Intergalactic War (Blake's 7)
The Intergalactic War (or Andromedan War) is a fictional event in the Blake's 7 science fiction television series. Linking the second and third season, it represented a culmination of the second series' Star One plot thread.
The war was possibly the single most important event in the Blake's 7 series, shifting the series emphasis and seeing the largest turnover in the cast. In the fictional universe of the series, it was also a singular event, severely curtailing the power of the Terran Federation.
According to the episode "Pressure Point", thirty years before the series, the central Federation computer control, the massive computer banks that controlled transportation, communications and weather on hundreds of worlds, was relocated to a small planet orbiting an uncharted white dwarf (Countdown, Star One) where it would not be easily found. The empty control complex was left on Earth to serve as a target for resistance groups. The new control center, named Star One, was protected in a number of ways. It was placed in the outer edge of the Galaxy where the star density was low so that it could not be found accidentally. Servalan had knowledge of its location purged from the Federation ranks shortly before the beginning of the series (Gambit,Star One). A small crew elected to stay on Star One to devote their lives to maintaining the machines. They were rigorously conditioned against betrayal.
In the episode Star One, Orac speculated that an unstated time before the series (but presumably before the location of Star One was erased), a scout ship from the nearby Andromeda Galaxy had appeared. To protect the Galaxy, thousands of anti-matter space mines were slowly placed between Star One and Andromeda as well as at other strategic points in the Galaxy. (The logic of this precaution is debatable. Having come two million light years, an invasion force could simply have gone around and approached the planet by the same path as Liberator).
The quest to find Star One comprised a large part of the second series, with Blake traveling all over the Galaxy to find the location and deliver a decisive crippling blow to the corrupt Terran Federation. It also served, according to script editor Chris Boucher, as a way to edge Blake into a more fanatical direction, willing to perhaps kill thousands in his quest to destroy the Federation.
An unexpected plot twist was revealed in the second series' finale. When the Liberator crew arrived at Star One, they found that the Federation crew had been almost completely replaced by jellyfish-like aliens who were using morphing techniques to look human. It turned out that when Space Commander Travis had discovered the location of Star One, he revealed this information to an alien invasion fleet from the nearby Andromeda galaxy. They had sabotaged Star One, disrupting the entire Federation, and a massed an invasion fleet just outside the defence zone. Bitter and possibly insane, Travis returned to deactivate the defence zone personally, a "final act" against a humanity he now hated.
Jenna Stannis and Blake independently decided to fight alongside the Federation against the external threat. Jenna had Orac alert the Federation space command's strategic computers to the danger in Blake's name, passing along coordinates to Star One.
The aliens used Star One to create chaos throughout the Federation. Spaceships would crash into each other and severe weather conditions on many planets led to death and destruction. Military Supreme Commander Servalan took advantage of this in order to depose the President and seize power. When she received Jenna's message she believed it and commenced a "Red One Mobilisation", sending every ship in the vast Federation fleet to Star One from across the Galaxy.
Blake, Cally and Kerr Avon fought off the Andromedans and killed Travis, but not before one defence zone was deactivated. Blake ordered his crew to stop the sabotage of Star One so that humanity would have it to fight with. But one bomb went off killing the last of the human crew and damaging part of the station.
Wounded by Travis, Blake asked Avon to fight against the Andromedan fleet until the Federation arrived. Avon agreed and the Liberator stood alone against a 600-strong fleet charging through the hole in the defence screen, with the nearest Federation units just under an hour away at maximum speed.
The beginning of the battle between the Liberator and the Andromedan fleet constituted the second series finale and cliffhanger.
The history of the Intergalactic War is uncertain. No canonical narrative was ever given. Only highlights were shown in the third series premiere episode Aftermath and hints of the battle were given by characters throughout the third season. What is known, principally from the episode Aftermath is that:
- The entire Andromedan fleet was eventually destroyed
- 80% of the Federation fleet was also destroyed, including the Star One facility
- A large part of the battle took place near Sarran, which would presumably be far removed from the isolated Star One where the war began
- The Liberator was severely damaged and had to be abandoned late in the fighting
- The fight lasted long enough for many independent ships, such as Del Tarrant's, to get involved in the fighting (Powerplay);
- The Andromedans, at one point, used biological weapons against humanity (Children of Auron), an act that would imply a protracted conflict.
The series did make clear that the Federation prevailed but at staggering cost in ships and men - over 80% of the fleet was destroyed. A Federation officer stated that the only reason they won at all was because they outnumbered the Andromedans. And the survivors faced other dangers, such as hostile natives (Aftermath) and an organ bank stocking up its reserves from the survivors (Powerplay).
In Aftermath, Avon said, "It's difficult to maintain a military dictatorship when you've lost most of the military." The third and fourth series would show a severely weakened Federation. Servalan would be deposed as President by the fourth series and the Federation would only build its power back when new mind-controlling drugs were introduced (Traitor).
Impact on the Series
After two seasons of focused attacks against the Federation, the pyrrhic victory at Star One shifted the tone of the series. It became more focused on stand-alone science-fiction adventures with Servalan and the Federation reduced to recurring villains. Toward the end of the fourth series, the Federation was rebuilding its power (Traitor) with Avon attempting to organise resistance (Warlord).
The war also saw a large turnover in the cast, with Blake, Jenna and Travis departing the show, Dayna Mellanby and Del Tarrant joining and Avon taking over the lead role, a point emphasised by his being the primary character in Aftermath.
Notes and references
- Attwood, Tony (1983). "Interviews". Blake's 7: The Programme Guide. England: Target. pp. p179–180. ISBN 0-426-19449-7.