Kerr Avon – Paul Darrow
Vila Restal– Michael Keating
Cally – Jan Chappel
Del Tarrant – Steven Pacey
Dayna Mellanby – Josette Simon
Zen/ Orac – Peter Tuddenham
Servalan – Jacqueline Pearce
Airing 7 January 1980 Aftermath kicked off season 3, a season that took the show in a very different direction. Gone from the series were Gareth Thomas, Sally Knyvette, David Jackson and Brian Crouch, each written out or killed off. Thomas and Knyvette were the leads of the show and their decision to leave left the show without much of the show’s cast and raison detre. This season the focus shifted to Kerr Avon who took the lead protagonist role. Without Travis, the villain of the piece was former Supreme Commander and presently Federation President Servalan.
The series takes place in the aftermath of a galactic war, started at the end of season 2. The Federation is in pieces, the attacking aliens defeated and the crew of the Liberator is scattered. Avon, Cally, Villa and Orac return and are joined by naive, but lethal Dayna and the cocky space-pirate Tarrant. This new crew lacks the ongoing goals of the old one, some wanting revenge on Servalan, others just wanting some profit out of it all.
There’s a greater sense of fun to this series as well as an attempt to tell stories that aren’t Blake’s war on the Federation. Free from Blake’s shadow Avon becomes more of a leader, his loyalty to his team based on their skills rather than sentiment. His relationship with Servalan simmers with sexual tension and mutual admiration. These are both ambitious survivors who will stop at nothing to get what they want. Darrow and Pierce own their roles and play them with an understated charm, which swings wildly to scenery chewing quite easily. Dayna lacks consistent characterisation and Tarrant tries the whole season to take the ship and crew from Avon who has no time for the games and lets him be in charge, up until it’s time for him not to be. It’s interesting, but graes on you after a while. As well as feeling different, the show looks very different, the main Liberator set is the same, but the costumes vary episode by episode with varying degrees of success. The other returning cast members are at home with the roles, with Villa being exactly as he always was, a bit of a coward and the voice of regular folk in this show, but Cally adds a cynical resignation to her character, someone who has lost time and time again and doesn’t know how many more battles she has left in her, or even what she is fighting for.
It was an uneven season, with many lows and highs. It suffered due to the loss of Blake from Blake’s 7, but honestly not as much as it could have. His absence became a character as much as he had been for the last season and the difference was more than made up by giving Paul Darrow’s Avon more screen time. After building the team for a season it all seemed to come apart right at the end with Avon keeping the team in the dark, the Liberator and it’s AI Zen lost and the team stranded after learning after a year of wondering that Blake is indeed dead. All hope seems lost, but this was in keeping with how the series has been up to that point.
Before I watched the series, I was advised that season 2 was the peak, but I will be honest I found this season more enjoyable. It had a few twists, such as Cally being saved on a medical ship at the start of the season, only to find Servalan on it and the later ending up on a planet that used strangers as organ-banks for the rich. There were fun moments with Villa getting the girl, well for a little while. The villains were quite villainous, with Servalan wiping out the population of Cally’s homeworld in her quest to rebuild and expand the Terran Federation. Or Colin Baker showing up as a mad space-pirate who ended up blowing himself to pieces. There’s fun and a silliness to it. It remains not a good show, but being three quarters done, am invested and want to see how it all goes badly wrong for this plucky band of fairly reluctant rebels. I will go back for season 4 because without Gan, without Blake, without Jenna, without Zen and without the Liberator, I want to know what happens next and it’s always good when a show makes you feel that way.