Mind you, if you want to see a similarly flawed pilot for Blake's 7, check out Farscape, the show that needed to bring in Servalan and tell everyone it was Servalan as the main villain when no one twigged. True, Farscape is an acquired taste, but it is the white chocolate to Blake's 7's dessicated coconut... rather than Rebel's frothing puss ulcer.
It was lucky I double checked about which was the next story. I assumed it would be Liberator, since the series really should focus on its main spaceship which the A-Man has gone out of his way to make as boring as possible, like a lobotomized Moya with all the DRDs switched off. But no, it's Traitor.
Blake: rebel, traitor, liberator. Get it? Like tinker, tailer, soldier, spy?
Yeah, took me a while, too. Still didn't laugh.
Oh, god, what an awful cover. Seriously. And how DARE you forge Terry Nation's signature. He wouldn't piss on this if it were ablaze! Hell, he'd probably be adding the petrol...
CHAPTER ONE: Communion
"I'm just an ant, lost in the mind of God."
My hopes for this are high. There are plenty of people who've made good of rubbish series, and surely Marc Platt can spin some gold from the dross left over from Aaronovitch's pilot, right? After all, pilots suck, the rest of the show doesn't have to. This can improve. Right?
Enthusiasm bleeds as the story opens with boring space talk from Jenna as she comes to the amazing conclusion that their huge stolen spaceship might actually be able to travel faster than an ice cream van, and also tells Mezin to shut up every single time she tries to be helpful. Oooh, upset she's played by someone who can ACT, Jenna? Is that it? Mezin meanwhile is not the useless hovering vocal conscience of Rebel and points out that even if they can get the ship to go 88 mph and time travel, all they're doing is piss-farting around and trying to attract attention from the Federation. Jenna hurls more abuse at Mezin before childishly blaming Avon for not fixing the strange alien technology for her to joyride. Or "get his ass in gear" as she says.
In fairness to Platt, I'll assume it's script editing keeping all the characters the useless jerks they were last week, but it's not doing anyone any favors. So we cut from the PMT bitchfest on the flight deck, to the other end of the whacking great corridor that is the rest of the ship (how do they travel so quickly from one end of the ship to the other? Segways?), where Avon is arguing with Zen in some astral plane. Zen refuses to do a damn thing until a crew is providing for him and Avon is only able to sulk. Blake breaks him out of the trance and calls him stupid, and Avon says he's not stupid, it's just an impossible task.
Vila and Gan meanwhile are exploring the incredibly long corridor and Gan, understandably, is bored shitless. Compensation, Vila is scared shitless despite his desperate desire to loot the Liberator for everything he can, while Gan seems to have got lost. In a corridor. For hours. Has the Giant Corridor of Space been retconned out of existence already? We can only hope. Vila then asks Gan for his opinion of Blake in a scene that both supports and contradicts WVMG but definitely contradicts Rebel. Basically, while Gan voted for Blake in an election he apparently never stood for, Vila really should already know this. Vila thinks Blake is a televangelist (???) and longs for some criminals to talk to... SO WHY THE FUCK DIDN'T YOU STAY ON CYGNUS ALPHA, YOU THROATY COCKNEY MOCKERY?!? Anyway, Vila finally stops whining like a bitch and tries to break into a room on the basis that the door is locked. Give me strength! This is barely Vila 2.0 let alone Vila 1.0, as the writer seems to think Vila is a psychotic kleptomaniac unable to string two concepts together.
Meanwhile, Platt struggles to find something to do with Servalan and Guisborne in the House of Commons (moderated by Deep Thought), where they face Evil Exposition Man who tells us the plot of Rebel. Servalan gives a very long winded reply, and basically the gist is, "Are you telling me you've let Blake get loose with a giant alien spaceship?" "Maybe." which naturally cause wild and mass applause amongst those there. God, I'm getting nostlagic for The New Statesman. Servalan whines pathetically and tells Guisborne to find out who told everyone and punish them to death (uh, it was Gizzy, wasn't it? I mean, he ran around a dinner party shouting, "Blake has a spaceship! Doesn't this strike anyone as interesting?!") and Servalan continues to mindlessly chant that Blake is not a threat, but the people who think he is ARE the threat. "The man is a political virus," Servalan minces, still struggling to get Gizzy to sound like he gives a shit about anything. And failing.
Back onboard, Zen demands Avon to tell him who the others are in a scene not half as mysterious, scary, intriguing or downright erotic as Jenna's original bonding with Zen. But trying that on audio could just get icky. Zen just keeps chanting ominously, "The completion program must be finalized!" and refuses to discuss what happened to the old crew or how the ship got damaged. Finally Avon tells Zen to go fuck himself and the computer seems to decide to do just that and trigger self-destruct! Or. Something. We then cut to Jenna whining with annoyance when the ship immediately aims itself into the heart of a passing stunt in the brilliant reenactment of a Disaster Area concert. Oh, is Avon's face red!
I'll cut you some slack, Platt, and assume this abomination was down to whatever foulness script edits this mess.
CHAPTER TWO: Directive
"Nothing worth liberating."
Without doubt the sign that B7 Reborn is a complete failure is the fact that the spaceship full of main characters sent hurtling into a sun doesn't cause me the slightest concern. I don't care whether they live or die. And I'm still traumatized by the deaths of the originals. I feared for the crew of the SS Pentallion when they suffered the same thing. Hell, I worried about the poor suckers raped/eaten in Xtro. For crying out loud, I FELT SORRY FOR JOHN HOWARD! And I have a blogpost to prove it. If I don't give a shit about your characters in mortal danger, something is very, very wrong. And I teared up at the end of End of Days when Jack returned to the gang and forgave them their tresppassers... in one of the most stupid and moronic scripts ever. But I still wept at the sheer beauty of telling someone what they need to hear for their benefit. And it was Owen fucking Harper! I'm an easy touch, so the Sci-Fi Channel must be congratulated on making the entire format so unlikeable it is only my obsessive compulsiveness that makes me listen to this. I mean, I've had these for years, and I'm only now properly listening to them...
Where we we? Oh yeah, sundive. Right. Ahem.
Well, Blake wants a rather petty 'let's find out who to blame' conversation while Avon rightly tells him to shut his mouth while our "top flight hacker" tries to talk Zen out of his Douglas Adams homage. Blake still wants to have an argument about Avon's attempts to hack into Zen (uh... you asked him to, remember? In the previous episode? Huh? Hello?) while Mezin gets bitchslapped for her, all-in-all sensible plan of "send out a distress call while there's still time". Forgive her for not wanting to die, will you, Jenna? Oh no, I forgot, India Fisher can ACT which is why Mezin is ugly, stupid, treacherous and evil. This is much more sophisticated than the TV series, isn't it, boys and girls?
"She's giving away our position!" Jenna bitches, clearly not having got the memo of imminent fiery apocalypse, while those who actually CAN give that defense - Vila and Gan - are up to their usual annoyingly pointless shennegans, as Gan uses SuperStrength to rip the lock off the door so Vila can... oh wait. Whoops. To give it its dues, this scene does give Vila 2.0 a decent scene with his passion for lockpicking and the minds behind him, like City of the Edge of the World. When he's in the 'zone', this new Vila isn't complete crap. The trouble is, he's not in the zone often enough. Vila soon opens the door to the locked room, but suspects that it was not so much to stop him getting in but to test his ability, but it leads to the Liberator's wooden-panelled Edwardian secondary control room. Or a cryo-storage room, they refuse to make their minds up. They then stumble across a man-shaped burn mark on the wall... hang on. Humanoid burn marks, space ships hurtling into the sun? They're ripping off 42! Platt, I'm ashamed of you! You can't think of better things to nick than Chibnall's cast offs? No fist.
Oh well, there's still FOUR hours before striking the sun, so there goes any real tension. Mezin suggests they leg it in a shuttle but, remember, she's ugly and stupid so Blake's mindless insistance that the alien ship is kinda nifty and must be protected at all costs is gone with instead. "I'm not giving it up until it's burning around me," whines Blake, stamping his foot. I wish I could come up with a better verb than 'whines' or 'bitches', but they really do fit these idiots, who spend their whole time ineffectively complaining at the messes they get themselves into. Avon has annoyingly retained his 'it may be a life or death situation, but you MUST be polite to me or I'll let us all die in petulance' streak, which of course makes him SO endearing.
Anyway, Avon explains that Zen (still not named, BTW) is split into six subsystems to match six crewmembers. This is incredibly useless information, since self-destruct overrides the subsystems anyway. Zen bitches that if the crew weren't complete crap, it would have been able to finish its program and NOT throw the ship into passing stars. Mezin tries to understand what Zen wants while Jenna continues to find new and excruciating ways of annoying me, this time suggesting that the computer is hungover. Very helpful Jenna, now fuck off. To my increasing despair, Avon agrees and deduces that Zen is traumatized from something that's occured within the ship. Over to you Private Dexter.
Thank you, Private Dexter. Well, as Avon and Blake argue about who gets to talk to Zen, Jenna has another schizophrenic episode and decides to use Mezin's plan of escaping in a shuttle. Hypocritical bitch. Mezin for her part, doesn't indulge in petty vendettas (proving herself 200 times more emotionally mature than everyone else in this story) but notes that Vila and Gan aren't present and goes to look for them since oh-so-moral Blake hasn't noticed them gone, Jenna doesn't care and Avon is (for some unfathomable reason) more interested in NOT dying horribly. Avon now reveals that the original crew rebelled against Zen, who went utterly stark raving bonkers and has been trying to kill itself ever since, throwing itself at planets and stars like that Monty Python Scottish soldier not allowed to kill himself for his country despite his best efforts.
Jenna announces with a stream of technobabble and butch space talk that an unknown ship is heading straight towards them and, uh, this is bad because the ship can't escape if they're attacked. They are the sitting target of the next episode's title, completely ignoring the fact that
- they aren't sitting, they're moving straight into a sun
- isn't the 'straight into the sun' stuff a bit more pressing than whether or not a ship attacks them?
Thankfully, this bit is over. I think my hair is starting to go grey.
CHAPTER THREE: Sitting Target
"You're always one step ahead in depressing me."
Showing the same care and attention to detail as Rebel, the last episode ended with an unknown ship bearing down on the as-yet-unnamed-but-incredibly-suicidal Liberator. This one begins with it actually being a Federation scoutship from 'the United Planets of Earth'. That slight scraping sound is my soul dying further as some guy called Tepesh radios over and politely asks them what they're doing in Federation territory because "hurtling out of control into the blazing heart of a star" is way too obvious and they're obviously faking. Yes, despite gossip across the galaxy that Blake's got his hands on an alien battle cruiser, they have managed to bump into the one scoutship not to get the memo and assume this is actually a first contact situation. Oh, the irony! Oh, the fact that Jenna, Avon and Blake KEEP TELLING US ABOUT THE IRONY! Oh, MAKE IT STOP!
Blake tells Avon to tell Zen to let them speak to the ship. So Avon tells Zen to tell him what the computer's prime directive is. Clearly a failure of communication as Zen obvious thought Avon asked him to lock down the entire ship and make it certain that they are all completely doomed. Mezin bounces in to report this, as she was just trying to nick a shuttle when the doors locked. (Hang on, isn't she supposed to be searching for Vila and Gan? And why didn't she use the internal comms? Has Zen shut them off too?) Genius and hardcore man of brilliance Avon decides his new plan: "Hang a white flag out the window." Yes, he seriously says that.
Meanwhile, Vila and Gan idly open one of the cryo-pods to reveal... another burnt shadow of some poor sucker and then... I dunno. I honestly don't know. Vila screams a lot as something nasty happens to Gan. Zen keeps demanding someone identify themselves, and there's lots of static. This makes me doubt very much that Marc Platt is writing this bit. I've heard his audio dramas for Big Finish and he's never written something so incoherently baffling before (insert "What about Ghost Light?" gag here). He's quite straight forward in terms of telling you what's going on through dialogue and sound effects, and if there isn't time in these five minute eps for such a sequence, I credit him with enough intelligence to realize it and write SOMETHING ELSE!
Blake seems to have forgotten his mindless refusal to let reality get in the way of his aims, as he now meekly uses Mezin's walkie-talkie to beg the scoutship to rescue him. I thought you weren't giving up the ship until it blew up around you? Blake, you a lying prick. Hastily claiming that they're all a Federation survey team stuck on an alien derelict, Blake hopefully asks Tepesh, "Any chance of pulling us off?" And if that doesn't sound like the cue for a really dirty joke, then what does?
Suddenly Zen starts reading out Gan's postal address (the Kenny Rodgers Bloc of Croyden, if you care cause I don't), having apparently trapped the big man and is demanding information, and definitely not finding name rank and serial number sufficient. So Zen tortures Gan with static until he talks, because God knows we can't abide a LIKABLE character in this entire series, can we? So Zen decides to hack into the scout ship's on board computer for some kind of intelligent conversation, and downloads all the Myspace info for the main characters since no one would answer the fucking question "Who are you?" And, since Zen is so nice, it then nukes the scoutship full of nice people more than willing to try and help out our main characters.
"He's gone, he's just... been blown away..." marvels Jenna - is this some sort of innuendo-based drinking game thing happening here, or something? Vila runs in screaming that Gan had been kidnapped as Zen starts ranting that the 'Sis-TEMMM' will eliminate any and all threats, though at least Blake at least calls the computer up for its homicidal tendencies. Zen is not pissing about any more and names all the remaining parts as the new crew and tells them to get their asses ready for "induction", lest his incredibly creepy whispery Xoanon impression gets out of control. "When induction is complete the crew will save the ship!" Zen demands.
I suppose "let em all die!" ISN'T the reaction the producers wanted?
CHAPTER FOUR: Induction
"We're entering the solar furnace!"
The episode begins with everyone shouting and generally trying to make sense of the cliffhanger. Kudos for the vaguest of Avon/Vila scenes, since they've been together for four episodes and not exchanged a word before ("I don't trust it, it's bigger than me." "Most things are bigger than you." "Why do think I'm so nervous?"). Zen clearly is getting sick of being ignored, so architectually reconfigures itself so the flight deck turns into the Induction Chamber (AFAICT, it's the communal sleeping gizmo from Alien) as everyone freaks out about organically-adaptable structure. What a brilliant concept, Platt, pity it's on audio, eh?
Blake reveals that we've wasted three hours so far of its 'plunging to infernal depths' time (why have these ridiculously long countdowns and then ignore them? WHY?) and starts bitching that Zen's treatment of its former crew is not exactly encouraging. Zen reminds everyone it doesn't care about this shit and more screaming and SFX bollocks fill the air as they are somehow forced into the cryo-pods along with Gan, and Blake's brilliant plan is... to kill each other before they can be 'inducted'. Best cut their fingers off to be on the safe side, huh, Blake?
Zen tries to explain it in simple words because Christ knows it's so bloody obvious - it needs a crew hotwired into its system to shut down the self destruct. Either Blake swallows his guargantuan pride and chronic insanity, or else THEY ALL DIE. It is THAT FUCKING SIMPLE. "Your first crew stood up to you and we'll do the same!" screams Blake, not paying the slightest attention. "We will not be subordinate parts of your system! We'll have principles and we'll die rather than betray them!" This is supposed to be the brilliant and charismatic leader, not someone who makes Ben Chatham look studious and open-minded! Did you just give up, Marc? I'm not entirely sure I can blame you...
Zen decides to wash its hands of the lot of them and switch himself, leaving the others to die screaming in agony and who can blame him? But Avon has a cunning plan - the cybernetic equivalent of putting a hood over a parrot's head. He simply fakes a reading to say that the ship is already IN the star and thus, since Zen has fulfilled the self-destruct command, they are now free. The fact the ship is still in one piece is an irrelevent point which will be fully explained in a further outline.
Rather depressingly, Zen completely falls for this crap. Even MORE depressingly, Jenna has to have this whole thing explained to her despite being so bleedingly obvious the Womp could have twigged to its nature. But Blake is already telling Zen to get himself a name and in return they'll become the crew of the psychotic and painfully gullible computer with suicidal tendancies - not that he lets anyone else have a say in this. "The man's living in fantasyland," dismisses Avon in his best Steve Foxx impression as Gan finally returns to the plot and hurls abuse at everyone else for not rescuing him sooner.
"Hey, let's call it Liberator!" suggests Jenna totally out of the blue and since they've none of them got involved in this of their own free will, has to be the most ridiculous idea so far. I detect the A-Man's hand in this bit, as every single character goes out of their way to prove how stupid this is. Even Zen. And Jenna.
The episode ends on the optimistic note as Avon predicts that Zen will kill them all the second he gets a better offer. You and me both, Zenny-boy.
CHAPTER FIVE: The Outcast
"Blake, space isn't a joy ride. It's the coldest and cruelest place to be. The moment you think Earth's worse, you're dead. Earth's just an imperial admin block. The Federation's not held together by law and order, it is built on money, lies and blood. Space is Hell, Blake. One false step out here and it's your last."
With the last bit of Cygnus Alpha successfully raped and pillaged, Traitor turns its attention to... other stuff in a special feature length episode! Vila is demanding that Mezin be chucked off as she's far more interesting and likable than anyone or anything on ship. This just pisses me off, since Vila's acting like they've been fighting for weeks when they haven't exchanged a single word. And why is Vila setting himself up as a spokesman for the rest of the crew? They can speak for themselves, the retards. Blake of course parries this with his usual brilliance of complaining "The ship has a NAME, you know!" and going into a huff. Jesus fucking Christ, Vila's happy to stay aboard a ship with a record of murdering its crew, but not with an ex-Federation officer with countless uses and a better actress than Jenna? You're a worthless prick Vila, and I hope you die horribly and regenerate into Michael Keating.
Gan meanwhile has starting talking crap that everyone except Mezin should be allowed a fresh start on the Liberator. Wow, that makes a lot of sense! Fuck off and die nobly already, Gan. Jenna agrees with this... and says that Mezin should stay, while Avon uses his cutting wit to point out Mezin is "a Federation-indoctrinated soldier monkey one step up from a mutoid", which I'm sure makes sense to everyone since mutoids have not appeared or even been mentioned over the last seventeen long fucking installments. Nevertheless I'm not sure as to whether Avon is saying chuck her or keep her, but Blake caves like a house of cards and decides he is outvoted and Mezin must go. Despite the fact it's three to two and one unclear. Fucking hell, now the writers can't even fucking COUNT!
Finally Avon reminds everyone that if they ditch Mezin, Zen will have another freak out - something which it is agonizingly apparent NO ONE ELSE thought of. Despite the whole 'plunging into the sun and torturing Gan with electric shocks'. Sweet God, these idiots deserve to die. But wait, Jenna gets to tell us all about some tacky tourist destination they intend to dump Mezin and it's so fascinating I feel compelled, like Ace in Shadow of the Scourge, to pop my own eardrums to escape that American monotone of warm crud. Apparently, the planet is full of Amish religious freaks or something. Do I look like I care? A clue: no.
Anyway, since Jenna's bigging it up as some Pearl Bay of the Second Calendar, it's obvious a ravenous death trap and my inclination to switch off grows with every passing second. Jenna rants that space travel is as dangerous as being a Spinal Tap drummer (before a random digression into the Federation sucking massively) until Blake shuts her up by agreeing with. Oh, why did you become a smuggler if you're so astrophobic, you dense tart? SHUT UP AND GET SOME ACTING LESSONS! You know every insult I ever gave to Chip Jamison? Apart from Shadow of the Dragon, he's Sir Derek bleeding Jacobi compared to Ms. Dobro here! Let's hope you get THIS crap cancelled as well as Crusade, huh?
Moving on, it's time for more boredom and technobbale as Jenna tries to get Zen to 'jump super-luminal fringes' and bollocks like that. In the olden days, we just said "standard by six" and got on with something more interesting. And now harderned 'spacer' Jenna doesn't even know what star charts are? STAR CHARTS! THE CAT KNOWS WHAT STAR CHARTS ARE!!! OH GOD! They've deduced that Zen's updated said charts from his Federation download... AFTER HE FUCKING TELLS THEM ALL! WHY??
Right. Where was I? Oh yes. Which would I rather suffer? Threads or the new B7 Audios? Mmmm. Tough choice. I'd have to settle for some sort of halfway measure of pergatory, like Red Dwarf USA... But alas I do not have this luxury. Oh well. Right, the gang are going to ditch Mezin in Amish Paradise Isiah and are looking at the updated star charts. Yeah. Right. You know, I haven't actually watched Threads in about ten months. Maybe it's nicer than I remember it. Aw, well...
OK. The Liberator jumps in its disturbingly TARDIS like fashion and reappears above a miserable grey planet. Be this Bucol 2? My favorite! Oh, the friendly horny yakmen and the sex offender who owns them, surely they will be done justice by these new audios? Anyway, there are none of the friendly Amish locals or even a local service provider, and Jenna babbles that this is impossible. Wow, it turned out NOT to be some kind of Ursa Minor hang out. What a shock. However, the crew of backstabbing cynics do not consider that either Jenna or Zen might be at fault and this is the wrong bleeding planet? Which 'banned industry'? What, in the same way that Cygnus Alpha 'banned' industry? Gimme strength.
After a few minutes of arguing Zen picks up a distress call from Rula Lenska who doesn't sound like she gives a shit. Who can blame her? "So this is our memorial. Our home among Isiah has been ripped out and destroyed. Thank you to all our friends. Remember us. We are eternall in your debt." Somehow, I really seriously doubt this is the man who wrote Spare Parts, Valhalla and Lungbarrow. Hell, I doubt this is the bloke who wrote the theme music to Star Cops. Wow, Star Cops remastered by Ben Aaronovitch with Burn Gorman as Nathan Spring and a T-5000 killing machine as Box as they run a corner shop post office and police station... IN HYPERSPACE!!!!
OK, OK, back to the plot. Avon has apparently hotwired Zen at some point only to respond to his voice patterns, which leads to Avon taking on Sigourney Weaver's role from Galaxy Quest as he has to relay instructions to the computer in lieu of dialogue. Blake decides to catch a shuttle down to the planet to find out what's up, while the insane bitch who brought them there cools her heels and clearly has no interest on finding out what happened to all her friends and suppliers she's been boring us with all episode. Despite the fact the planet is clearly bombed back to the Stone Age, Blake agrees to take Mezin down to drop her off... despite the fact they only came to this place so they could find a civilized drop off place! Why aren't they worried what Zen will do without her? And will Blake nick the fuses again now he leaves the ship in the hands of people who STILL have given no reason to trust him?
One musical cue later and Blake and Mezin are on the surface (yeah, why bother with teleport, you are SO right, Benji, this makes a real difference) which resembles a muddy quarry. Yes, audio drama blowing the original TV series out of the water there. I mean, what's more interesting: Saurius Major the red-atmosphered post-holocaust ruin of carnivorous vargaa plants and telepathic guerilla bandits? Or Isiah, a muddy field?
Anyway, no sooner has Blake promised Mezin not to maroon her here (despite the fact that's what he's told the rest of the crew), and whinged unhappily that he's not actually a child molester (um... if it's such a big deal, why not mention it earlier?), before Mezin told him to pull his fricken finger out as she's on the run for helping him and doesn't need his sob story, then Rula 'Ritalin' Lenska radios them and asks with a complete lack of interest what the hell they're doing and are they friend? Or foe?!? My god, she presumably expects any nasty folk to go, "We're foe, actually, so whatcha gonna do about it? Throw some mud at us?"
Luckily, they are managing to talk to the one suvivor of this planet who both knows Jenna, trusts anyone who might mention her name (despite the fact she's been arrested), and also has a communicator. Blake's brilliant mind once again deduces that the survivors and the last remaining traces of civilization are behind an EM feild perception filter gig, mere minutes after Rula Lenska explains it to him. I'll just note that the idea that an EM feild can camoflague something is ridiculous, and assuming it did anything more than screw up everything WITHIN the field, would instantly cause a whacking great radar blackspot and attract attention. Gosh, this is a long episode, isn't it? Well, Blake lands his shuttle (which I hereby name The Plothole) at the ruined base and gets out to chat with Rula Lenska. They exchange nihilistic pleasantries for a moment before Rula notices Mezin is wearing a Federation uniform and wets herself in panic, screaming at Mezin with the same shellshocked lack of acting ability (and that's unusual for her), "Haven't you ruined everything enough already?" and other such platitudes that would have pissed me off had I seen this before I'd ever seen Blake's 7, back at the tender age of two and a half.
And suddenly, mercifully, it's over in what is no doubt the weakest cliffhanger so far. No mean feat that.
CHAPTER SIX: Old Isiah
"I dare any man here to call me a liar! But, I swear I've seen Ezekial and I swear I've seen Isiah, toasting marshmallows in Beelzebub's fire!"
OK, that's not actually a quote from the ep but the zenith of the Doug Anthony All Stars' Bottle, an ode to alcoholic insanity and the pointlessness of life itself. Methinks Tim, Paul and Richard saw this story coming...
"No lecture, Blake. Please."
Well, this story really does have the feel of a hastily-rewritten Doctor Who adventure (which I suppose you could argue adds to the B7 feel). I can easily see the TARDIS landing on Isiah and finding it less than pleasant as a holiday destination and the crew stumbling across a hidden base where they are then captured and suspected of being spies. It certainly seems like that as Blake and Mezin try the old 'we're just travellers!' on the criminally-stupid-and-gullible Rula who has, get this, forgotten to bring her gun! Is she suffering senile dementia? Is it supposed to be funny? Is it the kind of Threads-style shellshock I've been idly considering more entertaining than "Marc Platt" (I no longer believe it's you, buddy, we're cool).
"We're not armed, and we're not who you imagine!" Blake insists, one line away from suggesting a nice cup of tea and a jelly baby and why the hell aren't they armed? Don't they have the weapons from Rebel? Oh wait, yes, I remember, that was a glue gun. And they haven't found the armory (despite the fact that logically a soldier like Mezin would have asked Zen if there was one the moment the electric nutter stopped trying to kill them). And, am I the only one on the planet who finds the abbreviation of "Fed" COMPLETELY annoying? "It's not a Fed ship but why is she in a Fed uniform?" Fed off, you fedding fedder...
Rula Lenska finds it 'difficult to know who to believe'... despite the fact she's the only one contradicting Blake and Mezin's story. But then when Mezin recites Blake's wikipedia entry, Rula Lenska suddenly realizes who Blake is! (There's a lot of this slow-on-the-uptake stuff in this universe, have you noticed?) Exactly why Blake is so hard to recognize when his ugly mug was plastered all across the Federation a couple of years ago, not to mention a few months ago when he found himself with a reputation rivalling Michael Jackson (and Rula actually mentions all this as well), is not explained. I guess we just have to take as fact all the evidence that Rula Lenska's character is a complete moron. Oh wait, Blake has a beard. He is, therefore, completely unrecognizable. Should have guessed earlier. Does the Liberator have ANY useful stuff on it? Insane computer, murderous robots, boring design, no teleports, no gun locker... It doesn't even seem to have bathroom facilities!
But more Who cliches as some alarm goes off and the suddenly friendly natives (Rula Lenska and some hack) urge Blake and Mezin underground to safety to escape the evil Gutter. Whatever the hell that is, since Rula Lenska wants to explain it all later, including why they don't dive into the Plothole and Junior Bird Man the hell out of there. We now discover that Isiah is ruled by a giant robot composed of combine harvesters who lurches hither and tither and yon gutting things, hence the name. Our heroes must hide in comms silence (Shh! Spanners!) while it lumbers around being all televisual and plot devicy, built by the Federation to stripmine planets and/or butcher innocent victims.
This is pretty much the first time the audios have dwelt on the Federation actually being evil, since this series first story made the intergalactic empire come across as less corrupt and efficient than the Sir Francis Urquart government that couldn't even manage Guantanamo Bay without letting all the prisoners loose on youtube. But here, it's going nuclear on the planets that dare try to exist without express permission of the Earth, and despite Mezin's speculation this is all some ghastly misunderstanding (since the stripmining is all automated, it's possible it malfunctioned and didn't notice all the people) is rejected by Rula Lenska because.... um... wait, the giant robots rounded people up and executed. Rather than just smashing cities, Godzilla style. Right.
Showing his usual trustworthiness, Blake reveals he's got the keys to the shuttle and tells Mezin to go there with RL's lackey because they're both surplus to requirements in the two-hander script this week. Though this "space game" is all new to him, Blake is willing to offer an actress of Rula Lenska's standing a place on the Liberator, but is turned down because Rula Lenska for some reason wants to stay on the dead planet for some kind of principle thing. I dunno. I just... no. Don't ask. Meanwhile, Mezin reveals that the Liberator is not meant for human beings... despite all the evidence... and suddenly goes nuts and decides to use the communicator to contact every Federation ship she can. There are a couple of flaws with this:
- For a start, Blake has the keys to the shuttle. How can she turn it on?
- Why should a shuttle communications system of alien design work on Federation ships on the other side of the galaxy?
- The Gutter attacks when it senses communications frequencies, so Mezin has waved a huge sign saying "EAT ME YOU WEAK SPINELESS DOG! RAAAHHH!"
- Having been abandoned to her fate once, why does she think the Federation will spare her life?
- Why hasn't Mezin shown ANY sign of ANY duplicity all story? I mean, it might make a shock twist, but then so would Ianto Jones revealing he's actually Bonnie Langord. It does not automatically exonnerate the incredible stupidity of it, does it?
And that's the end of the episode. Good on you, Indie. Kill the bastard and get your own show. Maybe with Colin Baker as co-star. I get the feeling you two would work well together.
CHAPTER SEVEN: Under Siege
"Such monstrous audacity still leaves me speechless! One day a great tide of retribution will come, when the blood of her victims sweeps her away to wash the galaxy clean! I shan't see it of course. But it's a comforting thought in the longer hours of the night. And you're the man to do it, Blake."
With a rising sense of despair, I report the latest episode features the return of Servalan doing what the character is best known for - making rather dull, exposition-filled speeches. Rather than say shagging interns between over-cunning Hustle-style cons that trigger global genocide. This time the speech is a completely unconvincing "Aw, isn't it sad Blake is a child molesting wanker?" which thankfully Rula Lenska ends abruptly, having shown Blake on the off chance he'd forgotten that he'd been framed by the same corrupt bitch. However, thankfully Blake remembers this and muses poetically that Servalan paves her road to success with the skulls of her enemies. Hmm. People Servalan has killed in this series? None. People Blake has killed in this series: twelve. Nice to see the new version is keeping the old's morality and cynacism there.
But then the Gutter turns up and Rula Lenska interrupts her hideous meladramatics (which I have transcribed in full above) and explains that the EM shield will confuse it. Why wasn't the shield on already? And if it is on, why doesn't that nullify Mezin's back-stabbing two-facedness no-on-second-thoughts-I-can't-even-pretend-to-be-morally-outraged message? And why does Blake suddenly not know what the giant metal bastard looks like after the very, very, VERY long discussions about it last week?
Anyway, the Gutter wanders off so presumably the EM field does conceal communications. Except that it didn't the first time. Or this time. So the only time it protects people from sending messages through space is when they're double-crossing you? Ah, Federation tech, best in the galaxy. Anyway, by 'this time' I mean Jenna contacting Blake. Um... how? They don't have communicators, and Jenna would have no way to contact Rula Lenska since, well, she doesn't even know they're there! So if she is contacting the Plothole, why hasn't Mezin hung up on her?
While we're reeling from this baffling singularity of plot problems, marvel in Jenna's spiteful "She's done it again!" despite Mezin never actually betraying them before. I mean, do you count sending out a distress signal as you blummet out of control into the fiery heart of a star 'betrayal'? Well, obviously Jenna does, the schizrophrenic space tramp. Blake tells Jenna to piss off as she's attracting monster robots and then does his whole 'disappointed' act with Mezin. Uh... what? She's just strolled back into the base? Why didn't she just take off? Are they all actually aboard the Plothole? So Blake and Rula Lenska didn't NOTICE Mezin shopping them to the authorities and beating the crap out of Lenska's boytoy?
"All that trust wasted, Blake," sobs Lenska, which if you swap 'trust' for 'talent', sums up my view of this entire enterprise so far. "Ash to ash, mud to mud!"
Despite the 'smoke and mirrors' EM field baffling the giant robots for months as established at the start of this episode, it suddenly doesn't do that any more and the motorized woodlouse wants to pick a fight. But Lenska is now wanting to stay on the planet and die horribly and generally be unhelpful. Blake listens to her whine for a minute before sagely noting he KNEW she'd be like this. Wow, what gave it away? The fact she told you in previous episodes she still wasn't leaving? Goddamn, Blake, you criminal genius you. Never let it be said old Roj doesn't grasp the bleeding obvious when rammed into his skull repeatedly.
Slightly more surprisingly, Mezin wants to stay with Lenska. OK. Once more.
- You want to stay with a woman who will most likely kill you for being a traitor.
- You want to stay in a building being attacked by a giant robot you know rounds up all human life and hacks it to pieces
- Assuming the first two don't kill you, you expect NOT to be executed by the Federation when they turn up and you don't have Blake as you promised
- If you want to stay on Old Isiah... why exactly did you have to sell Blake out? "I'm on the payroll" doesn't really explain that, since the whole Federation left you to die TWICE now.
Curiously enough, Blake and Lenska point out most of these flaws with Mezin's plan, which might let me shrug off this insanity as "Mezin is like the A-Man said, ugly and ergo stupid". But this doesn't explain Blake's attitude that Mezin is "too resourceful" to be left to die, as is Lenska. Dude, these two incompetents made Dante and Randall from Clerks look like Martha Jones! But maybe Blake's just a twat, since his brilliant plan is to contact the Liberator and attract EVEN MORE giant robots straight towards them. Rather than just leaving since they're all in the Plothole and it got to the planet with no trouble, ergo it should be able to leave the same way.
Blake pathetically asks Avon if they can fire the neutron blasters through the atmosphere and nuke the robots. Avon is prepared to try and carpet bomb the whole planet, but Blake turns this down on the grounds it would kill him too. Which, I think, might have been WHY Avon wanted to try that particular course of action. But luckily, Blake has a Plan C - they use the EM field to surround the nearest Gutter and stop it in its tracks. Brilliant! It makes them sitting targets for the thousands of other robots on their way, and it involves sending everyone out of the Plothole into the firing line, but as Blake's plans go, much better than usual. I mean, no frying pans or severed fingers are involved this week. On the other hand, Blake has to explain his mad scheme YET AGAIN when they're outside and up against the 'impressively big' giant robot. It's a giant robot, Blake, what the fuck were you expecting?!
Alas, because Lenska and her boy toy are complete idiots... and because Blake is a complete idiot too... he somehow gets trapped with the giant robot inside the EM field trap. OK, when did electromagnetic fields become physical barriers? Blake's bitching about being trapped, but logically he can walk straight through with nothing but a nuked digital watch and a mild headache as the risk? Does EM not stand for Electro Magnetic? What does it stand for? Eccentric and Maddening? It works as a cloaking device, a scrambler generator and now a force field... and it's crap at every last one!
This massive oversight brings to an end yet another episode. Leaving us to wonder not only why Blake ran straight up to a gigantic killing machine in the first place, but do we really, deep down, want him to survive? I mean, I liked this cliffhanger a lot more when it was the Doctor and Tegan threatened by the Myrka in Warriors of the Deep. And no, I'm not being sarcastic.
CHAPTER EIGHT: In Memoriam
"This is the most precious of all... this is the last of Old Isiah's fruit tree. The last of a new start. Just don't forget to water it."
Has this saga left your brain bleeding and bruised? Well, if not it will now as Mezin suggests they extend the forcefield around her so she can drag Blake out. Why not just retreat the force field and allow Blake to escape? How can these forcefields extend without grinding Mezin to pulp, since it's a physicall barrier? And why does she want to save Blake? Does she just want the body? Her excuse is "Life's full of surprises!" like that explains her characterization which is now twice as baffling as Jenna's. Blake awkwardly changes the subject and explains the field only trapped him because he was surrounded by reflections and unable to work out which direction to run. Right. Guess that mental instability that let him regain his memories really has been forgotten, huh?
Our heroes then spend the next thirty-five seconds marvelling at the Gutter killing itself, presumably trying to make sense of the various plot flaws in this series. "I've always underrated vengeance, but that was very satisfying. I could get addicted!" crows Rula Lenska with the complete lack of enthusiasm any actress of her talent would have when told to recite warm crap like that. Meanwhile, her boytoy brilliant works out it would be the best time to restore the EM fields around the base, after Lenska shouts at him to do just that. Jenna rings up (ergo attracting yet MORE robots) and notes that some pursuit ships have turned up and slags off Mezin again. Oh, learn to prioritize you insane bitch!
Blake tries for, what, the fifth time now?, to get everyone aboard the Plothole and hurtle to safety. Lenska says she has 'a flame of rememberance to attend', but gives some letters she couldn't be arsed to post (post? POST?! IN THE 23RD CENTURY THEY HAVE SNAIL MAIL??!?!?!) and a potplant. Mezin says she's staying to be rescued, but promises to tell the Federation that Blake dropped by (um... didn't she already do that at the cliffhanger two weeks previous?). Lenska's boytoy isn't even given the option and Blake pisses off with an even LESS successful recruitment drive than the one he tried on Cygnus Alpha. Suddenly, Lenska suddenly changes her addled mind and tells Mezin what a complete retard she is for staying here, and Mezin simply replies with "You think I don't know that?"
Seriously, Mezin. Have you gone utterly insane? I mean... make your mind up! Since it was completely ridiculous for her staying there in the first place, her decision to stay has done absolutely nothing bar pad out this tedious episode. So Mezin runs into the Plothole, sobbing that she made a mistake and they can be happy together and crap like that.
"We're not staying!" Blake shouts for anyone who'd suffered sudden complete amnesia about the last twenty seconds and the USS Plothole hurtles into the stratosphere. Then, pursuit ships open fire and Mezin and Blake shout things like "Look out!" "There was a flash!" "Oh the humanity!" "Damn them! DAMN THEM!" and Mezin, who completely failed to comprehend mass slaughter a few episodes ago, now instantly understands Rula Lenska was assinated to remove evidence of the scorched earth thing happening on Isiah. Wow! Lucky you happened to get out of ground zero in time since you coincidentally wanted to hang around Blake out of sheer idealism, huh, Mezin? Not suspicious at all? Of course, even if she did somehow know at the genocide about to happen, why bother to stay in the first place? All she's done is appear more and more suspicious!
However, Blake is convinced they were nuked because the Federation thought he was there. Self-absorbed bastard. Sure, have a cry about it, you wuss.
CHAPTER NINE: Vishnu Junction
"I felt a complete fool... standing in Vishnu Dome Reception... with a small tree. People were staring!"
With the "Zen is nuts" part of Traitor complete and "Rula Lenska is nuts" part of Traitor finished, the story struggles to find a new plot for its remaining four chapters. Thus we start with Guisborne getting reports about the Liberator buzzing various planets from some gofer whose voice is so nasal the back of my throat starts to ache when he speaks. Since this Liberator can flip its way through space and, well, space and blow up ships at random, and is also absolutely huge, Guizzy quickly deduces it to be a clear and present danger. Not that anyone so far has given a tinker's cuss what he thinks. "This is technology more advanced than anything we've ever seen before," he realizes after his aide tells him this. Dear God it's annoying when these characters do that.
The Liberator is meanwhile parked above Vishnu, a backwater residential planet. Why? No idea, but maybe Blake wants to drop off Rula Lenska's mail and sell the sapling to a florist. Vila of course goes on a crime spree and rings up Gan on the Plothole to complain at the poor level of security - God, some people are never happy, are they? Do you EVER stop complaining, Vila 2.0? Blake has his own reason to bitch: Rula Lenska was utterly bonkers and all her mail is to people who died eight years ago. Go figure. You think the birthday card she sent to Jesus wasn't mayhaps a clue? Idly they wait for Vila to actually steal some supplies as their Liberator is so shit it lacks even lavatory paper, before they can leave. This is, of course, because if they did things properly then Guizzy couldn't turn up for the cliffhanger. Odd how the plot suddenly becomes more predictable when there is only thirty seconds of set up before the end, huh?
As Blake bitches that Avon no longer flirts with him and finds Zen's innards more interesting than the rest of them put together, our top flight hacker is trying to philosophize with a certain metal moron about sharing control of the ship with the crew. Heh, you see what I did there? No? Your loss. Anyway, Zen understandably doesn't trust the crew a bloody inch and will not give them any kind of symbiotic link. And since Avon doesn't actually believe that sharing power improves efficiency, what with him making sure no one else can use Zen, he can't win that argument. Lame. Also, remember these little chats occur as Avon meditates on the flight deck, so Mezin and Jenna toss a coin for who gets to beat him back to reality. "Who needs the therapy more?" asks Mezin, before wisely deciding to let Psycho Jenna do it.
Alas, with Avon and Zen playing some strange "no, you hang up first" game, it is left to the girls to run the Liberator in a complicated 'vacuum up all the supply crates that Vila is now going to jettison from a factory into the upper orbit maneuver'. Which of course is the sort of thing that is just made to be told on audio, isn't it? As Vila bitches his goosebumps have goosebumps and he wants something to drink that's alcohol based and alcohol topped and generally every single bleeding thing, they actually do this rather boring stuff. Egads, wait, there's a "police skimmer" at "two o'clock!"
And with the Liberator out of control, the Plothole is left at the mercy of the local fuzz! GAZOOKS!
CHAPTER TEN: Sightseers
"Ay-varn, tark to ther ship! Yer the one with yer head up its backsard! What ther hell sart of marnsta are we trapped ensard? AY-VARN?!"
This installment kicks off as the police ship opens fire on the Liberator (which remember is ten thousand times larger than it and covered in guns) and surprisingly blows the crap out of it with zero resistance. The Liberator spins off into outer space as Blake is left impotently shouting. A lot.
Meanwhile, Zen has once more decided that none of its crew will get anything done and take matters into its own hands. Since its prime directive is to fix the Liberator, and the Liberator is low on fuel, it completely abandons Blake, Gan and Vila (so far, so good) to find a power source of DH3 a substance that powers every other ship Mezin's seen. Why exactly the giant alien battlecruiser would automatically work on unleaded escapes me but Zen has smelt something he likes in an orbiting gas refinery (how you refine gas in a vacuum?!?), and we cut to ground control on Vishnu as... I dunno stuff happens. The locals goggle at the sight of the giant spacehsip doing a mating dance around a refinery while the refinery crew exit stage freaking left and the police decide to settle for targeting the Plothole. Before ground control tells them not to.
No, don't mind me, yawning. You carry on.
Anyway, the Liberator starts humping the refinery and sucking out power or gas or some crap like that. People shout a lot. Jenna realizes that thousands of ships are taking off Vishnu and coming straight for them and instantly deduces they're just gormless tourists taking photos of this naughty display. The Plothole tries to mingle with 'bloody tourists' and sneak back to the Liberator. "Tries" being the operative word. So Blake decides to use the Plothole's tractor beam to fling their stolen goods at the Please Do Not Cross barricade between the Liberator and them. Gan marvels at the lateral thinking while Vila starts bitching even more. Then pursuit ships turn up to film the bonking spaceships and put it on youtube.
But lo, what poor acting through yonder static filter breaks! Tis Commander Travis, I mean, Guisborne and he immediately takes charge! Of course, despite this impressive entrance, A) the guy playing 'Travis' is no Richard Amitage, or indeed any kind of decent actor and B) Ground Control Girl pointed out that the Liberator is surrounded by an Exxon oil slick and gawping tourists, so they can't really open fire without causing a firestorm and some serious bad publicity.
Oh, wait, it's the end of the episode. Fancy that.
CHAPTER ELEVEN: The Stand-Off
"First contact protocols? Since their brand of 'first contact' is to shoot and kill. Garcia, then I think we can drop the brass band and canapes. If they try to engage, I want the resulting shrapnel to reach their home world long before their scream for help."
Well, the penultimate episode begins. If my pulse hadn't given up somewhere around the fryin-pan-gram in the first installment, it would be racing as Gizzy sends in his main goon, Adam Garcia from The Christmas Invasion. Blake, Gan and Vila the Bitch effortlessly manage to dock the Plothole with the Liberator as Vila finally moans about something vaguely relevent: while the current state of play keeps them safe from plasma bolts, the moment they try and leave they're dead meat. Presumably everyone aboard ship has forgotten the Liberator is not only very fast and heavily armed but can also dematerialize. Morons. Oh wait, being too close to a sun means they can't jump. So, Vishnu is close to its sun. The same Vishnu which is a freezing zero-gravity wasteland, huh? Give. Me. Strength.
"Liberator is the most powerful ship they've ever seen!" Blake rants in what is presumably supposed to be a reassuring manner. "They want it intact, not in charged pieces, but it is OUR prize! And there is NO way we're giving it up!" Oh shut the fuck up, Blake. You STOLE it, you moral crusader, and you can't relinquish control of it since you don't have control in the first place. But if you think that's irritating, Jenna has to slag off Mezin again with "It's your Federation out there! Sizing us up down their gun barrels! I know we're better! Since when were you on our side, huh?"
Seriously, if anyone can explain any kind of logic as to that rant, please tell me. My head hurts.
Blake arrives and screams that Zen's betrayed them all before finally noticing Avon zoned out and drooling. Finally, Avon returns to the land of the living to tell Blake to shut up and stop being a whining cry baby hypocrite who tells everyone he trusts them when he manifestly doesn't. "When this ship gets an urge, it isn't easy to stop it," Avon chips into the double entendre competition. Blake is furious that they will have a reputation as a gang of cutthroats, which is "not what we're about"! Whatever. Another list please, maestro:
- You're a child molester, a smuggler, a murderer, an imbezzler, a psychotic thief and a deserter. Your rep was not very good to start with.
- They don't actually know for sure you're even on board.
- As Guizzy notes, you already HAVE that rep for slaughtering the scoutship that tried to help you.
- You have done more for Vishnu tourist trade in ten minutes more than anything else in this century and not actually killed anyone yet.
Avon points out number two before Blake can answer the incoming communication, so Mezin suggests she answer the call and ensure no one knows about the others. Remember, this is the 23rd century and no one has a TV phone or a webcam. Vila and Jenna mindlessly continue to slag off Mezin until Gan thankfully tells them both to shut the fuck up for two seconds. Mezin takes the call: it's Stephan Travis!
Heheheha. Stephan. BWAHAHA! STEPHAN TRAVIS! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! HAHAHAH! HAHAH! OH, THAT IS THE FUNNIEST SHIT EVER! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAA! HAHHAHAHAHAH! AHAHAHAH! HAHAHAHAHA! HEHAHAHAH!
*ten minutes of laughter comparable to watching Dylan Moran's Monster while on ecstasy later*
Hahahaha. Oh well. Right. Ahem. Stephan. Mr. Guisborne. Ahem. That'll be the cool alien futuristic name so typical of Roj, Vila, Kerr, Oleg and... Laura. Oh well. Anyway. Yes, the bloke in charge of the Federation Defense Service Vessel Cormorant. Heeheee. Another name for "shag" seabirds. No. Focus. Focus... hahah... Stephan of The Shag! Oh god... HAHAHAH! HAHAHAAHHAHAHA! HAHAHAHAAHAHAH!
*ten minutes of laughter comparable to watching the Black Books "Grapes of Wrath" Frankenstein parody for the first time while also on ecstasy later*
Yes. Well. Quite. Guizzy of the Christopher Isherwood Poetry Slam is saying hello. And Mezin (I swear India Fisher is trying not to piss herself laughing as well, listen to the way she sniggers "Commander Travis") instantly goes nuts and starts shouting things like, "How does it feel to live in the dark like the rest of us?" which really doesn't help from a purely diplomatic point of view. Rather put out, and clearly not recognizing Mezin at all, Gizzy asks if maybe they had some ultimatums or something?
"This ship is the Liberator and it's a flame of remembrance, a torch for all the people and worlds you've destroyed to feed the empire you've built on money lies and blood! And for all the innocent citizens you've condemned to prison planets because they had ideas of their own! Your days are numbered, Commander! IT'S BETTER TO FOLLOW ONE LIGHT THAN LIVE IN THE DARKN OF THE FEDERATION!!" Mezin shrieks with evangelical fury, ever-so-slightly-undermined by the fact she's just quoting Jenna and Rula Lenska, the two most clueless and melodrammatic bitches I have seen outside of Cancer in the original series. "That's what I said!" moans Jenna unhappily at having her dialogue ripped off, and also meaning Travis now knows she's there, as well as Blake who goes so far as to mention Jenna's name...
You know, when Avon noted no one knew who they were "despite Blake's best efforts"? He was right.
Anyway, Gizzy is poking holes in Mezin's rhetoric faster than I can - like how her 'innocent prisoners' are in fact all of them, to a man, guilty and their choice of spaceship name is positively perverse. So Mezin hangs up and, idiotically pleased, Blake suggests they have a nice absinthe to celebrate... ignoring the fact they have no food or water, they abandoned all their supplies, and they've also managed to piss off the Terran Federation even more than simply being alive. Still, why let reality get in the way of a good piss up, huh? Still, at least no one's mindlessly screaming 'Tray-tah!' at her every time she speaks...
Zen clears his throat and explains that he's sucked the life out of the refinery and wanders what they should do now. With exaggerated formality, Avon offers to let Blake give the freaking obvious order "Get us out of here!" and Gizzy orders his 'raptors' to attack the Liberator. Pesumably they're named raptors for being unconvincing CGI effects with random plot attributes...
Alas, the episode is over. Oh dear what a pity never mind.
CHAPTER TWELVE: Zen
"That ship cost me a whole squadron today. I'm mobilizing the entire Outer Fleet. I want it and its crew, whatever they are, hunted down and torn off the bloody surface of space."
Um. Stuff is happening. As far as I can make out, those deadly raptor things weren't wearing sunblock so their little kamikaze dive into the sun proved just that. No, wait, some bad exposition from Jenna reveals the idiots were firing lasers into all that spilt and volatile fuel. After the fifth one accidentally kills himself, Gizzy finally decides to change tactics as the completely unharmed Liberator cruises away with all the urgency of a completely lazy and unhurried thing, shooting and blowing up all the ships that don't melt. This is of course much to dismay of Blake, Mr. 'Frying Pan Unibomber'. Mezin meanwhile is double taking something chronic at the civilian death toll of Commander 'Suicidal Insanity' Gizzy as all those comic relief tourists burn to death, which I hasten to point out, is all her fault.
Gizzy meanwhile decides that having lost a whole squadron of idiots isn't good enough and wants to lose the entire galactic fleet blowing up the Liberator and everything in it. And never once does he break his monotone. Class act there, Stephan of Shag. Hehehehe. Ahem.
"I survived the sun!" booms Zen in his crazy Xoanon voice, and no sooner do the crew realize that they've unintentionally made their flight computer think it is God then Zen wants to get the crew 'inducted' once more and it doesn't give a flying fuck about Blake crying about the 'deal' they had. Avon suddenly reveals he too has a separate deal with Zen... but it turns out this revelation is nothing since Zen isn't going to honor that either. "I knew not to trust him!" Jenna crows. SHUT THE FUCK UP, JENNA! SHUT UP!
Mezin twigs that Zen is panicking and trying to induct the crew rather than cope with anything new, a snap diagnosis as the flight deck transforms into some cyber conversion chamber or another. "You need us!" she shouts at Zen, "but we only agree on Blake's terms! WE KEEP OUR OWN THOUGHTS OR YOU'RE NO BETTER THAN THE FEDERATION!" Now, if you remember how well Mezin's other pep talks have gone (she chats to some prisoners, who kidnap her and steal a ship; she chats to Gizzy, and he slaughters thousands of innocent people), I reckon we can predict that Zen isn't really going to take this well.
So Zen (somehow) blows her head off. Gan is the only one who shows any kind of unhappiness at this news. Presumably the others are deeply relieved that India Fisher has left the building and stopped being a better actor than the lot of them put together. Blake demands to know what the hell Zen intends to do now? Kill the rest of them? Unfortunately, that seems to be the plan so everyone decides to start insulting Avon instead and with the biggest fourth wall chutzpah known to human kind, Blake says the immortal words:
"Have you sold us out, Avon?"
Avon responds by saving each and every one of their asses by shouting codewords and completely reprograming the homicidal computer with Program AlphaZen (or in other words, asking the Liberator to tell them what is the sound of one hand clapping?). Of course, it would work a hell of a lot better without Blake screaming "What are you doing? What's going on?" throughout, but this entire sequence can be summed up with the expression "Fuck you, Roj Blake."
The insane computer is now Zen (I know that's what I've been calling him, but now he is), the interface betwixt Liberator and crew that doesn't involve brain surgery and now does what he is told and all the other stuff you'd expect from a main computer. This is what Avon's meditation has been about throughout the last dozen episodes. "Is that it?" asks Vila bored and not remotely interested with the corpse at his feet until Gan bullies him into helping the super hulk shifting it.
This is without doubt proof that Vila 2.0 is a total fuckwit who cannot die quick enough.
Blake meanwhile awkwardly tries to apologize while never actually saying he's sorry and Avon not only reveals that his work on Zen is NOT of a renaissance standard but that it allows the entire crew equal control of the Liberator. One can only assume Avon has done to rub Blake's face in it. Meanwhile, Jenna tells Zen to dematerialize and everyone ignores the fact that not only is Mezin dead, but they treated her like shit absolutely wrongly throughout the story.
I hope they all die.
Traitor, huh? I wonder who it refers to? Zen? The crew? The Federation? Mezin? Why is Colin Salmon's ugly mug on the cover rather than India Fisher's divine countenance? She's in every episode, the story's around her, and I can think of at least one photo of her that doesn't make her look butt ugly. Seriously, check out Salmon in Silence in the Library, it's amazing he doesn't look like a lump of rotting clay in real life... And Traitor. What a stupid name. There was a proper episode named Traitor, but that was because they refused to let Rob Holmes use A Land Fit For Helots. Ah, Holmes. He still had it when everyone else didn't...
In conclusion, this is an improvement on Rebel but I don't really want to imagine what might be worse. On the good side, the twelve-part epic is split into three manageable stories rather than Rebel's baffling 'one episode per chapter' 'one scene five chapters' rewrite. The fact Traitor's tales aren't retarded rewrites of TV episodes makes them automatically less crap. While explaining the big mystery of the Liberator and giving a new origin for Zen is, IMHO, a bad idea, the explanation that Zen tried to merge with the brains of the crew and then killed them all is kind of cool, as is the idea that the crew free Zen from his programming as much as it frees them for the Federation. The Old Isiah segment feels like the missing conclusion to the Giant Robot Monster trilogy Big Finish had with ID and Exotron, and the final heist-goes-wrong is arguably the most honestly-B7ish of anything the audios have done so far. What's more, Traitor shows the Federation as evil by deed rather than word as they slaughter innocents who get in the way of their aims rather than, as in Rebel, being shockingly lenient with a mass-murdering terrorist.
All of this makes it clear to me that Marc Platt had as much to do with this story as Terry Nation had with The Dalek Masterplan. It's easy to imagine Platt coming up with these ideas at the pub and the hack responsible for this actually writing down the script with the worst dialogue I have ever heard outside of the Outpost Gallifrey mythmaker section... and even then the characters stayed in character, no matter how repellant. The internal continuity is a mess and the complete non-reaction to Mezin's death would be a problem if you only heard the last chapter, let alone the entire story. The characters switch back and forth and Avon comes out the best simply by not having such crap and idiotic dialogue. It's a case of 'there has to be a first place' rather than any talent and writing out Mezin just feels stupid. Had she perished at the hands of the Federation it would have meant something, either in betrayal or defiance. Here she just gets killed while everyone stands around and then Avon pulls a dues ex machina out of his rectum and saves the day.
Think about Mezin for a moment. There was a good idea buried in her. Imagine if Raiker had not tidily fallen down a space chute to die horribly, but actually got aboard the Liberator. Would Blake kill him in cold blood? Would Raiker manage to switch sides and talk his way out of trouble? That's drama right there, Pizza Supreme. However, Mezin was not a mass-murdering rapist with power issues. So, that idea is scrapped. But all the talk of indoctrination and brainwashing could have explained the poor characterization of Mezin and why she switched sides so randomly... what if she really was brainwashed? What if, despite her loyalty to Blake, she was conditioned and simply couldn't help giving the game away? What if all the faceless Federation troops were similarly under control? You want shorthand proof of an evil empire, have its lackeys forced against their will.
Even Mezin's death could have been made a big moment, with her breaking her conditioning and saving the others at the cost of her life... an act that could convince the gang of arseholes to unite, to avenge her. OK, its a petty reason, but at least it's a reason to fight the Federation rather than legging it. Instead, despite all Blake's fear that they'll come across as no better than their enemy, they all ignore her death the second the threat is taken from their own necks. Despite getting three times the screen time of Nova, Arco, Selman, Veron, Keril, Neebrox... Mezin doesn't feel half as important, since no one considers her worth mourning, even though she was the only person to be in any way effected by the carnage of the story.
Like India Fisher herself, Mezin was simply too good for this crap.
Just because it can only get better doesn't mean it will...