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Recap / Blakes Seven S 2 E 7 Killer

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Written by Robert Holmes.
Directed by Vere Lorrimer.
Airdate: 20 February 1979.

The Liberator arrives at a Federation base on the planet Fosforon, where Avon hopes to 'persuade' a former partner-in-crime to help them steal a TP crystal that will decode classified transmissions. When a derelict spacecraft from 700 years ago appears near the planet, the scientists on the base investigate the derelict and unleash a deadly plague.

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This episode has the following tropes:

  • Air-Vent Passageway: Avon and Vila enter the base via a sewer pipe.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Avon insists that Tynus owes him for keeping his mouth shut after his capture, and that refusal to help could see Tynus sent to a penal planet if Avon decided to reveal his role in the computer fraud.
    Vila: When Avon holds out the hand of friendship, watch his other hand. That’s the one with the hammer.
  • As You Know: Justified; exposition on the TP crystal is provided by Tynus thinking up excuses why he can't help and Avon shooting them down.
  • Batman Gambit: The cyborg corpse was programmed to attack the person doing the autopsy so that others would break quarantine while rushing to his rescue.
  • BBC Quarry: Averted; Fosforon resembles marshland outside the Oldbury Nuclear Power Station.
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  • Blatant Lies: Tannoy speakers announce that the situation is under control and everyone is to remain at their post, after a scene where people are fleeing in panic and dying in the corridors.
  • Body Horror: The final symptom is large blisters breaking out on the hands and face.
  • The Caper: Albeit a two-man job, plus an Inside Man blackmailed into the role.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • As Avon and Vila are in the next room, Tynus writes out the message he wants Tak to send to Servalan on a pad — see Writing Indentation Clue.
    • Avon warns of the dangers of being electrocuted by the converter. Tynus demonstrates.
  • Chickification: Jenna and Cally spend the entire episode up on the Liberator looking gorgeous and smiling in approval at the male characters. Even Jenna's pilot skills are now unnecessary with Blake just giving verbal orders to Zen.
    • Real Life Writes the Plot: After "Redemption" Jan Chappell had it written into her contract that she wouldn't perform in a nuclear power station because she was still breast-feeding her son at the time.
  • Continuity Nod: The Liberator is hiding in orbit thanks to Avon's deflector screen.
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  • Creator Thumbprint: Those Two Guys and Everybody's Dead, Dave for scriptwriter Robert Holmes. Also Vila mentions being a vegetarian (just like Holmes).
  • Data Crystal: The TP crystal. Also Dr Bellfriar gives Blake data blocks (transparent cubes) that he can take up to Orac to be analysed.
  • Domed City: Q-Base
  • Dressing as the Enemy: The clumsy 'bug suits' and large dark visors ensure that Avon and Vila can easily hide their presence.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Orac will have no problem breaking codes in the future without the help of stolen Federation tech.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: The virus kills everyone except the main characters, and it's implied that it will kill everyone on the planet.
  • Foil: Those Two Guys show a nuanced side to the Federation — Tynus is corrupt and treacherous, resorting to petty snarking at Bellfriar when all is lost; Bellfriar is dedicated and keeps his dignity. Tak flees his post while Gambrill stays till his death.
  • Forbidden Zone: The Darkling Zone is an uncharted region where ships disappear (The Bermuda Triangle IN SPACE!), suspected to be the "centre of a meteor storm". Blake theorises that it contains an advanced alien race distrustful of outsiders who destroy any intruder, and sent the virus to prevent humanity becoming a threat to them.
  • Foreshadowing: For "Star One" when Blake chooses to warn the Federation of a threat to humanity.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: Despite this, a soldier collapses from smoke inhalation (though it could have been through heat stroke, or clogged filters in his mask).
  • Girly Run: At least Vila and Avon have an excuse as they're picking their way across a rocky beach.
  • Ghost Ship: Wanderer Class K47, albeit downplayed as we don't see inside the vessel, the action taking place on Q-Base.
  • Godzilla Threshold:
    • Bellfriar orders the guards to shoot if necessary to enforce the Lock Down, though Gambrill dies before he has a chance to pass on the order.
    • Blake chooses to warn the Federation, even though Avon points out that Servalan is on her way to Fosforon and will likely be killed by the virus.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Tynus' death is shown via Vila's horrified Reaction Shot, and his body isn't the charred sandwich filler that Avon warned about.
  • Have a Gay Old Time
    • Blake uses the now politically-incorrect word "redskins". He also asks Orac to tap (instead of hack) into the Central Spacecraft Register.
    • "What about the online console?" In this case "online" means switched on, not connected to a network.
  • He's Dead, Jim: Averted; the doctor formally consults the EEG before doing the autopsy, which is required by law. He sees a flatline, and refuses to believe his colleagues that the monitor is suddenly showing signs of life before he's choked to death by a zombie corpse.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Avon wears black leather with silver studs. Why he doesn't keel over from heat stroke once they turn the air circulation off is a mystery.
  • Hope Spot: Bellfriar identifies the anti-virus and contacts the Liberator, but then he loses his ability to read as the virus attacks his central nervous system and he dies in mid-transmission.
  • I'll Pretend I Didn't Hear That: When Blake introduces himself as the Federation's most notorious political criminal, the two Federation scientists point out that as Absent Minded Professors, they can't be expected to remember people's names.
  • Interservice Rivalry: The science and technical department heads making snide comments about each other.
  • Invisibility Cloak: The anti-detection screen invented by Avon.
    Vila: We're expecting it to break down any time.
  • I Was Just Passing Through: Avon is definitely not suffering from Blake's hero complex. He's just risking death to steal the cypher key for self-preservation reasons. From the expression on his face, Vila doesn't believe a word.
  • Kill All Humans: Averted; the virus was just meant to confine humanity to their planet of origin, only affecting those who have gone out into deep space.
  • MacGuffin: Avon and Vila intend to steal a TP Crystal that will help to "break the new pulse codes of the Federation's transmitted A-Line messages". Got that?
  • Missed Him by That Much: Blake teleports into an area where a line of Federation mooks were standing just a few seconds before.
  • My Significance Sense Is Tingling: Cally warns of something malignant on board the Ghost Ship. Blake takes the warning seriously and sends an anonymous warning to the Q-Base, later following it up in person.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • The electrical fire our heroes use as a distraction knocks out the computer that could have been used to analyze the samples from the corpse.
    • Bellfriar is about to transmit the cure for the plague when Blake interrupts him to discuss the reasons the aliens sent it. By the time they get back to the subject, the disease has affected Bellfriar’s nervous system and he can no longer read the formula.
  • No Honor Among Thieves: Avon blackmails Tynus who tries to betray them in turn.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Vila mentions the Casarus swamp fever that killed millions.
    • A snarky comment by Tynus implies that Dr Bellfriar is on Fosforon because he was Reassigned to Antarctica.
  • Phlebotinum Pills: Blake mentions hibernation pills being used by the crew of a Wanderer Class.
  • Plague Zombie: Blake compares the corpse to those blankets used to spread smallpox among rebellious tribes of Native Americans.
  • Plot Armor: Blake, Avon and Vila are entirely unaffected by the virus.
  • Properly Paranoid: Vila and Avon refuse the drink packs that Tynus offers after discovering he intends to betray them.
  • Punch Clock Villains: Despite working for the Federation, Bellfriar and Gambrill are likeable characters who aren't willing to give Blake away, unlike the double-dealing Tynus.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Although not stated, decoding Federation transmissions would be an essential first step in gathering intelligence on the secret location of Central. The upcoming episode "Countdown" shows that Blake has not given up his search for the Federation Master Computer.
  • Save the Villain: Justified as the risk that one of Servalan's cruisers might carry the virus elsewhere is too great.
  • Ship Tease: Blake and Jenna get quite close to each other while talking.
  • Skewed Priorities: Tynus threatens to report Bellfriar to the Medical Council for his failure to cope with the virus. Bellfriar calmly responds that as they'll likely be dead soon, it's really not something he concerned about.
  • Sliding Scale of Gender Inequality: There are no women seen on the Q-Base, and the two female characters have a minimal role in the episode.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Between Avon and Vila.
    Vila: I always knew you had a friend. I used to say to people, “I bet Avon’s got a friend, somewhere in the galaxy.”
    Avon: And you were right. That must be a novel experience for you.
  • Space Clothes from the WTH, Costuming Department?: The squeaky brown vinyl 'bug suits', the Michelin Man Hazmat Suits, and the firefighters who look like silver fried eggs with legs.
  • Synthetic Plague: Paratype 926.
  • Stock Footage: The London landing on Cygnus Alpha is used for the recovery vessel landing at Q-Base. In a Stock Footage Failure the final shot of the Liberator has a tiny model London docked to it, apparently footage from "Space Fall".
  • Technically Living Zombie: The corpse has been preserved with embalming fluid and given cybernetic implants. Once it carries out its mission to breach quarantine, it deactivates.
  • This Is No Time to Panic: Panic overtakes the base with people deserting their posts and fleeing, breaking quarantine and spreading the virus.
  • Those Two Guys: Running the technical division — Tynus and his underling Tak. On the science side — Dr. Bellfriar and Gambrill. Holmes was also the first to realise the dramatic potential of pairing up Avon and Vila.
  • Walkie-Talkie Static: Quindar tones are heard in the transmissions from the Boarding Party sent to investigate the derelict.
  • We Need a Distraction: In order to steal the TP crystal without the Federation knowing (as they'd just change their codes) Avon needs to program a fault in the converter so it will be replaced and thrown in the garbage where it can be easily stolen. To give him time to do this an electrical fire is started so the men will go to their fire-drill stations, leaving the room unattended. When the base falls into chaos, Avon realises they can just steal it directly and start a fire in the room that will seem like random damage or vandalism.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: Averted when we see one of the Faceless Goons collapse from smoke inhalation, forcing the audience to empathise with him.
  • Writing Indentation Clue: Tynus crumples up the charred remains of the thermal bomb so Security won't realise the fire was deliberate. As Vila is disposing of the soot, he notices the pad Tynus used earlier and covers it with the soot to read the message Tynus sent to Servalan.
  • You Know Too Much: Having alerted Servalan to the Liberator's presence, Tynus then tries to kill Avon to prevent him revealing their past association. It's Nothing Personal.
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