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Recap / Blakes Seven S 4 E 12 Warlord

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Written by Simon Masters.
Directed by Viktors Ritelis.
Airdate: 14 December 1981.

Avon hopes to create an alliance of independent planets to resist the Terran Federation. But the alliance hinges on Warlord Zukan, who has his own agenda.


This episode has the following tropes:

  • Alien Sky: Betafarl has pink skies to offset it looking like a BBC Quarry. No Binary Suns though, despite Zukan's complaint about how it's always daytime there.
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  • The Alliance: Deconstructed; treachery and short-sighted self-interest sabotage their efforts to form a common front against The Empire.
  • Almost Out of Oxygen: Bombs destroy the teleport and all entrances to Xenon Base, leaving those inside Buried Alive. They're puzzled why the ventilation has been left intact, only to discover that a virus is spreading through the air shafts, so they have to shut down life support leaving them with air for around 20 hours (it will take at least four days to dig themselves out).
  • Astonishingly Appropriate Interruption: In the Hilarious Outtakes.
    Avon: You know what that makes us? (prop gun fails to fire) Useless!
  • Bad Dreams: Zukan is haunted by guilt over the men who died for his schemes.
    Zukan: They're all dead. Eleven good Betafarlians. Do you think you'll see them in your dreams, Finn?
    Finn: Not me.
    Zukan: I will, if my dreams aren't already overcrowded.
    Finn: You should take dream suppressants.
    Zukan: [shakes head] They don't help. I see my bad dreams in other people's eyes.
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  • The Bad Guy Wins: There's nothing to stop the Federation taking over the sector now the Alliance has been destroyed.
  • BBC Quarry: Betafarl is the Betchworth Quarry in Surrey. So where's all the crops and harvesters that Avon and Soolin were told were there?
  • Blatant Lies: "You are cared for. You are loved."
  • Body-Count Competition: The soldiers on Zondor attempt to shoot people as they're passing each other on parallel elevators, killing two with one shot.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Orac is damaged, preventing those trapped in the base from making use of its abilities.
  • Call-Back: Avon needs The Alliance to manufacture the antitoxin to the Pylene-50 drug they acquired in "Traitor".
  • Chewing the Scenery:
    • Avon spends much of his time Giving Someone the Pointer Finger and talking in short staccato barks. Which isn't good when diplomacy is required, as Vila points out.
    Vila: Avon's idea of diplomacy is like breaking someone's leg, then saying, "Lean on me."
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    • Zukan isn't any better once his Villainous Breakdown starts.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Zukan could have risen from a tinpot dictator to an interplanetary statesman, but throws that away to be a glorified Space Pirate. Servalan however is a lot more experienced in back-stabbing than he.
  • Cold Equation: Averted; Avon has no intention of replaying the events of "Orbit" to save a treacherous sod like Zukan.
    Zukan: If two of them volunteer to die, the oxygen they have left will last the rest of them.
    Avon: If just one of them dies, for any reason at all, so do you, Zukan!
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
  • Dark and Troubled Past:
    Zeeona: You know what fathers are like with their daughters.
    Soolin: As it happens, I don't. Mine was murdered when I was eight.
    Zeeona: I'm sorry.
    Soolin: So were the men who did it. Eventually.
  • Deadline News: Federation soldiers are dragging away the corpses when one of them sees the camera operator, runs up and smashes his rifle into the lens.
  • Deadly Gas: A ruptured coolant tube sends Paraflame Five flooding into where Tarrant and Vila are trying to dig themselves out, forcing them to Run or Die.
  • Death Glare: Avon to Soolin when he thinks she's turned on him.
  • Do You Trust Me?: And when you're using this trope with Servalan, you should know what's going to happen.
    Servalan: I gave you my word.
    Zukan: Except I know how worthless words are.
    Servalan: Too late. You can't undo what you've done, so you have little choice but to trust me.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Vila. When Tarrant gives him a What the Hell, Hero?, he gets angry and attacks Zeeona.
  • Dynamic Akimbo: Avon talking to Soolin.
  • Dynamic Entry: While the other delegates are debating whether Zukan will even be interested in forming an alliance, Zukan suddenly appears with a freighter containing the equipment necessary to produce the antitoxin.
    "This is Zukan, President of Betafarl, come to attend the conference of the non-aligned planets."
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Zukan feels guilty about the eleven loyal men he sacrificed for his Evil Plan. That doesn't stop him from sacrificing Finn moments later to save himself.
  • Endless Daytime: With his guilty conscience, Zukan appears troubled by the thought of not being able to hide his activities.
    Zukan: Betafarl has perpetual day, did you know? It never sleeps. Perpetual light. All that energy. There are times when I miss the darkness. It is hard to live always in the light.
  • Enemy Mine: Zukan has been attacking the neighboring planets to keep them weak, but agrees to join forces in the face of a greater threat. Turns out he's already made a pact with Servalan, who's promised him a free hand to conquer his neighbours in exchange for destroying the Alliance and Avon's rebels.
  • Everythings Better With Ninjas: Black-garbed Federation Guards borrow up from the sand and somersault over cliffs.
  • Everything's Better with Sparkles: When the delegates drink a toast to celebrate their new alliance, a sparkly-lightning effect is laid over their goblets clinking together.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: Not in this case. The explosion in the airlock sends Zukan's spaceship spinning until it eventually breaks up.
  • Explosive Decompression: Finn's face stretches in a bad special effect as his boss blows him out the airlock.
  • Finger Gun: Played for Drama when the soldiers get tired of mock-shooting people and decide to do it for real.
  • From Bad to Worse:
    • The Federation has developed Pylene-50 so it can be used as a weapon in its own right. "It can be fed into your reservoirs or even into the air that you breathe."
    • The assassination of Warlord Zukan means the only military force capable of resisting the Federation is a Decapitated Army without any way of manufacturing the antitoxin to Pylene-50. In the next episode our heroes have to abandon Xenon Base as well, fearing that Zukan revealed its location to Servalan.
    • Everything our heroes have tried over the past year to even the odds against the Federation has failed. Then there's the next episode...
  • Get Out!: Avon asks everyone to leave so Zukan can argue with his wayward daughter. When Tarrant tries to enter with her, Avon physically hauls him outside.
  • Go Look at the Distraction: Soolin gets Avon to go look at a faulty door in the hold so she can teleport Xeeona back to Xenon Base.
  • Government Drug Enforcement. A secret videocast from Zondor shows Federation citizens with zombie-like expressions and numerals stamped on their foreheads, moving listlessly up and down elevators while a soothing voice tells them, "You are cared for. You are loved." The voice continues even when the guards get bored and start shooting people for fun.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: Avon is being staked out by two mooks when Soolin starts massacring their colleagues. He uses this distraction to push one man into the other; by the time they've got to their feet Avon has one of their paraguns.
  • Guile Heroine: Soolin begins to suspect Zukan's motives, and talks Zeeona into teleporting back to Xenon Base and Tarrant. Of course that also leaves her as a potential hostage if Zukan is planning something, which he is.
  • Hallucinations: Zukan is taunted by images of his daughter and Servalan.
  • Hand of Death: A black-gloved hand is shown planting the cylinder of virus, before the Reveal Shot showing it's Zukan.
  • Hidden Depths: As in "Assassin", Soolin is way ahead of Avon when it comes to realising that Zukan may be pulling a fast one. If only she'd had this Character Development at the start of the season.
  • Hope Spot: Avon finally gets his act together and helps form a rebel alliance. Then it all comes crashing down before it has a chance to get started.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Servalan hides a Sticky Bomb under a tight cocktail dress.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Our heroes are better shots with their handguns than the elite Federation Guards are with rifles. Though it's possible they have orders to take them alive under the assumption that Zeeona is with Avon.
  • I Gave My Word: Servalan says to Zukan, "I gave you my word", only to betray him. Later when Avon gives his word that he will rescue him, Zukan refuses to accept it.
  • Ineffectual Death Threat
    Tarrant: You have ten seconds or I'll open fire.
    Vila: With what?
    • Avon makes it clear he's not going to stand in Zukan's way if he wants to get Papa Bear on Soolin. Badass gunfighter that she is, Soolin just grins.
  • It's the Only Way: Avon works out a way of getting fresh air. Zukan is shouting that it won't work. Vila figures they're all screwed anyway, so why not go ahead?
    Vila: Oh get on with it. What difference does it make if he is wrong?
  • Just One Man: Servalan isn't happy about leaving Avon's capture to her minions.
    Zukan: You do not trust your own men, Commissioner?
    Servalan: It isn't a matter of trust so much as... matching ability.
    Zukan: Against one man?
    Servalan: Against Avon.
    Zukan: You make me wonder if I didn't choose badly. You fear him. He and I, together we could have been invincible.
    Servalan: Really...
  • Logical Weakness: Avon points out that the Federation military isn't as strong as it used to be, so they're overly reliant on Pylene-50 for The War of Earthly Aggression. Zukan has the military strength to fend off the Federation until they can produce the antidote, using Betafarl's raw materials and the manufacturing capability of the other planets.
  • Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter: Zeeona, in this case a mad warlord's beautiful daughter.
  • Mistaken for Special Guest: Avon and Soolin are escorting Zeeona back home, but she teleports down to Xenon Base instead. On reaching Betafarl they discover the place swarming with Federation troopers and realise Zukan has sold them out. Soolin then draws a gun on Avon and takes him prisoner, telling the troopers that she's Zukan's daughter. The ploy works, but later backfires in a different way — having been told that his daughter is in Federation custody on their homeworld, Zukan refuses to believe she's actually on Xenon Base which he has sabotaged.
  • Moment Killer: Tarrant kissing Zeeona is interrupted by Avon on the Video Phone with the news that her father has gone Papa Bear.
  • Never Give the Captain a Straight Answer: Dayna has Tarrant and Vila crawl back through the tunnel to find out what's going on instead of just telling them over the commlink.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • Avon's attempt to finally establish an effective resistance to the Federation only leave the Seven worse off than before.
    • Zukan's selfish ambitions doom any chance of resisting the Terran Federation. They even doom our heroes, as Avon decides to seek out another figurehead for the resistance in the final episode, with fatal consequences.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Avon's introduction starts midway through his lecture on the Federation's 'pacification' program. It's not shown what happened on the first two planets, though one is shown to be a smoking ruin.
  • Nothing Up My Sleeve: Soolin stabs a guard with a Laser Blade she had hidden up her sleeve so she can get her hands on his rifle.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Vila gets angry instead of his usual Dirty Coward act when he thinks they really are going to die this time.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: Avon's casual acquiescence to Tarrant risking his life to find out what happened to Zeeona. Tarrant stares at Avon for a long moment, then rushes out with Dayna. Avon gives a Psychotic Smirk.
  • Overprotective Dad: Subverted — Zukan isn't worried that his daughter is falling for a handsome outlaw; he wants her off Xenon Base because he's rigged a Booby Trap that will kill everyone on it.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Orac waits till a bomb is about to explode before warning everyone about it. Perhaps the computer had just been turned on, or it detected the chemical reaction as the initiator activated.
  • Put on a Bus: The final appearance of Servalan.
  • Reaction Shot: Dayna rolls her eyes at Vila over Tarrant/Zeeona Holding Hands.
  • Sadistic Choice: Zukan demands that Avon save him first at the expense of his friends. Avon point-blank refuses to play along, and Zeeona says that she'll volunteer to be the first to die if a Cold Equation is required to save the others.
  • Sexy Backless Outfit: Servalan doesn't depart the show without a final bit of fanservice for the road.
  • Scorched Earth: One of the planets 'pacified' by the Federation is just a smouldering ruin.
  • Single Tear: Xeeona crying when she's forced to leave Tarrant.
  • Space Clothes: The WTH, Costuming Department? of The Alliance members. Averted with the utilitarian outfits Avon and Soolin change into for the trip to Betafarl. The Raygun Gothic rescue suits make a comeback (this time with neck protectors).
  • Spanner in the Works: First Xeoona smuggles herself on board the freighter so she can see Tarrant again. When her father finds out and has her sent back to Betafarl, Soolin arranges for her to teleport back down again.
  • Split-Screen Reaction: The video showing the drugged citizens of Zondor is combined with an insert shot of two bored Federation guards inciting each other to take pot shots at them.
  • Strange Salute: Zukan greets the other delegates with a crossed-wrists salute.
  • Stuff Blowing Up
  • Synthetic Plague: A radioactive airborne virus is used to kill everyone on Xenon Base.
  • That's What I Would Do: Avon uses this trope to work out how the virus is being spread, and thus how to reverse the effect.
    Avon: Now, what I would have done would have been to connect the neutron bombarder to the the air ventilators and reverse the flow. Instead of pushing air, it is sucking air, and the virus, into the whole system. Simple. [into comm] Tarrant, disconnect all north side ventilators and reverse the air flow. That way you will get fresh air coming in against the contamination.
  • This Cannot Be!: Zukan refuses to accept that his daughter is trapped on Xenon Base, as Servalan's soldiers reported that she was on Betafarl with Avon.
    Avon: That was Soolin. You are murdering your own daughter, Zukan.
    Zukan: You're trying to trick me, Avon.
    Zukan: No, you're on Scorpio. You're in league with Avon!
    Zeeona: I'm on the base, father, please!
    Zukan: I don't believe you. I don't believe you!
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: Xeenoa volunteers to deactivate the virus, and assures Tarrant that she will be perfectly all right.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: On the citizens of Zondor who have been subjected to a concentrated dosage of Pylene-50. Presumably the Federation is still in the initial pacification stage, so docility is more important than having a workforce with initiative and fine motor skills.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: Servalan leaves a magnetic bomb in the airlock of Warlord Zukan's spacecraft. Zukan sends in his aide to remove it, blowing him out the airlock the moment he detaches the bomb from the metal wall. Unfortunately the bomb explodes at that point fatally crippling the spacecraft, so Zukan dies anyway.
  • Traitor Shot:
    Zukan: I salute you all. (exchanges Meaningful Look with Finn)
  • Trash the Set: Xenon Base is destroyed in the penultimate episode of the series.
  • Unnecessary Combat Roll: Federation soldiers do dramatic somersaults over a cliff for no apparent reason.
  • The Un-Reveal: It's not shown why Zeeona took her glove off — was she Driven to Suicide out of guilt for her father's actions or grief over his death? Did she have to make some delicate adjustments on the neutron bombarder, or did she just get careless?
  • Unusual User Interface: Tarrant reroutes air through the ducts by drawing on the screen with a light pen.
  • Villain Ball: Zukan is right; if he'd stuck to his alliance with Avon, he could have defeated Servalan. Instead Servalan promises him a free hand to conquer his neighbours, while Zukan thinks he's protected himself against Federation treachery by getting hold of the antitoxin. However Servalan is entirely willing to take a personal hand in shaping events to her satisfaction.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Zukan
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Invoked; everyone thinks that Zukan is looking to improve his image. He's not.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Zigzagged; Servalan orders Avon's execution rather than waste time with her usual Evil Gloating, but her soldiers decide to stake Avon out in the sun instead of shooting him. Soolin doesn't miss her chance.
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