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Recap / Blakes Seven S 3 E 6 City At The Edge Of The World

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The good news is you've got A Day in the Limelight. The bad news is you've got a really long walk to get there.
Written by Chris Boucher.
Directed by Vere Lorrimer.
Airdate: 11 February 1980.

Vila is coerced by Tarrant into teleporting down to the planet Kezarn, a once advanced planet whose native population now live in a primitive state. It turns out to be a trick by notorious criminal Bayban the Butcher, who needs Vila to get through an impenetrable door in a ruined city.

This episode has the following tropes:

  • Action Girls: Kerril (at first), Dayna shows her talent for destructive devices, and Cally is finally shown shooting someone on-screen.
  • Adam and Eve Plot: Averted; Vila rejects the idea of starting life on a new world with Kerril.
  • Almost Out of Oxygen: Vila and Kerril are unexpectedly teleported to an automated spacecraft, where a recorded voice informs them they will remain alive only as long as the air that was teleported with them lasts. When they don't die as expected, Vila realises that air is filtering through the Forcefield Door from a habitable planet outside, as the spacecraft has reached its destination.
  • And Your Little Dog, Too!: Bayban threatens to execute two of Norl's people to make him talk. Norl had to let them kill twelve people earlier just so he'd appear suitably reluctant.
  • Answer Cut: Avon wants to know what is important to the local inhabitants. Cut to a close-up of the door that Vila is trying to get through.
  • Attack Reflector: Babyan has kidnapped Vila so he can get through the door to a vault. Turns out the door is actually a forcefield disguised as a door. Any attempt to cut or blast through reinforces the forcefield, reflecting the energy back at the attacker. Vila gets through with a low energy probe, set just a fraction below the energy threshold of the forcefield. Bayban on the other hand decides to let loose with a spaceship laser cannon and blows himself up along with the entire city.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: The crew are pretty eager to get Vila back.
  • Battle Couple: Avon/Cally and Tarrant/Dayna.
  • BBC Quarry: A disused quarry is used for Kezarn, as well as a reservoir near Ripon. Averted with Vilaworld, which is a studio set.
  • Big "NO!": Bayban's response when Vila teleports away from certain death.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: Kerril does this to Sherm when the latter tries pulling a gun on her.
  • Breather Episode: A comedy episode before the Darker and Edgier "Children of Auron" and "Rumours of Death".
  • Brutal Honesty
    Avon: ...the point is that Vila won't trust you, whereas he will trust Cally and me.
    Tarrant: Cally, yes, but why you?
    Avon: Because he knows what I think of him.
    Tarrant: You despise him.
    Avon: Right. But at least I'm consistent about it. I know his value to us, just as he knows mine.
  • Bumbling Sidekick: Sherm for Captain Bayban.
  • The Butcher: Bayban the Butcher. As there's a Running Gag over Bayban being obsessed about his notoriety as a criminal, he probably chose the moniker himself. Though Bayban clearly deserves it given Vila's Oh, Crap! reaction on meeting him; he even resents Blake for having eclipsed him on the Federation Most Wanted list purely because Blake is a political dissident.
  • Chickification: One that happens within the course of a single episode! Kerril starts as a snarky, leather-clad Action Girl with a Quick Draw and bad hygiene who regards Vila with disdain. A shower and a clothing change makes her shriek at cobwebs and skeletons, clutching at Vila like a Damsel in Distress and even letting him handle her gun in the final confrontation with Bayban.
  • Come Alone: As usual, it's a trap.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Vila finds the crystals he was originally sent to get lying around on the new planet. Well it is Vilaworld!
  • Convection, Schmonvection: Averted; Avon points out that firing the laser cannon at point-blank range would kill the firer with the reflected heat and energy. Bayban is crazy enough to do it anyway.
  • Cool Gate: The MacGuffin is actually the door to a vault containing a long-range teleporter.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Vila. He accidentally leads an alien race to their Promised Land, gets to show off just how good a safecracker he actually is, and has sex for the only time in the season.
  • Dead Man Writing:
    Voice: I regret that we cannot meet in person, but by the time you hear this, I shall have been dead for over three thousand years.
  • Death by Materialism: Bayban is convinced the remaining wealth of the planet is locked up behind the door. Turns out the planet's resources were used up millennia ago, but he refuses to listen to Kerril and dies trying to blast his way inside.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Kerril.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper:
    Vila: (to Bayban) You have a reputation for straightforward mayhem that's second to none. I've been an admirer of yours for, um, well, for as long as I can remember. Well maybe not that long, I mean, uh, you're not that old, are you? But, uh, then again, you did start very young, didn't you..."
  • Dissonant Serenity: Cally notices that the locals have no apparent fear of their presence, despite offworlder thugs killing and terrorising them. Once the door is open, the locals easily overwhelm what's left of Bayban's force.
  • The Dreaded: Our Villain of the Week is not happy that Vila doesn't recognise him on sight. He quickly brings Vila up to speed.
    Bayban: Bayban the Berserker? Bayban the Butcher?
    Vila: Bayban the Butcher... You're Bayban the Butcher!!
  • Dynamic Entry: Just when his friends are debating whether to leave, the door opens and Vila enters Holding Hands with a beautiful woman.
    Tarrant: Now that is what I call an entrance.
  • Economy Cast: Even though most of the planet's population is supposed to be gathered in or around the city, we don't see much of them. You can hide a lot of people in a Ghost City of course, but how long would it take the populace to pass through a single door and teleport over in small batches?
  • Empathic Environment: When Vila catches sight of Kerril in a dress, the device he's fiddling with makes an appreciative electronic sound.
  • Eternal English: Compensated for by a Universal Translator, as the original builder of the spacecraft and vault knew that the language would have changed over thousands of years, especially in an After the End society.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Bayban speaks fondly of his mother ("Wonderful woman. Truly evil personality.").
  • Exact Words: Norl says the door contains "this world, and the next" which sounds like the usual cryptic religious reference to the Afterlife. Turns out it's literally a doorway between two worlds.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama: Vila refuses to go any further with The Speechless natives unless they explain what's going on. They just stare at Vila until he realises it's pointless and keeps walking.
  • Fake in the Hole: Avon throws an Everything Sensor into a nest of Bayban's men, shouting "Grenade!" They reflexively dive for cover, and when they realize it was fake and look up, the heroes have them at gunpoint.
    Avon: It must have been a dud. Sorry about that.
  • Famed in Story: Bayban's ego on this subject is a Running Gag.
    Bayban: (holding out his hand) It's an honour, sir.
    Vila: (shaking hands) The honour's mine.
    Bayban: That's what I meant.
  • Fling a Light into the Future: The planet Kezarn collapsed into barbarism after all their resources were used up. Foreseeing this, they had already sent a robot spacecraft to find a habitable planetary system where their race could begin again, linked by a long-range teleporter to the city back on Kezarn.
  • Genetic Memory: The inhabitants of Kezarn have a genetically-engineered race memory that compels them to gather at the City at the Edge of the World every 35 generations and attempt to get through the door.
  • Ghost City: The City at the Edge of the World.
  • Guile Hero: Norl was manipulating Bayban the whole time, using him to get the door open.
  • Hates Baths: Kerril
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Bayban's gang.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Bayban lets loose with a huge laser cannon and blows himself up with the rest of the city.
  • Homing Projectile: Dayna uses one of her inventions, a wheeled heat-seeking drone that she hopes will home in on the mooks around the corner (though she's shown using a remote device to steer it). It works admirably.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Dayna produces a small wheeled Attack Drone to blow up a couple of mooks yet has no pouch or backpack to hold it in, just the energy pack for her Liberator gun.
  • I Gave My Word
    Tarrant: I gave them my word.
    Avon: You didn't give them mine.
  • I Was Beaten by a Girl: Bayban tells Avon to Get It Over With as he'll go down in history as "The man who killed Bayban!" Cally promptly offers to shoot him instead. "I'd like to be famous too. How about the woman who killed Bayban?" The younger Dayna chimes in with: "Or better still, the girl who killed Bayban."
  • I Will Tear Your Arms Off: Vila threatens an (absent) Tarrant with this gem.
    "I'll get you for this, Tarrant! I'll rip off your arm and beat you to death with the wet end!"
  • Implied Death Threat
    Avon: Do you want me to threaten you?
    Avon: Sensible. You could die laughing.
    • Bayban tells Villa that he should live every hour as if it was his last. He then sets Villa to the task of breaking through the door, and says he'll be coming back later to check on his progress. In one hour.
    • Avon to Tarrant: "We can easily replace a pilot, but a talented thief is rare."
    • Tarrant: "Hello, Bayban. I heard a rumor you were dead. Funny, that turns out to be true."
    • And some not-so-implied death threats.
      Bayban: Now you will open that door, or I will open you from there, to there.
  • Ironic Nickname: After catching Vila cowering on the floor while making an Ineffectual Death Threat against Tarrant, Kerril sarcastically refers to him as "Killer". She also calls him "Little Man", but from the satisfied look on her face after they have sex, he's clearly not.
  • It's What I Do: Kerril suggests they live together on their new planet.
    Kerril: It's a chance to be free. You saw that place, it's beautiful.
    Vila: But there's nothing there worth stealing. [Kerril sighs] No, listen. You know why I neutralize security systems, open safes, and break into vaults? It's because I can and most people can't.
    Kerril: To satisfy your ego.
    Vila: No, not really. It's just that, it's what makes me, me. Kerril, a thief isn't what I am, it's who I am. You wouldn't like what was left of me.
  • Large Ham: Bayban the Butcher, and his incompetent henchman Sherm.
  • Leave No Survivors: Averted with Avon and Cally who don't kill the three prisoners they take, despite a bloodthirsty Dayna's disapproval. In fact these three might well have been the only survivors of Bayban's gang left on the planet by the time the episode ends.
  • Lured Into a Trap: The natives tell Tarrant they will exchange the crystals for Vila's help in opening the door. Turns out the planet is entirely devoid of mineral wealth and the natives are being coerced by Bayban, who booby-traps the box supposedly containing the crystals.
  • MacGuffin: The Power Crystal for the Liberator's main blasters.
  • The Mad Hatter: Avon points out that Bayban dare not use the laser cannon at point-blank range, as the backblast would kill him and everyone else in the area.
    Cally: You'd have to be insane to use it, then.
    Bayban: Well maybe that's it. Maybe I am insane.
  • Master of Unlocking: For once we see how Vila does it other than waving some whirring Cow Tools at a lock. Thinking your way through is just as important as technological savvy.
  • Moment Killer: Vila and Kerril are about to have a Last Kiss when Bayban turns up, still determined to get his hands on the non-existent treasure.
  • Namesake Gag: Kerrill and Vila jokingly debate whether to call the new planet Homeworld or Vilaworld. Just as long as it's not Spaceworld or Ultraworld.
  • Necessarily Evil:
    • Tarrant bullies Vila into going on the mission, and points out afterwards that they can hardly risk the Liberator going unarmed.
    • The Voice on the spaceship asks for the forgiveness of those trapped inside it, knowing that he's likely condemned them to death.
    • Norl and the other locals let Bayban's men execute twelve of their people, just to make it look like they really didn't want him to get through the door, when they desired the opposite.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Tarrant scares Vila so much he refuses to swallow the tracer, as he no longer trusts anyone.
    • Dayna is left alone to guard Bayban.
  • No Guy Wants an Amazon: Even though Vila is quite attracted to Action Girls like Dayna, for some reason Kerril has to become a screaming damsel for them to have a plausible relationship.
  • No Kill like Overkill: When Vila has apparently done a runner, Bayban demands the laser cannon be demounted from his spaceship to get through the door the hard way.
    Sherm: Laser cannon? That could blow away half the city, Captain!
  • No OSHA Compliance: The starship could have just sent a signal to open the door when it reached its destination, instead of requiring an unwilling sacrifice every couple of millennia. On the other hand the genetically-engineered compulsion to go through the door would ensure the entire population went through when the time was right.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Avon and Cally throw a fake grenade from the cliffs above Bayban's men, then somehow circle round behind them before they have a chance to realise they've been faked out. Maybe they really did teleport?
  • Only Smart People May Pass: To enter the vault containing the teleporter you have to be clever enough to get through the door. Norl's people have advanced out of barbarism but still don't have the technological knowledge, so they con Bayban into doing it for them. He's not smart enough, but they know he can get hold of someone who is.
  • Planet Terra: "The translator unit has identified your language as Terran, and is translating my words into a form which I hope you will understand."
  • Pre-Climax Climax: When the voice announces they'll die of suffocation when the air that was teleported over with them runs out, Kerril says there's no point in preserving oxygen and figures they should have some Sex for Solace.
  • Ragnarök Proofing: The spaceship and long-distance teleporter work perfectly, except for the Forcefield Door at the opposite end which has failed to open.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Location shooting had to be cut down thanks to the same storm that devastated the 1979 Fastnet Yacht Race (that's why so many outdoor shots involve people standing in gullies out of the wind). An extra studio-filmed scene on Vilaworld was added as invokedPadding.
  • Say Your Prayers
    Voice: I suggest you make peace with whatever gods you recognize, as I will try to make peace with mine. I bid you farewell. And I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.
    Vila: Not a chance! I'd like to think he suffocated after making that recording, but I doubt it.
  • Schmuck Bait:
    • Cally finds no Vila, just a box with his teleport bracelet on it, apparently with the crystals they were being offered. She's not stupid enough to open it, but retreats to a safe distance and fires into the cliff above. When a tumbling rock hits the box, it explodes.
    • After getting through the door Vila realises the next stage should be a Booby Trap. So when nothing happens he realises the designer intended them to get this far, refuses to open the next door and leaves. Kerril ignores his warning, steps into the vault and is teleported away to a distant starship, as is Vila when he runs after her.
  • Screaming Woman: Kerril running into Cobweb of Disuse and (more excusably) being unexpectedly teleported. Despite his Screw This, I'm Out of Here!, Vila comes running.
  • See the Whites of Their Eyes: Dayna gives this trope when giving a handgun to Cally. "Killing range is only two hundred, so aim for the whites of their eyes."
  • Sex Equals Love: Though there's also a near death experience.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: One so chaste it could have been from The Hays Code era. Kerril takes off her gunbelt and puts her arms around Vila. Next time we see them, they're lying on separate beds fully clothed, bathing in the afterglow.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: After a few too many comments about her smell from Vila, Kerril reappears cleaned up and wearing a native dress.
  • The Squadette: Kerril is the only female member of Bayban's gang. She's also a Minion with an F in Evil, opposing Norl being taken out and killed just because Bayban thinks he's laughing behind his back.
  • The Stoic: Norl, and he's positively voluble compared to the rest of his people. Once the door is open, he cracks a wide smile.
  • Surrounded By Cretins: Bayban, of course! Well it's not like he can talk.
  • Teleportation = Casual Interstellar Travel
    Voice: We have developed a system for the instantaneous transmission of matter over any distance between two terminals. Enter one terminal and step out of the other wherever it happens to be. The starship in which you now sit contains one terminal. The vault which you so ably penetrated contains the other. You've stepped off the planet Kezarn and onto a starship, which is now at least three thousand light years away.
    Vila: One small step for man.
  • Teleportation Rescue: Vila is standing between the laser cannon and the door, and teleports out just as Bayban fires.
  • Terse Talker:
    Avon: Well?
    Orac: 'Well' is not a question.
  • This Means War!: After gunfire starts breaking out in earnest Avon quips, "I think war was just declared."
  • Title Drop
    Tarrant: There's a name, something unpronounceable, in what they told me was a fragment of the old tongue.
    Avon: A translatable fragment?
    Tarrant: Apparently it means "The City at the Edge of the World".
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Tarrant, though to his credit he does his best to rescue Vila and apologies to him at the end. Compare this to Avon's cold response to Vila's safe return.
  • Tracking Device: Vila is told to swallow a tracer. But Vila resents his colleagues' actions so much he palms it instead. When he later goes missing...
    Avon: Orac, can you give me a precise fix on that tracer?
    Orac: Of course I can!
    Avon: Where is it then?
  • Villain Cred: Bayban is disgusted that Blake edged him out of the #1 spot on the Federation's "Most Wanted" list by resorting to quick n' easy politics, unlike Beyban's earning that honor over the course of a long and brutal career.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Everyone gets up Tarrant for bullying Vila, and (apparently) being conned by the primitive natives.
  • World of Snark: There's Avon, of course...
    Cally: Vila, we thought we'd lost you.
    Avon: But every silver lining has a cloud.
    • Not that The Snark Knight isn't on the receiving end...
      Avon: It's a pity we're not all as reliable as Zen.
      Cally: But I thought you were.
    • Tarrant...
      Vila: All my life, for as long as I can remember, there’s been people like you.
      Tarrant: And I thought I was unique.
    • Vila is not to be outdone...
      Sherm: You've 25 minutes left.
      Vila: Who told you that?
      Sherm: Captain Bayban.
      Vila: I didn't think you could've worked it out for yourself.
    • And finally Orac...
      Vila: I think I've just made the biggest mistake of my life.
      Orac: In the light of your previous record, that seems unlikely. I would predict that there are far greater mistakes waiting to be made by someone with your obvious talent for them. [Vila switches Orac off.]