Cally (Blake's 7)
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|Blake's 7 character|
|First appearance||Time Squad|
Terminal (Regular)Rescue (cameo)
|Portrayed by||Jan Chappell|
Cally is a fictional character from the British science fiction television series Blake's 7, played by Jan Chappell from 1978 to 1981. She is the titular subject of an audio drama released in August 2009.
It was originally intended that Cally would wear black contact lenses to make her look more alien. Jonathan Bignell and Andrew O'Day write that "Cally (Jan Chappell), conceived much later as an alien from the planet Saurian Major (Stevens and Moore 2003: 19), is introduced in the fourth episode 'Time Squad'. In early drafts of the episode 'she was explicitly described as being like 'an Israeli terrorist girl' and her name echoes Kali, the Hindu goddess of death (Stevens and Moore 2003: 19). In the final televised version she is the only survivor of a guerrilla force that attacked the Federation, and comes closest to paralleling Blake's political aims."
Cally was the only alien amongst the original crew, a native of the planet Auron. She left her home world to help the resistance fighters on Saurian Major and was subsequently exiled by her isolationist people. When a chemical poison was dropped on the rebels, she was the only survivor and was determined to make a suicide attack on the base until she met and joined with Blake. She was initially ashamed to return to Auron because she was the only survivor of the resistance.
Cally was the only member of the original seven who was not a convicted criminal. Like other members of the Auron race, Cally was telepathic and her psychic abilities were a great asset to the crew. On the other hand, it occasionally made her susceptible to being taken over by telepathic influence ("The Web," "Shadow," "Sarcophagus"). While her initial role was monitoring communications, she eventually became a skilled medic and pilot. Initially as fanatical as Blake in fighting the Federation, she, along with Gan, became the moral "conscience" of the crew, once even questioning Blake whether destroying Star One was worth the "many many (innocent) people" he would kill as a result. She even questions his entire crusade, wondering if he has made them all 'fanatics' to which Blake becomes defensive. Cally has come a long way from the rebel who would kill until she was killed on Saurian Major, developing the conscience which Blake never showed in his terrorist acts.
While Cally was rather distant and philosophical at first, as the series went on she became more connected to the crew and would display a dry wit on occasion.
Tragedy eventually marked Cally. Servalan, in a gambit to have herself cloned, deliberately infected Auron with a disease to which she alone had the cure. Almost all of the Aurons were killed, including Cally's twin sister Zelda. Cally herself was later killed by Servalan's explosives on Terminal in series four opener Rescue, whilst calling out to Vila with her last thoughts.
Avon confirmed her death after returning to the ruined and collapsing tunnels. He was very certain when he tells Tarrant, his voice becoming softer, as it is often when talking to or about Cally, and then he looks away in the distance.
During the show, a romantic attraction was often teased between Avon and Cally. The first indication of this was during the episode "The Web," when Cally tells Avon, "I'm interested in your work," and the two share a long, lingering glance (that also has the humorous side effect of making the normally unflappable Avon somewhat speechless). While a romantic relationship between the two was never explicitly shown during the series, there are many suggestive scenes.
The closest they came to a romantic interaction was during the episode "Sarcophagus" when Cally's body was taken over by an alien lifeform seeking a host through which to live again. The alien tried to win Avon over (the only crewmember not intimidated by it) by telling him, "Cally liked you," and that he could be at her side. Avon went so far as to kiss the alien (again, who was using Cally's body) in a ruse to gain its confidence and defeat it, freeing Cally in the process. He showed a great level of trust and understanding of Cally's strong feelings for him, to the extent that he would risk his life with the alien, knowing that Cally would never allow the being to hurt him. At the end of "Sarcophagus," Avon and Cally again share a long stare (considerably longer than in "The Web") after which Cally has a little smile. One wonders what she 'communicated' to him during that lingering look[original research?].
Avon and Cally share genuinely amused smiles after teleporting Vila down (after Vila makes an obvious delay about going to join Blake).
In the episode, "Shadow," Avon and Jenna are the only ones to show concern that Cally was in a mysterious and possibly deadly coma, while Blake is only interested in pursing a not very urgent mission. They are the only ones to go to visit her and Avon checks her vitals several times. When Jenna accuses Blake of not caring whether Cally lives or dies, Blake yells at her, claiming that there are more important priorities than a critically ill member of his crew. Avon and the crew's concern about Cally is sharply contrasted with Blake's self-interested fanaticism and callousness that treats people as little more than expendable tools when he no longer has any use for them.
Similar references were made throughout the series; in the episode "Voice From the Past," Blake (under Federation mind control) fools Vila by telling him Cally and Avon have "paired up," which Vila quite readily believes. In "Avalon," when Avon, Jenna and Blake find Cally on the ground injured by the Avalon robot, Avon rushes to her side with concern on his face, while Jenna and Blake only stand by the door, staring at him, knowing his special relationship with her, and not wanting to interfere. Avon checks her vital signs and then he touches her cheek gently.
Avon is often seen to be staring at Cally and positioning himself near her for no functional reason. He leans against her chair on the flight deck and once they sat so close together that they were almost in each other's laps. In "City at the Edge of the World," he puts his arm around her waist while they are on the teleport pad, and his hand moves downwards...
When the crew wants to know where Cally is, it is inevitably Avon who answers. It seems very important to him that he knows where she is at all times, just like he assumes Jenna knows where Blake is. In "Harvest of Kairos" he even knows how long she's been away from the flight deck.
A slightly more bitter note is shown in the episode "Children of Auron"; when Cally reveals why she has never returned to her homeworld, she quite pointedly snaps, "Why do you imagine I've never gone back… affection for him?" at which point she storms off (and the other characters look towards Avon). They act like an old married couple, knowing exactly what to say that will hurt the other the most.
Cally and Avon quite often went on missions together and shared a knack for delivering quick-witted replies to the other's statements, which would somewhat indicate a growing affection for each other. However, Avon quite openly disdained her hotheaded nature and her idealism, which he found to be only somewhat more tolerable than Blake's. She is the only person he constantly tries to teach, telling her to be more objective and use logic rather than acting solely on emotions and instinct.
Similarly, Cally at times openly mocked Avon's "cold" nature and often clashed with his occasional defensive instincts, although she is also the only one on the ship who truly knows that he does care about people and that he exhibits it in ways that others don't appreciate. This is most clearly shown in "Duel" when Vila and Gan accuse Avon of not caring about anyone but himself, when that was not the case, and Avon, in disgust at their prejudice against him and their ignorance, says, "I have never understood why it should be necessary to become irrational in order to prove that you care, or, indeed, why it should be necessary to prove it at all." After Avon leaves, Cally supports Avon, telling Vila and Gan that they don't understand him.
At one point during the episode "Horizon," Cally and Avon are the only two humans left on board the Liberator, and Cally pointedly rejects Avon's idea of leaving together (and the others to their fate, because she believes they are still alive whereas Avon believes they are all dead).
During the episode "The Keeper," Avon takes the ship out of orbit (and teleport range, leaving Blake, Jenna and Vila stranded in a moment of trouble in order to follow Blake's orders that Travis must be stopped) to blast Travis' ship, thinking Travis is on board. When Avon later attempts to do the same to what he believes is Servalan's ship, Cally flatly refuses, reminding Avon of what happened last time.
The character has been positively received by fans and critics alike. Ben Rawson-Jones describes the character as "Blake's 7 fans’… beloved Cally." In a review of her debut, John Bensalhia writes, "One of the most popular regulars, Cally is well portrayed by Jan Chappell right from the word go. Initially, she's seen as a tough-as-nails freedom fighter, hostile to Blake, and ready to commit suicide after the deaths of her fellow companions. Already at this story, we're given some clue as to how Cally interacts with her future friends - she looks up to Blake as the leader, Vila's clearly taken with her, but Cally is more interested in Avon, who, amazingly, seems to return the interest, given his distrust of other people. It's a shame that Cally's part would be watered down in future stories - especially in Season Two, where she's mostly stuck glum-faced behind the teleport controls - but here at least, she gets a strong debut."
In a more scholarly analysis, Camille Bacon-Smith writes, "In the Blake's 7 character Cally, who can never experience the telepathic presence of another because her people are dead and the humans cannot communicate on her level, the loneliness of many women who feel that they give understanding but receive nothing back to nurture their sense of belonging finds representation." Bacon-Smith identifies further a contrast between Mr. Spock and Cally, noting how unlike Spock, "the telepathic alien Cally on Blake's 7 could send thoughts but could not receive them from any other sending telepath. Separated from her own people, Cally could communicate with others at the level of the mind, but she could never receive communication in return. Whereas for Spock telepathy diminished the solitude of the alien, for Cally telepathy only made her alien solitude more acute. Bacon-Smith goes on to argue that while "Mr. Spock represents the positive value of an understanding merged with the other, Cally represents the tragedy when comprehension of the totality of the other is forever denied."
In the Blake's 7 Productions audio drama series Blake's 7: The Early Years three Callys appear in the story Blood and Earth: Ariane (played by Amy Humphreys), Jorden (played by Barbara Joslyn), with Jan Chappell playing an elder relative, "Cally Secundus" (the second Cally ever to be born on Auron).
- Telotte, J. P. (2008). The essential science fiction television reader. Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky. p. 221. ISBN 0-8131-2492-1. OCLC 181601264.
- Bignell, Jonathan; Andrew O'Day (2004). Terry Nation. Manchester: Manchester University Press. p. 129. ISBN 0-7190-6547-X. OCLC 56656997.
- "'Blake's 7': Cally - Blood and Earth/Flag and Flame 1.4: The Early Years (Audio CD) by Ben Aaronovitch (Author), Marc Platt (Author)". Amazon.com. Retrieved 13 May 2009.
- Booker, M. Keith (2004). Science fiction television: a history. New York City: Praeger Publishing. p. 82. ISBN 0-275-98164-9. OCLC 54966419.
- In the B7 audio dramas, the "Callys" are a clone familial line, exclusively female and like most Auron's telepathically linked each to the other, with the link strongest between members of the same crèche or clone batch, and the elder "Cally" crèches referred to as "Aunties".
- Bensalhia, John (29 April 2009). "Blake's 7 series 1 episode 5 - The Web". Den of Geek. Retrieved 13 May 2009.
- Rawson-Jones, Ben (1 June 2008). "Whatever Happened to Blake's 7". Digital Spy. Retrieved 13 May 2009.
- Bensalhia, John (23 April 2009). "Blake's 7 series 1 episode 4 - Time Squad". Den of Geek. Retrieved 13 May 2009.
- Bacon-Smith, Camille (1992). Enterprising women: television fandom and the creation of popular myth. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 161. ISBN 0-8122-1379-3. OCLC 24247436.
- Bacon-Smith, Camille (1992). Enterprising women: television fandom and the creation of popular myth. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 160. ISBN 0-8122-1379-3. OCLC 24247436.
- Cally Returns b7media.
- Stevens, Alan; Fiona Moore (2003). Liberation: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Blake's 7. Tolworth: Telos Publishing. ISBN 1-903889-54-5. OCLC 53394062.
- "Cally (Character) from "Blake's 7" (1978)," The Internet Movie Database
- Blake's 7 Productions' Blake's 7 - The Early Years: Cally