Incident on Gauda Prime

“Doctor Who” wasn’t the BBC’s only attempt at serious sci-fi. Back in 1978, Terry Nation came up with the idea for “Blake’s 7”, a darker, more adult series about a group of outlaws trying to overthrow a corrupt and tyrannical Federation. After four seasons (a total of 52 episodes), the series ended in a shootout that apparently left all the main characters dead. This was a deliberate attempt by the creators to make absolutely certain that there could not possibly be any more stories, but it hasn’t stopped fans from trying.

I’m not involved in any “fandom” circles (I have better things to do with my time, thank you), so I don’t really know what the current theories are about the ending. I followed it many years ago when it was shown on the local public TV station, and was able to rewatch the entire series recently. I think I have a good idea as to what really happened.

But first, a quick synopsis.

Roj Blake (Gareth Thomas) is a former resistance leader who has been framed for child molestation to make certain that he cannot start up a new movement. On his way to a prison world, he and a few other “undesirables” manage to take control of an alien ship and get free. They start rallying other resistance factions into an outright rebellion. Supreme Commander Servalan (Jacqueline Pearce) leads the fight against them, seeing it as a way for her to take over the Federation.

At the end of the second season, Servalan has staged a coup and taken over as President of the Federation, just in time to face an invasion of the galaxy. Blake and his crew are caught up in the resulting war, and get separated. Blake goes missing, and it falls to Kerr Avon (Paul Darrow) to take command. The team meets with some success in the post-war reconstruction, but so does Servalan. Eventually, Avon comes to the realization that he doesn’t have the leadership skills of Blake, so he goes looking for him.

Blake is found on a planet called Gauda Prime, which is on the verge of being taken over by the Federation. Given the delicate and dangerous situation, there’s a lot of misreading of intentions. When Federation troops show up, Avon panics. He thinks Blake betrayed them, and kills him. There’s a brief firefight, and all the crew save Avon are killed. Avon is surrounded by Federation troops, who aim their guns at him. Avon smiles, points his gun at the camera, and everything fades to black. There’s the sound of one shot, then a quick fusillade of shots before the music comes in and the credits roll.

Interesting, to put it mildly.

Fans have to accept the fact that Blake is dead. Gareth Thomas had left the series at the end of the second season with the understanding that he’d never return. They talked him in to one modest appearance in one episode, but he then said that he’d only return if they killed him off.

With regards to the other characters, various theories involving rigged guns and blood packs have been proposed to keep the series going. They are all pretty convoluted, and contingent on a lot of circumstance. I generally don’t mind fan fiction, but trying to keep the series going like this is really a stretch. Especially when there’s plenty of room between the existing episodes for more stories. There’s even an official line.

Here’s my theory.

In the first episode of Season 3, “Aftermath”, set in the first days after the opening battle of the aforementioned war, Avon and Servalan wind up on the same planet. Servalan tries to make a deal with Avon for joint rule of the Federation, but he turns her down. What if Avon reconsidered, and they actually came to some sort of arrangement? Even if it was merely one that kept the option open? It would explain how they manage to avoid killing each other despite blatant opportunities over the remainder of the series.

The other thing to note is that in that last episode, there’s a constant reference to a Federation High Commissioner coming to Gauda Prime. In the fourth season, after a narrow escape at the very end of the third season, Servalan changes her name and identity to Commissioner Sleer. Given her devious nature, wouldn’t it make perfect sense for her to be that High Commissioner?

So here’s what I think happened on Guada Prime in that last scene. The cast are killed, and Avon is left standing. The camera becomes the POV of Commissioner Sleer/Servalan, who has shown a willingness to be in the thick of things – especially when Blake and Co. are involved. Avon, having personally killed his best friend and seen all his other friends die, comes to a major epiphany. As long as Servalan is alive, there’s nothing they or anyone else can do to stop the Federation. And no “deal” with her is going to make up for the loss of his friends. So even though it will mean his death, he shoots her. He is immediately gunned down, of course, but at least has that one last victory.

What do you think?

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