Blakewatch - Week 21: Hostage

There are 52 episodes of Blake’s 7 and 52 weeks in the year.....

This week: Season Two Episode 8- Hostage
(1979) Writer: Allan Prior / Director: Vere Lorrimer
Fleeing from federation pursuit ships, the Liberator receives a message from Travis on the planet Exbar and now a fugitive himself, offering an alliance. But can he be trusted? No, actually but Blake goes anyway and puts them all in danger. Again.

`Hostage` is a fairly average runaround which though written by Allan Prior is a very Nationesque scramble around a rocky planet as Travis lures Blake into an obvious trap. After a driving opening sequence in which the Liberator is under attack- and for once genuinely looks as if it is- matters soon settle down to a lot of crouching behind rocks and people being threatened.

Fleeing the Federation, Travis got a job as a newsreader

This is Brian Croucher’s best performance as Travis so far. He now manages to sound genuinely menacing and manic though his much touted muscle- amusingly dubbed `crimmos` are a bit rubbish for henchmen. A few plastic rocks are enough to have them tumbling like skittles. Director Vere Lorrimer also plays fast and loose with the geography of the place which can be a bit confusing.

The scenario does add a little to the series mythology introducing us to Blake’s uncle Ushton- long haired John Abineri who seems to be enjoying himself - and his daughter Inga. Now she is supposedly Blake’s cousin but they have a pretty significant snog at the end. Whether Prior realised what he was doing, it is a bit dubious. It’s certainly enough to send Jenna into such a strop that there is no end of episode laughing. She is becoming a little bit like Blake’s wife, left to wash the dishes and operate the teleport while he has all the fun.

More significantly, Blake and Avon’s interdependency is further explored. Avon sends a signal to Servalan revealing Travis’ location, a risky move that he doesn’t tell the others about, hence his shifty behaviour. Eventually he insists on going down to the surface taking Vila with him. This is the second time Avon has taken a huge risk to rescue Blake so let’s hope the writers acknowledge it- indeed let’s hope Blake does. Hasn’t he noticed how much Avon puts his life at risk for him?

It is clear writers like Prior as well as Chris Boucher and Robert Holmes have found the rhythm of each of the characters and this makes for a more varied tone. Even an ordinary episode like this is livened by the interaction whereas in season one, the crew were never quite as interesting as they should have been.

Prior delivers some corking dialogue between the crew including Vila’s comment that “What did I do to deserve this?” to which Avon replies; “How long a list would you like?”. Best of all is the extremely arch conversation between Servalan and Councillor Joban; the latter played by Kevin Stoney at his withering best. Ultimately it is the characters sparring rather than the running around that sustains the episode.

"She was only my cousin- I was just saying hello, now please drive the ship" "Won't"
The debate amongst the crew as to whether Travis can be trusted seems superfluous as he has sent them a message threatening to kill Inga if Blake doesn’t turn up! So can he be trusted? That’s a pretty conclusive No.

With all the resources of the Liberator, does Blake really need to rely on his uncle to tell him where the tower is? And if he spent time here as a boy, surely he would have an idea where it was?

Blake, Avon and Ushton push some rocks down the hill at the `crimmos` but as they have their weapons at this point, why don’t they just shoot them? Especially as the `rocks` are so light they almost blow away in the wind!

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