Twists and turns and Tarrant!
When Blake's 7 was rerun here in 2001, it was on six nights a week, so when Del Tarrant was introduced, Dev Tarrant was still very clear in my memory. I therefore promptly assumed them to be relatives (which I'm sure they are with only a letter's difference) and Del to be a Federation plant. A few incidents seemed to confirm this, but by the end of season 3 I had to admit that I was wrong and Tarrant was just what he seemed: a deserter and rebel with a strong sense of honour.
According to the book Liberation however, it seems that I was right and Tarrant was indeed intended to be a plant, but the writers changed their minds.
He's very clever and rather ruthless, guessing what Avon's up to most of the time, protecting him from Klegg and his people, and gradually reducing the Death Squad's numbers. I don't mourn any of them, but it's a cold, hard side I don't think we ever see again from Tarrant.
His story seems very suspicious: he says he was there when the first salvo was fired, but Federation ships would have been the first on the scene, and it seems unlikely that he acquired a space captain's uniform so easily after being rescued, especially one matching his rank. He also knows what Blake looks like (no one else seems to), though not the rest of Blake's crew. So Nation did a clever job of setting him up well for later revelations, which in fact never come.
Therefore Tarrant is either the mercenary he says he is, or is a much more recent deserter from Space Fleet, perhaps during the battle. Either way, he's immediately on Avon's side, preventing him from giving himself away to Klegg, and the way he and Avon work together at the end is a joy to watch.
She's also quick and ruthless, especially when she kills Klegg at the end, and I do like her apology for only managing to kill one attacker. She gets in some very good lines too. I think this is one of Dayna's better episodes and I love the dry wit she shows.
Avon wasn't quite so clever about them not looking in the room he and Dayna were first locked in, but that's his only lapse. The Death Squad is no match for him, though Tarrant is. Had Tarrant wanted to capture Avon before he'd reduced the others' numbers, I'm betting he would have.
I know Avon was just being himself when he introduced Vila at the end and made his spare part crack, but Tarrant and Dayna, who don't know either of them and their habit of exchanging insults, take it seriously judging by the way they treat Vila.
Not a good showing for Vila. He says he can usually sense danger, and he's right, but he didn't this time. When I saw this episode in 2001, I was yelling at the screen, "Don't trust them, Vila!" I had no idea what they were going to do with him, but keeping him for breeding purposes did occur to me since they all seemed to be women. ;-)
I'm not sure how Vila was able to contact the Liberator from so far away, but perhaps the life pod magnifies any signal, which would make sense.
It's interesting that she picked up Vila's pain. I'm not sure that she receives from any other humans, so I wonder why she did this time. She couldn't get through to Vila in turn though; did she ever manage that? I do like her delight when she and Vila are reunited; she really does like him. That's a good thing to remember for subsequent episodes when it seems that hardly anyone does.
Where was she picked up from? I assume she sent out a distress call from Hal Mellanby's base on Sarran, and the Chengan nurse's comment about hostile inhabitants agrees with that, but it looks as if she was in a dusty canyon. Couldn't they have had the model land on sand?
She's at her cruellest here, gloating as she tells Vila and Cally what's going to happen to them.
The 'primitives' don't seem very; they know about technology but prefer not to use it, All the same, they obviously have a well concealed civilisation capable of producing finely woven clothes and good spears. They are also, going by Lom and Mall, kind and generous, and therefore truly civilised.
The high-techs however aren’t, despite their technology. They see anyone not themselves as organ donors, only to be looked after so that they're in good condition before life is extinguished. I wonder if they recycle each other; I imagine that sort of cold disregard for life would just grow over time.
This was a well written and exciting episode, especially with all the twists and turns between Avon and Tarrant and the Death Squad which would keep a first-time viewer guessing.
Twists and turns and Tarrant!