Blakewatch: 52 Weeks of Blake's 7. Week 49: Gold

Season Four Episode 10- Gold
(1981) Writer: Colin Davis / Director: Brian Lighthill
Avon’s idea to steal millions worth of gold proves to be a cat and mouse game as his contact Keiller has plans of his own- and someone else is waiting in the wings. (Did you guess? Yes, it’s Servalan!)
You’d think by now the others would be wary of Avon when he suggests a sure thing. Once again though, they follow him into a situation which is full of potential pitfalls and then act surprised when things go wrong. This is the signature plot for season 4 but as it yields generally good results you can see why they run with it again and again. Here, the scenario is spiced up by the clever casting of Roy Kinnear as the slippery Keiller, Avon’s supposed old friend which enlivens what would otherwise be an over familiar sort of plot.

Roy was impressed when Paul produced a leather chair out of thin air

At least it’s not a weapon or invention they are after this time but gold. Gold that, in a wonderfully convincing piece of pseudo science, is turned black to disguise its true properties. Then it is transported on what appears to be a holiday space liner which has minimum security and whose passengers are blissed out on specially treated food. It is probably more complex than just transporting the gold in a heavily armed war cruiser- but if you buy into the idea then you’ll enjoy the episode much more.

Kinnear, who was quite famous at the time this was made, is a big catch for the series and brings a mischievous touch. Keiller is essentially Vila another ten years down the line so you can never tell what the character is up to which leads to some interesting developments. The actor has a way of understating some lines even though they are quite important which makes a pleasant change from the way the Scorpio crew sometimes appear to talk in announcements rather than have a conversation. Keiller’s scenes with Avon in particular provide an interesting contrast as Paul Darrow now seems to be tunnelling through each episode determined to be as melodramatic as he can. When it works the series is at its strongest dramatically and even when it doesn’t- like his extended manic laugh at the end of the episode - then it’s entertaining. At this point, you can’t really lose!

Writer Colin Davis borrows liberally from any number of heist / caper movies and you can count off the tropes as they appear but it suits the series well. Some sequences are exciting, with director Brian Lighthill making some good choices and early on utlilising the factory location setting well. The later sets do tend to accentuate the sometimes limited resources -those passengers do like to walk around and around the corridors don’t they?!

That Keiller turns out to be ultimately in the employ of Servalan is the only disappointment and of course the developments of `Sand` are forgotten. Though not perhaps by Steven Pacey; whether this is in the script or not he bows his head slightly at one moment as if to say `well at least I remember it`. It is one of several light touches that make `Gold` a hugely entertaining episode and suggests a series racing towards a strong finale.



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