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Recap / Blakes Seven S 3 E 11 Moloch

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We should not go to Sardos, for it is a very silly place.
Written by Ben Steed.
Directed by Vere Lorrimer.
Airdate: 17 March 1980.

The Liberator follows Servalan's starcruiser, which has broken away from her fleet on a mission to the hidden planet of Sardos. Servalan is seeking the remnants of the missing Fifth Legion, who hold sway over the inhabitants with the aid of a mysterious computer called Moloch.

This episode has the following tropes:

  • Action Girl: Regardless of how she was portrayed in "The Harvest of Kairos", Servalan shows she's more than capable of dishing it out with her off-screen massacre of the internment camp guards.
  • Anti-Hero: Avon, in contrast to Tarrant's Chronic Hero Syndrome:
    Tarrant: We have an obligation—
    Avon: Obligation?
  • Army of Thieves and Whores: Grose gathers recruits for his army of conquest from a nearby penal colony.
  • Artistic Licence – Biology: That a colony of three hundred people who refuse to breed with outsiders might evolve into a one-eyed chinless hook-nose dwarf is quite possible, but why would it take two million years to do so?
  • Affably Evil: Doran is the friendliest serial rapist you could ever meet.
  • And I Must Scream: Colonel Astrid is imprisoned in a sensory suspension tank as punishment for trying to destroy Moloch.
  • The Bait: Turns out Moloch wants the Liberator, and got Grose to lure Servalan there so she would lure our heroes there. Got that?
  • Battle Discretion Shot: Vila comes upon a field of corpses that Servalan has slain.
  • BBC Quarry: The flagship of the Fifth Legion crashed into Sardos leaving a crater the size of Betchworth Quarry.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Vila is complaining about being bored at the start of the episode. Tarrant reminds him of this when volunteering Vila for a dangerous mission.
  • Big Brother Is Watching You: Or Moloch in this case. Poola and Chesil try to erase evidence of the Liberator, but Moloch tips off the villains.
  • Book Ends: The episode opens with the Liberator following Servalan and ends with the Liberator fleeing Servalan.
  • Brain in a Jar: Discussed by Avon re Colonel Astrid.
  • Brain Uploading: Tarrant is shot with a stun gun which also copies his pattern. Grose and Lector plan to use his skills as an Ace Pilot to create automated spaceships, enabling his army of ex-cons to command them.
  • Bridge Bunnies: Poola and Chesil, a blonde and brunette in tight-fitting trouser suits with revealing cleavage, run the monitoring room.
  • Butt-Monkey: Vila gets teleported to the wrong place, befriended by a Psychopathic Manchild, drafted into a renegade army, threatened by Tarrant, beaten up by a thug, and has his gun and teleport bracelet stolen by Servalan.
  • Captivity Harmonica: The prisoners on the transporter celebrating their release.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Tarrant, in contrast to Avon's Anti-Hero:
    Tarrant: We have an obligation—
    Avon: Obligation?
  • Did Not Think This Through
    • Grose has the Master Computer running everything thanks to his ill-educated thugs. Now Moloch is witholding information and is capable of defending itself, so Grose no longer controls anything.
    • Moloch has himself teleported up to the Liberator without considering that his life support system (which he's used to regarding as integral to himself) might not make the trip.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Vila is hauled into a tent so he can enjoy a woman. Cue mutual Double Take from Vila and Servalan.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Avon doesn't think it's a good idea to go back for a second look at the kind of civilization with the technology to shield an entire planet.
    "Well, now there is technology and there is technology. Anyone who can transmute mass and energy on a planetary scale is not going to upset himself too much over my little sidearm. Or a neutron blaster, come to that."
  • Economy Cast: The population of Sardos consists of two women and Moloch.
  • Enemy Mine: Servalan talks Vila into this, but abandons him once she gets a gun as she can do better on her own.
  • False Reassurance: Lector asks the mutoid for her sidearm to demonstrate the energy-mass transmuter. "Come on, come on! I shan't use it on you." He replicates a second pistol and uses that on her instead.
  • Foreshadowing: Grose notes that Servalan's tendency to run off on any mission that can add to her strength means she's not as secure as she pretends. She'll be overthrown at the end of the season, after another ill-fated mission to seize the Liberator.
  • Got Volunteered: Played for Drama when Tarrant pulls a gun on Vila to force him to take part in his heroics.
  • He Knows Too Much: After being scanned and his details uploaded to the computer, Tarrant quips that Moloch has to be destroyed because; "He knows too much about me."
  • If I Do Not Return: Servalan tries the "if I don't return something bad will happen" routine but Grose is not impressed, pointing out that if her military strength was as powerful as she claimed, she wouldn't be gallivanting around the galaxy looking for a single legion to add to it.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Vila describes the Sardosans as a stuck-up lot because they preferred to isolate themselves. As the first spaceship that discovers their planet carries a force of brutal soldiers who rape their women and misuse their technology, it's hard to blame them.
  • The Klutz: Doran recognises Vila on the monitor because he drops his gun.
  • Layman's Terms
    Grose: Colonel Astrid said they lacked a life-support system to carry them through the trauma of molecular integration. Well, I took it to mean they snuffed it before they got going properly.
  • The Man Behind the Curtain: Moloch is not a Master Computer but an extrapolation of what the Sardoans will evolve into, contained in a life support mechanism.
  • Matter Replicator: From demonstration models that can duplicate a working handgun, to replicators large enough to copy starships. The only thing it can't replicate is a living being...unless it has an integrated life support system.
  • Meaningful Name: Grose has gross tastes.
  • No Endor Holocaust: The Liberator flies off leaving the Sardoans with a bunch of psychopathic ex-cons and Dangerous Deserters, while Servalan is prowling above eager to get her Femme Fatalons on their replicator technology. Vila brushes this off by saying the Sardoans deserve it for being a stuck-up lot. Given that the only Sardoan he met was a beautiful woman who gave her life to rescue his friends, that's rather ungrateful.
  • Only Electric Sheep Are Cheap: Grose enjoys real coffee made from beans and real wine from grapes.
  • Penal Colony: Calcos
  • Phlebotinum Breakdown: Teleportation Rescue isn't possible because of the planet's shielding.
  • Rape as Drama: Moloch is a Broken Record where women are concerned. "Give her to your men!"
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Servalan pays no attention to the pleas of a woman being dragged off to be abused by the troops (it's a different matter when she's on the receiving end, of course).
    Servalan: Well, Section Leader, the records were accurate. Women, food, and inflicting pain — in no particular order.
  • Run or Die: Servalan returns with reinforcements and a surrender or die message for the Liberator. Avon cuts her off in mid-speech and does a Hyperspeed Escape.
  • Schmuck Bait: Avon is about to Shoot Out the Lock to Moloch's room when it opens by itself.
  • Screen Shake: The Liberator is Coming in Hot, when the stuntman playing Vila does a delicate cartwheel across the room before pretending to crash into a bulkhead.
  • Signature Style: Abuse of women, bromantic friendship between men, distrust of technology — it's a Ben Steed episode!
  • Standard Female Grab Area: Subverted when two mooks grab Servalan by the arms so she can be hauled off to be gang raped. Servalan pulls her arms free, utters a blatant death threat, then calmly strides off to her fate.
  • The Starscream:
    • Section Leader Grose killed or deposed his superiors, and now wants Servalan's command cruiser so he can replicate it and carve out his own empire.
    • Avon comes up with this line.
    Grose: The Liberator? That's Blake's ship.
    Avon: He liked to think so.
  • Stealth in Space: Servalan flies off into the Outer Darkness and disappears. Turns out Sardos has an Invisibility Cloak so you can only discover it by crashing into it. Which the Fifth Legion did while in hot pursuit of the Andromedans.
    Zen: The planet is located at course zero degrees, two thousand spacials. [Zen shows a perfectly blank viewscreen.]
    Tarrant: We don't see anything.
    Zen: The planet's stratosphere comprises two energy fields. The inner is impervious; the outer, refractive to all medium-pulse emissions.
  • These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: Colonel Astrid loaded a computer projection of what would evolve two million years in the future into the energy-mass transmuter and created Moloch, which he then unsuccessfully tried to destroy.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Moloch is revealed to be a life form that serves as the heart of a machine which is also its life support. It lured the crew to its planet because it wants Liberator. It succeeds, gets a teleport bracelet and beams itself aboard, thereby detaching itself from that life support. It dies immediately.
  • Torture Always Works: And it's satisfying too, according to Grose. But Avon knows that scanning and uploading his pattern into Moloch will get results quicker, which means that Grose doesn't trust Moloch, which means that the Master Computer is withholding information from him.
  • Trigger-Happy
    Doran: Went off in my hand, didn't it?
  • Trojan Horse: Rather than try getting through the planet's screen, Tarrant teleports onto an approaching transporter that then lands on the planet.
  • Ultimate Lifeform: With technology that can give them everything they need, the Sardoans projected the end result would be Moloch, little more than a Brain in a Jar.
  • Variant Chess: To kill time while following Servalan's ship.
  • Villainous Rescue: When Vila makes a hash of overpowering one of Grose's thugs, Servalan picks up a Styrofoam Rock and gives the thug a Tap on the Head, and then shoots him as he's about to stab Vila. That's as far as it goes however; she has no intention of handing over the gun and Vila's teleport bracelet.
  • Voice Changeling: Moloch gets Cally to teleport him up by imitating Tarrant's voice.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: No, not the mouse they tried to replicate — the Matter Replicator technology. If Servalan got her hands on it, how come she's still chasing down the Liberator in "Terminal" instead of just replicating a fleet of starcruisers?
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?
  • You Are in Command Now: Section Leader Grose, though it's implied that his superiors had some help with their demises.
    Servalan: Section Leader Grose, what happened to Colonel Astrid?
    Grose: Colonel Astrid — uh, he met with an accident.
    Servalan: And his second in command?
    Grose: He met with an accident, too.
    Lector: Yeah, it was a very bad time for accidents.
    Servalan: I see. And you assumed full command.
    Grose: Of course — the demands of duty. I was next in line.
    Servalan: You were just a section leader aboard a flagship, serving under two pilot captains and a brigade commander. Did they all meet with accidents too?
    Grose: There was a war on. We were in hot pursuit of the alien fleet!