Blake’s 7: Cygnus Alpha

November 29, 2014 in Blake's 7, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782


Over the past two episodes we’ve heard a fair bit about Cygnus Alpha and now we finally get to find out what it’s really like in an episode appropriately named after it. Written by Terry Nation and directed by Vere Lorrimer, Cygnus Alpha doesn’t introduce us to any new characters as such but we do have the first appearance (if you’d even call it that) of Zen who is voiced by Peter Tuddenham. Zen is the control computer of the ship commandeered last episode which had now been named the Liberator after Zen read Jenna’s mind and took the word from her thoughts. An interesting thing to note is that the crew of the transport ship in this episode state that it had been an eight month journey. So presumably the events of the previous episode were spread out over those eight months, but this just does fit in my mind. The breakout must’ve taken place not too long before the start of this episode as Blake, Jenna and Avon haven’t even started exploring the ship yet. Am I missing something or is there a continuity error at work here?

In the aftermath of the previous episode, the crew of the transport ship submit their report, which includes the escape of three prisoners and the death of Raiker, and then drop of the prisoners on Cygnus Alpha. Instead of finding guards on the planet they run into a strange cult, run by the descendants of the first batch of prisoners. Meanwhile, Blake, Jenna and Avon discover the control computer of the Liberator and order it to set course for Cygnus Alpha. While exploring inside the find a room full of strange bracelets and learn that they are part of a method of instant teleportation from the ship to whichever planet they’re orbiting. Blake goes down while Jenna and Avon remain on the ship. Blake sneaks into the cultist’s fortress and finds the other prisoners, including Gan and Vila, but before he can free them he is captured and taken to their leader, Vargas. Vargas demands that Blake give him his ship so that he can be free and convert many other worlds to his religion but Blake refuses and is thrown in the dungeon with the others. They formulate a plan to escape but many of them are killed in action. Only Blake, Gan and Vila make it back to the liberator and soon after they discover a fleet of Liberator pursuit ships have detected them. They flee for now but Blake say’s that once they are ready they will fight back against the forces of the Federation.

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The episode itself was very different from the two previous ones and had an interesting gothic quality to it. It certainly wasn’t what I was expecting before I sat down to watch this episode but that’s not a bad thing. It was a pleasant surprise and a nice change following on from the previous two episodes. However, that’s not to say the story is without flaws and the chief among them would be that it tries to cram too many good ideas and plot twists into too short a time span, leaving the story feeling rather undeveloped. This unfortunately then has a knock on effect to the supporting characters. Vargas, who was played by Brian Blessed, isn’t too bad off but Kara is quite frankly a waste of Pamela Salem’s acting ability. Despite not being the focus of the action, the episode serves as an interest character study of Jenna. With Blake on the planet’s surface we’re left with Avon and Jenna on board the ship and it’s the first time we’ve really seen her away from Blake, leading us to find out a bit more about her real motivations. Avon’s stance in these scenes is pretty clear but it’s left unclear as to whether Jenna was simply leading Avon on or really was thinking of betraying Blake. Thankfully it didn’t come to that but hopefully the plot point will not simply be dropped and we will have some repercussions in the next episode at the very least.

Vila is given some funny lines to say, mostly in the quite tense scenes after the land on the planet but it doesn’t compromise them in the slightest. However, in these early scenes it feels like his character’s motivations are being switched back and forth between him and Arco which really jarred with me. This may have been more easily ignored had it occurred later in the series but this early on while the character is yet to be fully established it’s quite unfortunate. Gan is another character who suffers here and while he’s clearly shown to be on Blake’s side from the start we’re never really given any reason as to why. Finally we have Blake himself who gets to be the action-hero of the episode and is also given some witty gems of dialogue such as the “small world, big project” remark. Overall, however, his characters seems too much like a typical hero and beyond the first episode has been given no character development whatsoever. That’s not to say he’s not likeable for it but at the moment is rather hard, for this viewer at least, to relate to.

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Rounding off this episode, I would say Cygnus Alpha is enjoyable but nowhere near flawless. My least favourite so far (which isn’t saying much at only three episodes in) at a rating of only six-out-of-ten this time around. Next week we take a look at the fourth episode which has been given the intriguing title Time Squad but until then be sure to sound off your thoughts on the episode in the comments below.