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Recap / Blakes Seven S 2 E 3 Weapon

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In the future, we'll all dress like this.
Written by Chris Boucher.
Directed by George Spenton-Foster.
Airdate: 23 January 1979.

Blake intends to raid a Federation weapons research base, but finds it on full alert because one of its technicians has escaped with a Secret Weapon called IMIPAK. Meanwhile Servalan has cloned Blake in a scheme to get her hands on the weapon.

This episode has the following tropes:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: Despite her plan failing and Carnell doing a runner, Servalan can't help smiling when Carnell's recorded message says that she's the sexiest officer he's ever worked with.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg:
    • The first clone Blake gives a Big "NO!" and drops to his knees, but Travis kills him anyway.
    • Despite his loathing of the Federation hierarchy, Coser's Lame Last Words when the Supreme Commander turns up on his doorstep are a pathetic, "I didn't mean it!"
  • All According to Plan:
    • Servalan is pushing Travis hard to hunt down Coser. Eventually she dismisses him and invites Carnell into the room, whereupon we discover this is all a plot cooked up between the two of them.
    • Avon realises they've walked into a trap on seeing Servalan's calm response to their arrival, despite the fact that they're holding Servalan and Travis at gunpoint.
  • And Then What?: Invoked Trope. Coser destroys his spacecraft to cover their tracks, meaning that he's marooned them there (Carnell puts this down to suppressed guilt). However when a famous rebel turns up, Coser is quite eager to hand over the weapon to a man who would destroy the Federation, which would give meaning to his selfish act of theft and murder. Carnell is counting on this, of course.
  • Badass Boast: Averted, when 'Blake' meets Coser, who says, full of hero-worship, "You're Blake! You're Blake!!" Blake says calmly, "Yes, I know who I am." Turns out, this is because 'Blake' is actually a clone programmed with Blake's memories.
  • Bad Boss
  • Bait-and-Switch Compassion: Every time Servalan blows up at Travis for going too far, it's not a Pet the Dog moment but just showing Pragmatic Villainy.
  • Batman Gambit: The Federation has a profession called a psychostrategist whose entire job is to work out these. Unfortunately a minor but essential piece of information isn't reported to him and the entire plan collapses. Thanks to his skill the psychostrategist realizes in advance this will happen and flees before the inevitable punishment.
  • Beneath the Mask: Despite the façade of reverence she maintains towards Clonemaster Fen, Servalan refers to her as a 'tiresome female' out of earshot.
  • Blatant Lies: Servalan tells Clonemaster Fen that Travis deeply regrets his impulsive action, and she's sending him back to Headquarters where he will be court-martialled for killing the clone; actually she's just sent Travis in pursuit of Coser. Fen clearly doesn't believe a word of it.
  • Canon Welding: Having fled the Federation, Carnell turns up in the Past Doctor Adventures novel Corpse Marker and the Kaldor City audioplays. Both are spin-offs of the Doctor Who episode "Robots of Death" written by Chris Boucher, who also wrote this episode.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The proximity mines that Travis has seeded around the planet.
  • The Chessmaster: Carnell is a psychostrategist, a specialist in predicting human behaviour.
  • Clones Are People, Too: Travis encounters a clone Blake and is unable to resist killing him. The Clonemasters regard this as a serious breach of ethics and Servalan has to promise them that Travis will be punished. He isn't of course, as Servalan and Travis don't care much about killing anyone (in fact Travis accuses Servalan of using him to test the effectiveness of the clone). Another clone Blake is then used for their Evil Plan but helps foil it instead, having developed his own sense of ethics.
  • Cloning Gambit: The Clonemasters maintain their values by cloning themselves, and raising that person to share their ideals.
  • Copied the Morals, Too: Played with; it's not that the copy has Blake's morals, but that it has the Clonemasters reverence for life, causing him to turn against Servalan.
  • Cool, but Inefficient: IMIPAK (Incipient Molecular Instability Projector And Key), a ray gun which induced incipient instability in the molecular structure of the target, after which you have to whip out and activate the Key to convert it to actual instability and thus destroy the target — except that if the target is a living being and noticed you firing the gun at him, you never get the chance because long before then, he's zapped you with his own less acronymic but far more practical weapon. It makes an excellent Explosive Leash, but as a hand weapon it leaves much to be desired.
  • Costume Porn: All over the place. Jenna wears a deep blue gown with starburst brooches, while Cally wears a red gown with gold trim and nehru collar. Servalan is gorgeous as always in a white bare-midriff gown with high filigree collar (she wears a feathered cloak while down on the planet). Averted at first by Avon who's only wearing his black undershirt, but he changes into his famous red leather quilted outfit.
  • Don't Call Me "Sir": Coser tells Rashel not to call him sir because he set her free, but that doesn't stop him from bullying her every time she shows some independence. He later reveals that his resentment over this trope was because he felt patronized by the Federation's hierarchical system.
  • Double-Meaning Title: Both IMIPAK and the clone Blake are referred to as a weapon.
  • Eek, a Mouse!!: Averted; Rashel isn't as bothered by the rats as Coser — as a Labour-Grade she's used to dealing with them.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: When Servalan's aide calls him a Puppeteer, Carnell is mildly irritated that people are still using that term for his profession. "I never really felt that did me justice."
  • Evil Plan: Servalan has orchestrated everything with the help of Carnell, as she wants the IMIPAK for her own private use.
  • Evil Knockoff: Averted; the clone Blake is arguably more moral than the real one.
  • Expendable Clone: Averted; Travis encounters a clone Blake and is unable to resist killing him. The Clonemasters regard this as a serious breach of ethics and Servalan has to promise them that Travis will be punished.
  • Extreme Doormat: Rashel appears to have gone with Coser simply because he told her too, rather than because of love for him or a desire for freedom. In fact it takes her a while for the concept of freedom to sink in, though once it does she takes proactive measures to ensure she stays free.
  • Fake Kill Scare:
    • Oh no, Travis has killed Blake! Don't worry, he was only an Expendable Clone.
    • The Liberator tries to outrun the IMIPAK signal with little possibility of success. There's an explosion on the flight deck, whereupon Zen reveals they hit one of the Space Mines that Travis mentioned earlier, with minimal damage.
  • Faking the Dead: Coser blows up their spacecraft to make it look like they died in a crash. Carnell however points out the presence of debris indicates the vessel was destroyed on the ground rather than from Coming in Hot, which would obliterate the ship.
  • Fantastic Caste System: Coser is a Beta-class technician. Rashel is a Labour-grade bond slave employed as a menial worker (and possibly a Sex Slave as well).
  • Fantastic Religious Weirdness: The Clonemasters have taken on the trappings of a religion.
  • Flowers of Romance: Carnell leaves a glass flower for Servalan.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Blake plans to raid the weapons research base because he wants firepower for an attack on Federation Central Control on Earth.
    • Servalan is tearing strips off Travis for killing the clone, but Travis retorts that she's a Manipulative Bitch who likely planned it that way (why else order two Blakes to be cloned?) This foreshadows the reveal that Servalan and Carnell are manipulating everyone.
    • Carnell warns Servalan that Travis is dangerously insane. We see just how insane in the season finale.
  • Ghost City: The escapees hide out on an abandoned mining colony (filmed in Rutherford Laboratories in Oxfordshire).
  • Given Name Reveal: This is the first episode where Servalan is referred to by name, instead of "Supreme Commander".
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: Carnell is counting on this so a deranged Coser will accept the Contrived Coincidence of a famous rebel turning up at his location, but Coser puts a Spanner in the Works by taking someone with him. Coser does react according to Carnell's prediction, but the presence of an Innocent Bystander convinces clone Blake to turn against Servalan.
  • High Collar of Doom: Collars abound — Servalan, Clonemaster Fen, Coser and Rashel all wear them.
  • Hypocritical Humour: Having spoken out in favour of Blake's idea of stealing from a Federation weapons research facility, Vila asks Who Would Be Stupid Enough? to do so after finding the facility on full alert. Avon gleefully calls him on it.
  • Impractically Fancy Outfit: A technician and manual slave labourer dressed like Ming the Merciless, the Clonemaster who has to keep looking down at her feet every time she makes a Grand Staircase Entrance, and Servalan who is... dressed the same as always.
  • I'll Kill You!: Coser threatens Rashel with this. Cut to Travis and Servalan discussing how Coser killed everyone else on the IMIPAK research team, showing it's not an idle threat.
  • Ineffectual Death Threat: Servalan tells Rashel she'll never leave the planet. As Rashel clearly has no intention of doing so, her only response is that Servalan had been make sure she does it from over a million miles away.
  • Insufferable Genius: Orac takes some coaxing to dig out the details on who escaped from the research base.
  • Ironic Echo:
    Travis: The weapon guards itself.
    Servalan: Thank you, Travis!
  • Ironic Echo Cut:
    Coser: A labour-grade slave. You're pathetic.
    Cut to Servalan: Travis, you are pathetic!
  • Just Think of the Potential!: Coser eagerly explains IMIPAK's potential as a Weapon of Mass Destruction to clone Blake. Having been imbued with the Clonemasters reverence for life, clone Blake is not impressed and later prevents Servalan from getting her hands on it.
    Coser: It's called IMIPAK: Induced Molecular Instability Projector and Key. You use it like a gun and it projects an unstable molecular potential in the part of the victim that you hit. The beauty of it is that unless they see you do it, or you tell them you've done it, they don't even know it's happened.
    Clone Blake: And that kills them?
    Coser: This [Picks up the key]— this kills them. This is the key. When they're in range of this and you press that [indicates button], it triggers the unstable molecules. Death at the press of a button.
    Clone Blake: I see.
    Coser: What do you mean, "you see"? Aren't you impressed? Look, once you hit them with this, there's nothing they can do to remove the spot. It's there for as long as they live. And YOU decide how long that is. This has a range of up to a million miles. Just think of it! You set the range here. If he's within a million miles, you can kill a marked man anytime you want without even seeing him again. Or you can leave a whole series of [keys] in various places ready-triggered and he'll kill himself whenever he comes within range of one. Or you can tell him they're there and you can be certain he'll never go where you don't want him to go. Selected victims, groups, whole populations. You can be like God!
  • Keeper of Forbidden Knowledge: Ostensibly the Federation shut down research into cloning because it would lead to genetic stagnation. The Clonemaster reveals that they actually feared its potential as a weapon, and created the Clonemasters to contain the knowledge as once learned it can't be unlearned. When Travis asks what would happen if an enemy who didn't share their ideals created a Clone Army, the Clonemaster states that according to the Rule of Life they'd be required to create an identical army to defend the Federation.
  • Kick the Dog: Coser's bullying of Rashel prevents the audience feeling too sorry for a man who is just a pawn in Servalan's scheme.
  • Mad Scientist: Although only a technician Coser fits this trope exactly — he invents a superweapon, feels bitter that his genius is not recognised, has a minion that he alternately bullies and confides in, a tendency to start ranting at the slightest provocation, and gets killed by his own creation.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Travis accuses Servalan of this, but it turns out even she's not above hiring an expert in the field.
  • Mercy Lead: Servalan gives our heroes the chance to outrun the IMIPAK signal with a Teleportation Rescue and Hyperspeed Escape. Her actual reason is to make everyone think the rebels stole IMIPAK because Federation pursuit ships would witness the Liberator leaving orbit, but not before Travis had sent the signal to kill Blake.
  • Mexican Standoff: Our heroes have Servalan at gunpoint, but she's holding the IMIPAK key.
  • Money to Throw Away: Carnell gives away his expensive chess computer to the staff member who brought him the report about Rashel's disappearance (forewarning him that the plan would go bust and he had to flee).
  • Noisy Nature: The fugitives are warned by the creature's growling. Averted later when it's smart enough to wait silently in ambush for Coser to unblock the door.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Justified as Coser has killed everyone else on the research team, destroyed all the recorded data and stolen the only prototype. At the end of the episode Servalan doesn't dare send someone to get it back, as this risks exposing her role in events.
  • Obscured Special Effects: The creature is represented by a giant claw reaching through the door.
  • Ominous Opera Cape: It goes with the High Collar of Doom.
  • On Second Thought
    Carnell: Look at it this way, Supreme Commander, you haven't lost anything. Whereas I, well, I've lost my career, my position, the respect of my peers... Come to think of it, I haven't lost much, either.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Travis is visibly impatient and derisive of the Clonemasters. Servalan treats them with a façade of respect, though this is because she respects their power.
  • Progressively Prettier: When Travis was recast his makeup was also heavily redesigned to make him look much less facially disfigured.
  • The Resenter: Coser invented IMIPAK despite being only a technician, realised that thanks to the Federation hierarchical system he'd never get the proper credit for it, so he decided to kill the entire research team and run away with the weapon.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Even though he knows it's a clone, Travis can't stop himself from killing a clone Blake. At the end of the episode Carnell warns Servalan that whatever catharsis Travis got from his act will have worn off, so he'll be dangerously insane. "Then again, aren't we all?"
  • Rule of Symbolism: A man and a woman start afresh on a new world.
  • Sanity Slippage: Travis in the Clonemaster scene does a lot of shouting and even manhandles the Supreme Commander, a court-martial offence as she points out. While this is down to Brian Croucher's different take on the character, it's suggested that Travis has become dangerously unstable despite (or because of) the retraining therapy he's been forced to undergo.
  • Sapient House
    Fen: Like most of our city, this room lives; a vegetable biologically adapted but living and growing — and all life, Travis, is linked. That is the basis of the Rule of Life.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Carnell does a runner the instant he belatedly learns about Rashel being with Coser.
  • Secret Weapon:
    Avon: We do not know what IMIPAK is.
    Blake: Exactly. The least we've got to do is find out what it does.
    Vila: Why have we? I can live without it.
    Blake: It's just conceivable that you can't.
    Avon: Unless of course you want your last words to be, "So that's IMIPAK!"
  • Single-Precept Religion: A justified example as this is a religion artificially constructed for a single purpose.
  • Slave Race: The Labour Grades. They can be 'modified' for disobedience and punished for listening to conversations that have nothing to do with them.
  • Smart People Play Chess: As you do when you're The Chessmaster.
  • Spanner in the Works: Coser takes a Labour-grade bond slave with him, and the disappearance of a minor functionary is not noticed and passed on to the psychostrategist until it's too late to for Carnell to rethink his stratagem.
  • Stealth Insult
    Clonemaster Fen: You understand the Rule of Life, Servalan. Almost as thoroughly as you understand... trust.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: The episode opens on Coser and Rashel watching the destruction of the spaceship that brought him to the planet, so as to fake their deaths.
  • Suicide Mission: What Avon thinks attacking a Federation weapons research facility is. On hearing it's Cally's idea he quips, "Auron may be different, Cally, but on Earth it is considered ill-mannered to kill your friends while committing suicide."
  • Surrounded by Idiots
    Carnell: The Officer Corps will forgive anything it can understand. Which makes intelligence about the only sin.
  • Tested on Humans
    • Servalan has two Blakes created by the Clonemasters, just to test their effectiveness via Travis having an irresistible urge to kill the first one he sees.
    • IMIPAK is demonstrated by Servalan on one of her own soldiers, just to show our heroes that she has their lives in her hands.
  • Took a Level in Badass: The meek Rashel eventually gets tired of Coser bullying her, and later turns the tables on Servalan with the help of clone Blake.
  • The Vamp: Servalan gets touchy-feely with Travis to calm him down when he gets too Ax-Crazy. She flirts with Carnell too, who flirts right back.
  • Worthy Opponent: Despite hating the man who looks just like the clone, Travis departs with a "my compliments" to the Blake who outsmarted Servalan. Servalan too appreciates Carnell's wisdom in fleeing before she can get her hands on him.
  • You Are Already Dead: Any living being shot by the IMIPAK projector can be killed at the press of a button, even years later and from a million miles away.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Servalan threatens to have Travis sent to the slave-pits of Ursa Prime once he's killed Blake. Her action in tagging Travis with IMIPAK shows she wasn't even going to wait that long.
  • You Have Failed Me: The security commander at the research base dies under interrogation after Coser's escape. Carnell shows himself wiser than most people in Servalan's employ when he's smart enough to run for it before things have gone pear-shaped.
  • You Know Too Much: Carnell openly muses to Servalan that he'll be the only one who knows about Servalan having the IMIPAK. Later dialogue shows that Servalan was considering having Carnell killed, though she also knows that as a psychostrategist he'll have anticipated this.
  • Zeerust: The notion that in the future a human could defeat "the best chess computer available", let alone six times in a row, has now become ludicrous. The last year any human was able to beat the best chess-playing computer in the world was 2005. Carnell might have saved himself the small fortune he spent. Or maybe he's into antiques? The thing he uses looks exactly like the 1977 Chess Challenger 3.