INT: COCKPIT OF A SHIP THAT LOOKS STRANGELY SIMILAR TO THE ONE FROM ‘SPACEFALL’, NO SIGN OF MAIN CAST.
The pilot or navigator fills in what he thinks is an insurance form while waiting for the cockpit door to open and the camerawoman to walk in.
‘Pre-existing conditions? Assumption of risk? Foam allergies?’
He reads it again, confused. Then reads the title of the form and looks even more confused.
‘Was this handwritten?’ he asks the lighting guy.
The lighting guy shrugs.
Terry Nation emerges from behind a nearby console and grabs the form out of the pilot’s hand.
‘Hey, I’m not done yet…’
‘But you gave it to me…’
The director shouts at Terry Nation to get out of the shot, so he ducks behind the console.
The scene keeps rolling, the door opens, the pilot turns to the camerawoman, supresses the urge to say ‘know how to turn that on luv?’ and instead says, ‘I’m glad you’re here, I could use the company.’
The camerawoman hits him on the arm with a spanner [she was aiming for the head] and he falls down, bleeding. Then she trashes the ship’s controls, picturing Jim Davidson’s face as she does so.
SWITCH TO –
INT: LIBERATOR BRIDGE
Blake and Jenna are staring at the main display, intrigued.
‘So, what do you think?’ Jenna asks.
Blake folds his arms.
‘You and Callie came up with this?’
Blake unfolds then refolds his arms. Beneath his perm, he ponders. Their plan is actually quite good. But if I praise it, Jenna might start wearing sweaters. Heavy Jackets. Turtle necks. She might start quoting Russ. No, resist. Gotta keep that zip low.
‘Well…it has some flaws…and it’s not very Zapata-ist…’
‘…but if you leave it with me, I believe I can iron them out. Maybe re-tool the whole thing, add a few floor glides, a power plant, Blake/Avon tension…should be good to go around…season 5?’
‘That’s a long time to wait…’
‘Perfect planning takes time.’
‘Não deve demorar muito tempo…’
‘Parece que você está tentando evitar usar nosso plano…’
‘Are you speaking Spanish?’
Jenna grumbles to herself, also folding her arms.
‘Ah…I see you’re picking up some of my leadership traits…’
Jenna unfolds her arms.
‘Ha, I do that too.’
Something buzzes on the console.
‘Lunch? asks Blake, folding his arms again.
‘Zen’s picked up a ship on sensors. It seems to be stuck in a loop.’
‘Orbiting a planet?’
‘No. Just in the middle of space.’
‘It’s a galaxy class ship…must be at least 50 years old…’
‘Galaxy class? Do we go that far?’
‘Unknown. Could be a case of imperialistic posturing…’
‘To whom?’ Blake corrects himself.
Jenna frowns harder.
‘To whoever thinks of opposing the Federation. Internally or externally.’
‘The Andromeda vacuum fleet!’
Jenna ignores his manic glee and pretends to tap buttons. ‘I think we should go over to the looping ship and check it out. Someone there might need our help. If not, we can raid and pillage.’
‘Might be some toblerones…’
Blake claps his hands together. ‘Jenna, let’s do it. Tell Avon and…err…let’s go with Callie…tell Avon and Callie to get to the teleporter room, and Vila too.’
‘Tell them yourself.’
‘They’re over there on the couch.’
Blake glances over and sees Avon with a bottle of White Horse in hand, grinning at him. Nearby is Vila, trousers pulled down to his knees, asleep.
‘Have you been there all this time?’
‘Hi Blake…’ Avon waves.
‘Paul…Avon…we need to go to that ship.’
‘I wanna ship…side on.’
‘Yes, but first we need to get off this set so the director can say cut.’
‘Dig me outta couch…dig me out, Blake…’
Blake runs over to the couch, pulls Vila’s trousers up, slaps Avon in the face, throws him over his shoulder and carries him off set.
Jenna remains in her usual spot, staring at the main screen.
The cameraman walks closer to her, then edges round the side, keeping the camera focused on her top half.
This goes on for another two minutes.
Finally, Jenna snaps and asks the director if the scene is done.
‘But nothing’s happening…’
Jenna rolls her eyes, going through the two possibilities for this over-run. One, the cameraman is trying to ascertain the size of her chest. Two, the show is contractually obliged to give her a certain amount of screen-time per episode and, as she’s not going over to the other ship, they need this extended shot to reach the quota.
It’s the first one, says a whispering voice in her head.
They don’t give a shit about your contract.
Not one shit.
Get used to that console.
Blake, Avon and Callie teleport over to the other ship and are slightly disappointed to see that it looks like a prison classroom.
‘Empty,’ says Avon.
‘This is one room.’
‘And it’s empty.’
‘What about the rest of the ship?’
Blake puts his hand out in front of his perm. ‘No, someone’s here. The air-con’s on.’
‘I feel a bit sick…’
‘And look…’ adds Callie, stretching out a roll of paper that they forgot to add futuristic glitter to, ‘this has been updated recently.’
‘There’s a funny smell too…like an Irish pub the day after…’
‘There is no day after…’ says Avon, retching.
‘No, it’s…sickly sweet…grr, I can’t place it.’
Callie checks her watch. ‘Fuck this room. Let’s explore the rest of the ship, find the crew, get their names and try to frame shots to avoid revealing that the blonde girl is the murderer.’
Blake and Callie walk down a corridor, checking some doors.
Blake holds out a hand to stop Callie. She looks down and breaks into a smile. ‘Your hand…is in a neutral area.’
‘Sorry…I’m used to Jenna.’
‘Joking. I’m a new man. An 80’s man. The 70’s are for Neanderthals.’
Callie loses the smile, looking ahead to the next door.
‘Actually,’ continues Blake, ‘when you think about it, I was originally a good guy, when I was a kid, then society turned me into a perv, and now that I’m fully entrenched in character…my future rebel leader character…I can be my original self again. Polite in public, feisty in the bedroom, unconscionable in dark alleys.’
Blake’s eyes light up and he jumps into the room, ready to argue that ‘on camera’ is not always the same as ‘in public’, especially if you know all the crew.
Callie is bending down next to a man and a woman, both zonked out on a bed.
Blake starts taking off his shirt.
‘I think they’ve been drugged…’ Callie turns round, rubbing her head. ‘Blake…what are you doing?’
‘This is ridiculous.’
‘Jenna said you were like this. One minute polite, the next caveman. Can’t you just pretend that you’re a decent guy for once? Or play your character at least?’
Blake’s face freezes, half-child, half white cop.
‘Jesus…you’re Blake, not Gareth…do you not have any acting ability at all?’
A trigger goes off in Blake’s head.
Terry Nation pulls a control pad out of his jacket pocket and presses a black button repeatedly, but it doesn’t work.
‘Callie…where am I?’ asks Blake. ‘What is this? Why am I topless?’
‘You were trying to initiate sex.’
‘That’s…unprofessional. Why would I do that? I’m an actor, a trained RSC actor…’
‘You do it a lot.’
‘You usually use cultural hegemony as a disclaimer…’
‘No…I can’t be that bad…’
‘It’s true. There are days that the Liberator feels like a building site.’
Blake’s eyes balloon. ‘Classist!’
‘My dad’s friend was a builder…and four of his sons…they wouldn’t even say the word ‘tits’…even if a big tits woman was passing by…nicest guys you’ll ever meet.’
‘Okay, okay. Let’s just…get your shirt back on and deal with the plot, okay?’
Blake puts his shirt back on and checks the drugged woman’s pulse. ‘She’s been knocked out by sono-gas…’
‘A type of gas that vulture capitalists use on 8 year old Indian kids.’
‘It’s coming from the air vent…’
Blake wanders over and touches the vent. Something breaks and falls off. He tries to kick it under the desk, fails and goes back to the script.
‘You’re right, I can feel the air flow.’
‘Is it broken?’ asks Callie, looking at the piece on the floor.
‘Yes, we must stop the flow and then wait for everyone to wake up. You wait here, I’ll slide down a few corridors until they build the new set.’
Blake turns to leave, then stops.
‘Callie…I just want to say…that the Blake who’s been sleazing around the first half of this season…is gone. He will not be coming back. I promise you.’
‘No more naked stretching in the sauna?’
‘No. Never again.’
Callie smiles until Blake leaves then turns back to the bed, where the drugged man with the all-over beard is grinning at her.
‘Nice tracksuit…’ he says.
‘Please don’t grin like that.’
‘Mind if I climb in there with you…off camera of course.’
Callie looks down at the blonde woman, still pretending to be asleep.
‘Don’t bother with her, she’s Lutheran.’
‘Apparently their vaginas are acidic.’
Callie stifles a laugh.
‘What? You game or not?’
‘Sorry, I’m also Lutheran.’
The man looks disappointed for a moment then brings back his smile. ‘How about a nose job?’
‘Rub your nose up and down my cock stem…’
Callie looks towards the door.
‘Don’t be coy, it’s a new Albanian thing. Endorsed by Hoxha himself.’
‘Your loss. Hey, where’s the blonde one who always stays on the ship?’
‘On the ship.’
Blake strolls, not slides, down a corridor and hears a noise from one of the rooms. He pulls out his twirly gun and aims it at the doorway [on someone else’s ship].
Avon staggers out and quickly tells Blake that the crew has been knocked out by sono gas.
‘I know, I found two others.’
‘Did you know it was sono gas?’
‘Yes, of course.’
‘Not at all. One of my ex-girlfriends used it on me when I grew my hair out.’
‘She used sono gas?’
‘Ja, a whole canister of it. Sono gas written in capitals on the side. Hit me pretty hard actually…’
Avon stares at Blake’s perm, sceptical.
‘On the temple…’
‘Look, this is dragging a bit…let’s go to the main filter room and turn off the gas.’
‘Instigate the Poirot aspect of the episode…yes, good idea.’
Meanwhile, Callie has escaped from the Albanian nose job guy and is wandering around the set, searching for her agent.
‘Agent, where are you?’
A door opens and the pilot staggers out, saying ‘argh’ before collapsing dead on the floor. As a guerrilla fighter, Callie takes it well, but then the blonde woman turns up and screams like a loon.
Ten minutes later, the crew of the ship is assembled in one room, ready to introduce themselves. One of them, Provane[?], manages to out-sleaze Blake by implying the ship’s doctor is frigid for not wanting to fuck him, while the others just fill out the background.
‘Why is this ship flying in a circle?’ asks Blake.
‘I don’t know, it doesn’t make sense,’ says the captain.
‘Where were you all when the pilot was killed?’
The camera goes to the blonde woman then the others, a neat trick to make you think that it can’t be her cos she was focused on first.
‘In our rooms,’ they all answer.
‘Anyone unaccounted for?’
‘The Danish guy…’
‘Then it must be him. Avon, release the hounds.’
‘Perhaps a better idea might be to look for him,’ says the captain, calmly.
‘Your ship, your call.’
The crew exits the room. Blake and Avon move closer to each other, waiting for the camera to zoom in on their faces before stroking things lower down.
‘You think one of them is a murderer?’ asks Blake.
‘There is another option,’ says Callie. ‘A stowaway did it.’
‘Yes, he could be hiding behind some of this cardboard.’
Avon walks to the door.
‘Where are you off to?’
‘Good plan. I’ll join you. Callie?’
‘I’ll stay here and try to engineer a close up.’
A little while later, Blake gets the call to get back on set and arrives at what he’s told is the escape pod area.
‘One of them is missing,’ says the captain.
‘That explains where the Danish guy went.’
‘But the pod cost 7 quid. Won’t get him further than Dorset.’
‘Farther,’ says Avon.
‘What did I say?’
‘Is that not right?’
‘Ignore him, he’s a Derrida fan.’ Blake grabs the captain by the shoulders. ‘Why would the Danish guy kill the pilot, set this ship on loop then piss off in a pod?’
‘It makes no sense…unless…’ Acting moment. ‘…it can’t be.’
CUT TO – ROOM THAT LOOKS LIKE EVERY OTHER
The captain opens a cheap-looking box and wipes his brow as he sees the remote control that will save their planet is still there.
‘This is high-level tech?’
‘Don’t touch it.’
‘We find it best not to let the camera get too close…ruins the illusion.’
‘It does look a bit prosaic.’
‘Anyway, this remote control is so important to the future of our colony that it’s basically unguarded on a ship that you can break by hitting a console with a spanner.’
‘I think there was a shot of wire cutting too…’
‘Yes, it was very thorough.’
‘Gods…why did we buy this thing?’
‘What do you mean?’
‘Nothing. Just…as we pulled up to your ship, I couldn’t help but notice that your ship exterior looked a bit like George Orwell’s forehead.’
‘I didn’t know that. They just shoved us in here, no notice…’
‘Look, this is all very Neo-Syndicalist but can we focus on the fact that the Danish guy is about to be found dead by Callie and these people need to get this remote control back to their planet before their farmers explode and…that I need to swan about the ship and work out who the murderer is before someone else does.’
‘Do you know who the murderer is?’
‘Possibly. I’ve narrowed it down to Provane, the lesbian doctor, the two guys I can’t remember the name of, the blonde woman, the all-over beard guy who Callie said demanded a nose job, Callie, Blake, you, or the pilot.’
‘So you don’t know?’
‘No idea. But when I do find out I’ll pretend that I knew all along.’
‘Fantastic. Now what about this remote control?’
‘No worries, we’ll fix your ship and you can get it back by the end of the year.’
‘That’s too late, our farmers will have been retrained as IT consultants by then.’
Blake strokes his perm.
‘Did you hear what I said?’ repeats the captain. ‘IT consultants…’
‘Right. How about I take it on my ship?’
‘Is your ship fast?’
‘Faster than Cyril Regis through a Kentucky church.’
‘Good. I’ll give it to you then. Any objections?’
‘That was easy.’
Just as the captain hands the box to Blake, the rest of the crew come down the corridor, stroking their bellies.
‘Chips, cheese and gravy…can’t fucking beat it.’
‘Guys…I’m giving the box to Blake so he can take it to the pawn shop.’
‘You’re okay with that?’
The camera zooms in on the blonde woman, then the others, ending on Provane. Someone elbows him in the gut, effectively turning him back on.
‘Give him the box? Fuck me, might as well hand over the whole bleeding planet…’
‘We don’t have any other choice.’
The crew raises their hands…their hand…its hands…and the ones with brains win 4-3.
‘Okay, Blake, here’s the box. Please don’t open or scan it before you speed off, it might sink the plot.’
Blake nods and beams out of there.
Callie and Avon stay where they are.
‘Looks like you’re our hostages…’ says Provane.
Avon smirks, grabs a pencil and stabs him in the neck. Blood spurts out, but not enough to kill him.
‘Paul…what are you doing?’ screams the director.
‘Playing my character, luv.’
‘You’re supposed to solve a mystery, not murder the main red herring.’
‘Avon would never accept that. He would pick out Provane as the main threat, disable him then solve the mystery. Granted, I could’ve done it without everyone else around, but the main theory is sound.’
‘Go get some rest, Paul.’
‘But I’m not-…’
‘Sleep. Strip Club. Anything.’
Avon slinks out of the room, leaving Callie behind to keep her hand over Provane’s neck wound.
‘God…your hand feels good…’ he says, grinning.
‘Don’t get any ideas.’
‘Ridiculous advice…I’m a man…full of ideas…’
‘…if this wasn’t the future, I’d already have the WD40 out…’
‘The doctor’s coming…’
‘…and be shoving a zucchini up your twa-…’
Callie takes her hand off the wound and walks out.
CUT TO – LIBERATOR BRIDGE
Blake stands a respectful distance away from Jenna and fills her in on what happened.
‘Sleazier than you? I can’t believe it.’
‘Believe it. I don’t even know what a nose job is.’
‘And now we have to take this box to their planet…Destiny?’
‘I’m not sure if Destiny’s the planet or their ship.’
‘But…oh no, look, there’s an asteroid field ahead!’
Both stare semi-dramatically at the main screen, seeing a smattering of pebbles flying their way.
‘Can we go around it?’ asks Blake.
‘Logically, yes. Narratively, no.’
‘Fota…it’s Portuguese for ‘fuck’.’
‘I’m no expert, but isn’t that foda?’
‘Okay…well…we don’t have time to go around so we’ll probably have to go through it.’
‘Is that dangerous?’
‘Will we survive?’
‘Then let’s go.’
‘Was that you?’ Blake asks Jenna, who shakes her head.
‘Is that asteroid gah?’ Vila pulls himself up off the couch and rubs his eyes. ‘Why are they always so packed together? Isn’t space really big?’
A nearby console opens up and Terry Nation rises up. He thinks about explaining things, but decides it’s too much work so just drags Vila off-screen instead.
‘That takes care of that,’ says Blake, turning to Jenna.
Please don’t say anything, thinks Jenna, staring at the console in front of her.
‘Just the two of us now…alone in a figurative dark alley.’
Blake glances over to the main corridor and sees Gan walking onto the bridge, Daily Mirror tucked under his arm.
‘Gan…’ cries Jenna.
‘Just had a double dump. Ready for action now.’
‘Good,’ says Blake. ‘We have to take this box back to a planet somewhere.’
‘What do you want me to do?’
‘Sit on the couch.’
‘Any expression or posture…’
‘Mild concern, but overall fealty to me,’ replies Blake.
Gan walks to the couch, sits down, looks at the main screen and mimics a fishmonger who’s just seen a fish on wheels setting fire to an elderly racist who at the end of the day probably had it coming.
‘That’s RSC standard, Gan…excellent stuff…’
‘I haven’t done anything yet.’
Gan holds up a finger, breathes deep then changes his face to a crushed dumpling.
Blake strokes his perm, unsure what to say.
‘Fota,’ whispers Jenna.
CUT TO – THE OTHER SHIP
Avon rambles around the navigation room while Callie tries to make the place look respectable.
‘I can’t put my finger on it…’ he mutters to himself.
‘It was the blonde woman.’
‘Who would stand to gain the most from all this? Why put the ship in a loop?’
‘I don’t know, Avon. I’m just a telepath.’
Avon hits the console in anger and frustration.
‘That’s another 80 quid…’ Callie says under her breath.
‘It’s no good. We’ll just have to wait until someone else turns up dead…’
A scream comes from nearby.
There’s some murmuring behind the cameras, someone whispering ‘it’s supposed to be a big ship’ before a buzzing noise breaks the tension.
Avon picks up something that looks vaguely electric and says ‘yes?’
‘You better get down here.’
‘I can’t say.’
‘I’m right, aren’t I?’
‘You’re fucking up the transition…’
CUT TO – A ROOM THAT HAS SOMETHING RESEMBLING A GIANT HEATING TANK IN IT OR AT LEAST THAT’S WHAT I REMEMBER, COULD BE WRONG
Avon examines the all-over beard of the dead man, marvelling at its intricacy.
Nearby, two of the forgettables are restraining the lead perv, Provane, who’s shouting that he didn’t do anything.
‘Then why were you holding the knife?’
‘I saw it on the floor, next to his body. Then the blonde woman came out from behind the heating tank and said I killed him.’
‘Take him away.’
‘Down the hall, Featureless Room 2.’
Provane is dragged away as Avon and the captain check out the corpse from some different angles.
‘Well…looks like you were right to try to kill him with a pencil.’
‘Yes, I was, but he didn’t murder anyone.’
Avon looks around, closes his eyes and waits for the director to say cut. It doesn’t happen so he opens his eyes again and tells the captain to gather everyone in the room with two tables so he can do some mirror writing.
CUT TO – ROOM WITH TWO TABLES
Avon walks around the room, staring down each suspect, recapping the events leading up to this moment, as well as other events that happened off-camera, for example, his visit to the hospital, his charming of Provane, the chips, cheese and gravy that convinced him not to press charges…
…finally he gets to the crux of it.
‘People…the pilot wrote a message that we all thought was a series of numbers…but if you write it out slowly on a piece of paper…with our backs turned to the woman I know to be the murderer then…aha, it’s her, blonde woman!’
They all spin round.
The Blonde woman is holding a gun, smirking.
‘Series of numbers woman…why?’ asks the captain.
‘My planet is a shit hole, full of farmers. Conservative farmers.’
‘But they’re our fellow citizens…’
‘Ha! I’d dump them all on Stoke 4 if I could…if we had halfway decent spaceships…’
Avon folds his arms, amused. ‘You put the ship in a loop cos you’re expecting a buyer to turn up. That means you have the remote control. Which therefore means that our clown leader only took the fucking box…’
‘God damn you, Blake.’
‘Now, if you don’t mind, I’ll be going to the navigation room to wait for the buyers. First perm to stick itself out of this room gets shot. Okay?’
The blonde woman runs off.
Avon shakes his head and tells the others to get after her.
They get after her.
CUT TO – LIBERATOR BRIDGE
The Liberator cruises through the scientifically unlikely asteroid belt without shields. Jenna presses some buttons which make no difference whatsoever.
‘Nice finger work, Jenna,’ shouts Blake, giving her a thumbs up.
She panics and the ship gets pummelled, causing the box to fall on the floor. Blake picks it up and looks inside.
‘A box of nothing…’ says Gan.
‘Oh no…’ mutters Blake.
‘Gan…your feet are…same size as my head,’ slurs Vila, still drunk, still hanging off the couch.
CUT TO – OTHER SHIP
The blonde woman waits in the navigation room, dreaming of the 80’s, a beach on a remote island where the poverty rate is zero on the beach and apocalyptic everywhere else, when suddenly, there are gunshots. Or laser shots.
Some of the crew shout and make dying noises then everything falls silent.
The blonde woman gets up, walks out into the corridor, refuses to cover a nearby door that is concealing Avon, gets ambushed, puts up a surprisingly good fight before getting slapped gestapo style by our favourite sociopath.
‘You better get her outta here…I really rather enjoyed that.’
The two men who were pretending to be dead take her off-camera and ask if she wants to go down to the snooker hall.
‘Who else will be there?’
‘Potential actresses…one day…’
Before she can say anything, the director says cut and tells her to go back to the start of the scene, or at least to the part where Avon ambushes her.
She goes back and wrestles Avon again, this time getting slapped with a bit of nail.
‘Again…’ shouts the director.
Avon grabs the blonde woman and tells her it’s nothing, he did Macbeth with Brian Blessed and almost had his throat ripped out.
The woman growls.
CUT TO – LIBERATOR BRIDGE
Blake and the rest of the crew, including the ones from the other ship, watch the buyer’s ship dock with the other ship and explode.
Blake laughs maniacally.
‘What happened?’ asks Callie.
‘I rigged the hatch to explode.’
‘You murdered them?’
‘But we have the remote control…’ says the captain, in shock. ‘There was no need to kill them.’
Blake stares at the main screen until the captain stops waiting for a response.
‘Right people, back to work.’
Jenna raises her hand.
‘Are you ready to look at mine and Callie’s plan again?’
‘No, no…season 5, remember?’
‘Next episode, what is it? Ah, duel with the eyepatch twat. Great stuff. Who wants a drink?’
‘That’s two. Anyone else?’
No one says anything, they’re too busy waiting for the scene to cut, but it doesn’t happen so Blake fills the awkwardness by switching on some REBEL TV.
The main screen comes alive, showing shock troops beating the shit out of young people, old people, hairy people, boring people, supple people, with a journalist managing to get close to the camera and spit out ‘they started it, just like on Mastin 7’ before being clocked on the head.
‘Fota de dia! I knew this episode was a mistake…murder on the orient express…who gives a fuck? People are dying, the Federation is out of control, shock troops…’
A small duck waddles into view on the main screen, making a few quacking noises before being tear-gassed and beheaded by a random cop.
Blake throws the remote control at Gan’s head, yelling at Zen to go to standard by 9 immediately and arm all torpedoes.
‘Please state destination and target.’
‘Wherever that is…’ Blake says pointing at the screen.
‘I don’t know.’
‘Looks a bit like Hull,’ says Gan, squinting.
Blake roars in Mexican, grabs Gan by the collar and says, ‘do something.’
‘I’ve just woken up, mate.’
‘Leave him alone, Blake…before he pummels you.’
‘I’m Zapata-based…he wouldn’t dare.’
‘You’re right,’ says Gan, ‘I’m not a violent guy. I can’t be, it’s my backstory. I killed someone, see. A federation guard. He killed my woman, so I killed him. Then they put a chip in my-…’
‘Can I go now?’ asks Jenna.
‘And me?’ asks Callie.
Blake holds up an arm and, consequently, a gigantic sleeve.
‘We can’t go?’
‘Let’s see what FEDERATION TV is saying about this…’
He switches the channel, eyes narrowing instinctively.
‘…rioters and terrorists who set fire to a baby, and it’s mum, and then attempted to groom the surviving sister…horrific stuff, all witnessed by our cops, who actually cried when they saw what was happening…’
Blake picks up a glass and throws it at Vila.
‘Hull! Standard by twelve.’