Monday, 7 October 2013

C5 The Harvest of Kairos

EPISODE: C5 The Harvest of Kairos
BROADCAST: 04/02/1980
DIRECTOR: Gerald Blake
SCRIPT EDITOR: Chris Boucher
PRODUCER: David Maloney
DVD: Blake's 7 - Series 3

" But first, there is the matter of that degrading and primitive act you subjected me to in the control room... I should like you to do it again."

Avon & Vila are on a planet gaining mineral samples when the Liberator encounters two Federation ships. Servalan's battle tactics are questioned by a low grade worker Jarvik who claims he could take the Liberator with three ships. When the Liberator escapes Jarvik, a former Federation Captain, correctly predicts that the Liberator is heading for the planet Kairos in time for it's harvest of Kairopan crystals. Avon is having the mineral he has collected Soporan analysed by Orac and takes no interest in Tarrant's plan to attack the transport leaving the planet. Servalan has the harvest workers abandoned on Kairos' surface and as the Liberator moves into strike Jarvik attacks. Cally is missing, working with Avon on a telepathic experiment with the Soporan and as a result the ship is damaged. The attacking ships are destroyed and Servalan blames Jarvik but he tells her it was a ruse. Tarrant, Dayna, Vila & Cally board the shuttle and steal a number of crates of Kairopan. They are ambushed but saved by Avon. However the crates contain Federation troops who quickly take the Liberator. Their leader Captain Shad teleports to Servalan's control room and invites Jarvik to inspect the captured ship, but he allows Servalan the privilege instead. She holds the crew at gunpoint instructing them to get Zen to acknowledge her voice pattern. Servalan maroons the crew on Kairos which is about to become hostile to human life. They discover a webbed body. Servalan dispatches Jarvik to defeat Tarrant on Kairos and retrieve the Teleport bracelets. Avon finds an old spacecraft in a hanger on a Kairos. Jarvik encounters huge insects on the planet's surface. Dayna is trapped by one of the insects but is saved by Jarvik who holds her hostage. He fights with Tarrant, defeating him and taking the Teleport bracelets from everyone bar Dayna who refuses to surrender hers. Attacked by an insect while struggling Jarvik has both of them teleported to the Liberator. Servalan orders Zen to attack the planet's surface as Tarrant manages to launch the space capsule. Avon instructs Tarrant to hail the Liberator and order their surrender. Avon uses the Soporan to deceive the Liberator into believing they can destroy the ship. Javrik is killed by Servalan's guard as she evacuates to the Kairopan transporter and the the rest of the Liberator's crew returns to the ship. Avon erases Servalan's voice pattern from Zen's memory.

Where on Earth do you start? Wrong on so many levels.

Yes it's obviously a re-written Blake/Travis script (for Tarrant/Jarvik) Look at it that way and Servalan's desire to get Tarrant, a character she's hardly met before, and Tarrant's leadership suddenly make much more sense. Avon's horribly written, preoccupied with his lump of rock which is a complete dues ex machina: it's only purpose is to resolve the end of the episode so Avon then must be interested in it all the way through even though there's no reason at the start of the episode to suggest he's got a reason to collect it! However the next episode shows that the Liberator needs crystals in it's weapons system replacing: inserting a line here about "we didn't find the crystals but Avon's found this bit of rock he's interested in" would have added a reason for them to be on the planet, given some connection between this episode & the next and helped to explain Avon's actions for the rest of the episode.

Then we have Jarvik, unzipped to the navel and displaying a horrible attitude towards Servalan and women in general. We've seen Servalan taking an interest in her officers before and I could see her liking (pardon the expression) a "bit of rough" for her own amusement but the way she goes gooey at the knees for Javrik forcing himself on her is a little disturbing. She tends to behave almost Schizophrenically towards him during the episode alternately fawning at his feet and then ordering his punishment/death. That second bit looks more like the Servalan we know. You get the feeling almost that Jarvik is being set up to be a recurring character (see the Thraan last week) then without warning he's suddenly shot by accident. Yet more evidence of a rewritten Travis script with the death tagged onto the end? We'll return to the sort of attitudes seen here in other scripts from writer Ben Steed who is making his Blake's 7 debut here.

We've got Federation Troops on the Liberator though these ones have got silly uniforms and not the standard ones seen elsewhere in this episode, which are now reunited with their visors following Volcano. But this is Servalan's first trip to the Liberator, the first time she's teleported and the first time she speaks to Zen. Her escape by teleport will provide an answer to a question in the final episode of the season. The Space Command model is back but the insides are now very different, now featuring the UFO curved panels in the control room.

I've seen worse giant insects on the TV screen. Yes I'm looking at you Zarbi! Somethings bugging me about the way the insect retreats when it gets the Kairopan back: if it's happy when the crystals are returned why did every other visitor to the planet get killed? If it's not then why doesn't it kill Dayna. If anything I'd have considered the episode more satisfying if Dayna had slipped Jarvik the Kairopan and the insect killed him: him being beaten by a woman would have served as a decent fate for someone who displays the attitudes he did earlier. I'm wondering if Ben Steed realised this after the episode was finished as this is exactly the fate the awaits the next sexist male to fight Dayna!

Struggling. Really struggling with these season 3 episodes. Aftermath and, even more so, Powerplay were great and it's all been downhill since then.

Andrew Burt, playing Jarvik, was the original Jack Sugden in Emerdale Farm. A few years after this episode he appeared in the 1982 Doctor Who story Terminus as Valgard. Servalan's advisor at the start of the episode, Dastor, is played by Frank Gatliff who already had a Doctor Who credit to his name appearing in 1974's Monster of Peladon as Orton but Anthony Gardner, Captain Shad, appeared in the BBC's older science fiction series even earlier than that in 1967's The Macra Terror where he played Alvis.

The surface scenes of Kairos were filmed at Bovingdon Airfield, Hertfordshire.

The Harvest of Kairos was released on video on Blake's tape 16 on 7th January 1992 paired with the next episode City at the Edge of the World and alongside tape 15 Volcano & Dawn of the Gods. Blake's 7 season 3 was released on DVD on 20th June 2005.

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