Blake’s 7: Time Squad, The Web

These are the two episodes which introduce the seventh member of the original Seven, telepathic Cally, and give us a lot more rounding out of the Blake’s Seven universe (which up until now has been humans vs humans, with occasional Mysterious Objects like the Liberator floating past).

Time Squad: The title of this episode is very peculiar. I suppose it could refer to the alien guards on the captured space pod, but the only sense in which they are a “time squad” is that they are drifting forward in time in suspended animation. It’s even more difficult to make it fit any of the other groups of characters in the story.

However, a lot of this episode is about misdirection of the audience by the writer. At the start, it looks like we are going to settle into a pattern of Blake and team attacking Federation assets à la Resistance fighters of the second world war, and each episode is therefore going to be a raid of the week. But once we have the problems of the pod’s inhabitants running wild about the Liberator, and the sense that the ship itself is powerful but not completely reliable, it looks like this is actually a story about beating off an infiltration on-board while still trying to pull off the mission on the ground. And then there is a further twist, as it turns out that the resistance fighters planetside have been reduced to one telepathic babe.

The episode then resolves in a fairly standard way – alien threat defeated, Federation base blown up as planned – but there have been enough twists getting there that you feel you’ve had your money’s worth. And we now know who the Seven are.

The Web: This episode is partly about more back-story for Cally, but I think much more about Blake and to a lesser extent Avon. I saw this first time round in 1978, but had forgotten the detail (possibly lost on me when I was ten) that the evil scientists on the ground are dissidents from Cally’s people. It’s noticeable that the three people who we see being taken over by the baddies’ brain influence are the three women, Cally, Jenna and the female cyborg. I found the crew’s willingness to forgive Cally for sabotaging the ship (even if under mind control) rather too swift. Surely after what happened last episode they should have learnt to be wary of alien interlopers?

But we have lots of Blake here, both ethical!Blake and gay!Blake. Ethical!Blake in his growing realisation of what the situation actually is, and in the end in his refusal to countenance the destruction of the Decimas, even though this means danger for his own crew. (That final scene in the lab, with the Decimas contemptuously trashing the bodies of the cyborgs, is pretty horrific and did linger in my memory for the last thirty years!)

But also gay!Blake in his relationship with Avon – that moment when Avon throws himself at Blake to protect him from the bomb which is about to explode is fantastic – Avon tries to explain it away as an instinctuive reflex – yeah, right, their hands are practically intertwining. And there is practically no body chemistry between the men and the women on the Liberator, apart from Vila’s attempt to chat up mind-controlled Cally – which would probably have been disastrous anyway, as rather than compliment her on her appearance he asks her to compliment him on his!

NB also lots of classic Terry Nation twists – this is basically a riff on Davros and the Daleks, with the important difference that the Decimas are not in fact evil.

Full marks to for spotting this link.

One thought on “Blake’s 7: Time Squad, The Web

  1. If I have identified the one you are referring to, I think bankers – even dodgy bankers – are as entitled to privacy about their sex lives as anyone else.

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