bird indicates danger for picnicking scouts.) Even breathing the air outside warrants a charge of a category nine crime as Blake frighteningly told his liberators in 'The Way Back'. Come to think of it shouldn't all of the outdoors be called 'The Forbidden Zone' if the first 'Blake's Seven' episode is to be believed?

Two particularly brave and/or foolish rebels wander tentatively through the serene death trap. 'This is it. The Forbidden Zone', the leader Arle says nervously. ' Let's get back.', the follower Berg responds hyper nervously. I smell cannon fodder. Berg, perhaps sensibly, wants to get back to their leader, someone called Kasabi, and report that they have reached a notice saying 'Forbidden Zone', while, naturally enough, Arle wants to venture just a little farther, gain perhaps a little more of a pat on the back. Come into my web said the spider etcetera.............

The 'Spider' and an added 'snake' for good measure are quickly revealed inside a country house, which is actually a foreboding security station. It's Servalan and the 'new' Travis, fresh from his last humiliating defeat in 'Weapon', looking like his eye patch has just been re-glued on again for this latest gloat at the two hapless flies on the view-screen.

I like this new Travis in ways I could never like the old smooth, sophisticated, almost gentlemanly Travis, whose Coyote to Blake's Road Runner had fallen off the cliff once too often. This new Travis is unpolished, unstable and desperate, all of the qualities you'd expect from a man who'd been disfigured and disgraced in front of his mistress Servalan with insane succession. This one could go right over the edge. He paces, with his trusty icy mutoids blank faced and passive, like a cross between dispassionate vampire bats and bizzaro Datas from 'Next Generation'. ' Intruders in coordinate seventeen.' mutoid one offers. Travis turns to Servalan and concludes 'Good. Kasabi's men, they must be. My intelligence reports were correct. Do you doubt me now, Supreme Commander?' Of course we know that Travis has spoken words to this effect to his Supreme Commander countless times before and there is always room for doubt.

The Supreme Commander of the Terran Federation appears to have just frocked up for an intergalactic cocktail party, adorned in luminescent white from head to toe, including suave white sombrero. 'They are Outsiders. There is nothing to indicate they are Kasabi's men.' 'They are. Scouting ahead of the main party,' Travis replies, possibly alerted by the intruders military greens or maybe even some other more intimate source? Servalan becomes impatient with Travis, the man that had Blake in his sights on too many occasions and let him and the Galaxy's mightiest ship slip away, leaving the cool, collected, glamorous woman of the moment looking more than a little red faced.

'I have waited for eighteen days' she says more than impatiently, perhaps wishing for an alternative to the Coyote, such as Carnell the puppeteer, or even a grunt with a head for strategy like Jarvik, her future beau from the lower decks. Meanwhile, the emotionally disturbed Travis is in tune with his psycho intuition: 'It won't be much longer now. It's started, I can feel it!' 'Oh, Travis!' Servalan retorts, remembering walking through the lizard tunnel in high heels to snatch ORAC for nothing. The reason for the twinkle in Travis's good eye is suddenly revealed '-I know Blake is coming here!'

We should have known. An eighteen day wait and Travis all in a lather? Almost as an aside, Travis indicates that the two brave scouts on the view screen are 'dead already'

On the outskirts of the forbidden zone, the trees still sway in the breeze and the birds still chirp. Arle is obviously not impressed by warnings of danger his glorious leader Kasabi has instilled the two scouts with. 'Doesn't look like much' he asserts, flying closer into the web. He wants to be the first to gain more insight into 'Control', a large computer installation according to the idiot's guide to computer installations. Berg's vila-esque protests about the site being the most heavily protected site in the Federation and his general mouse like timidness do not wash with Arle, who even declares his leader as being 'wrong'. They scamper further inside, Arle declaring 'oh come on Berg, you're not old enough to have lost your nerve yet!', just before both men lose their nerves, their heads, arms and legs, in an explosion that starts off as superglue sticking their feet to the ground, a spark, a flame and a God almighty BANG! Leaving nothing but fried flies on a green grass web.

The Liberator flight deck, the hotbed of disagreement, ideological clashes, screaming matches, threats and death is where our next scene takes place, with the crew lounging back as physically casually as ever, yet with trouble only one utterance away. This time two words do it. The words 'Earth' and 'teleport'. Blake's bombshell is dropped to the dismay of Gan, vila and Jenna: 'In three hours we'll be in teleport range of Earth'

Jenna immediately disagrees 'Blake, are you crazy? We can't afford to take risks like that!', followed by vila and Gan reacting in shock as they had been lied to again [their reactions are well founded; even in the outer reaches of deep space a flotilla can pop up at a moments notice, and here they are waltzing into the heart of the Federation, veering past countless check points, barriers, force fields, fleets and bases-a little explanation as to how even this advanced ship can accomplish this would be handy]

The expression of restrained euphoria on Cally's face is reminiscent of 'Weapon' where Blake and his little rebel from Auron had discussed the plans free from the doubting eyes of all, including Jenna who is arguably in love with her leader.

Cally quickly shows her allegiance (and probable prior knowledge of the plan): 'We must take this risk', followed by Blake at last enlightening the others 'All right, I didn't expect you to welcome the idea. That's why I misled you just a little'. Avon soon enters the debate, revealing his ever-superior awareness (and style) as only he can. He has known all along, and casually says so 'I never really believed your long-range reconnaissance story. Earth has been on your mind for a long time Blake. Too long to sit outside the planetary system and look'.

Blake is momentarily surprised but not thrown from his objective, explaining that the Liberators great legend that has earned them accolades from rebel and rabble the galaxy over has effectively been a nipping at the Federations heals (I would have thought the acquisition of ORAC to be a little more of a blow than that but still.....). The heart of the Federation is Earth and that's where he wants them to strike. This is where he has seen two large scale massacres of his comrades, experienced mind conditioning, renouncing said comrades in public forum, been portrayed as a child molester and left what resistance groups there are on the planet alone to fend for themselves. Pretty strong motives, and personal ones at that.

Blake displays his alpha grade knowledge of history to the presumably uneducated ears of at the majority of his crew by explaining the two hundred year existence of Central Control on Earth and that it represents the bulk of the Federations power:'Smashing that would be the biggest single step toward the destruction of their power. I don't think they would ever recover from it.' Here is one man who has made up his mind, and presumably decided to do everything in his power to convince the computer genius, Avon, to co-operate, due to the very nature of the installation and the complicated process of sabotaging of it. All of Liberators 'human' crew from Alpha to Delta now display some knowledge of Control, with Gan saying the Federation have never attempted to hide the whereabouts of the complex and Avon adding they have even 'advertised' it, as a symbol of Federation power. [Cally certainly throws her loyalty fairly quickly and without question to Blake doesn't she? She has known about his plan before any of the others (she surmises that Blake may decide to go for Control two episodes ago), yet she knows far less about the target, it's history and previous attempts to attack it than even vila! I suppose a rousing speech from Blake in private was enough to whip this early rebel Cally into action, a real illustration of her early character, a fervour that arguably waters down later]

While it is established that vast armies, rocket launches and rebel attacks have failed at making a dint on Control, Blake still thinks he alone is capable of it: 'For the past year now, I've been collecting all the information I could find. With Orac's help, I now know more about Control than anyone outside the senior echelon of the Federation. I think I can destroy it.' Here he fails to acknowledge the spirit of teamwork that the freedom-fighting unit on-board Liberator has become over the many trials and tortures already suffered by the crew. Avon reacts with a slow sarcastic clap, which is typically Avon, yet is also a reaction that someone far less arrogant than Avon might have demonstrated in a similar situation (after all, every crew memberhas saved Blake's life at least once and significantly contributed to his resistance against the Federation).

Avon's attempt to raise Blake's ire is once again without a reaction from the glorious leader, as he continues unaffected 'I'm not going to minimise the danger. It's a high-risk operation. That is why I'm not going to ask any of you to come with me'


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David Dixon

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