Blake is all about the ending. An obvious comment, but it means that the first forty five minutes, interesting as they are, feels like a very long prologue (a bit like one of those Dalek stories by Terry Nation, where you’re simply waiting for the Dalek to pop up at the first cliffhanger).
But there are plenty of compensations before the final, fatal meeting between Blake and Avon. The initial appearance of Blake – now a grizzled, embittered bounty hunter – is striking, although his later conversation with Deeva (an underused David Collings) does undercut his first few scenes.
The realisation that Blake is simply playing the role of a bounty hunter (indulging a strange whim it seems) turns out to be his downfall. Blake’s autocratic command style often led to disaster during the Liberator days, but this was his most comprehensive blunder.
There’s no reason why Blake needed to personally vet every new recruit to his latest army, and indeed it seems odd that he’s trawling amongst the dregs of the Galaxy on Guada Prime for likely suspects. Or does he now believe, after his exploits on the Liberator, that criminals are the only honest people left?
I’m not quite convinced by the shot of the model Scorpio crashing through the trees, but the destruction of the full-sized set is nicely done.
“Have you betrayed us? Have you betrayed me?”. Paul Darrow doesn’t hold back here, but since Avon is clearly a man well past his breaking point I think we can forgive his enthusiastic delivery of the line.
I wish I could share some interesting anecdote about how shocking I found the episode to be back in 1981, but alas there’s no such memory. I certainly would have watched it, but I think I just shrugged my shoulders and moved on with my life. Possibly I was already anticipating a fifth series ….
2 thoughts on “Blakes 40. Blakes 7 40th Anniversary Rewatch – Blake”
Although this is a decent review, it is entirely written from the perspective of someone who has already seen the episode and knows its ending. You might feel much the same about watching an Agatha Christie mystery: ‘The Mousetrap’ is a different production, if you already know who dunnit!
By coming to episode D13, ‘Blake’, knowing how it ends, you miss all the tension in the original 1981 transmission.
This is a beautifully written drama, and of course the audience had been primed by the Radio Times with the knowledge that Blake would be returning – again – in the season finale, just as had happened the previous year. But there was no advance warning that this was to be the very last episode — rumours to that effect the previous season had turned out to be wrong, and there was no expectation that there was not going to be a 5th series — that is a piece of hind-sight, and was not the expectation in 1981.
The storyline begins with Avon revealling that Blake is alive, and Blake is seen in early scenes working as a bounty hunter, catching renegades and turning them over to the Federation. There is at this point no indication that Blake is only play-acting, and has no intention of actually delivering his victims to Servalan.
And Servalan does not even appear — she is the Elephant in the room in 1981. You kept expecting her to show up, and it was a real surprise when she doesn’t. Half of the expectation that there would be a 5th series was that it was unthinkable that the show would finish without her — the audience expected the final ever episode to be the big showdown between Servalan and Avon. This was part of why, even after the ‘Blake’ episode had aired, there was a general expectation that the show would continue, even if Blake was gone — who hadn’t really been in it for the previous 2 years.
The script editor carefully builds up the tension throughout the episode, heading towards – but never revealling in advance – the disclosure that Blake is not a turncoat, but is still working against the Federation, but making it appear otherwise; and building up towards the other twist, where the Federation forces arrive.
And of course everything is carefully designed to foster the fatal misunderstanding between Blake and Avon, which ultimately ends tragically, with Blake being shot. And the next twist is that he isn’t shot by the Federation! For 52 episodes, we’d been half expecting that Blake would end up before a Federation firing-squad; but this was not the ending we got! We got the surprise ending of all time — not only does Servalan not turn up, not only does the Federation not shoot Blake, but he still gets shot!!
This is an episode with an unforgettable ending, and is easily the most powerful episode in the entire series, but if you come to it knowing the ending, and are only here to see that ending, you miss at least 90 percent of what the episode is about: the tension, the misunderstandings, and the ultimate question: how do you resolve this cliff-hanger ending in the next episode?
Perhaps this is the ultimate unresolvable cliffhanger. But it didn’t seem like that – at the time.
I watched the episode on its original transmission in 1981 and wasn’t terribly impressed then either. You’re free to disagree, I can only offer my opinion …