The Trial of Roj Blake
S1EP03: Cygnus Alpha
There are three things that most fans remember about Blake in "Spacefall" and they all "seem" to make Blake look like a moral, compassionate 'hero' and a good leader. The first is his interaction with Avon and how he 'bested' Avon and understood him enough to manipulate him into doing the right thing in their two encounters. The second is Blake's willingness to give up in the computer room in order to save the prisoners. The third escaping the London in the Liberator.
Unfortunately, these opinions only hold true if everything else about the episode is ignored.
Did Blake best Avon and understand him? Let's look at their two interactions.
In the first meeting, Blake doesn't know who Avon is. Vila has to introduce them. So far, Avon hasn't shown any negative behavior, only helpful and social behavior in giving Blake information and engaging in a discussion with him. It's clear from Avon's knowledge and Vila's description of him that Avon is an Alpha like himself, and possibly a leader, or at least an expert who expects respect, just like Blake automatically expects others to listen and defer to him.
What is Blake's response to Avon's expertise? He bullies and intimidates him and turns the others against him. Note Blake's body language and actions during their first encounter. Blake never sits down while they're talking. He deliberately stands over Avon even though there is an empty chair next to him. Blake has no knowledge about Avon yet he claims to know that Avon, a white collar criminal, has had homicidal thoughts and would betray them all to save himself.
First, he insinuates that Avon is the only one who knows how to help the crew shaft them all. He deliberately stresses this until Avon, realizing Blake's vicious tactics, is fed up and walks away. Then, after Avon is gone, Blake sits in Avon's seat, 'replacing him,' 'dominating him' instead of the empty one that is handy, and tells the others he 'knows' Avon was thinking of helping the crew murder them all for money.
They just met. Blake doesn't know Avon and he chooses until after Avon leaves the table in order to say vicious things about him behind his back. How pleasant. Blake is a backstabber and very deliberately so, just to ensure that the others would never look to Avon as a leader.
We know Blake doesn't really think Avon is a threat as a murderer because when Vila tries to pursue it, Blake ignores him and talks about something else. If he truly thought Avon was any kind of danger, he would have done something about him. But Blake only went as far as to make sure that he had turned Vila and Jenna, his two followers, against Avon, to the point of influencing Vila to harbor homicidal thoughts. That fits in with another of Blake's agendas, turning his people into conscienceless murderers, just like he does with Vila later by teaching a man who hates weapons and hurting people to operate the most dangerous weapon on the Liberator, the neutron blasters. That is a horribly immoral thing to do. Vila already had a role on the ship. He was the thief. Blake didn't have to make him do something that is so against his conscience, but he did and not only that, he makes Vila view it as something fun. Vila was eager to use the neutron weapons and not once did he hesitate to commit acts of mass murder. What kind of twisted morality did Blake teach him to reduce the killing of a human being into a game, a simple pressing of a button?
Vila didn't have any impression Avon was a murderer, not until Blake made the insinuation. Jenna didn't like Avon, but she didn't think Avon had thought of it either until Blake mentioned it.
Blake turned Vila and Jenna against Avon, thereby ensuring that they would never trust Avon or look to him to be leader. Very diabolical of him, not to mention mean. To make those cruel insinuations on a ship full of criminals, some of whom wouldn't think about shoving a knife in your back for looking at them wrong, without any proof. That is despicable behavior from a so-called good man.
It explains why four months later Avon is keeping himself away from the other prisoners when at the beginning, before Blake's vicious smear campaign, he was still fairly sociable. And it also explains Avon's angry and vicious attitude towards Vila, Blake's little gossip who spread those lies about Avon throughout the ship.
Just imagine an entire ship full of people who don't trust you and who are hostile towards you. That was what Blake did to Avon. It's no wonder Avon has no desire to help any of them in the computer room. Not because he's an immoral, self-perserving man, but because of what they've done to him for four months. Still not noble, but it is understandable unlike Blake's completely selfish actions throughout this episode.
In the second encounter between Avon and Blake, Avon is keeping himself away from the others because they are now all hostile to him thanks to Blake and Vila. How much of Avon's negative relationship with the crew later is solely due to Blake's Machiavellian schemes to turn people against him and neutralize him as a leadership threat?
Blake realizes by this point that he needs Avon in order for his plan to succeed. This puts him in a weaker position and that is a position Blake refuses to be in. He comes in and immediately tries to obtain Avon's help by manipulating him and pushing Avon down. Avon knows what Blake is doing and calls him on it, telling Blake a better plan that he's had.
Now think about this. When someone needs help, does he naturally do so by manipulation or by treating the other person with respect and friendliness and ask for help?
Avon had already exhibited a helpful nature in their first conversation. When Blake asked a question, Avon gave him the information. That is what good, socially adjusted and pleasant people do. They do not start off a query of help with manipulation, not if you plan to treat the person with respect and as an equal and without any hostility. Manipulation is used as a hostile, dominating tactic and this is what Blake did to Avon.
In fact, when Avon calls Blake on this offensive behavior and tells him to stop, Blake becomes even meaner. He deliberately manipulates Avon again, and this time far more blatantly. This is tantamount to slapping Avon in the face and saying that I'm going to dominate you and I have no respect for you.
Avon is pissed off at this rude, aggressive and completely uncalled for behavior. And Blake's joke of a plan to gain Avon's help and to dominate him back fires, like most things he does. Avon then becomes resistant to everything Blake says, refuting every silly attempt at trying to put Avon in a weaker position and thus needing Blake. Avon knows they both need each other for their schemes to work and he knows Blake is trying to make Avon think that Avon is the one who needs him. After several bumbling attempts that Avon fights off, Avon realizes that Blake is too arrogant to accept Avon as an equal and too stupid to realize that his arguments make no sense.
Speaking of stupidity. When Avon says that he already has another plan (which he already stated when he talked about controlling the ship's computers), Blake again accuses Avon of thinking of helping the crew to murder the prisoners and he also supposedly 'cleverly' says that it wouldn't have taken Avon long to realize that it was an untenable plan.
Look at this logically, something which Blake obviously is incapable of. If you know that Avon would have realized this was a stupid idea, why on earth would you think he would still be thinking about this plan four months later! This is moronic logic. Avon gets so disgusted by this that he realizes logic won't work on Blake and he gives up trying to beat Blake with reasoning. He already knew he needed Blake in order to access the computer room and made that decision before Blake entered the room and Blake finally realizes this too, but he again arrogantly acts like he knew this all along, which he obviously didn't because of his feeble attempts so far.
Both of these conversations with Avon show what a despicable, dominating, arrogant man Blake is.
Now, let's go on to Blake's self-serving behavior, most of which appears to be ignored by most fans in favor of the single act which appears to be 'moral' and 'compassionate.'
'Appears to be' isn't used lightly because it is completely inconsistent with Blake's other behaviors in this episode or the next one. Character behaviors are usually consistent. Let's put Blake's actions into the context of his other ones.
First self-serving behavior. After Avon agrees to help by going through the tunnels to access the computer room, there is a disturbing development. The ship suffers a compression wave which punctures the hull and causes portions of it to fill with sealing foam which instantly hardens. They identify that anyone caught in the tunnels when this happens would be killed. There is no question about that, and the compression waves are still happening. Vila the coward expresses concern over this and suggests they wait until it's safer. Blake yells at him and refuses to because this is his best chance for his plan to succeed. He then asks Avon if he's ready. Note, he doesn't give Avon a choice to refuse or not, and especially not since Blake just yelled at Vila for even suggesting they delay. Blake is expecting Avon to go, he is only making certain Avon is ready technically. He is not taking no for an answer. More bullying behavior and extremely self-serving. Blake doesn't care if Avon has a good chance of dying, he only wants to make sure that his plan gets a chance.
Note another thing. Another reason Avon has no reason to care about the others. Not one of them expresses any concern, caring or appreciation that he's risking his lives so that the others will have a better chance. Yes, he is also doing it for himself, but nevertheless he's risking HIS life. That should count for something or at least engender some kind of human reaction, but nothing. Not for Avon. None of them care if he dies or not. In fact Blake is more than ready to sacrifice him just to give his own plan a better chance of succeeding, while he stays safely behind.
Why should Avon care about these heartless, self-serving people who have made his life a nightmare the past four months?
Next selfish act by Blake. After Avon turns the security cameras off and the guard is disabled, they have one gun. Guess who takes the gun for himself? You guessed it, Blake. Selfish much?
When Avon takes a long time to turn the scanners off, someone suggests sending someone after him through the dangerous tunnels. Note Blake's behavior. When he was working on his plan before, he was decisive, determined, refusing to let anyone stop him. When it wasn't that dangerous. Going through the tunnels before the compression waves might have been uncomfortable if he got caught. Hardly dangerous. What could they do to him other than confine him in his chair or a little punishment? They're already sending him to Cygnus Alpha. What else could they do to him?
But now that it's proven dangerous, that someone could die, Blake hems and haws. It's clear he's not only reluctant to risk his own neck to help Avon who might be in trouble, he's not about to go at all. Instead he lets Nova go. This is atypical Blake behavior. When he actually wants to do something, he lets nothing stop him and Blake, the control-freak, insists on going himself.
So Nova goes and gets killed. It was extremely dangerous, something they all knew and Avon was extremely lucky. This is also another indication of Blake's weakness as a leader, his inability to see the big picture or to think beyond a very narrow focus. Avon is a tech. He will be busy working on the computers. Any leader with half a brain would have sent someone with him. You cannot expect your most valuable technical resource to fight off the bad guys. You don't want to risk him and you can't expect him to do two things at once. Someone needed to watch the door and keep Avon safe. The reason why Avon was delayed was because of Blake's failure as a leader. If he had sent someone to back him up, a fighter, then Avon would have been able to work on the computers much earlier and keep to the schedule. But no, the self-serving and incompetent Blake nearly ruined it.
Blake claims to stay behind because he's needed to lead the others. But this obviously is a lie because the moment they leave the prisoner area, Blake sends them to find the armory and then he goes to find Avon in the computer room. He provides almost no leadership.
This is highly suspicious behavior. When he sent Avon to the computer room, he told Avon to disable the doors and scanners and then Blake would take care of the rest. But all of a sudden Blake goes to the computer room? Blake knows nothing about computers and his original plan was to take over the ship with the prisoners, to go to the armory. But he sends the defenceless prisoners to do that while he takes the gun to the computer room and enacts Avon's plan.
Avon had no idea Blake was going to use his plan, not his own. We know this because after he saved Blake and Jenna from being shot, he asked Blake what his plan was.
It is highly suggestive that Blake did not trust Avon and when he took so long in disabling the scanners and opening the doors that he was afraid Avon would take over the ship and Blake, with his megalomaniac personality, would not stand for that. He definitely didn't go to the computer room because of concern for Avon. He never mentioned any concern and he never shows any once he sees Avon with the computer tech unconscious on the floor.
So, two self-serving and controlling behaviors.
Next is when they are discovered and Raiker threatens to shoot the prisoners. He shoots one and threatens to shoot more. Note that Blake doesn't give up right away. He insists on talking to the captain even though Raiker has already shot one prisoner. Blake selfishly tries to pursue his own agenda knowing one prisoner has already been shot. Shades of the earlier scene when he refused to stop his agenda even though Avon stood a good chance of getting killed. It's only after the second prisoner gets shot that he gives up.
The act of giving up seems to redeem his self-serving behavior so far, but does a leopard change his spots so easily and was he being moral when he made that decision. The assumption was that it was a moral and human decision, unlike Avon's which was selfish and immoral. But is that an accurate assessment of their actions?
Has Blake suddenly developed a conscience and is now the hero? He hasn't been so far, but does this 'good' behavior continue after this point. The answer would be no. Blake continues his immoral and self-serving behavior without another hiccup. This is highly inconsistent. Or is it? Well, it would be inconsistent if we assume that giving up was for moral and compassionate reasons, but not if it wasn't.
But for what other reason would Blake give up? Because he realized that the plan was not going to work and that he might need the prisoners in his next plan. That is the only reason why he gave up and saved their lives. Not because he cared, but because they were tools he didn't want to lose. Not exactly a moral decision.
Why do we know this? Because after they give up and he, Avon and Jenna are confined to their chairs, Blake is already talking about his next plan. He feels sick, but note that he never once mentions the deaths of the other prisoners, or any regret that people died because of his failure as a leader. He has no conscience at all. He's going right into yet another plan.
This man who has caused the slaughter of his own rebel group, his own family and friends and now eleven prisoners, doesn't even hesitate to do it again. People who have a heart, a conscience, would doubt themselves and wonder if he had made a mistake or if he should go on since he already go so many people killed. Not Blake. It doesn't even phase him, definitely not long enough to reconsider any kind of plan now that it's even more dangerous. Not a blip. No hint of conscience. No guilt. Just regret that his plan failed.
Avon might not have been noble or moral in his behavior, but at least he had a good reason, anger at how the others treated him and their callous attitude and willingness to sacrifice his life for their own selfish plans. For him, it's a tit-for-tat. He already risked his own life while they all watched him do it, why shouldn't he expect the same from them?
Blake on the other hand has no excuse for his repeatedly self-serving behavior. He isn't more valuable or more special than anyone else. Why does he deserve to get the gun to protect himself. If he hadn't done that, most of the other prisoners would probably not have died. And what gives him the right to sacrifice Avon or Nova's life just to give his self-serving plan a better chance?
What gives him the right to sacrifice even more people on his idiotic schemes that keep getting people killed?
Of the entire crew in this episode, Blake was the most immoral and self-serving as well as the least social and the most dominating and arrogant.
This fanpage is for those who never believed Blake was a hero or even a nice guy. It is for those who
believe he was a self-serving, immoral, deceptive, Machiavellian villain who only fooled
others into believing he was a crusader in order to follow his bloody campaign of personal vengeance
against the Federation.
This page will examine all of Blake's stunts and study his actions and behavior within the context of the episode and the series.