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Recap / Blakes Seven S 3 E 3 Volcano

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Asking a bunch of Actual Pacifists to become terrorists: Sometimes you really should just stay at home.
Written by Allan Prior.
Directed by Desmond McCarthy.
Airdate: 21 January 1980.

The Liberator arrives at the planet Obsidian, following a rumour that Blake is there and looking for recruits and a base of operations. Unfortunately Servalan has arrived first, planning to seize both the Liberator and Obsidian. The planet is home to the Pyroans who have adopted a policy of total pacifism, keeping invaders at bay by threatening to destroy the entire planet along with any invasion force. It's a policy that has worked well, until now.

This episode has the following tropes:

  • Actual Pacifist: The Pyroans.
  • Appeal to Force:
    • Tarrant offers the protection of the Liberator if the Pyroans agree to let them use their planet as a base. Bershar however figures that forming an alliance with Servalan and her battlefleet makes more sense than a ragtag bunch of rebels and mercenaries.
    • The Pyroans have a nuclear Doomsday Device in the core of their planet, which they announce to any potential invasion fleet will be detonated if they attempt to land.
  • Answer Cut: Hower asks; if Tarrant is seeking recruits and allies, who's he afraid of? Cut to Servalan.
  • Auto-Doc: Avon's splint repairs his broken arm.
  • Badass Bandolier: Mori has a row of pouches hanging over one shoulder.
  • The Bait: Servalan has lured the Liberator with a rumour that Blake is or was on Obsidian.
  • The Big Board: Servalan has one that looks like a board game.
  • BBC Quarry: Coupled with Stock Footage of a volcano and the appropriate sound and smoke, it works well enough.
  • Big Red Button: At least this one has a protective cover.
  • Blatant Lies: Mori assures Servalan of his "personal loyalty" to her. From her expression, Servalan doesn't believe a word of it.
  • Bound and Gagged: Which doesn't do much good if the person being gagged is a telepath.
  • Brainwashing for the Greater Good: The Pyroans are subject to mild electric shock therapy as infants and constant psychological conditioning as adults to remove any inclination to violence.
  • Brandishment Bluff: Played straight with Vila (see I Can See You), averted with the Pyroans. The Federation fleet goes to invade thinking the Pyroans will never carry out their threat. They do.
  • Bridge Bunnies: Servalan has her crew of mutoids back, so there's Fan Disservice for this one.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Bershar wanted to form an alliance with Servalan in exchange for helping her capture the Liberator. But Servalan intends to invade Obsidian regardless once Orac gives her a way past their detection system.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Various references are made to the Galactic War and its consequences.
    • The crew are trying to find Blake, who's still missing (though there's no mention of Jenna).
  • Distracted by the Sexy
    Vila: Pretty? Yes, I suppose [Dayna] is. I hadn’t really noticed.
    Avon: We’ve seen you not really noticing, frequently.
  • Disney Villain Death: Mori has a nasty version of this trope; Dayna blows him off the crater rim with a grenade and he falls screaming into the lava.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Two Pyroans are sent to give Servalan a message from Bershar. Servalan orders them killed, and they wait placidly for Mori to do so rather than flee.
  • Diverting Power: Averted. With the Liberator's power banks drained and Servalan's battlefleet bearing down, Avon calls for the emergency circuits to be activated. They don't work, and only the fortuitous explosion of Obsidian saves them.
  • Do-Anything Robot: Hower's android fetches drinks, kills dissenters, and breaks ropes with purple rays shot from its hand.
  • Doomsday Device: It's not clear whether this works by creating a supervolcano or spreading radioactive fallout.
  • Drunk with Power: Commander Mori gets a funny look in his eye when Servalan offers him command of the Liberator if he captures it.
  • Great Offscreen War: The Galactic War — there's a lot of discussion about its consequences, but we never see any of it.
  • Hidden Weapons: Dayna has a mini stick-grenade tucked into her boot.
  • I Can See You: Vila of all people uses this to deter Servalan from launching another attack on the Liberator, when in truth their power cells have been drained.
  • Ice King
    Vila: There isn't a volcano alive that would dare to swallow Avon. He's cold enough to put out the fire anyway.
  • I Die Free: The Pyroans choose death rather than enslavement.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Adrenaline and soma. It's very relaxing.
  • Instant Sedation: Averted; the Knockout Gas is fired over the target as a mist and drifts down on them.
    Tarrant: It can't be raining? (keels over)
  • Finger-Tenting: At one point Servalan does this with her long-nailed fingers while pondering what to do.
  • Foreshadowing: Our heroes will get that base they're looking for in Season D.
  • Frontline General: And not for propaganda reasons this time; President Servalan commands The Remnant of Star Command.
  • Killer Robot: How Hower gets round the Thou Shalt Not Kill brainwashing. He has the android kill his son.
  • Kill the Messenger: Servalan orders the messengers from Bersher killed so no-one will know a Federation force has landed on the planet. In fairness the stakes are pretty high, as the Pyroans might have detonated the Doomsday Device if they thought the Federation was attempting a landing.
  • Knockout Gas: The Pyroans use a narcotic spray gun. In a concentrated dose it's a Deadly Gas as well.
  • Law of Alien Names: Pyroans come from a planet with a supervolcano. Pyro is the Greek word for fire.
  • Ludd Was Right: Hower believes that the human race has advanced far enough in technology.
  • Magical Computer: Lampshaded by Mori and denied by a Literal-Minded Orac.
  • Mercy Lead: Mori gives the Pyroan messengers a chance to run, but they don't move.
  • Mundane Utility: Orac gripes when Cally leaves the Master Computer to operate the teleport.
  • Multiple-Choice Past:
    Vila: Oh, yes, Tarrant says he was a space captain, but then he says a lot of things, and you don't have to believe it all, do you?
  • Multitasked Conversation: While ostensibly explaining the Liberator to his captor, Avon gets Zen to open fire on the surrounding Federation cruisers and knock everyone off their feet by engaging full thrusters, giving him a chance to grab a weapon.
    Avon: Yes, [Orac's] very efficient, but then so is the whole ship. [Begins to walk toward Zen.] The greatest single factor is our armament, together with our main computer, Zen, as targets bear, main blasters will fire. [Mori gets Oh, Crap! look] Nine zero, full thrust.
  • Naming Your Colony World: Obsidian is volcanic glass. Presumably there's a lot of it about thanks to the eponymous volcano.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Cally is suspicious of the fragmented call for teleport, but Vila activates it anyway, letting Mori and his squad onto the Liberator.
  • No Endor Holocaust: Averted; Vila says that some planets have resorted to cannibalism, likely as a result of the weather control damage from the subversion (and later destruction) of Star One, not to mention the subsequent economic and transport disruption from the Federation's collapse.
  • No MacGuffin, No Winner: A Darker and Edgier version. Servalan doesn't care if the Pyroans carry out their threat, because at least it will stop anyone else controlling a strategic planet.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: Cally tries to send a telepathic warning to Avon that soldiers have boarded the Liberator, but he's too focussed on fighting the battle to pick up the thought. She has better luck with Dayna when Mori is holding her prisoner.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Vila says he bribed someone to give him a lower intelligence rating so he wouldn't be drafted as a Federation officer. Avon snarks accordingly.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Not just the crew of the Liberator either. Servalan's officers are looking a bit scruffy, and she's using what looks like an alien vessel (captured from the Andromedans?) as her command ship.
  • The Remnant of the Federation battlefleet is under Servalan's command. It's not clear if she's fighting rebels or other factions claiming to represent the Federation, but the fact that Servalan wants to control a planet in a 'strategic' sector implies an ongoing conflict.
  • Science-Fiction Writers Have No Sense of Scale: There's reference to the Galactic War, but shouldn't that be Intergalactic War? Unless it wasn't referring to the conflict with the Andromedans, but instead the conflicts that occurred afterwards as the Federation broke up.
  • Shout-Out: Soma is from Brave New World.
  • Signature Style: "Adrenaline and soma" was a favorite writing tic of Allan Prior.
  • Space Pirates: Tarrant offers Bershar a cut of the 'spoils' they'll get from fighting the Federation. Servalan in turn thinks that without Blake, the crew will have no political agenda and pursue only criminal ends.
  • Stealth in Space:
    • Servalan's battle fleet can get close to Obsidian because the man in charge of their detectors is secretly aiding her. When it's time for her invasion, she simply has Orac analyse those defenses and pick out a blind spot.
    • The Liberator is in geostationary orbit around Obsidian, so it can only scan one half of the planet at a time. The Federation cruisers are in a similar orbit on the other side of Obsidian until it's time to strike at the Liberator.
  • Stealth Insult
    Avon: Dayna says the people are friendly, but then sometimes one's friends can be more of a liability than one's enemies.
  • Stock Quotes: Mori says, "I ask the questions!" like the black-clad fascist he is.
  • Suicidal Pacifism: A literal version!
  • Suicide Pact: All Pyroans have taken a Vow to renounce violence, and because this would make them vulnerable to any invader, have agreed to detonate the Doomsday Device rather than submit.
  • Talk to the Hand: "My son, the Animal rules you!"
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Avon wonders why the Federation cruisers aren't firing.
      Zen: Plasma bolt launched and running.
      Avon: Should have kept my mouth shut.
    • Vila suggests Avon join him in a drink: "It's very relaxing." Explosive Instrumentation ensues.
  • Token Evil Teammate: An Invoked Trope with Bershar. When told his conditioning wasn't perfect, Hower figured that having one member of their society who wasn't a total pacifist would be useful as a defense. Unfortunately it backfires as Bershar decides I Don't Want to Die.
  • Try and Follow: Mori hides with Orac and Cally in the crater rim, knowing that no-one's going to go looking for them there.
  • Walk-In Chime-In: The Liberator is surrounded by Federation cruisers. Avon wonders why they're not moving in for the kill, not knowing that a Federation Boarding Party has secretly teleported on board.
    Avon: They must be holding back for a concerted effort. They are all going to fire at once.
    Mori: [entering flight deck] Wrong. If they did that they would destroy the ship, and we don't want that, do we Avon?
  • We Will Meet Again: Servalan decides that the Liberator will keep, as she assumes that without Blake their motivations are merely criminal. So she can afford to ignore them until rule of law has been restored. "Until my law has been restored."
  • With All Due Respect
    Hower: You were once a Federation space captain, you said.
    Tarrant: Yes, I was, for a time, until I deserted.
    Hower: You still sound like one.
    Tarrant: And you, sir, with great respect, sound like somebody who doesn't realize the danger he's in.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Averted; Servalan orders Mori to kill the crew of the Liberator (though Mori is overconfident and fails to do so). When her battle commander offers to destroy the Liberator after failing to capture it, she approves its destruction, which is only averted by the destruction of Obsidian.
  • You Have Failed Me: Hower kills his son Bershar when it's revealed he has no intention of keeping to the Vow.
  • You're Insane!
    Bershar: You're mad! You're all mad! We've no way of keeping the Vandals out. We must defend ourselves or we'll die, all of us. I don't want to die, not for a stupid ideal that can never work! Homosapians cannot be changed, don't you understand that?