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Recap / Blake's 7 S4 E3: "Traitor"

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New ship. New crew. The Federation's strong again.
Written by Robert Holmes.
Directed by David Sullivan Proudfoot.
Airdate: 12 October 1981.

When Avon discovers that the Federation has reconquered several former colonies in a surprisingly short time, he is determined to find out why. Tarrant and Dayna teleport down to the planet Heliotrix where they encounter a deadly web of intrigue, a drug with terrifying applications, and the return of an old foe.

This episode has the following tropes:

  • Battle Discretion Shot: A Fog of War arises during the hand-to-hand combat scene, to hide the fact that it's filmed in a studio.
  • Blackmail: Leitz suggests to 'Commissioner Sleer' that she use her influence to make him the new President of Heliotrix to replace Practor. In exchange he'll keep quiet about her being Servalan. Given that Leitz already suspects that she killed Praetor to keep her secret he's Too Dumb to Live, as Servalan rapidly demonstrates.
  • Blatant Lies:
    Quute: Wanta?
    General: That's our next assignment. Something to look forward to, eh?
    Quute: Yes, sir, [with patent insincerity] I'm looking forward to that no end. [beat] Where exactly is Wanta, sir?
    • After Servalan shoots a cripple, Leitz enters and says, "If you need a witness, Commissioner, I can swear it was self-defense."
  • Bittersweet Ending: All of last season's gains have been for naught, what with Servalan still alive and a resurgent Federation easily taking back The Empire thanks to Pylene-50. The only consolation is that our protagonists have got hold of an antidote.
  • Boring, but Practical: Forbus has made an old-fashioned nitroglycerine bomb using the resources in his laboratory.
  • BBC Quarry: Binnegar Heath Sand Pit in Dorset.
  • Cannon Fodder: The General orders out a patrol to check the results of the missile strike. Rather than use their own troops, he suggests a unit of adapted Helots they've been training.
    Quute: Yes, I've seen them.
    General: What do you think of them?
    Quute: They seem like all Helots after adaptation: suggestible, obedient, glad to follow orders. They should make excellent troops.
    General: I don't know. Something missing, I think. Fire in the belly, Quute. You can't fight without it.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Avon tells Tarrant that he's only to gather intelligence on whatever Game Changer the Federation has got hold of, even if the entire population of Heliotrix is being lined up and shot. Sure enough Tarrant refuses to teleport out when he discovers the rebels are walking into a trap.
  • Come with Me If You Want to Live
  • Compromising Call: Avon calls Tarrant and Dayna while they're trying to hide from a Federation roundup. Fortunately they're not detected.
  • Deadly Hug: Servalan stabs Leitz while snogging him.
  • Dead Man Switch: Unfortunately Forbus doesn't have it in his hand when Servalan pays him a visit.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: The Federation changes from a Vestigial Empire to Galactic Conqueror, and Servalan returns from a No One Could Survive That! fate to become the main antagonist for our heroes.
  • Dissonant Serenity
    • After being given Pylene-50, Igin casually informs his interrogator of the resistance plans, and has no reaction to the news that his hometown and most of its inhabitants had been obliterated when they refused to surrender.
    • Quute and Tracer play chess, have a meal or drink some tea while planning a ruthless pacification program.
    • 'Adapted' Helot soldiers don't bother taking cover when they are ambushed.
  • Double Reverse Quadruple Agent: Leitz.
  • Easily Conquered World: Last time it took the Federation years to conquer Heliotrix. Thanks to Pylene-50, they've conquered it and several other planets in weeks.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Colonel Quute
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The General isn't happy about the rebels being Lured into a Trap and destroyed by remote-controlled charges as he respects the Helots as Worthy Opponents, having once commanded a squadron of them.
  • Faux Action Girl: Despite Soolin's much-hyped skills as The Gunslinger, Soolin remains on Scorpio while Tarrant beams down with Dayna. This is because she's taking a role originally allocated to Callynote  — she makes up for this in "Stardrive".
  • Foreshadowing:
  • Full-Circle Revolution: The forces that Servalan used to seize control back in Season B have been deposed, but that only means the old power structure is back in place and determined to regain control of the newly-independent colonies.
  • Gender-Concealing Writing: Commissioner Sleer's sex is never mentioned.
  • Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul: Pylene-50 prevents the body from producing adrenaline. It's hard to rebel when you can't get angry or upset.
  • Good Old Ways: The General isn't impressed with this brave new world of drug pacification and push-button warfare, saying there are times when you need to go in and do the job personally. Sure enough the Helot resistance avoid the missiles and tunnel trap, and defeat the Federation troops in hand-to-hand combat once they have immunity to their medical lasers.
  • Government Drug Enforcement: Federation troops are shown rounding up Helots in the city and shooting anyone who isn't 'adapted' with medical lasers.
  • Hand of Death/Shadow Discretion Shot: The mysterious assassin of the President-Elect.
  • Human Aliens
    Dayna: I didn't know Helots were originally from Earth.
    Vila: Everyone came from Earth originally. That's a well-known fact.
    Soolin: It's a well-known opinion, actually.
    Tarrant: Most well known facts are.
  • Humans Are White: Apparently whoever cast the extras missed the note about the racial diversity of Helotrix.
  • It's Probably Nothing: The General thinks that Orac's hacking is just commercial espionage, until Quute informs him that anyone capable of hacking into their communications with Earth could access their military secrets.
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: Servalan goes into action wearing...feathers?
  • Kick the Dog: Thinking that Forbus tampered with the Pylene-50 after the rebels aren't effected, Servalan decides to cut off his antidote for a few days, bringing him closer to death. In a Plot Hole, she then shoots Forbus for no apparent reason (in the script it's because he tried to set off his bomb).
  • Leave No Survivors: Neither rebels or the Federation are much into taking prisoners; it's only averted when the medical injection lasers are used.
  • Makeup Is Evil: Servalan is done up with Egyptian goddess-like eye makeup.
  • Meaningful Name: The Helots were slaves of the Spartans in Ancient Greece. Here the Helots are a Proud Warrior Race who have been turned into slaves.
  • Microts: Averted; 'miles' replaced the usual 'spacials' from this point due to Executive Meddling.
  • Mr. Exposition: Quute and Tracer in the B7 tradition provide exposition on what's going on.
  • Mugged for Disguise: Tarrant and Dayna stealing some local clothes, leaving two Helots Bound and Gagged.
  • Multicultural Alien Planet: Dayna is informed she won't stand out on Helotrix (ironically the only black soldier we see is a Federation one).
    Avon: When Helotrix was first settled, the old Stock Equalization Act was still in force. Every Earth race had to be represented.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Orac can't be bothered working on Scorpio's drive modifications, so it delegates the task to a Federation computer. The hacking is intercepted and the Federation start searching for the source.
  • No Name Given: The Federation general. There's also the Tracer, the soldier who is monitoring the Tracking Device.
  • No-Sell:
    • Forbus gives the rebels the antidote, so they're not affected by the medical injection lasers.
    • The General relates an incident where aliens were impervious to Deadly Gas because they were gill-breathers.
  • Nothing Up My Sleeve: Servalan hides a crystalline injector up her sleeve, that she uses to kill Leitz.
  • Percussive Maintenance: Vila says it’s the only way to deal with solid-state circuitry.
  • Pick Your Human Half: Avon notes that Orac is likely sulking because he made it work on upgrading their engines, and the computer doesn't like to work any more than a human does.
  • Playing Possum: Hunda and his men pretend to be bodies killed by the missile strike. The adapted Helots placidly walk into the ambush, as they're not scared enough to look for traps.
  • Poison and Cure Gambit: Servalan has poisoned the inventor of Pylene-50 leaving him a cripple, giving Forbus a Sadistic Choice of working for her to produce a weaponised version (it was originally a muscle relaxant) or dying in agonizing pain because she's withholding the antidote.
  • Power Perversion Potential: Quute muses that he should take some Pylene-50 with him the next time he goes on leave.
  • Pressure Point: Tarrant knocks out the guard outside the lab this way.
  • The Quisling: President-elect Practor is a Helot who's a long-time member of the Federation administration. He even used to work for Servalan, switching sides while all her loyalists were purged.
  • The Radio Dies First: Due to a malfunction the crew of Scorpio can hear Tarrant, but he can't hear their replies.
  • The Remnant
    • Most of Servalan's old guard fought to the death (and many of those who didn't were purged anyway).
    • Hunda's column is the only resistance unit active in the field.
  • Resistance as Planned: Leitz is not only a Double Agent, he's been coordinating the resistance columns with the intention of destroying them.
  • Resistance Is Futile
    Quute: And you might tell Hunda that resistance is quite pointless.
  • Right Under Their Noses: With Federation cruisers searching for them, Vila urges Avon to Run or Die. Avon instead takes Scorpio down beneath the planet's cloud cover, betting their lives that the cruisers will be scanning outwards, not inwards.
  • Schmuck Bait:
    • Leitz informs Hunda of a disused monorail tunnel that the rebels can use to infiltrate the city in force. It's mined with explosives.
    • Tarrant knocks out a guard and takes his key. Then Dayna finds a second key hidden on the guard that's the real one; the first key sets off a Booby Trap when used.
  • Secret Underground Passage: La RĂ©sistance come up with several plans to infiltrate the Magnetrix terminal. Tunnelling under isn't practical because the flood waters are too high. Then Hunda swims into the base via the cooling tunnels for the reactor to meet with Leitz, who informs him of a disused monorail tunnel that could be used to bring in their entire force.
  • Shout-Out: The other resistance forces have fallen back to the White Mountains.
  • Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: Despite this, Avon refuses to abandon the mission.
    Vila: Blake would have been proud of you, you know.
    Avon: I know, but then he never was very bright.
  • Slave Mooks: Deconstructed; lacking aggression or fear of death, the adapted Helot force placidly walk into an ambush and are easily defeated.
  • The Snack Is More Interesting: Quute and Tracer play chess while coordinating the missile strike to wipe out the rebel column.
  • Stealth Pun: There are four rebel columns mentioned, meaning the adapted Helot force would be a Fifth Column.
  • Space "X": The Rebel Leader Hunda has the rank of Star Major, despite fighting a purely planetary conflict. The Federation officers sneer at this civilian adopting a pretentious military rank.
  • Taking Up the Mantle: With Blake reported dead, Servalan apparently dead, the Liberator destroyed and a resurgent Federation on the warpath, Avon is taking up Blake's role as Rebel Leader instead of the crew becoming Space Pirates.
  • Taking You with Me: Forbus plans to blow up Sleer the next time she comes round for some Evil Gloating.
  • Tempting Fate/Rhetorical Question Blunder
    Leitz: How many people have you killed to keep your secret?
    (Servalan jabs him in the neck and he dies)
    Servalan: 26. So far...
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself
    Avon: I didn't want [Servalan] to die like that anyway. (surprised look from Tarrant) I need... to kill her myself.
  • This Cannot Be!: Avon's reaction to the news that the Federation has just conquered Helotrix, and that Servalan is alive.
  • Tracking Device: Igin is given a drink with a tracer hidden in it, then released to make contact with the rebels. Colonel Quute launches neutron missiles on his location after the signal hasn't moved for an hour, assuming he's reached his base. Fortunately he's only reached the rendezvous point (the rebels having decided to wait for the cover of nightfall to bring him in) so the missiles only destroy Igin.
  • The Unreveal: How did Servalan get off the Liberator? It's not until "Sand" that we get an explanation.
  • Unusual Euphemism: 'Adapted' and 'pacification'.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Servalan flees into the jungle the moment the rebels appear to be winning.
  • You Can Run, but You Can't Hide: The Federation pursuing an aggressive plan of conquest is bad news for our heroes, now that they're tied to a base and crewing a slow planethopper.
    Vila: If they keep expanding at this rate, we haven't as much time as you thought. They will be knocking on the door in a couple of years.
    Vila: I don't know, but maybe we should start running now! I always thought your idea of having a combat base was crazy.
  • You Know Too Much: Servalan kills anyone who could recognise her.