Follow TV Tropes


Recap / Blakes Seven S 1 E 1 The Way Back

Go To
Blake meets the rebels. He won't know them long.
Written by Terry Nation.
Directed by Michael E. Briant.
Airdate: 2 January 1978.

Roj Blake is a citizen of the Federation, and is generally supportive of the government. One day a friend leads him outside the city to a meeting for political dissidents, where he is told that he was one of them, but he had been caught, brainwashed, forced to renounce the dissidents publicly, and then made to forget. The Federation also had his family executed, and the tapes he gets from them every once in a while are fakes. He is shocked and doesn't seem to believe them, so he wanders off, and hides when Federation troopers arrive. The unarmed dissidents attempt to surrender, but are slaughtered.

While reentering the city, Blake is captured and is taken to have his memories altered. The psychologist successfully makes him unable to remember what happened, but those in charge of dealing with him are left with a dilemma. If they let him live, he might continue to be a problem, but if they imprison or kill him, he will be a martyr for the dissidents. They eventually come to a solution, and decide to have him charged with child molestation and sent to a penal colony. The lawyer that is assigned to him, however, notes that the completeness of the evidence is somewhat suspicious, and conducts his own investigation. After finding holes in the records, he sets out to prove Blake innocent.


Blake is put in a holding cell where he meets Jenna Stannis and Vila Restal, a smuggler and a thief, respectively. They are scheduled to be shipped to the penal colony on Cygnus Alpha in about a day, so the lawyer visits him and asks for additional information that could be used to prove his innocence. Blake tells him everything he can remember, and the lawyer takes this information, as well as the faulty records he found to his boss, but discovers that the man is actually a part of the plot himself. He and his girlfriend go to look for the place where the dissident meeting was held, while the prison ship's launch is moved ahead of schedule. The lawyer gets photographs and other evidence from the scene of the massacre, and is rushing back to get a holding order for Blake, but is murdered on the way by a Federation agent. Meanwhile, Blake and the others are loaded onto the prison ship, and as the Earth gets farther away through a window, Blake assures one of the guards that he's coming back.


This episode has the following tropes:

  • 2 + Torture = 5: Dr Havant tries to convince Blake that what he saw was an illusion.
  • Abandoned Area: The rebels have their meeting in a network of abandoned tunnels (filmed in the Central Ammunition Depot in Corsham).
  • Amnesia Missed a Spot: Dr Havant claims that the memory blocks are infallible in a healthy mind, but a nervous breakdown may affect this. Apparent the trauma of witnessing a massacre (that "Seek-Locate-Destroy" tells us was exactly like a massacre Blake witnessed the last time he rebelled) means he still retains his memories, and is even remembering some of his past.
  • Appeal to Nature: Averted; neither Blake or Varon are very impressed with the Outside.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...
    Blake: Well, since you were so insistent I've done without food or drink for thirty-six hours.
    Ravella: How do you feel?
    Blake: Hungry and thirsty, of course!
  • Bait-and-Switch: Dev Tarrant is shown to be covertly following Blake to the secret meeting. Fortunately he's not a spy but is actually attending the meeting. Then he's revealed to be a spy after all.
    Dev Tarrant: I had trouble getting out of the city, the route was crowded. For a while there I thought we'd been infiltrated.
  • BBC Quarry: A subversion; the rebel meeting was filmed in the World War II ammunition storage bunkers beneath Eastlays Quarry.
  • Brainwashed: The series opens with Blake being informed that he was once a Rebel Leader who was captured and brainwashed until he was willing to publicly denounce his own rebellion. His memories were then altered so he remembered nothing about his past. However the Federation is worried that Blake will regain his memories, so they frame him and have him deported to a penal colony, setting off the events of the series.
    Foster: You were captured. So were most of our followers. They could have killed you. But that would have given the Cause a martyr. So instead they put you into intensive therapy. They erased areas of your mind, they implanted new ideas. They literally took your mind to pieces and rebuilt it. And when they'd finished, they put you up and you confessed. You said you'd been "misguided." You appealed to everyone to support the Administration, round up the traitors. Oh, they, they did a good job on you. You were very convincing. And then they took you back and erased even that.
  • Brainwashing for the Greater Good: Vila claims to steal things because he's a kleptomaniac. "I've had my head adjusted by some of the best in the business. But it just won't stay adjusted." It's clear however he's just a habitual criminal who has no interest in reforming.
  • Canned Orders over Loudspeaker: The series opens with a security camera panning over drugged and docile citizens walking zombielike through white-painted corridors to the cheerful sound of muzak and a voice announcing various government directives.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: Blake was left alive to discredit the La Résistance, and possibly as The Bait for any future revolutionaries.
  • Cassette Futurism: "I get vistapes a couple of times a year."
  • Characterization Marches On: Vila implies that he's a kleptomaniac. Later seasons establish that he's a professional thief who steals because he's good at it, not out of habit. On the other hand it would be entirely like the Federation to have classified habitual criminality as a mental aberration like being a Resister.
  • Come Back to Bed, Honey: Which is Early Instalment Weirdness considering the rather chaste depictions of sex we get later in the series.
  • Computerized Judicial System: The Defense and Prosecution load their arguments and evidence into a "judgement machine" which then delivers a verdict.
  • Cool, Clear Water: Blake goes outside the Domed City for the first time and is encouraged to drink from a stream by a member of La Résistance. Blake doesn't like the taste much, even when it's pointed out that the water in the city has been recycled a thousand times and dosed with suppressants to prevent rebellion.
    Ravella: The stuff we get's been recycled a thousand times, and it's dosed with suppressants.
  • Crapsaccharine World: The series opens with a panning security camera and Canned Orders over Loudspeaker, while drugged and docile citizens walk zombielike through white-painted corridors to the cheerful sound of muzak.
  • Crusading Lawyer: Blake has this kind of lawyer as representation, who got executed for his troubles.
  • Decoy Protagonist: New viewers might assume the thoroughly likable Varon and Maja are going to be major characters, as they have a lot of screen time, and spend much of the episode attempting to help Blake. New viewers would be wrong in this assumption.
  • Domed City: Not to protect those within (the outside environment has bird calls and drinkable water, so Earth appears to have recovered from whatever conflict or environment disaster necessitated building the protective dome), but as a means of control.
  • Don't Create a Martyr: As there's an increasing view among the rebellious youth that Blake's trial was a fake, it would only fuel those rumours if he died. So the Administration decide to discredit him instead.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Vila trying to take Blake's watch shows he's a thief, though it's presented initially as being a compulsive behaviour rather than something he does because he's good at it, as in later episodes. When Blake catches him at it...
    "Easy! Take it easy! I hate personal violence, especially when I'm the person."
    • Jenna is introduced with a reputation that Vila's in awe of and grounded realism in contrast to Blake's optimism, shown when she bluntly tells Blake that he can forget about any last-minute reprieves.
  • Fake Memories: This is integral to the first episode (and unfortunately dropped after that). Ordinary civilian Blake discovers that he was once a famous revolutionary who got captured, was forced to renounce the rebellion he'd led and had his memories replaced in order to turn him into a model citizen. Later, the Federation gets Blake convicted of child molestation by modifying the memories of children so they'd remember being attacked by Blake.
  • First-Name Basis: Ravella and the rest of the dissidents refer to Blake as "Roj". Notable because almost no-one does this for the rest of the series.
  • Foreshadowing: Blake is shipped off to the Penal Colony on Cygnus Alpha.
  • Frame-Up: Blake is framed for molesting children rather than simply prosecuted for political "crimes" or killed, to discredit him rather than making a martyr.
  • Government Drug Enforcement: The Administration has been putting suppressants in the city's food and drink to cut down the level of dissidence. Blake is told not to eat or drink for a day and a half before being taken to the meeting, so the effects will wear off.
  • Gut Punch: Blake has been framed for child abuse by the evil government and is about to be sent to a penal colony, but his heroic Crusading Lawyer and the lawyer's girlfriend have discovered proof of the government's corruption and are about to blow everything sky-high. Then in the last-but-one scene of the episode the lawyer and his girlfriend are casually blown away by government agents. The prison ship takes off. The End.
  • Hypocritical Humour: Vila nicks Blake's watch while he's sleeping, but has to hand it back when Jenna pointedly asks Blake for the time.
    Vila: Just taking care of it while you were unconscious. The place is full of criminals.
  • Ignorant of Their Own Ignorance: Roj Blake has no idea that he was a famous Rebel Leader only four years ago.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Glynd promises Varon that he'll send out a survey team to find the tunnels that would corroborate Blake's allegations. But Varon never mentioned that the illegal meeting was held in any tunnels.
  • Insistent Terminology: Jenna is a free trader (smuggler).
  • I Shall Return: And he does in "Pressure Point".
    [Blake is craning his head to look out the porthole at a receding Earth and Moon.]
    Guard: Take a long look. That's the last you'll ever see of it.
    Blake: No, I'm coming back. [End credits]
  • Kangaroo Court: Blake's trial is decided ahead of time, since he was framed. However, he didn't help his case by refusing to even offer a defense, because he was innocent.
  • Karma Houdini: Dev Tarrant, the Security agent who sold out Blake and got his allies killed, is never seen again after this episode.
  • Leave No Survivors: The rebels offer no resistance, but are shot on the spot. Blake is the Sole Survivor other than Dev Tarrant, which leaves the authorities with a problem when they fear his brainwashing might not work a second time.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident:
    • The authorities decide not to use a Perfect Poison on Blake, as his death natural or otherwise would not stop a Conspiracy Theory.
    • Varon and Maya are shot, and Dev Tarrant orders his soldiers to arrange a 'transporter accident' to explain their deaths.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: The infamous black-clad Gas Mask Mooks of the Federation make their debut with a massacre.
  • Master of Unlocking: Richie opens a hatch to the outside world while leaving the Master Computer thinking it's still closed. Averted with Varon, who apparently borrowed a similar lockpicking kit yet is instantly detected (though he may have already been under surveillance).
  • Memory-Wiping Crew: One that's not played for Men in Black laughs.
  • Miscarriage of Justice: Blake's case, in which he gets framed for molesting children with fake memories, convicted and sent to a penal colony.
  • The Mole: Dev Tarrant.
  • Orgy of Evidence: The evidence against Blake is overwhelming, so Varon concentrates his defense on arguing mitigating circumstances, but Blake denies all charges of molestation and claims that he's being framed. Afterwards Varon thinks that everything was too perfect and starts digging.
  • The Outside World: And not just the world outside the Domed City either.
  • Planet Terra: The Terran Administration.
  • Prison Ship: The London is the prison transport type.
  • Pull the Thread: The three children were all absent from school the day before they were supposedly molested. When Varon demands the admissions for Central Clinic on that day, it turns out to be Classified Information, though a bribe persuades the computer operator otherwise. There are three admissions whose identity has been unrecorded, which he quickly realizes can't be simply coincidental.
  • Race Against the Clock: Will the lawyer find enough evidence for a holding order before Blake is shipped off to a Penal Colony that no-one ever returns from?
  • Released to Elsewhere: The dissidents who took part in Blake's rebellion were deported to colonies on the Outer Worlds, only to be executed on arrival. Blake's brother and sister were among them, though he gets faked messages from them regularly.
  • Reveal Shot: Dev Tarrant and his soldiers watch the London being launched despite Varon and Maja having found evidence that would acquit Blake. He then looks down at Varon and Maja lying dead at his feet.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Blake is warned that forged documents have been left in his room that implicate him, in case he's thinking of denouncing the illegal meeting to the authorities. The rebels discuss creating disruption by sabotaging the production of food, so the populace will resent the government for rationing it.
  • Screaming Woman: Hauled off by the guards in the transit cell.
  • Shackle Seat Trap: Blake hasn't done up his restraints for the launch, so he's held in confinement with a metal cable.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Varon, the one lawyer on the planet who actually cares about the truth, investigates Blake's frame job, getting painfully close to unravelling the whole thing when government guards simply gun him and his girlfriend down. It was a deliberate attempt to frame the entire series by demonstrating the spirit-crushing government's resolve, and it worked brilliantly.
  • Sinister Silhouettes: Thrown on the tunnel wall just before the Federation soldiers march into view.
  • Skyward Scream: Blake shouts at the security camera he knows is in the roof of his cell.
    Blake: Even if you could prove me innocent, the charges have been made. I've got to hand it to them. [At the security camera] YOU'VE DONE A BRILLIANT JOB!
  • Survival Mantra: "I AM NOT INSANE!"
  • Surveillance Station Slacker: The operator at the Public Records Department is more interested in jiving to the music on his headphones than handling Varon's inquiry. However he has no problem calling Security after overhearing Varon and Maya discussing the implications of their case. Averted with the Security soldier monitoring the exit door that Varon goes through.
  • That Man Is Dead: Foster states re Blake: "There's not much left of the man I knew." It turns out there is some of the Rebel Leader left in him, though it only starts to emerge in the next episode.
  • The Wall Around the World: It's forbidden to go outside the Domed City or make contact with 'Outsiders'.
  • What Are You in For?: The moment Blake meets his future companions the Snark-to-Snark Combat commences.
    Jenna: What's your story?
    Blake: Well, I'm innocent; of what I was charged with anyway.
    Vila: We have something in common, then. We're all victims of a miscarriage of justice.
    Blake: It's true!
    Blake: What about the others?
    Vila: Oh, a very antisocial bunch. Murderers, liars, cheats, [looks at Jenna] smugglers...
    Jenna: [Returns the favour] Thieves...
    Vila: —and they're the nice people.
  • Would Shoot A Girl: Ravella is gunned down with the other rebels, as is Maja with Varon.
  • You All Meet in a Cell: Blake meets Jenna and Vila in a transit cell.