Saturday, March 1, 2014

B7 Re-Watch: Cygnus Alpha

Where can I watch it?


Cygnus Alpha is the third in a three part arc that served to kick off the show. The show opens on the titular planet where two people in priestly robes are watching the London enter orbit. 

Maybe this whole banished to a penal planet won't be so bad. 

We switch to the London where the Captain is recounting to his log the events of Space Fall. We don't tarry long however before we move back to Blake and company onboard their new hotrod. 

No joking. This is the coolest bridge ever. 

The trio quickly find an armory that will only let you take one gun. Stingy jerks! They then set about figuring out how to fly the ship by way of pushing random buttons. Hey, that's how I work blu ray players so why not. The ship takes a chance to make telepathic contact with Jenna. 

It's true. Blondes do have more telepathic contact. 

Unwittingly Jenna names the ship liberator. The group meets Zen the ships main computer who looks like a hexagon shaped 1980s Macintosh complete with blinking cursors. 70s Sci Fi reasoned that the future would be filled with blinking lights. That's how you knew it was the future. 

He was a sassy computer. They were lovable scamps. Together they'd have wacky adventures and be home in time for tea. 

Zen gives them information about the ship but will not answer questions about its makers prompting a running joke of Avon saying how he needs to reprogram it. At the same time the London drops the remaining prisoners on Cygnus Alpha. They conveniently ignore the fact that they had at least four more months of travel time. The prisoners encounter more priestly figures who tell them that God has poisoned them and they must take daily treatments to live. 

Yeah, he looks like he'd be down with Captain Tripps. 

Meanwhile liberator arrives in orbit to "rescue" the prisoners. I say rescue it the truth is despite being the hero of the story Blake really only wants to save them to be part of his crew not for their own sakes. Avon is opposed to their rescue because he's only concerned with his own interests. In his way he's the most honest of the two. 

While exploring the ship the group discovers what they believe to be a teleport system. This serves two purposes. One, it gives them a technological edge over their enemies. Two, it saves a fortune on special effects. It's essentially the same reason Star Trek used transporters. 

Blake makes an initial trip down and is attacked by the priests. When he is brought back up he just happens to forget to tell the others. Again, Blake is not above manipulating the others. On returning he meets the head priest. And of course is captured. 

Back on the Liberator Avon is busy trying to convince Jenna to abandon Blake. Hey, if you can't trust your friends who can you trust? Blake and several prisoners stage a breakout where several men who were supposed to be regulars are killed. As I previously said the script called for a full seven. Except the budget wasn't there. Since Terry Nation was the 70s BBC version of George R.R. Martin he just brutally murdered said characters rather than let them go to waste. 

Despite Avon's protests Jenna teleports Blake, Vila and Gan back aboard. Except the head priest tags along to try to take the ship. Before he is teleported into space and exploded he tells them that the sickness is really a mild poison. His forefathers tricked the convicts into believing in the disease to create a religion that would control the population. 

But he had such a trustworthy face. 

Blake now has his crew. He also has his polar opposite in Avon. They're scanned at the last minute by Federation Hunter/Killer ships before running off. Because the best way to start a revolution is to run away. 

Closing Thoughts:

While not as immediately dark as the pilot I think Cygnus Alpha is almost it's equal. If a little more subtle about it. We have Blake who is singlemindedly fixated on his goal. He's willing to use and manipulate others to further his plans. We have Avon who is willing and wanting to leave Blake and take the Liberator as his own. He even admits to Jenna that she would be next. We have a subtle dig at the abuse of religious power. The only moral character in this episode is Jenna and she wavers noticeably between supporting Blake and following Avon. I think this episode gets 4 out of 5. It's a nice close to the first three stories even if there are a few plot holes and weak points. 

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