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Recap / Blakes Seven S 3 E 9 Sarcophagus

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Written by Tanith Lee.
Directed by Fiona Cumming.
Airdate: 3 March 1980.

The spirit of a deceased alien assumes Cally's form and takes over the Liberator.


This episode has the following tropes:

  • Alien Possession: Cally again.
  • Affectionate Pickpocket: Avon kisses Cally who's been possessed by the Villain of the Week, using the opportunity to slip a Ring of Power off her finger.
  • Ambiguous Situation: The final look between Avon and Cally. While Cally gives a slight smile, Paul Darrow keeps his expression deliberately blank, so Avon's true feelings remain a mystery.
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  • Ambiguous Syntax: Avon knocks on the door of Cally's room.
    Cally: What is it?
    Avon: Well it looks like a door, and it's closed.
  • The Assimilator: The alien takes over Cally's mind and appearance, and wants the crew of the Liberator to play court to her, using her power to force them into their intended roles: Vila as The Fool, Dayna as the Musician, Tarrant as the Protector. Avon is offered the role of Consort, but is actually the alien's equivalent of The Grim Reaper.
  • Bad Vibrations: A build-up of telekinetic energy is shown when a tray of drinks starts first to vibrate, then float in the air!
  • Bottle Episode: The episode has no location filming, and makes no mention of the Federation or Servalan.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Avon is asked what's on the alien vessel. He replies, "Dust, debris, rather an old corpse..."
  • Call-Back:
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    • Cally is still suffering from the events of "Children of Auron".
    • "If it wasn't for Blake you'd still be rotting on Cygnus Alpha."
  • Catapult Nightmare: Cally waking up from her coma.
  • Cobwebs Of Disuse: On the sarcophagus vessel.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: The crew of the Liberator are wearing clothes with touches of colour that match the apparitions dancing in the opening sequence.
  • Costume Porn: The funeral apparitions in their flowing colourful robes, and Cally herself in full alien regalia.
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You: The alien claims she prefers to avoid killing, but this is actually because she knows it will make Cally have Conflicting Loyalty. Avon forces the issue and breaks her control.
  • Dramatic Wind: IN SPACE! during Cally's confrontation with Avon.
  • Electronic Speech Impediment: Zen warning they have an intruder on board the Liberator.
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  • Energy Being: The alien's physical body died long ago, but it continues to survive as this.
  • Exact Time to Failure
    Zen: Energy increase aboard alien ship computed as reaching critical point in thirty seconds.
  • The Faceless: The apparitions dancing in the opening scene. This changes when the crew begin to take on the roles.
  • Get It Over With: Avon cuts through the crap when the alien offers him submission or death.
    Alien: Think about human death, Avon, irrevocable...
    Avon: I have thought about it; what's keeping you?
    Alien: What did you say?
    Avon: You claim you can kill me. You'd better get on with it. Make me die. There's nothing else you can make me do.
  • Ghost Ship
  • Hallucinations: As the crew fall under the alien's sway.
  • Info Dump: Dayna explains events to Vila at the end of the episode.
  • It's the Only Way: As the alien vessel starts to overload our heroes teleport back to the Liberator, but for some reason only Cally arrives there. She insists on teleporting back, despite the risk of the automatic repair systems shutting down the teleport to correct the 'fault'. Once there she has Avon and Vila hold onto her so they are teleported with her.
  • Failed a Spot Check: While Tarrant and Avon are engaging in Snark-to-Snark Combat, they fail to notice Cally pushing buttons on the artifact.
  • Foe Romance Subtext
  • Hand Blast
  • Hidden Depths: Although his own grief from Anna Grant's death is still fresh, Avon takes the time to urge Cally not to make grief too much a part of her life.
  • High Collar of Doom: The alien has a jeweled collar that would make Servalan proud.
  • "I Know You Are in There Somewhere" Fight: Rather than play the trope straight, Avon challenges the alien to kill him then-and-there rather than surrender. Cally's love for Avon overcomes her desire to bond with the alien.
  • Immune to Bullets: Tarrant fires on the alien to no effect. "I'm afraid your rather temperamental weapons aren't stable anymore."
  • I've Never Seen Anything Like This Before
    Avon: It's like nothing I've ever seen before.
  • Kill It with Fire: Avon throws the Ring of Power into the burning consoles on the flight deck.
  • Match Cut: From the ring to Cally's eye.
  • Minimalist Cast: There's some non-speaking aliens at the beginning, then the rest of the episode has just the Liberator crew and the alien that's taken on Cally's appearance.
  • More Than Mind Control: The alien takes advantage of Cally's loneliness and desire for communication with another telepathic mind.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Dayna in her pantsuit with Sexy Backless Outfit and revealing cleavage.
  • Never Split The Party
    Vila: Stay here? Alone? I hope...
  • Nuclear Candle: The priestess uses her powers to extinguish the Hollywood Torches held by the other mourners. It's only when the last torch is extinguished that the room darkens all at once.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Vila, according to the alien. "That one interests me. He has a very high IQ yet he acts like an imbecile. He will make an ideal pet."
  • Passive Aggressive Combat: Tarrant uses the crew to override Avon, so Avon then takes charge of the mission by selecting who goes and leaving Tarrant behind.
  • Pitiful Worms
    Alien: When I was alive before, I was accustomed to being served by intelligent menials. I'm prepared to offer you all a choice. You can live as my—
    Tarrant: Intelligent menials?
    Alien: Don't let a mere two words prevent you from staying alive.
  • Prat Fall: Vila teleports across to the alien vessel and falls on his behind.
  • Pull a Rabbit out of My Hat: The conjurer apparition pulls a cloth and then a dove out of an empty cylinder.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: The alien gives Avon "One...last...chance!"
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech
    Tarrant: Don't try and bluff your way with me, Avon. I know what's been needling you right from the start. With Blake gone, you thought you'd got it made, didn't you? Thought you'd got control of this ship and a crew of three who'd say, "Yes, Avon. Whatever you want, Avon." But you reckoned without me.
    Tarrant: Oh, really? I don't think so. When you found me on the Liberator, it was quite a blow. And every time you look at me, it hits you harder, doesn't it? I'm faster than you and I'm sharper. As far as it goes, I've made a success of my life. But you? The only big thing you ever tried to do you failed at. The greatest computer swindle of all time! ... but you couldn't quite pull it off, could you? If it hadn't been for Blake, you'd be rotting on Cygnus Alpha right now. No, you failed, Avon. But I win. Not just at games, at life.
  • Reverse Psychology: Avon tells Tarrant they shouldn't just charge onto the flight deck. Tarrant proceeds to do just that, whereupon Avon gives his trademark mysterious smirk.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can
  • Schmuck Bait: Avon is rightly suspicious of an alien object that moors itself a precise distance away. The others override his objections.
  • A Shared Suffering: Cally has witnessed the genocide of her people. Avon has killed his Lost Lenore.
  • Ship Tease: The episode with the most Cally/Avon shipping in canon.
  • Something Completely Different: The episode written by noted British author Tanith Lee has nothing to do with their battle against the Federation and has heavy fantasy elements.
  • A Storm Is Coming: Vila says this trope, which is unlikely IN SPACE! as Tarrant points out. But then Dayna gets a shock when she touches a console and realises it's due to a build-up of static electricity, explaining Vila's feeling.
  • Strange Salute: During the funeral.
  • Suddenly Always Knew That: Dayna's musical ability is not shown before or after this episode. Possibly the alien can amplify a latent talent so its chosen servants will confirm to their allocated roles.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: After Avon steals her ring, the alien makes a heartrending plea not to be sent back to The Nothing After Death where she will be aware yet without physical existence.
  • Talking to Themself: Vila starts Motor Mouthing away while alone and afraid on the darkened flight deck. We suddenly realise he's Not Himself when he starts performing conjuring tricks for an imaginary audience.
  • Testosterone Poisoning: Tarrant and Avon openly quarrel over who should be top dog.
  • This Was Her True Form: The alien takes Cally's form but is not controlling her body — Cally herself is still comatose in her quarters. When the alien's control is broken her image appears to whither to a corpse, while at the same time Cally regains consciousness.
  • We ARE Struggling Together
    Avon: We've been outmaneuvered. Teleport failures, mysterious alien artifacts. While you and I were pawing the ground, that thing managed to get Cally to reactivate the device in the correct sequence.
  • We Can Rule Together: Avon is offered something more than service to the alien as a Human Pet. He tells her to stick it.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Cally accuses Avon of being a Manipulative Bastard.
    Cally: I'd like a straight answer.
    Cally: You didn't trust me. You thought I had some obscure reaction to something on that ship, didn't you? You and I teleported so that you could watch me and see what I'd do. You cut Tarrant out because he had the same idea, but he'd made no secret of it.
    Avon: You're over-reacting.
    Cally: Probably. But you wouldn't expect a normal human response, would you? I'm not quite human. [storms off]
  • Where's the Kaboom?: The alien artifact starts to glow, Orac is demanding to be disconnected from it, telekinetic energy sends a drink tray flying around the room, everyone dives for cover...only for the artifact to collapse in on itself and disintegrate.
  • World of Snark
    Vila: My head's killing me!
    Tarrant: You should learn self-defence.
    • Vila discovers the artifact.
    Vila: What's this?
    Avon: I take it that's a rhetorical question, or did you really think we knew?
    Tarrant: There's something else you don't realize. I don't take any orders from you.
    Avon: Well, now that's a great pity, considering that your own ideas are so limited.
    • Afterwards...
    Tarrant: Avon. Do you want to forget I said all that?
    Avon: It wasn't particularly memorable.
    • Dayna suggests they sleep on it.
    Avon: If it does, you can assume you're on the wrong ship.
  • You Can't Fight Fate so Resistance Is Futile
    Alien: Come now. Would it be so very horrible to serve me, to be my protector? Would it be so soul-destroying, Tarrant? It was predicted that I would find you. That I would live again because of each of you. And your roles in my new life, they were predicted too.
  • Your Mime Makes It Real: The apparitions in the opening sequence act out their roles through silent dance, and the crew of Liberator find themselves taking on those roles.
  • You Talk Too Much: Tarrant is giving "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Avon. Being The Snark Knight, he doesn't take it lying down.
    Tarrant: You failed, Avon. But I win. Not just at games — at life.
    Avon: You also talk too much.
    Avon: Well now, that's fascinating. You mean you can do something else?
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