Monday, March 12, 2007

B7 explained!

OK, here is an explanation for the third episode of the fourth series of Blake's 7, Traitor by the all-knowing-all-seeing-all-baloney mighty Robert Holmes.

Which he really wanted to call "A Land Fit For Helots". But they made him call it "Traitor".

Ok, start at the beginning.

By the time of "Death Watch", Servalan's little empire now consumed all the other factions of the splintered Federation, united as never before. Unfortunately, this means Servalan's asking for trouble. Her political enemies stage a coup. Losing control of the Federation, Servalan's forces flee to the planet Geddon to regroup. Servalan heads for Terminal to start the operation to grab the Liberator and turn the tide of battle - if she has the most advanced ship in existence, well, the Federation will have to let her back.

The Federation storm Geddon and after a long and bloody battle, finally wipe out the last of Servalan's empire. A body double is found dead, and a new President takes over the Federation. However, the malfunctioning teleport has dumped Servalan on a Federation planet. Using her spare identity of Commissioner Sleer, she wriggles her way into the ranks since several of her supporters are still in the new regime.

Servalan then discovers the miracle of Pylene, a muscle relaxant. If you OD on it, it brainwashes you, prevents you from producing adrenaline. Poisoning the research scientist Forbus, she forces him to mass produce Pylene 50 and, while keeping as low a profile as she can, creates the Pacification Police - a sort of UNIT-type organization. The plan is simple. The Federation storms a planet and then adapts all the prisoners, making them docile, and then uses them to increase their armed forces. Kinda like Cybermen.

The Federation, which covered a handful of solar systems, is now reconquering all the lost territories. When Helotrix falls however, Avon is concerned. Helotrix is famous for its inhabitants being the toughest, most hardcore bastards in the history of everything ever. Helots could walk the back alleyways of Manhatten stark naked and beat the shit out of every mugger without getting a scratch. Helotrix has kicked the Federation's arses three times, and conquering them is an ideal rather than a plan. It took DECADES for anyone to even stand a chance at holding the planet.

And Helotrix fell in three weeks.

You see why Avon's bricking it?

Now, the Federation lead by an unamed General and the monocular Colonel Quute have based themselves in the ruins of a main city around the Magnetrix Terminal - the equivalent of a modem linking all Federation planets. The columns of Helot rebels are now ex-teachers and civilians, and considering how fucking lethal they are, it's clear the show would not be suitable for BBC audiences if there were PROPER Helot rebels without buckets of gore and machine gun fire.

Igin, one of the older and less useful rebels, tries to sneak into the city in order to evaluate the latest plan - sneak under the Magnetrix Terminal and blow up the foundations. Wreck the Terminal, and the Federation force will be isolated. Not a bad plan... except the rebels can't do it with their resources. Igin is caught by a random census (where all the natives are 'adapted' again so as to catch any stragglers). Quute, for a laugh, tricks Igin into swallowing a homing beacon. They let him go and wait until he stops moving. Assuming he's at the base, they fire a flock of missiles at Igin and blow him up.

Luckily, Hunder - the rebel leader - was suspicious and kept Igin several miles away from the main camp. So when Igin was atomized, everyone else made it. Hunder is furious at the fact his friend died in such a pointless manner but his fellow rebels Avandir and Hask point out the rest of them are alive. Indeed, Quute and the General are now convinced that they have wiped out all the rebels. They intend to get a Helot from the Federation Civil List to take over control of Helotrix while the Pacification Police prepare to conquer the next planet on their list - Uanta.

Meanwhile, Vila is trying to make toast while Soolin watches on.

VILA: I've got the makings of a dozen wheatfields here - IF I can get them to germinate.
SOOLIN: I don't see you as the back-to-nature type somehow.
VILA: If we're going to be here as long as Avon reckons, then we might as well be comfortable. I keep dreaming about toast.
SOOLIN: "Toast"?
VILA: (kisses fingertips) A delicacy!
ORAC: Report for Avon.
SOOLIN: What is it, Orac?
ORAC: Report for Avon
VILA: (into comm) Avon? Your friend Orac wants a chat. (to Soolin) Some people dream about money. Or power. I dream about toast.
SOOLIN: Uhhuh. Well, unless you can make whatever that is out of pure dirt I should forget it.
VILA: There must be thosuands of them in these trays ... potentially... All I need is a mill. And a bakery. And a few slaves to do the work.
SOOLIN: And some seeds that will germinate.

Orac reports the Helotrix Terminal is now working and Avon makes a decision.

AVON: There's only one way. We have to go to Helotrix.
VILA: You're getting worse than Blake used to be! You're turning into a HERO, Avon!
AVON: Whatever the occasion demands. (grins) Actually, I'm going to let Tarrant be the hero. Soolin, tell him to get Scorpio ready for takeoff!

As the plant hopper approaches Helotrix, Vila's still not convinced.

AVON: Good material, Tarrant. One of the best.
VILA: He's not the man for the job! Tarrant's got about as much subtlety as a Bulrasian war-strangler!
SOOLIN: Are you volunteering?
VILA: ME?! Walk into the middle of a WAR?!?
SOOLIN: The Federation have the Terminal, according to Orac.
VILA: That doesn't mean the fighting's over! All I'm saying is that Tarrant's going to walk straight into trouble and get himself killed or captured - preferably the first.
AVON: Happy little comrade, aren't you?
VILA: Only thinking of myself.

Below, Hunda makes plans. Knowing that the Federation will send out a survey team to check the base was destroyed with Igin, he orders Hask to set up an ambush. The Federation send in adapted Helots who, oddly enough, lack the normal reaction times and are thus massacred. Since Igin died before he could tell anyone the plan wouldn't work, Hunda decides to see things for himself. He dives into the lake and swims under the Terminal reactors and manages to climb up through them into the jungle around the city.

He is not the only new arrival. Practor has arrived, a native Helot now high enough in the Federation to take over the planet. He's not impressed with his predecessor's apartment with the Baroque style and portraits of the ex-Empress Servalan, and is shown around by Leitz, appointed by Commissioner Sleer to help him settle in. Tomorrow he will be sworn in as the appointed ruler of the planet. Leitz leaves Practor alone and soon Commissioner Sleer visits Practor, kills him, wrecks his computer, and scorches the painting of Servalan before retreating.

Tarrant and Dayna teleport down to the outskirts of the city, but the communicator circuit on Scorpio breaks down. As they move through the city, there is another census. Tarrant, Dayna and other Helots make a break for it, and the Helots are gunned down by the Pacification Police, 'adapting' them with Pylene 50 and rendered zombies. Hunda spots them and together they hide. Hunda gives them some Helot clothing and explains the current situation before Leitz arrives, a double agent helping the rebels. However, one of the rebel columns has been destroyed, and the other two have fled to the White Mountains, leaving Hunda's the only remaining rebel column in action - having wiped out two gunships. Leitz suggests that instead of trying to blow down the Terminal from underneath, they sneak through the wrecked monorail. Hunda heads off to tell the others the new plan while Tarrant and Dayna quizz Leitz.

Meanwhile, Avon tells Orac to work out how to improve Scorpio's engines. Bored, Orac logs onto the internet to look up engine designs, and unfortunately uses the nearest Magnetrix Terminal to do so - so the Federation watch in awe as user ORAC downloads these plans. Quute, realizing what a threat this could be, has the General order pursuit ships up into the atmosphere to find Orac.

AVON: What are these, Orac?
ORAC: Coefficient factors of nose-cone profiles.
AVON: All right. File them. What's the next program?
ORAC: Weight and velocity indices.
AVON: File those too. In fact, store all the data. I'll go through it when we get back to base.
VILA: IF we get back to base. How much longer are we going to wait, Avon?
SOOLIN: Until we get the information we came for.
VILA: You're an optimist, Soolin.
SOOLIN: And you're a very poor judge of character.
AVON: Vila's not as his best hanging around. He's an action man.
VILA: I'll tell you what kind of man I am, Avon! I'm a running man! The way YOU used to be before you caught Terminal Bakeitis!
(Avon doesn't pay attention. Vila groans.)
SOOLIN: I suppose it isn't possible that you and Blake do have something in common after all?
AVON: No it isn't. We're different in every possible way.
SOOLIN: For instance...?
AVON: For instance... I survived. Blake didn't.

Avon realizes what has happened and, since Tarrant and Dayna are still free... and refusing to come back... decides to stay in orbit, hiding from the pursuit ships rather than running like ninjas on fire.

On Helotrix, Leitz finds Practor's body. Sleer, of course, takes charge and the General is disgusted to find that Leitz is a double agent who has been setting up all the rebels to be killed rather than letting the General have a proper war (as written, the General's practically a Sontaran...). As per Sleer's orders, Leitz has set up Hunda to head with all his men into the monorail tunnel, which is booby trapped. As for Dayna and Tarrant, they have been sent to the pylene labs underground.

LEITZ: Though, naturally, I didn't tell them about our security measures.
GENERAL: Naturally.
LEITZ: I expect they're dead now.

Dayna and Tarrant kill the guard and steal his key, narrowly avoiding a booby trap. Inside, they meet Forbus, the creator of Pylene 50, now stuck in a wheelchair and in constant agony. He has constructed a crude TNT bomb which he intends to kill himself, Sleer and Leitz. Learning that Dayna and Tarrant are the ones from the Liberator, he hands over the immunity drug to Pylene 50 and the formula so they can stop the Pacification Police and wreck Sleer's career. Realizing they can alert Hunda to a trap and throw the Federation off Helotrix, Dayna and Tarrant ignore Avon's commands to return to the ship. They meet up with Hunda's group just before they enter the monorail tunnel and, immunizing them, walk straight into the city.

Believing this is a trick and most of the rebels have entered the monorail, the General orders it blown up and then sends his forces to attack the "survivors". However, the census guards and pacification police only have Pylene 50 rays - no ordinary guns. So the immunized rebels cannot be stopped as they sweep into the Terminal.

There, Commisioner Sleer is waiting for them... and when Dayna and Servalan and Tarrant see each other, their mutual surprise is a distraction which allows Hunda to unleash his own artillery, which is far more effective. As the General and Quute arrive, the fighting starts. Quute is shot dead, Dayna beats the General up as the rebels storm the Terminal and smash it to peices.

Servalan flees underground to Forbus, realizing he's somehow betrayed her. Forbus tries to go for his TNT booby trap and Servalan shoots him dead. Leitz arrives, having deduced Sleer's identity and that she is killing anyone that can reveal she was not killed at Geddon - Servalan is a political criminal. Leitz offers to keep her secret in return for becoming the President of Helotrix when order is restored. Servalan kills him.

With the Federation control of Helotrix broken, Tarrant and Dayna strip off their disguises and return to Scorpio which immediately heads off back to Xenon at top speed. At first, Avon refuses to believe that Servalan is dead. But, on the up side, this means he can now kill her himself...

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