A Guest Blog by Hevy782
Unsurprisingly, the episode titled Weapon focuses on a weapon and the Federation’s attempt to gain control of it. Once again written by script editor Chris Boucher, Weapon is directed by another new face called George Spenton-Foster who went on to dirrect three more episodes, all of which from series two. The episode also features the return of Servalan and Travis but there’s something different this time. Travis is played by an entirely different actor in this episode and all subsequent ones after the original actor, Stephen Grief, declined the offer to appear in the second series and went on to pursue other roles. The recast of Travis was Brian Croucher who had previously appeared in another Chris Boucher penned production, The Robots of Death from Doctor Who. Recasting is never ideal as the new actor almost always ends up in the shadow of the old one and from what I’ve seen of Croucher so far I do ultimately prefer Grief although maybe that will change after I see more of Croucher in the role but at the moment I just find his portrayal a little to over the top. But what about the episode itself? Was that too over the top like the previous one? Let’s take a look and find out.
The episode begins with a paranoid Federation defector called Coser on the run with a slave he liberated called Rashel and a weapon of his own design called IMIPAK. It marks a person with a point of unstable matter which can then be activated at any time in order to kill said person. Servalan wants IMIPAK and together with Travis she uses a clone of Blake to trick Coser into giving the weapon to her. The real Blake and his crew are also in search of Coser but are to late as Servalan uses Coser’s own weapon to kill him. Upon their arrival Travis marks Blake, Avon and Gan using IMIPAK and they are then forced to retreat out of it’s range before Servalan activates it. The clone of Blake, together with Rashel, then steals the weapon and uses it on Servalan and Travis, forcing them to retreat also. Blake and his crew are now safe and IMIPAK is safely out of the Federation’s hands.
For the most part Weapon is a very villain-centric episode with our heroes pretty much taking a back seat this time around as far as the plot is concerned. This time Travis and Servalan are in the pilots seat and are the ones who are driving the plot forward. Speaking of, there isn’t a whole lot of plot in this one which is a welcome relief after the overstuffed Shadow. Instead, it’s more of a character based episode and does very well on that front but not in the way that you’d expect. Instead of expanding on the main characters it builds up the guest characters and makes them all feel very real and well rounded which is something to be commended considering the fairly short running time. Carnell is easily the best and most enjoyable of these supporting characters, I’d even go so far as to say that I wish he could have been a recurring character as he was just that good and he certainly had the potential. A psycho-strategist would be a useful character for Servalan to have around and Scott Fredericks is just so good in the role. He’s also very funny and that last line had me in stitches, the delivery was just perfect. More one-off character as well written as him would be very welcome.
Coser and Rashel are our other two supporting characters who have a rather interesting dynamic for the short while that it (or more accurately Coser) lasts. He may be upset when she calls him her master but he still very much treats her like a slave despite the fact that he freed her. You could just call that inconsistent writing but I think it’s much more than that and as such it makes Coser a quite well layered character. Rashel might not be as well developed a character but she’s probably the more likeable and ultimately gets a happy ending after everything. The episode isn’t perfect however as the whole cloning sub-plot of the story feels a bit out of nowhere and takes a while to link into to the main plot so for that while you’re just left wondering what it was all about. The scenes with the Clonemasters are also quite weird and they just feel a bit too much like pantomime. They ultimately just don’t fit in with the style of Blake’s 7 and I’m not sure whether to blame the writer or the director for this. I also feel that a clone of Blake had a lot of potential that was rather wasted here, even if we would’ve ended up with a bit of a cliché storyline. Bringing up back full circle to the idea of this being a villain centric episode, Servalan is wonderful in this and it’s nice to have Jacqueline Pearce back. She’s an absolutely wonderful villain and she overshadows Travis even more now that he’s been recast. The only villain who could really rival her was Carnell whose time on the show was all too brief but I digress.
Rounding off this episode, it’s a definite step up from Chris Boucher’s first effort and where it mainly excels is in the wonderful supporting characters. Because of this I’m giving it an eight-out-of-ten despite the plot being a bit weak. Next up is another episode which continues the recent trend of single word titles and it’s called Horizon but until then be sure to sound off your thoughts on the episode in the comments below.