The Challenge: 52 Weeks in The Year- 52 Episodes of Blake’s 7. Can we watch them all?
Episode 7- Mission to Destiny
(1978) Writer: Terry Nation / Director: Pennant Roberts
Blake and co investigate a small spaceship which has been locked in a fixed orbit with its crew incapacitated. Reviving its inhabitants they discover it is on an important mission to the colony Destiny to return a device that will save their livelihood – but there is a killer on board and a single clue written in blood.
Two things become apparent in this episode. The first is that Blake, Avon and Jenna are instantly believed and never questioned even though when the Destiny crew wake up, the trio are wandering around their damaged ship and examining their murdered crewmate. Now it would be trusting at the best of times to take them on face value but given the circumstances it does seem odd that nobody challenges them. However this pales into insignificance when you consider the central flaw of the story.
|One of the suspects became glued to Avon's shoulder|
It is established that while Avon and Cally will stay on the craft to help repair it, Blake will take the device to the colony on their behalf and then come back for them. So, why not just give them a lift which would save coming back especially as it’s realised that the Destiny craft will not make the journey. Then, wouldn’t you know it, at the end Blake gives them a lift back anyway!
If you put this aside, what you’re left with is a basic whodunnit that points suspicion at everyone except the person it is yet makes them all so dull that you’re not really that bothered. You’re only way of guessing who actually dunnit is to try and see which of them is the shiftiest. My money was on the bloke with the beard that looked as if it was glued on to his chin. Amusingly Avon also uses this means of deduction and perhaps because he gets it wrong proceeds to punch Sara when she is unveiled!
With such a good cast, they really should have been able to make more of the colonists than they do but their dialogue is dry as a desert; when people in telefantasy start talking about crops and fungus then that drying paint begins to look more interesting. The Liberator’s journey vies with the happenings on the craft as to which is the least exciting and it’s something of a draw.
On the positive side, we have Paul Darrow in sardonic form making proceedings far more enjoyable sometimes with a raised eyebrow, sometimes a glib remark. Indeed when he and Cally are investigating there’s a Doctor Who vibe between them. Also, there’s an excellent opening sequence shot mostly from point of view camera and climaxing in a brief but quite graphic assault. In fact when he wants to, director Pennant Roberts can add quite an atmosphere, it’s just that he doesn’t always seem to want to. The mystery of what is written in blood is an intriguing element to the story that more could have been made of. The only good plot twist we do get later is when Blake opens the box that is supposed to contain the vital element and it’s not there – though this of course gives away who the culprit is as she fetched the box earlier on.
|They were amazed to find an early iPad on the ship|
In what is becoming something of a theme with the series, a little more attention to detail would benefit this episode greatly. Instead a strong premise is frittered away on a script that isn’t exciting enough to engage properly with the ideas it puts forward.
Cally finds a homing device that turns out to be quite significant yet hides it away in her tunic forgetting about it until the denouement. You’d think she’d at least have mentioned it to Avon.
When the Liberator is travelling through the space storm we are told about the shields protecting it yet we hear the rocks continually hitting the metal hull. Perhaps Zen is playing the `rocks hit hull` sound effects tape to enhance the mood of danger?
It is supposed to take them four days to get to Destiny and yet it seems to take them no time at all to nip back after they retreat from the storm. So how long did they travel before they met it?
The colonists include several well known TV faces including Barry Jackson (until recently Midsomer Murders’ pathologist), Brian Capron (nasty Richard Hillman from Coronation Street and for older readers Mr Hopwood from Grange Hill) and John Leeson (the voice of K9 on Doctor Who)
It is rumoured this story was originally written for another series and Terry Nation appropriated it when short of ideas.