Big Finish has managed to make 2018 a great year for Blake’s 7. There’s been the 40th anniversary special, ‘The Way Ahead’, as well as ‘Crossfire Part 2’. Now we’re concluding this exciting trilogy with ‘Crossfire Part 3’.
For those just tuning in, Crossfire is set up as a trilogy in 12 parts. Each story is set in the third season of the TV show and builds to the season finale, ‘Terminal’. The stories have been told chronologically over the 3 box sets and can be enjoyed as standalone adventures and part of the greater whole. So, if you’re familiar with Blake’s 7 the TV series, you should be perfectly fine to pick up only the 3rd set and enjoy these stories. It’s much more rewarding, of course, to start from the beginning. Big Finish have done some stellar work on this series that deserves to be heard.
Ministry of Truth
Una McCormack, starts us off with an interesting story about a propaganda filmmaker who works for the federation. Comfortably, behind the scenes, Bowkan shows a slight interest in portraying the rebels in a positive light, to give the show “nuance”. Those intentions are quickly squashed by her team, the federation, and by the appearance of Avon.
The opening scene is cheeky, and slightly on the nose, before it branches off to become more than a comment on writing to a dedicated fan base. Playfully, without losing the element of what makes a Blake’s 7 story a Blake’s 7 story, McCormack examines rebellion from a different angle and creates some very interesting characters along the way.
The story progresses effortlessly and soon becomes a guessing game of who done it. There’s a real sense of urgency here and the stakes feel high. ‘Ministry of Truth’ is a bold story to start off the set as the main cast are not our primary characters. To a small extent it’s similar to Cavan Scott’s story in Crossfire Part 2 ‘Shock Troops’ in that we grow fond of our lead guest characters. Susie Riddell as Bowkan is the kind of character you would love to learn more about.
This is a fun, smart, story that, if not for the nail-biting conclusion, would be the stand out story in Crossfire 3.
Next up we have ‘Refuge’ by Trevor Baxendale. Our primary lead is none other than Vila, so you know you’re in for more than a few laughs. ‘Refuge’, is a slower story which forces the crew of the Liberator to sit down and ask themselves how they can help end the war. Though no one likes the answer things become more immediate when an old friend of Vila’s turns up.
It’s difficult to talk about the plot of this story as it develops slowly. We’re quite deep into the drama before the big plot reveal happens. It comes down to an exciting conclusion that’s well worth the wait but large chunks of this one are conversations. Thankfully the dialog is great and proposes some very difficult, therefore entertaining, questions and scenario’s.
Aside from the gripping ending, what makes this story stand out is that Vila is allowed to be, at least for a moment or two, a hero. Certainly, more human. It’s also nice to have a story that features all of the crew together and talking about what we’ve been leading up to all this time; ending the war.
It’s also worth mentioning that Rebecca Crankshaw returns as Zeera Vos. What a terrific presence she is to this story. She was created for the first Crossfire box set but has been such a great Travis type character. Zeera is, brave and deadly but there’s intelligence to her which Travis lacked. She’s a most welcome addition and a big part of this set.
Kith and Kin
Christopher Cooper writes our third story for this set which focus’ on Del Tarrant. Tarrant believes that his older brother Dev is responsible for the death of their parents and he wants answers and revenge. He’s left the Liberator with the understanding that he may not make it back on board.
‘Kith and Kin’ is an odd choice for the penultimate chapter. This is a, mostly solo, rogue mission which has Tarrant working with a wealthy retired old man who is still grieving the loss of his wife. Regardless of placement this is still an enjoyable story. Kimar, played by Paul Aubrey, brings some welcome humour to this adventure. Cally is, as always, needed dosage of humanity and compassion.
The story has plenty of twists and turns and danger and is the first time Tarrant has shined as a character, for me. The heat of rage he has by the end helps build the tension for the climax. For that reason alone it makes sense to be placed before ‘Death of the Empire’.
Death of the Empire
To conclude, not just this box set but the entire Crossfire series, writer Steve Lyons throws everything at us, including the kitchen sink. Sink still attached to the kitchen.
The choices made in ‘Refuge’ may just backfire as the Liberator finally takes action. The Old President is playing a strong a hand and Servalan is as confident and prepared as ever. Servalan is as terrific as a villain can get and she has some extraordinary lines to prove it! Jacqueline Pearce is cool, confident and mesmerizing. Each cast member own their moment but the power of Servalan is compelling.
In all honesty, nothing needs to be said about this story other than, go listen to it. This is as exciting and as rewarding as it gets! This is the showdown we’ve been waiting for and it couldn’t be more fulfilling. The concluding moments and that cliffhanger are too good to miss.
If you’ve read any of our recent Blake’s 7 reviews, you may have noticed a progression in appreciation. The quality is constantly excellent but over time this reviewer has gone from having never heard of Blake’s 7, to watching the series and enjoying these audio stories to their fullest. I mention this simply as a testament to how good these audio adventures are.
Producer/Director, John Ainsworth, has done a remarkable job in putting together new material. These stories have proved enjoyable and exciting for long time fans and new listeners. The writers and crew are giving nothing short of their best and the cast, naturally, bring so much to the table. This trilogy has been stellar! Each story may be enjoyed individually or part of the grander whole, fitting into the programs timeline.
Crossfire 3 is a worthy conclusion. It contributes to the depth and lore of Blake’s 7 and wraps up a long arc. Here’s looking forward to what Big Finish throws at the Liberator next.
Don’t forget that for the month of April Blake’s 7 Scimitar is on for £2.99 and Warship is part of the 99 titles for 99p. Just click this link and entire the code redballons.
This title was released in April 2018. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until May 31st 2018, and on general sale after this date.
Four new brand-new full-cast Blake’s 7 adventures set during the TV series’ third season.
9. Ministry of Truth by Una McCormack
In a special facility, the Federation propagandists are hard at work. When first Zeera Vos, and then the Liberator crew arrive, their work is disrupted, and a traitor, it seems, has been busy in their midst.
10. Refuge by Trevor Baxendale
The Federation is in turmoil. The war is raging out of control. It’s time for Avon and his crew to pick a side – but when the Liberator finds a ship full of refugees, they realise that nothing can ever be that simple…
11. Kith and Kin by Christopher Cooper
The planet Corrolos is a safe haven for ex-oligarchs and retired royalty. So why is Tarrant insistent on going there, and what was the last wish of his dead brother, Deeta?
12. Death of Empire by Steve Lyons
Servalan is Supreme Empress of the Galaxy – but the man whose throne she usurped wants it back. The final battle of the Civil War begins – and it’s time for the Liberator crew to take a stand.
Written By: Una McCormack, Trevor Baxendale, Christopher Cooper, Steve Lyons
Directed By: John Ainsworth
Paul Darrow (Kerr Avon), Michael Keating (Vila Restal), Jan Chappell (Cally), Steven Pacey (Del Tarrant), Jacqueline Pearce (Servalan), Yasmin Bannerman(Dayna Mellanby), Alistair Lock (Zen/Orac), Rebecca Crankshaw (Zeera Vos), Dan March (Verner), Susie Riddell (Bowkan), Bruce Alexander (Galon), Malcolm James (Dev), Charlotte Strevens (Reeva), Peter Aubrey (Kimar), Hugh Fraser (The Former President), John Green (Mordekain). Other parts played by members of the cast.
Producer John Ainsworth
Script Editor John Ainsworth
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs