BLAKE’S-7 WATCHTHROUGH: Mission to Dreary – sorry – Destiny

Another Sunday, another episode of Blake’s 7. This week me and my partner Dominique are watching Mission to Destiny. It probably isn’t anyone’s favourite episode of Blake’s 7. One of those episodes you often get with long running sagas – perfectly acceptable pieces of entertainment in their own right but fairly forgettable shortly after.

This week sees Cally, and to a lesser degree Avon, playing detectives aboard a small spaceship enroute to the planet Destiny. When they arrive the whole ship seems deserted until they find some comatose crew members. It is possible this crew have all passed out from boredom because everything about them is just so drab. Everything in the ship is mostly grey, their clothes are drab, their furniture is drab. Luckily their strong, distinct personalities make up for it… Actually, I am slightly overstating the case. Their personalities are drab too. Soon this dull crew is awake and again regretting their interior design choices, all except one of their number who is spared the interminable monotony of endless games in the crew room with bearded colleagues by getting murdered. So, who killed him, and has it anything to do with their mission to deliver a rare isotope to save their biologically stricken world? They’ve got a fungus problem on Destiny, apparently the entire planet could soon become engulfed, unless they deliver a prototype isotope in time. Which is a problem because whomever rendered the crew unconscious and killed one of them, has also damaged the ship’s engines. In steps Blake to help.

Even their guns are drab

Blake flies off in Liberator to deliver the isotope to Destiny, with Jenna, Gan and Vila along for the ride. That’s no exagerration. These characters are literally just passengers on Blake’s ego-fuelled power trip. We wonder why they put up with it.

With Blake and his overbearing personality several light years away Avon and Cally start work repairing the Ortega’s engines and trying to find the killer in their midst. But of course it isn’t long before there’s another death.

Even though the crew of the Ortega are a fairly blande bunch, it is amusing watching them get bumped off, and seeing all the men go a little gooey over Cally, and the slight jealousy she stimulates in the female members of the crew. She keeps making eyes at Avon, too. Or is that just us seeing something that isn’t there?

Dom is less than amused this week because her favourite character, Vila has been given virtually nothing to do. But at least he gets more lines than poor old Gan. Though David Jackson is gamely acting away in the background, trying to imbue the gentle giant’s character with a little, um, character. As Liberator enters a debris field Dom asks “Where’s Travis then? And Servelan?” Where indeed. Of course I know this series well, I have watched it before (though only once in order), I know they appear in most, but not all of the episodes. I’m used to this but Dominique, who is experiencing these episodes in order for the very first time, finds it odd. “Why introduce them only to have them disappear again the following week?” She has got a point, and to be fair this episode is fairly pedestrian, it could use a bit of extra excitement.

As the Liberator is buffeted from all sides and Blake frets over the safety of the isotope they’ve been entrusted with meanwhile, over on the drab ship bound for Destiny, Cally is busy trying to decipher something one of the murder victims has written in blood on some ultra tacky prop. It seems a bit of a cheek then that Avon, who says he doesn’t like an unsolved mystery, leaves most of the sleuthing to Cally but then gets all the glory when he reveals who the murderer is. I like to keep this page a relatively spoiler-free affair so I won’t reveal who it was what did the ‘orrible murders but we wonder if Jan Chappell, who played Cally tried to talk the director into letting her do the whole “the murderer is in this very room” bit. It only seems fair.

“One of us is a murderer… One of you.”

Speaking of Cally, an unexpected and easy to miss little moment crops in during the early part of the story when Blake, Cally and Avon are exploring the deserted ship. The crew were, as we said, rendered comotose by the villian of the piece by plugging some sleeping gas into the air-con. As Cally succumbs and gets all drowsy Blake hears her thoughts, “Alone,” she says, “so alone.” This is a lovely touch, inserted here so the audience doesn’t forget she is actually a telepathic alien. It reinforces the fact she is the last of the freedom fighters from Auron and why her survivor guilt prevents her from going home. Again this highlights the disparity we have discussed before in this blog between the first few episodes of Blake’s 7 and the ones we’re currently enjoying; There were no such attempts to provide any continuity in the character of Blake, up to and inlcuding last week’s episode (Seek, Locate, Destroy) when we found out he has a hiherto unmentioned arch enemy (the aforementioned Travis).

The best line of the episode goes Avon, “Personally I couldn’t care if their entire planet turns into a giant mushroom…I don’t like an unsolved mystery.” It’s a highly quotable line. Paul Darrow must have read it in the script and really got a handle on his character, because this episode is really where we get to see the emergence of distant, logical Avon in all his cold glory. It’s really great Avon and Cally are finally given a really fat slice of the action for a change, but we do wish that hadn’t been to the detriment to the rest of the regulars (except Blake) from turning into mere ciphers.

For fear of spoilering this episode any more, I won’t review the ending because there is a slight twist in the tale. So, the only other noteworthy (I use the word in a loose sense) thing about this episode is the appearance of John Leeson playing one of the crew members of the Ortega. Leeson is famous for being the voice of tin dog K-9 in Doctor Who and the Sarah Jane Adventures. Here he plays a genial everyman-type character and is one of the men who goes a bit gooey over Cally. In fairness to him there’s little else to do on the Ortega except play games and listen as his drab crew-mates make snarky remarks about eachother. This perhaps mirrors Avon and Cally who are similarly spared Blake and the Liberator’s less than glittering atmosphere.

That’s it for this week, folks. There isn’t much else to say about Mission to Destiny. It entertained us for the forty-eight minutes we were watching it but it’s unlikely to top our list of all time greats. Let’s hope next week’s episode is more of an ensemble piece with all the regulars getting something to do.

Join us next week, on 6th February to read what we thought of episode seven – Duel.

This watch-through actually took place a little while ago and prepared for publishing shortly after but it has not been published until now. A new entry in this blog is posted every Sunday evening.

FOLLOW THE LINK TO READ MORE ENTRIES IN THE BLAKE’S-7 WATCHTHROUGH BLOG: noscriptforlife.com/blakes-7/

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Copyright Martin Gregory. 2021

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