202 – Blakes 7 – Redemption

The creators of the Liberator want to redeem their property. Meanwhile, can Blake save the crew from the fate predicted by Orac in the last episode?  Or will it be Avon that saves the day?

Ben and Eugene discuss Redemption.

9 thoughts on “202 – Blakes 7 – Redemption”

  1. Yay! More Blakes 7!

    A few random observations:
    + The “snakey cable trying to kill Blake” scene. Agreed, the cable was ridiculous, but I thought it harked back to the scene in episode 2 where Blake and Avon discovered the ship’s apparently organic auto-repair capability. If the Liberator is able to rapidly re-grow bits of itself, perhaps a prehensile cable isn’t that far beyond what the ship can do.

    + Blowing up The System at the end of the episode is such a tragic waste of a villain. I would have loved to see the ongoing attempts by The System to reclaim DSV-2 … and The Federation being faced with a technologically far superior, but numerically much smaller enemy. So many interesting Blake vs System vs Federation plotlines were lost.

    + Fashion – I’m always struck by the slave’s outfit. Was it just “he’s a slave, let’s put him in a toga”, or are we meant to think that The System evolved from a Roman society, like a Star Trek episode? I don’t understand where the Alta’s silver catsuits fit into any of this though. 8^P Love Gan’s disco boots!

    + Teleport – I don’t think we ever see anyone teleport from any part of the Liberator other than the teleport pad. The series seems to go to great lengths to hold to this pad-only rule (especially when xxxxxx escapes at the dramatic conclusion of yyyyyy!!). I wonder if the ship has some sort of defensive shielding, so that you can only teleport from the pad?

    + I keep meaning to look this up, but was this filmed in a nuclear power plant? It certainly looks like it. I must check this out. I assume Doctor Who episodes were filmed there as well.

    [Some lazy-arsed googling later]

    Location: Oldbury Nuclear Power Station, Oldbury, Gloucestershire.
    Closed in 2012.

    Used for filming the Doctor Who serial, “The Hand of Fear”.

    Eldrad must live! Eldrad MUST live! Eldrad must LIVE!

  2. For similar fashions to the Alta’s catsuits see an earlier tv show starring Gareth Thomas, “space maidens”

  3. If you’ve seen the first two or three episodes of space maidens, you’ve probably seen the best. It has a similar start to b7. That is to say, the first three or so are parts of a cohesive intro story.

  4. My favourite thing in this discussion: worrying Orac could become a “magic device” thereby causing the downfall of this realistic show set aboard an ship that can outrun anything with magic bracelets that can instantly beam you anywhere… 😉

    1. From a technical story standpoint! You can’t have a story if one of your characters can accurately predict the future, including the ability to make the prediction happen through his own actions.

      It’s like – how can an all-powerful, all-knowing deity fail to predict every last single action of the species he created? (Eating apples, killing brothers, building towers and a whole lot of sodomizing!)

      Makes for crap stories.

      1. If I were Orac I’d make the same prediction each week. Magic bracelet back to the magic ship at the last moment; magic force-shield almost fatally penetrated (but recharged with no damage at all in time for the same thing to happen next week) then out-run everyone at standard-by-π.

        Makes for crap stories.

        No comment 😉

        1. You’re just arguing to be arguing at this point! 😉

          However, let me elaborate on my point.

          First there’s the distinction between “magic” and “magical technology.” We all know Clarke’s Third Law: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

          That’s not entirely true as written. There’s an unstated premise, it should read “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic by the primitive observer.”

          It is easily distinguished from magic by the creator of the technology.

          Creating moving vehicles isn’t magic. Traveling into space isn’t magic. The fact that there might, in the future, be an evil dictatorial Federation that has space ships isn’t magic, and the premise that someone else built the Liberator and could make it a faster spaceship isn’t magic. It isn’t even magical technology.

          The teleport bracelets are more like magical technology. Our understanding of physics says it’s probably not possible, but that is only probably impossible. Unlike, I would argue, that we can firmly rule out that boiling the eye of a newt in an iron cauldron will get the phone number of a restaurant in New Delhi. That would be magic.

          I think you’re throwing around the world “magic” far too indiscriminately.

          Obviously, in science fiction, writers must “make up” things that don’t exist and it’s down to the quality and stripe of the writer that decides how far into “magical” something they create strays.

          I’m going to come back to that idea in a bit when I get to the section on “dealing with the consequences of your creations.”

          For a moment, let’s apply a little “what if” thinking.

          Let’s say that Dashiell Hammet wrote the Big Sleep in 1939 and that, early in the story, he had a sequence where a friend of Philip Marlowe’s that works in Military Intelligence, hands him a small black monolith-shaped thing with a front made of glass that lights up with lots of little pictures on the front and he says, “Look, Marlowe, with this device, you can call anybody’s phone in the whole world from anywhere, you can take pictures, you can find yourself on a map and get directions to any place and you can call up the contents of every encyclopedia, every phone book and every city directory in the world.”

          Magic to the 1939 audience, perhaps, be we recognize it as technology.

          Now, let’s say that scene carried on and Marlowe says, “That’s amazing, Specs! (for his friend’s name was, no doubt, Specs) But how does it work?”

          Specs replies, “We used an incantation and captured a demon and imprisoned him behind the glass.”

          Bingo! Now the story is about magic, not technology. We do have to trust the author’s words and intentions for making the distinction.

          Now, this leads us to the real problem. That the author crafts a world sufficiently robustly to deal with the implications of the device he creates.

          How many hard-boiled detective stories of the 30s and 40s would have had to be completely rewritten if they could call for help while locked in a closet? Or were dumped somewhere and could use their GPS phone to find their way home? Or if the detective could follow someone to a house and do a quick search while still in the car as to who owns the house?

          The quality of an author that’s creating these devices is that they must have and use the device in a manner that’s consistent with the logical consequences of having such a device. They must be an integral part of the world they create and the story. Even if they are disruptive technologies, the disruption must be consistent. I’m not saying that isn’t difficult.

          Inventors don’t really need to make sure the world conforms to their invention because the real world will adapt to their invention. Writers haven’t got that luxury – they must create the whole world from beginning to end of their story. And if they’re writing in someone else’s world, they probably have to leave it the way they found it – or have permission to make modifications, in which case it is the world’s owner’s responsibility.

          How many times have we seen a guest writer come in, make up some massively convenient way to get out of the story, and then have that disappear forever afterwards?

          So, to the point of Orac…

          To have a character that can accurately predict the future in the way that Orac does, has some serious implications on the Blakes 7 universe.

          They live in a predeterminate universe. With sufficient data and computing power, the complex interactions of not only computers but humans and unknown species of non-humans, spanning at least half a galaxy can be predicted to such a degree that the exact location of the destruction of a previously unknown starship from a previously unknown race of people can be determined. That’s functional omniscience.

          Now, if your computer is so good that it can predict the future, that already has far-reaching implications on future stories, but they carried Orac’s capabilities one step further – not only is he able to predict the future precisely, he can rewrite what’s going to happen with precision to achieve a desired result.

          That means he can work out multiple simulation scenarios to achieve a desired outcome. (Assuming that the outcome is possible.)

          Blake’s next question to Orac should be, “Orac, how do I destroy the heart of the Federation and bring freedom to the galaxy?”

          …and then the show should be over.

          Failing that, the next time Avon is alone with Orac, the question should be, “How do I take control of the Liberator?”

          You’d think Orac would have been able to arrange to keep Ensor alive in the previous episodes because he should have known what was going to happen and could have directed things differently. But he didn’t. Orac’s precognition is a bad idea.

          In the world of fiction, the writer can create anything, but like a genie’s three wishes in a Twilight Zone episode, you’d best think those wishes through very carefully!

          So yes, I think it’s completely justified to debate whether the ability for Orac to predict the future is a good idea for the series and do not see it as analogous to having a fast spaceship or teleport bracelets – at least as presented so far in the series Blakes 7.

          1. This >

            You’re just arguing to be arguing at this point!

            Although…

            How many hard-boiled detective stories of the 30s and 40s would have had to be completely rewritten if they could call for help while locked in a closet?

            This is a problem whether the means to call for help involves a ‘demon’ or advanced technology, so the distinction you try to find to counter Clarke doesn’t make any difference here anyway.

            I would say there is a difference in the scale of these things (accurate prediction of anything has bigger implications than local teleport) but the bottom line is the writers using magic (however nicely you want to distinguish the different types of it) to remove obstacles within the story. That could be to fix a particular narrow problem. Or it could be the ‘one mighty bound’ that wipes out the tension and the jeopardy that made the story exciting in the first place (“…and the show would be over”). As you say, “you’d better think those wishes through carefully”.

            Writers don’t have to make their whole world from beginning to end; they can just carve out the part they want to fictionalise. In a future ruled by the Federation – that’s a whole society to create. A world in which Dashiell Hammet wrote The Big Sleep, though different, would probably be very similar to our own in many ways – even if the differences would be fascinating. But in either case, there are many things that writers don’t need to bother with if they want to leave things ‘as they are’, e.g. the laws of gravity, the linear passage of time, or that people get irked by bad manners.

            It is important that it is usually pretty clear where the fiction begins and ends.

            First two episodes of Blake’s 7 are all about being at the mercy of – and on the run from – The Federation, relying on nothing but their own wits. Then they just happen to find their magic ship and boom. It’s a different show, about a bunch of space nomads beaming down to a different world with their magic wrist-bands each week. If that had been the premise in episode 1, I probably wouldn’t have used the word ‘magic’ (and my expectations would have been that much lower…)

            Of course it’s justified to debate Orac’s magical abilities. But the point about any such device is the fictional context into which it is being introduced – and if the show already includes some ‘magic’ I’d have thought that’s relevant too…

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