Power opens with Avon being chased by some hairy tribesmen. I don’t know about you, but whenever I see hairy tribesman in Blakes 7 my heart sinks a little – it suggests that the story is going to be a little disappointing. And since this one was written by Ben Stead it’ll be no surprise to learn that we’re in for fifty minutes of dodgy sexual politics. But it’s by no means all bad as Stead, for once, doesn’t always go down the most obvious routes.
Gunn-Sar (Dicken Ashworth) is the leader of the Hommicks and he wastes no time in introducing himself to Avon. “I am Gunn-Sar, chief of the Hommiks. I rule by right of challenge, which means I’m the biggest, toughest, meanest son of a Seska on this planet.” It doesn’t take long before you realise that there’s an air of mockery about Gunn-Sar. He knows it and the others know it too. Ashworth is clearly having fun with a role that’s a little bit more interesting than the male chauvinist leader of a hairy tribe that it first appeared to be.
Apart from Nina (Jenny Oulton), the Hommicks appear to be a totally male enclave whilst the Seskas are entirely female. We therefore see a battle of the sexes play out which initially paints the Hommicks as oppressors and the Seskas as victims, although the truth is a little more complicated. The revelation that the Seskas are captured and operated on in order to make them compliant breeding stock is somewhat horrific (as is the fact that any girls born are left out in the wilderness to die).
This is odd though. If most of the girls are killed immediately after they’re born it stands to reason that eventually the Hommicks will die out. We later learn that Nina is Gunn-Sar’s woman, as it were. So what about the rest of the Hommicks, don’t they want a little female company as well? There’s more than one answer to this, but I don’t think we’ll go any further down that road ….
We seen an operation being carried out – by Nina – which poses another question. The Hommicks appear to be primitive, but they’re surrounded by advanced technology. This becomes a little clearer after Avon runs one of Gunn-Sar’s men, Cato (Paul Ridley), to ground in a computerised observation room. Avon realises that Gunn-Sar is ignorant about many things, including this room.
CATO: He thinks we have scouts posted everywhere and runners.
AVON :Impractical. So why do you keep up the illusion?
CATO: For the Hommicks, the people. If they see this they’ll want more. Hydroponic food, machines, neutron blasters.
AVON: And you don’t have them to give. Because your civilization died a long time ago.
AVON: What killed it?
CATO: A war. Everything was lost. Industry, people. Afterwards, the Council of Survivors decreed that we should start again, from the very beginning. Wooden tools, flint arrowheads, the wheel. Ten thousand years advancement destroyed in a day.
There’s something quite pleasing about this. An apparently primitive society being subtly guided with the help of advanced technology.
Pella (Juliet Hammond-Hill) is the foregrounded Seska. All the Seskas have mental and physical powers well in advance of the average woman, but of course she’s no match for Avon. In a scene that I’m sure had Paul Darrow’s many female admirers swooning, Avon subdues Pella and then explains why he’s better than her. “You see, Pella, it’s your strength, and however you use it, a man’s will always be greater. Unfair, perhaps, but biologically unavoidable.” Score one for the male sex then. But Pella later knocks him out by levitating a computer keyboard (this is probably the funniest thing in the episode, mainly for Darrow’s expression and the way he seems to plummet to the floor in slow-motion) so I think we’ll have to call it a draw.
Dayna later challenges Gunn-Sar to a duel (Avon also did this earlier but was unsuccessful). Dayna fares better, although she did have the help of the Seskas , even if she didn’t realise it. By the laws of the Hommicks, Dayna is now leader, although unsurprisingly she doesn’t stay for the coronation. This raises another question – Dayna has effectively plunged the Hommicks into chaos (the revelation that only a handful of Seskas are still alive is another problem) so what will happen to them now? Nina suggests they should leave, but do they have a ship? Avon and the others certainly don’t stick around to see if they need a helping hand, which is a little unfriendly.
Pella turns out to be a wrong ‘un, which I’m sure proves something, although I’m not entirely sure what. Avon sums up what we’ve learnt. “You can have war between races, war between cultures, war between planets. But once you have war between the sexes, you eventually run out of people.” A battle of the sexes script from Ben Stead could have turned out a lot worse, so I guess we have to be thankful for what we got. Power isn’t perfect but it clips along at a good pace, even if it doesn’t make a great deal of sense.
Right at the end Soolin pops up from nowhere, offering to join the crew. This is the sort of scene that really should have come at the end of Rescue as it does make you wonder what she’s been doing for the duration of this episode. No matter, we’ve got a new crewmember and we’ve got teleport facilities (which was sort of what the story was about) so things are looking up.