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Recap / Blakes Seven S 1 E 10 Breakdown

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Written by Terry Nation.
Directed by Vere Lorrimer.
Airdate: 6 March 1978.

Gan's limiter is malfunctioning, causing him to attack his crewmates. The Liberator sets course for a neutral laboratory to find a surgeon who can repair the damage.


This episode has the following tropes:

  • Asteroid Thicket: The episode opens with Zen warning of an oncoming 'meteor storm'. Convulsed with pain from his limiter, Gan is unable to hand over control to Zen.
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  • Auto-Doc: Averted; Blake suggests that with the Liberator's advanced surgical bay and Orac talking them through the operation... Avon promptly steps on the idea that they can do neurosurgery without the help of a specialist.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Farren appears to be a typical Obstructive Bureaucrat and Kayn a more sympathetic character when he insists on teleporting over to the Liberator despite Farren's protests. But instead of a doctor whose only concern is for his patient, Kayn is shown to be an egotistical supporter of the Federation who's completely indifferent to whether or not Gan survives. Kayn's differences with Farren is instead due to his dislike of the stationmaster telling him what he should do.
  • Berserk Button: "You struck my hand!"
  • The Berserker: Gan's limiter implant malfunctions and does the exact opposite of what it's supposed to do, sending him into an indiscriminate homicidal rage.
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  • Bridge Bunnies: "Hello! This place is full of pretty girls."
  • Captain Obvious: After Avon is attacked by Gan...
    Blake: He got away from Cally.
    Avon: Yes, well I can see that!
  • Character Tics: Gan repeatedly clenches his fist as his brain damage gets worse.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Averted; Gan spends most of the episode unconscious.
  • Dr. Jerk: Played by Julian Glover, no less. With Gan dying, Kayn just sits with his feet up, intending to delay the operation (if he bothers to do it at all) until the Federation gets there.
  • Dramatic Thunder: IN SPACE! when the Liberator encounters the vortex.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: After the station is blown up:
    Avon: Scratch one bolthole.
    Blake: That's not funny, Avon.
    Avon: It wasn't meant to be.
  • Everyone Laughs Ending: Our heroes share a laugh after Gan is restored to normal and everyone on the space station has been blown to smithereens. Mind you they've just escaped death themselves, so perhaps you can put that down to breaking the tension.
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  • Everything's Better with Spinning: Not in this episode.
    Jenna: I intend to go on flying this ship even if all systems go into a flat spin.
    Avon: But that's exactly what will happen!
    [later]
    Vila: What was all that about? Everything is running smoothly.
    Blake: That was because everything was balanced before the computers went off line. Try and adjust something, and you unbalance something else. Try and adjust that, you unbalance two more and before you know what's happened, the ship is out of control.
  • Famed In-Story: Kayn quickly realises who the crew piloting the 'experimental Federation vessel' really are. When he explains this to Renor, the latter is quite excited that the pretty girl he was talking to must be Jenna Stannis.
  • Fate Worse than Death: The surgeon scoffs at the expected death threat from Blake, but suffers a Villainous Breakdown after Blake calmly threatens to destroy his hands instead.
  • Forbidden Zone: Taking the direct route to XK-72 necessitates passing through a prohibited space zone.
    Zen: The zone has been designated as containing unacceptable danger.
    Blake: What sort of danger?
    Zen: Data is not available.
    Blake: To you or just to us?
    Zen: There is no data of any kind.
  • Friend or Foe/Misguided Missile: A plasma bolt misses the Liberator and destroys the neutral space station the Federation patrol had been specifically ordered not to damage. Oops!
  • Good Is Not Nice: When he realises Kayn is delaying the operation, Vila goes to threaten him to start working, saying that unlike him, Blake has a conscience. But when Blake realises that Kayn is delaying, he threatens to destroy Kayn's hands if he doesn't do the work in time.
  • Hello, Nurse!: Or "Hello, hello, hello!" from Dr Renor on seeing Jenna. Jenna's not too bothered as Blake sent her to butter him up for information anyway.
  • Improbable Piloting Skills: Jenna insists she can pilot the Liberator manually, even after Avon points out that the ship relies on automated computer control to make constant minor adjustments. Later when the computers are restored, she's able to pilot the Liberator through the centre of the gravity vortex.
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: As Farren puzzles over the mysterious vessel that's turned up on their doorstep, Kayn responds acidly that he has no interest in spaceship design.
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog: Avon just has to go back to the Liberator to get his things.
  • Ironic Echo: Assuming the captain of the Liberator is coming over by shuttle, Farren orders his personnel to make sure he isn't armed. Blake then teleports into their midst and says, "Don't worry, I'm not armed."
  • It's the Only Way: There are a number of places where Gan might get help, but the closest requires flying through the prohibited area. When it turns out there's a gravity vortex there, Blake tells Jenna to fly through the centre of it.
  • I Will Tear Your Arms Off: Blake suspects (correctly) that the surgeon who's repairing Gan's malfunctioning Morality Chip is delaying the surgery long enough for the Federation to catch up with them. Blake tells him that if the operation isn't finished by a certain time, he'll destroy his hands; a very apt threat for a surgeon.
  • "Leave Your Quest" Test: Blake realises that Avon is considering leaving, but makes no effort to convince him otherwise, realising it's best if Avon makes the decision himself.
  • My Nayme Is: Kayn. Also a Meaningful Name given the similarity to "Cain" — rather than being a healer, Professor Kayn causes the death of his colleagues through his ill-considered actions.
  • Negative Space Wedgie: The 'gravitational vortex', which has apparently destroyed all other vessels to enter the area, as there's no information on it in the database.
  • Not So Stoic: Avon gets a bit panicky once he realises they've lost computer guidance, which could send the Liberator spinning out of control.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Avon shows open panic when he realises the Liberator has lost all computer control.
  • Playing Possum: Gan pretends to be unconscious, hoping that Cally will let her guard down. When he can't get free of his Kind Restraints, he 'wakes up' and convinces her that he's better so she'll free him.
  • Poor Communication Kills: The prohibited area has no details listed on why it's forbidden to fly through it. Presumably spacecraft have disappeared there without explanation, but why not state that in the computer files?
  • Race Against the Clock: With Federation pursuit ships approaching, the Liberator can't just do a Hyperspeed Escape as any vibration could affect the delicate brain operation.
  • Rebel Relaxation: Rather than operate on Gan, Professor Kayn just sits with his feet up on the operating table until Vila forces him to start working at gunpoint.
  • Restraining Bolt: Gan's limiter prevents him from killing anyone but is now malfunctioning, causing to attack his fellow crewmembers in a homicidal rage.
  • Scotty Time: A rather chilling example from Blake.
    Blake: How soon can you complete [the operation]?
    Kayn: Thirty-five minutes.
    Blake: Do it in twenty.
    Kayn: (unimpressed) Or you'll kill me.
    Blake: Oh, no, no, no. In twenty-five minutes I'm returning you to your station. If you haven't completed your work—
    Kayn: Your threats don't bother me in the least, you know.
    Blake: (calmly) —I shall destroy your hands. Twenty minutes.
  • Scifi Writers Have No Sense Of Scale: The three Federation pursuit ships maintain an exceptionally tight formation with the vastness of space around them.
  • Screen Shake: A couple of well-timed shakes save Cally and Avon from Gan's Berserker Rage. Later a plasma bolt explosion knocks Avon down.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Avon goes to Farren and reveals who they really are, offering to give the corporation he works for the secret of matter transmitter technology in exchange for sanctuary. His only concession is that the Liberator be allowed to leave unharmed. Farren agrees, but when Kayn sends a message to the Federation, Avon regards this as a breach of their word and returns to the Liberator.
  • "Second Law" My Ass!: Zen refuses a direct order to enter the prohibited zone because it would be fatal. When the crew enters on manual, it shuts down all computer systems.
  • Shout-Out: The crew travel through an Unknown Phenomenon and discover that the other side is full of stars.
  • Slasher Smile: Insane!Gan
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Blake shows he can out-snark even The Snark Knight.
    Avon: Blake, in the unlikely event that we survive this...
    Blake: Yes?
    Avon: I'm finished. Staying with you requires a degree of stupidity of which I no longer feel capable.
    Blake: Now you're just being modest.
  • Space Station: Space Laboratory XK-72 is a research facility maintained by a consortium of neutral planets.
  • Stealth Insult
    Renor: I love girls with a sense of humor.
    Jenna: Yes, I can see where that would be an advantage.
    Renor: Do you believe in love at first sight, Jenna?
    Jenna: Not yet.
  • Status Quo Is God: The limiter is repaired but cannot be removed.
  • Strapped to an Operating Table: Though the restraints appear to be Some Kind Of Forcefield rather than physical straps.
  • Swirly Energy Thingy: So swirly, Jenna is able to fly right through the middle.
  • Time Passes Montage: During Gan's operation, intercut with the pursuit ships approaching.
  • Villainous Breakdown: When Farren touches his hands during a scuffle Kayn beats him to death, then sits staring at his hands while the crew desperately try to contact Farren for orders about the approaching missile.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: To Renor, Blake's crew are exciting outlaws; celebrities even. To Kayn they're killers and maniacs opposed to the "greatest force for order in the known universe".
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