Monday, 24 February 2014

D12 Warlord

EPISODE: D12 Warlord
BROADCAST: 14/12/1981
WRITTEN BY: Simon Masters
DIRECTOR: Viktors Ritelis
SCRIPT EDITOR: Chris Boucher
PRODUCER: Vere Lorrimer
DVD: Blake's 7 - Series 4

"Avon's idea of diplomacy is to break your legs then say "Lean on me"."


Avon has formed an alliance between five world to produce between them the antidote to Pylene 50. The alliance is cemented with the arrival of Zukon of Betafal who is supplying raw material and equipment which is being installed in Zenon base. With the equipment is Zeeona, Zukon's daughter, who has travelled to Xenon without her Father's knowledge in the hope of seeing Tarrant again whom she met when he & Avon toured his facilities. During the night Zukon makes alterations to his equipment placing it near the air vents in the loading bay and instructing his assistant Finn to lay charges in the base. Finn tells Zukon the Zeeona has been seen on Zenon and an outraged Zukon demands Avon transport her back to Betafal when Scorpio leaves the next morning to collect the crop that will be synthesised into the Pylene 50 antidote. Soolin accompanies Avon, but distracts Avon and returns Zeeona to Xenon by teleport. Zukon and Finn leave Xenon but a short time later Orac detects an explosive charge in the teleport bay. The charge goes off bringing the roof down dealing Tarrant, Dayna, Vila *& Zeeona in the control room with a damaged airlock. The equipment Zukon has bought releases a radioactive airborne virus into the air systems forcing them to shut the life support down. Zukon meets with Servalan who plants a bomb on his ship. Avon & Soolin are ambushed on Betafal but escape when Soolin pretends to be Zeeona and frees Avon. Finn finds the bomb and Zukon opens the airlock on him just as the bomb explodes damaging the ship. He implores Avon to rescue him, enticing him with the knowledge of how to get clean air to the survivors but Avon comes up with the solution himself by reversing the air system. Tarrant, Dayna, Vila & Zeeona are rescued by teleport from Xenon. Zeeona returns in a protective suit to the loading bay to reverse the machinery producing the poison. When she fails to report in Tarrant & Dayna teleport down to find that she was successful in her work but lies dead have removed the glove on her suit.

Pylene 50 was introduced back in the third episode of the season Traitor. In the sixth, Animals, Avon tried to find a scientist to help him synthesise the antidote that Tarrant & Dayna obtained from it's creator Forbus in Traitor. All through the series there's references to Commissioner Sleer's pacification program. And now, at the end of the series, it comes together as Avon attempts to band together several rival independent groups to fight the Federation and produce the antidote. A grand scheme indeed.... so you know it's going to go wrong and go wrong it does big time. I'd like to attribute some of the blame to Tarrant for falling for the wrong girl. He has considerable form in this area this season Piri (Cancer) in Assassin and Servalan in Sand so keeping Tarrant away from any women who may be important or dangerous should be near the top of Avon's priority list by now. But if anything Tarrant's misjudgement in matters of the heart saves Avon by keeping him off the base when the bombs go off. No if anyone's to blame for this it's Avon himself. Xenon has one thing going for it and one thing only: NOBODY knows they are there. To suddenly invite a load of strangers who are at it each other's throats in was just asking for trouble and so it proves.

I can remember watching this as a kid and being really really worried for Orac who gets damaged crushed by a beam. Points for first time writer Simon Masters for the Terry Nation emulation here. We've also got got bombs, viruses and radiation so that's nearly a full house on your Terry Nation Bingo card!


So..... Did Zeeona kill herself by accident or deliberately? The evidence would suggest the second: accidentally removing her glove when the work's done seems unlikely to me. On the subject of clothes why on earth are Avon & Soolin changing into identical outfits for the trip to Betafal? Never seen the reason for this and they do seem to be a uniform of some description. Thankfully it's goodbye to the awful Scorpio spacesuits previously seen in Headhunter and Orbit with this episode!


It's also goodbye to Jacqueline Pearce as Servalan. Her appearance in this episode is brief but in typical fashion ends very very badly for her allies. Pearce would return to science fiction as Chessene in Doctor Who: The Two Doctors and appear as Miss Pendragon in the first of Russel T Davies two children's serials Century Falls.


Some of the rest of the cast's form is interesting to say the least! Roy Boyd, Zukan, was Driscoll in Doctor Who: Hand of Fear, and later appears in Dempsey and Makepeace with Glynis Barber as the Depot Sergeant in Extreme Prejudice. Bobbie Brown, Zeeona, was a character called Hedonia in Flash Gordon. The interweb seems to indicate this was one of Ming's hand maidens clad in green. Dean Harris, Finn, has a Sweeney appearance to his name as Jimmy Wands in Thou shall not Kill. He's also the father of twins with former Doctor Who companion Katy Manning. Onto the delegates: I recognised Rick James, Chalsa, straight away proving that his performance as Cotton in Doctor Who: The Mutants wasn't a one off. Also instantly recognisable is Charles Auginsas Lod famous for playing Queeg on Red Dwarf a show he also worked as Choreographer on (along with many other things). Simon Merrick, Boorva, was in the original Tomorrow People as a Police Inspector in The Blue and the Green: The Swarming Season & Cuckoo in the Nest. And, even masked, I could tell that Federation soldier on the right in the clips at the beginning was 'Aitch.


Warlord is our final visit to Betchworth Quarry near Reigate now serving as the Betafal surface. It's Blake's 7's most frequently used location appearing in Time Squad as the Saurian Major surface, Deliverance as the Cephlon surface, Hostage as the Exbar surface, Moloch as the Sardos surface and Power as Xenon's surface. The escalator massacre at the start was filmed at The Friary Shopping Centre in Guildford.


Warlord was repeated on 20/08/1983. It was released on Video as part of Blake's 7 tape 26 on 5th January 1993 where it was paired with the final episode Blake alongside the previous two episodes Gold & Orbit on Tape 25. Blake's 7 season 4 was released on DVD on 24th April 2006.

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