We open with three men attempting to open a safe with an oxyacetylene torch. The man operating the torch, Rocky (Michael McKevitt) is injured, so the others have to take over. Harry Skeats (Maurice Roëves) is clearly the leader of the three and he assumes command.
Later, Harry and Rigby (Tom McCabe) drop off Rocky’s body at the hospital, but it’s too late – Rocky’s already dead. Had they not decided to continue with the job then they probably could have saved his life – but these are career criminals, with little or no conscience.
But Rocky’s body is the first solid evidence that Hackett and his team have concerning the wave of robberies which have swept the area. And since this latest robbery netted the villains a cool eighty seven thousand in uncut diamonds, the pressure is on to find the gang.
Roger Marshall’s list of credits is impressive (co-creator of Public Eye, creator of Travelling Man and a skilled writer on numerous series including The Avengers, The Sweeney, Survivors and The Gentle Touch). This would be his only contribution to Target though, due to his unhappiness with the way it turned out, so much so that he asked for his name to be taken off the credits (the in-house BBC pseudonym David Agnew was used instead).
Douglas Camfield was a highly experienced director who specilised in precisely this sort of material (with episodes of Special Branch, The Sweeney and The Professionals to his credit). He was able to assemble a cracking cast, featuring impressive turns from Maurice Roëves, Christopher Benjamin, Kenneth Colley and Ron Pember.
Actors who would later make an impression in other series also pop up, such as Geoffrey Leesley (later to be a regular on Bergerac) sporting a very impressive moustache and Sandy Ratcliff (one of the original series regulars on Eastenders).
Given the long-standing disagreement that existed between Camfield and Dudley Simpson (which dated back to an incident at a party in the mid sixties) it comes as no surprise that Simpson didn’t provide the music for this episode. With no credit on the closing titles, it’s probable that the sparse incidentals were drawn from library cues.
Ex-jailbird Tom Farlow (Ron Pember) is somebody that Hackett attempts to use to infiltrate the gang. But instead of keeping the meet, Farlow, recently released from prison, has gone to find his wife – who’s left him for another man. This leads into the most memorable scene of the episode as Farlow methodically fills a large pan full of scalding water and walks upstairs to confront his wife and her lover.
After advising the man to leave, he throws the water over his wife. Despite the fact that don’t actually see anything (we only hear her screams) it’s still very disturbing. It’s a good example of how a poweful effect can be created purely in the mind of the viewer. Tate is far from impressed with the way things have turned out and tells Hackett that “you get a phoney tip-off, she gets a face-full of scalding water. That’s one hell of a day’s work.”
The episode ends with another action-series cliche (Hackett rugby-tackles Harry Skeats into a swimming-pool).
Blow Out isn’t a particularly good example of Hackett’s detective skills as he tends to flounder from one situation to the next (and even though he catches Skeats, the story ends with the news of another robbery. So the squad seem to be back at square one).
It’s fairly light on action, but Camfield and the excellent cast keeps things moving at a very decent pace.