B7 Classic: Avon – My Terrible Aspect by Purple Cleric

Avon – My Terrible Aspect
Purple Cleric

After 30 years of watching and re-watching our beloved Blakes 7, every fan builds a picture in their mind's eye of the characters and the world they inhabit. These are informed, not only by canon, but their own particular views and experiences, creating a very personal 'fanon'. Here's a peek into mine, featuring a character very close to my heart (and other places!).

Before The Way Back
Avon is solitary, somewhat isolated, working and living alone, independent. Not for him, the camaraderie of a team. He is not dysfunctional, just uninterested in anything irrelevant to his own self interests, including the law. He is socially adept enough to form brief alliances for mutual gain (eg Tynus) and is a true ‘player’. He is an Alpha class due to his high intelligence, not because of his family background.

Anna, on the other hand, is privileged, born to the highest social class. He sees her as a challenge. She sees him as a job initially, but it soon becomes a contest. Who will best whom? There’ll be plenty of sex but no romance or sentimentality. They use one another for pleasure and profit - financial, social and professional – and both enjoy the 'game'.

And after? There is a thwarted plan, something incomplete, and difficult changes in his circumstances: prison, trial, exile, escape. He is not so callous that he does not feel disturbed that she was tortured and he survived, but keeps that, like regret, a small part of his life – after all, he is a survivor.

Series One and Two
For the first time, Avon has to live and work in close confines with a small team. He finds this uncomfortable and difficult. He needs to be aloof and remain distant to keep a sense of himself. But he is forced into learning to rely on others, because dependability will ensure his survival – however alien it may feel. He is learning, reluctantly, about trust, but fighting to retain his own individual independence – hence “doing the right thing for the wrong reasons”. He is also finding (perhaps for the first time) a 'family' - albeit dysfunctional; a place where he might not always be welcomed, but is always accepted. He takes pleasure in his intellectual superiority. He begins to develop a personal form of a moral compass (but not true North) and from there, some sense of obligation and responsibility for others.

Blake and Avon (S1 & 2)
Two alpha males with differing philosophies. They very quickly got the measure of each other, but what surprised both of them was the depth of mutual understanding they had of each other. For example, Avon's accurate assessment of Blake's actions in Duel, Blake’s wry grin when Avon brushes off Blake’s attempt to draw Avon out on the subject of Anna in Countdown.

Because of this understanding a bond forms – another first for Avon. This sense of connectedness leads to instances like Avon’s instinctive support when Blake discovers the empty room in Pressure Point and some moments of shared humour and genuine warmth. This is terrifying for Avon, whose entire sense of self is built around the premise of trusting no-one, and that only in emotional isolation will he find peace and security. This connection with Blake has created a crack in his foundations; he both fears his loss of self and dares to imagine a different self. Trapped in the conflict, feeling compromised and vulnerable, it is no wonder he expresses a wish to be free of Blake.

Confronting the wounded Blake in the corridor after Star One, he lashes out in an attempt to maintain some distance: “Couldn't you bring yourself to trust me just this once?”

Blake, the unrepentant manipulator, knows just what to say to elicit the response he needs. “For what it is worth, I have always trusted you - from the very beginning.”

For a moment, Avon’s facade slips. We see his need, his fear; we see him balance on the precipice and see him take the leap of faith - before the mask drops back into place. Believing in that trust, feeling it, Avon allows the hero in himself to rise and takes up Blake’s mantle, leading the crew into battle.

And what of the rest of the crew?

Jenna's smuggling background and pilot skills could have made her a useful ally – but she has hopes and dreams and sees Blake, from the beginning, as inspirational, making him suspicious of her. He respects her, he does not underestimate her – but there is no trust. Sex? Perhaps to scratch an itch, but no romance.

Vila has useful skills and no 'front'. Avon verbally spars with Blake to exert influence and retain independence but he spars with Vila for fun. He enjoys the banter as he is in no danger of losing 'face'. Avon enjoys the superiority. They have mutual interests in money and self preservation. He has little respect for Vila but is tolerant of his weaknesses. While Vila is not a player, he recognises and appreciates the 'game'.

Avon sees no benefit to himself from Gan – he is just there to be used.

There is admiration, initially, of Cally’s warrior skills and curiosity about her, as an alien. Respect develops as he realises that although she understands him and his motivations only too well, she is careful never to force the issue or to take advantage of that knowledge. Sex – no, he’s too wary of her intuition. ("I’m interested in your work" - considering, a bit flattered, suspicious then rejecting the idea. “Better see what Blake wants”)

Del Grant
“Because she was your sister.”
While Avon is egocentric, he is not without some understanding of other's needs and expectations. He just doesn't see why he should fulfil them if it doesn't suit him. It's expedient to use words and the situation to bring a truce - after all, Del could be useful to him one day and he really doesn't want to get shot.

And on to Series Three...
He got what he wanted – the Liberator! But not without complications – there’s the crew and their expectations, the unwelcome responsibilities of leadership. It's too late to cast off this newly developed (although slightly dubious) conscience. It begins with Hal's death and the implied trust in Avon to take care of Dayna, and then the struggle to retake the Liberator. There are new crew members and new dynamics to assimilate; a need to assert himself and re-establish his place again. Another dysfunctional family forms:

Avon – father figure – distant, authoritarian
Cally – mother substitute - compassionate and nurturing
Vila – disreputable uncle
Tarrant – teenage son – vying with his ‘father’ to establish his own place
Dayna – little princess

He uses Cally's understanding of him to manipulate the alien in Sarcophagus.
He displays increased verbal, physical and sexual intimidation as he feels the need to exert his authority.

Rumours of Death
This is unfinished business. No longer tied to the ‘cause’ and somewhat rudderless, personal issues re-emerge - revenge for Anna. This is not out of sentimentality for a lost love – she was someone he enjoyed and a valuable ally – but she had been harshly abused and he had been bested. Survivor's guilt rears its ugly head. He trusts Vila (and Vila willingly complies) with the preparations of the cave. Their mutual affinities have deepened into an odd form of friendship – all Avon will allow himself after the loss of Blake. The rest of the crew buy the ‘lost love’ story and he lets them believe – it ensures their co-operation. The torture at the hands of Shrinker assuages the guilt, somewhat. He feels anger on discovering about Bartolomew – this is now becoming his own personal crusade, ironic as he was so disparaging of Blake's.

Then the betrayal. He is not heartbroken; he feels anger and bitterness at the player being so masterfully played, that he didn't see it coming. “I did not recognise the fool.”

“You never let me go.” This was always unfinished business – and piles on more survivor's guilt.

The development of Avon into a more conventionally well-rounded personality that develops over Series1 and 2 was already beginning to come undone before Rumours of Death – stress, responsibilities, challenges to his authority, conflict between his needs and the needs of the crew. Rumours is a major fracture in that process – what he believed, knew, was not correct – he had been manipulated and he's pissed off.

Anger combined with an element of self doubt (how could he be wrong?) and the accumulating stress, the added factor of having gained the Liberator but still not his independence, means that when the call comes from Blake, he's ripe for that intervention. There’s a flutter of hope, a chance to hand over this whole sorry mess and an opportunity to regain his sense of self. He is snappy and secretive with the rest of the crew because he wants and needs this so badly that he cannot allow any chance for interference.

No wonder he smiles at the end – another nail thuds in the coffin. What else can you do?

Oh, the games people play! And how masterfully these two play... Sex – hell, yes! But romance or mutuality? No – either would kill the other in a heartbeat. But it’s fun playing – and there's not much fun to be had in Blakes 7.

And then there's Series 4...
The season of desperation. Cally's death (perhaps the only person left who could keep his moral compass vaguely pointing North) adds yet another dose of survivor's guilt. There is only Vila left from those early days – a reminder of what was and who he could have been, who he almost became. The hero in him has died.

And there’s the sense of failure. There’s the inadequate ship, the grinding, relentless reality of needing supplies and parts; just trying to survive. Depression sets in; he wears heavier clothing - armour to protect what's left of himself. There’s the mask he wears – a caricature of his earlier self. He is crueler, less tolerant and more aggressive. His humour, often wicked, is now brittle with an edge of hysteria.

Orbit - the final straw. He struggles with the decision, but only briefly. He coldly, clearly sees himself - and self preservation is all that is left. In one calculated comment, he destroys the last bonds of true friendship.

Warlord is a last ditch attempt to redeem himself. After that failure, there is no option but to run - run to the first, perhaps only, person who had truly believed in him, who had trusted him and from whom he had learned to trust.

Oh, the delicious irony! Avon, who through four tortuous years had learned about trust and become a believer, who needed Blake to restore his own faith in himself - encounters a Blake who has lost faith, become suspicious and unwilling to trust...

There is no post Gauda Prime for me – they all die.

This article was originally published on Horizon's previous websites and has been updated by the author.

· Posted by Travisina on 25 December 2014 3601 reads