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Recap / Blakes Seven S 3 E 8 Rumors Of Death

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Written by Chris Boucher.
Directed by Fiona Cumming.
Airdate: 25 February 1980.

Avon goes to extreme lengths to get revenge on the people who killed his former lover Anna Grant, but things are not what they seem. Meanwhile on Earth, a member of the Federation's upper hierarchy is launching a coup d'état to depose Servalan.

Series 2 of the Big Finish full-cast episodes begin immediately after this episode.


This episode has the following tropes:

  • All for Nothing
    Avon: Have you murdered your way to the wall of an underground room?
    Servalan: It's an old wall, Avon; it waits! I hope you don't die before you reach it.
  • Anachronism Stew: Servalan lives in a reconstruction of a "pre-Atomic" stately home of England, built at enormous expense on the ruins of the old.
    Sula: We could have built two cities for what it cost to build that absurdity.
  • Answer Cut: Dayna wants to know what happened to the rebellion on Earth. Cut to black-clad Gasmask Mooks marching about and a politician giving a pretentious speech on the subject.
  • The Bait:
    • Avon's captors allow his Tracking Chip to transmit, thinking they can lure his friends into a trap. When no-one turns up, they assume he's been abandoned and call for Shrinker to get names out of their stubborn prisoner. But Avon is actually the bait for Shrinker, and his friends rescue him after Avon turns off the implant to signal Shrinker has arrived.
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    • Avon then discovers that he was bait for a Central Security sting. They found out about his bank computer fraud (which would have undermined confidence in the entire Federation credit system) and assumed it was politically motivated, so sent Agent Bartholomew to 'run' Avon and note everyone he interacted with.
    • The rebels knock out a camera so they can ambush the squad sent to investigate and steal their uniforms.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Sula waits till Servalan gets impatient and demands that Chesku and his wife be brought to her immediately. She then rushes in with her squad of men in stolen uniforms, and no-one realises anything is wrong until they start shooting.
  • Beneath the Mask:
    • Servalan awaits the rebels smashing down her door with her usual aloof dignity, but lapses into despair after being chained up in the basement.
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    • While grovelling for his life in the cave, Shrinker lets his true nature slip out when he can't help expressing pride in his work.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • Servalan is assured that there are no problems with security, just as her mooks are running about trying to establish what's behind the camera dropping out.
    • Tarrant orders Vila to stay awake and sober. Gilligan Cut to Vila pouring a very large bottle. "That was uncalled for. I only drink to be sociable."
  • Bodyguard Betrayal: Councilor Chesku is arrested by his own guards, and Servalan is overthrown by a coup that might well have been orchestrated by Central Security itself.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Subverted; everyone assumes this will be the case with Shrinker, but he remembers all his victims (out of professional pride, not guilt) and Anna Grant wasn't one of them because she was never arrested.
  • Call-Back:
  • Camera Spoofing: The rebels knock out a camera with an electronic device, ambush the squad sent to investigate, dress in their uniforms and send a message back claiming that a squirrel was building a nest around the camera's microwave transmitter.
  • Cannot Spit It Out
    Anna: (flashback) Why do I never know what you're thinking, Avon?
    Avon: I could never say it.
    Anna: Not even to me?
    Avon: Especially not to you.
  • Captured on Purpose: Avon allows himself to get captured in order to capture a Federation interrogator using the Liberator's teleport system. He even holds out for five days of torture, knowing that this particular Torture Technician will be called in to deal with particularly stubborn subjects.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Sula points out that a dead Servalan is just one more corpse. "Haven't we got enough of those?" Hob says his men are clearing away the bodies as they speak.
  • Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: Vila teleports up the others leaving Avon alone with Servalan (because he's taken off his bracelet). Everyone gets stuck into Vila because he hasn't noted down the coordinates to teleport them back again.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Avon's mission only succeeds because an attempted coup happens at the same time, led by the very woman he's avenging.
  • The Coup: Sula, the wife of a Federation High Councilor (and secretly a top Central Security agent), along with former rebels under the command of Hob, seek to capture Servalan and force her to disarm her forces and resign.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy:
    • A more realistic version than most — while Forres thinks the camera dropping out is just a bug in an untested system, Grenlee sends a squad "at the double and alert!" However he refuses to seal the perimeter, pointing out that it would only bring the wrath of their superiors down on them if it really was just a malfunction and they locked out the VIPs coming to hear Servalan's speech.
    • No-one is guarding Servalan in the cellar, though this is likely so no-one can kill her before Sula has a chance to talk them out of it. Sula in turn has gathered most of the men inside the banquet hall, so once our heroes have taken down the few guards outside, there's no-one left to notice the Federation troops surrounding the building.
  • Handwave:
    • To explain why the President of the Terran Federation is using a stately home in Oxfordshire as her palace, it's said to be a pre-Atomic house that she's had reconstructed at great expense. The wine cellar is a remnant of the original house.
    • To show why a Security agent would be interested in Avon when he was just a criminal at the start of the series, it's explained that the scale of his fraud made Central Security assume it was a politically-motivated plot to collapse the Federation monetary system.
  • The Heart: Cally objects to Avon's mission of revenge and the way the others taunt Shrinker. And this is after seeing her people wiped out by the Federation in the previous episode.
    Tarrant: He's an animal, Cally.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Shrinker was Central Security's top para-investigator, survived the rebellion by working for the rebels (including torturing his own superiors) and now is back working for the Federation again.
  • His Name Is...: Shrinker was interrogating a Central Security official about Bartholomew's identity, when he unfortunately expired.
  • I Gave My Word: Subverted with Shrinker, played straight with Servalan.
    Avon: I'm a man of my word. In the end, that's all there is, really.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Vila has a glass ready for Avon after he's rescued (and again after he's nearly killed by Servalan). Vila also helps himself to a bottle when the others are carrying out their insane plan.
  • In Love with the Mark: Bartholomew let Avon escape.
  • Inside Job: Sula uses her knowledge of the security setup to bring in a squad of rebels.
  • In the Back: Sula shoots her own husband (a high-ranking Federation politician) in the back after revealing that she's actually a rebel. Later she does the same to a Federation guard. This foreshadows The Reveal that she's an agent of the Secret Police.
  • Insufferable Genius: Dayna and Avon muse that the problem with Orac is that he's too useful to kill.
  • Ironic Echo
    Anna: I waited for you, and when you didn't come back, I ran.
    [Flashback of Shrinker]: Bartolomew was running you.
    Anna: Avon, look at me. Look at me!
    [Flashback of Shrinker]: Anyone you so much as looked at was marked for collection.
    • Forres says, "Some days are better than others." Grenlee repeats the line over his corpse.
    • Tarrant says that even if Avon freed Servalan, she couldn't convince herself that her Humiliation Conga never happened. While Avon is holding Anna's dead body, Servalan asks, "Can you convince yourself it never happened?"
  • It's Personal: Avon's Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Just Following Orders
    Shrinker: Why me? I haven't done anything. I've only ever—
    Tarrant: Oh, don't tell me, let me guess. You've only ever followed orders.
    Shrinker: It's true! It's true!
    • Shortly followed with this exchange:
      Avon: Look, Cally, I know you don't want any part of this. All right, I'm not going to give you any part of it. You're out. This is mine. I'm doing it.
      Cally: And what am I doing, Avon? Just following orders, like him?
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Tarrant, Dayna and Vila enjoy themselves taunting Shrinker with a Circling Monologue "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
  • Leave Behind a Pistol: Avon captures Shrinker and teleports him to an underground cave with a limited air supply. He offers the man a "way out" if he tells him what he wants to know about Anna. After the man breaks down and tells Avon all he can, Avon coldly teleports away, leaving him his "way out": a loaded gun.
  • The Magnificent: Servalan's full title is President of the Terran Federation, Ruler of the High Council, Lord of the Inner and Outer Worlds, High Admiral of the Galactic Fleets, Lord General of the Six Armies, and Defender of the Earth. Chesku states that Servalan has just taken back Earth and the inner planets, so at least one part of this title is undeserved.
  • Milking the Giant Cow: Played for laughs with Councilor Chesku giving a grandiose speech about crushing the rebels, only to reveal that he's actually rehearsing what he's going to say at the Fancy Dinner for President Servalan.
    Chesku: What do you think?
    Sula: I think it's crude and obvious.
    Chesku: Thank you.
  • Mugged for Disguise: A High Councilor and a squad of Faceless Goons are killed and their uniforms and access cards taken.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The episode opens with Avon in a cell, listening to someone begging for mercy in another cell.
  • Not Me This Time: Servalan's first response to seeing Avon is to say, "I might have known you were behind all this."
  • Our Doors Are Different: The door to Avon's cell retracts upward into the ceiling.
  • Over-the-Top Secret: Agent Bartholomew was a Security agent allowed to hunt anyone in or out of the Service on her own initiative, her identity kept secret as Paranoia Fuel that anyone could be Bartholomew. Avon gets round this problem by going right to the top and asking Servalan.
  • Pressure Point: Dayna knocks out a guard by pinching his shoulders.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Played straight with Grenlee and Forres. Subverted with Shrinker and Sula who are shown to resent their superiors and switch sides when it's in their interest to do so.
  • Rebel Relaxation: Forres puts his boots up on the console until a Death Glare from Grenlee makes him remove them.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: Done for a Title Drop, and true of Anna Grant.
    Avon: Servalan was planning on sending you a corpse, but the rumours of my death—
    Tarrant: —have been greatly exaggerated.
    Avon: (to himself) Well, slightly exaggerated, anyway.
  • Revenge Before Reason
    • Avon goes to extreme lengths to find the truth — letting himself be tortured for days without giving even his name so he can lure Shrinker, interrogating Shrinker alone while still exhausted from that ordeal, then infiltrating the Presidential Palace despite Orac telling him it's impossible (which it would have been if the rebels hadn't just killed all the guards).
    • Shrinker says the rebels lost because they were too busy "kicking the corpses" to secure their power. While they were attacking Central Security, Servalan was able to rally her military forces to crush them.
    • The rebels want Servalan executed even though it would be smarter to keep her as a hostage to guarantee the transfer of power.
  • Revolving Door Revolution: Servalan overthrew the government in a Military Coup at the end of Season B. In the post-war turmoil a revolution briefly seizes power on Earth, only for Servalan's forces to crush them. Then another coup briefly deposes her only to be quashed. And all this foreshadows Season D where Servalan is again deposed, all the while plotting to get back in power again.
  • Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere: Avon teleports himself and a notorious torturer into an underground cavern with absolutely no surface access, and, after getting the information he needs, leaves him there. He's "merciful" enough to leave the man a gun. This is how the episode begins.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Grenlee tells his underling that if a High Councilor and friend of President Servalan chooses to wander outside the monitored area, it's not up to them to say it's forbidden.
  • The Snark Knight: Five days of torture haven't affected Avon's snark in the slightest.
    Shrinker: They tell me you haven't been cooperating.
    Avon: No? What's the matter? Did I bleed on the wrong bit of floor?
  • Sound-Only Death: We hear Stompy Mooks rushing to Avon's cell, so Dayna tosses a bomb down the corridor just before they teleport out. Cue big cloud of smoke and no more running feet.
  • Spanner in the Works:
    • The coup fails because the rebels failed to kill both operators in the Surveillance control room. Grenlee lives long enough to send out a distress call.
    • The only reason Avon didn't get arrested by Bartholomew is because he was wounded in a shoot-out and had to go to ground. Central Security then scooped up the others, leaving Avon to think she had been arrested, tortured and 'disappeared'. He was captured later though, given that we first encounter Avon on the way to a penal colony.
  • The Starscream: Anna Grant, a top Security agent and wife of a High Councillor, leads a coup to depose Servalan.
  • Suicide by Cop: After shooting dead Anna, Avon takes off his teleport bracelet and frees Servalan from her chains, which is practically committing suicide. Servalan is more than willing to oblige, and only a fortuitous intervention stops her.
  • Talk to the Fist: One of the rebels pistol-whips Servalan to the floor when she makes a snide remark.
  • Tempting Fate
    • Councilor Chesku is giving a Rousing Speech about having crushed the rebellion, only to fall victim to another.
    • In a flashback, Avon tells Anna that he's safe as long as he doesn't trust anyone. He then admits that he trusts her.
    • Vila wants to know who's next in Avon's Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Servalan? Avon then asks Orac for her location.
    Vila: I was just joking!
    • Hob can be heard arguing that Servalan's forces don't even know they are there. But by then a distress call has gone out and troops are moving into position around the house.
  • This Cannot Be!: Avon's reaction to Anna Grant throwing herself into his arms is lukewarm, as he's based his Roaring Rampage of Revenge on the assumption that she is dead. If she's not, then that means...
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: Dayna goes to blast Shrinker the moment she sees Avon's condition, but Avon stops her. "No! Don't kill him. I waited for him!"
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Major Grenlee and Section Leader Forres.
  • Torture Technician: Shrinker
  • True Companions: Lampshaded with the usual snark.
    Tarrant: Not this time.
    Tarrant: That's true.
    Dayna: On the other hand, you are something to do with us.
    Cally: We've talked about it and discovered we care what happens to you.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Servalan can't even bother bargaining for her life with Avon. Until she realises that Avon doesn't know who Sula is...
  • Was It All a Lie?: "I was only ever Anna Grant with wasn't all lies."
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Lampshaded when Hob argues with Sula that they should let the men execute Servalan as they're demanding, rather than create division. He eventually agrees to back her for this reason.
  • We Need a Distraction: Tarrant appears and casually greets the guards. As they turn to face him, the others charge them from behind and karate-chop them. Tarrant exits with a mock bow.
  • Who Are You?: The question gets asked of Avon several times, though an equally important question is who Anna Grant is.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?:
    • The rebels want Servalan killed but Sula argues against it, saying they can persuade her to order her troops to stand down and hand over authority to the Peoples' Council. If she's dead, other leaders will simply step into the power vacuum.
    • Avon frees Servalan and takes off his teleport bracelet after killing Anna. Servalan makes him put it on again, with the intention of sending the Liberator crew his corpse. Hob runs into the room at that point, and Servalan turns to shoot him just as Avon gets teleported up.
  • You Got Spunk!: Shrinker approves of Avon's snarky defiance, because it means his captors didn't waste their time calling for his services.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness
    • Sula's first act of her coup is to shoot dead her husband: "That's all over now."
    • Avon and Tarrant convince the dying Major Grenlee that they're Federation soldiers who've come to save the President. After dragging him down to the basement, Avon callously dumps him on the floor, much to Tarrant's disgust.
  • You Rebel Scum!
    Sula: It was my planning that got us here, Hob. Without me, you and your men would still be skulking around the wastelands.

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