Countdown is one of my favourite Blakes 7 episodes, probably my most favourite out of the whole of the first two seasons. I have already reviewed it here but that was in 2010 which was a long time ago, and anyway this post will have more pictures of Avon in it!
Obviously that's not Avon; that's Space Major Provine, the baddy for this episode. He is played by Paul Shelley (who was also really good in Secret Army, which was made around the same time as this) and manages to be almost as good at being a baddy in this one episode as Travis manages in the whole season.
Blake is looking for Space Major Provine to tell him about Star One, but that plotline occupies very little of the episode. Most of it is about trying to stop Space Major Provine's bomb that will blow the planet up, and that job is up to Avon. It is made even more complicated when Avon meets Del Grant, played by Tom CHAAAAADBON! Del Grant has not been in Blakes 7 before, or even mentioned before this episode, but the two actors instantly convey their shared backstory through their facial expressions upon their first meeting.
But there isn't time for them to fight, or even to make up and have hugs and kiffs, because they have to work together to stop the bomb from blowing up the planet.
Blake looks a bit left out in the background there. I think this episode is where Paul Darrow really makes an effort to take over the series in his superlative acting in his scenes with Grant. He is helped by Terry Nation's script, which sees Avon and Grant work out their differences as they work together on the bomb.
They work very closely together. Blake would be jealous. Avon is very quiet as he explains to Grant what happened to him and Anna, Grant's sister.
Contrast that with the scene where Blake questions Space Major Provine. Gareth Thomas suddenly hams it up, as if it is Blake who is dying instead of Space Major Provine. Maybe he was just projecting his jealousy issues with Avon on to poor Space Major Provine?
Anyhow, Paul Shelley just about manages to salvage this scene, and Blake and Vila get the necessary exposition about Docholli and Star One from him to set up the story arc for the rest of season 2.
Avon seems to be enjoying himself, smiling (purr purr) as he puts himself in danger to help save the planet even when he doesn't need to. Not for the first time and not for the last.
The roof collapses on Avon and Grant, forcing them to get physically close together just as their shared experience has forced them to get emotionally close. They save the day and become good friends.
Back on the Liberator, instead of having hugs and kiffs they have a manly handshake to show how good friends they have become. Maybe they had hugs and kiffs offscreen?
But Avon's new friendship with Del Grant has created a coolness between him and Blake. Blake wants to know about Anna, but Avon is unwilling to share that with him.
The episode ends with them sharing a look, but something has changed between them. Avon's backstory has begun to come out, and things will never be the same again...