Andrew Smith’s joy at writing for Blake’s 7 is palpable in the CD extras, and it comes across in this story, which hits all the high spots of a TV B7 adventure (although also mimicking the series in some of its other aspects too). He knows the characters and their interplay – you don’t need a huge Avon/Vila scene for the pair’s relationship to be clear, as it is here – and he throws the key pair into opposite sides of the conflict. For all their arguing, Blake and Avon have an interdependency and much as they may not want to admit it, at this stage of the saga, they need each other.
I had a wry chuckle when I realised who was playing the extremely unpleasant Voss Ferrell – after all, who better to send to a planet called Straxis than someone best known for playing a character called Strax? Dan Starkey’s performance is one of the most powerful I’ve heard from him, and the private scene between him and Abigail Hollick’s Alexa sends a chill down the spine. Hollick has a couple of good scenes with Paul Darrow too, particularly since the balance of power shifts between their characters in the interim.
Tim Bentinck and Gareth Thomas play the unlikely allies, with the requisite amount of suspicion and acceptance of an unusual situation. Garmon would make a very interesting addition to the crew… short term, at least.
Verdict: For an ensemble drama, there’s not quite enough for Vila, Jenna and Cally to do, but presumably the balance will be redressed as the series progresses. 7/10