The Liberator’s sensors pick up a ship, Ortega, which is drifting in a circular pattern. After getting no response from their hailing call, Blake, Avon and Cally teleport over to investigate. They find the entire crew unconscious, incapacitated by a tranquilising gas called Sono Vapour. Once roused, Blake and the others question the crew.
Dr Kendall (Barry Jackson) believes that somebody is attempting to steal an energy refactor which they are taking back to their planet, Destiny. Destiny depends on agriculture for its survival and has been hit hard by a fungal disease. The energy refactor will eliminate this problem, but without it Destiny is doomed.
The sabotage aboard the ship means that they won’t reach home for five months, so Blake offers to take the refactor in the Liberator (this will only take four days). The crew agree and Avon and Cally remain behind as hostages. As the Ortega slowly drifts along, there is another death – and Avon finds himself in the unfamiliar role of detective as he unravels the mystery ….
Nobody’s favourite story, Mission from Destiny is a rather dull murder-mystery. It does boast a decent supporting cast though – Barry Jackson, Stephen Tate, Beth Morris, John Leeson, Brian Capron, Nigel Humphreys, Carl Forgione, Kate Coleridge – most of whom are familiar television faces. The problem is that most of their characters are only sketchily drawn, so it’s hard to invest a great deal of interest in their fate.
This week’s plot contrivance, which keeps the Liberator crew involved in the plot, is the MacGuffin-like energy refactor. Without it, it’s hard to imagine Avon sticking around (he admits that “I don’t care if their whole planet turns into a mushroom”). Although in the next breath he does tell Cally he’s staying because he doesn’t like an unsolved mystery. This is rather uncharacteristic – until now, Avon has appeared to be motivated mainly by self interest.
Whatever the reason, Avon and Cally begin to investigate the crew. It’s the first time that Avon and Cally have teamed up and Darrow and Chappell’s interaction helps to lift the episode. There aren’t that many quotable lines in the story, but I do like this short exchange –
CALLY: My people have a saying, a man who trusts can never be betrayed, only mistaken.
AVON: Life expectancy must be fairly short among your people.
Avon also gets to demonstrate the special way he has with women, when he punches Sara, played by Beth Morris. “You’d better get her out of here, I really rather enjoyed that.”
Despite the strong supporting cast, most of the performances are perfunctory at best. Nigel Humphreys and Stephen Tate spend most of the time skulking around in a suspicious manner, John Leeson appears to be friendly and helpful, Beth Morris is hysterical and tearful, whilst the others don’t seem to have any particular personalities at all.
Mission to Destiny reuses the spaceship set from Space Fall, suitably redressed, so it was obviously planned as one of the cheaper series one episodes. It’s therefore odd that some of the interiors were shot on film at Ealing. This would be understandable if there were explosions or other effects, but there’s nothing of this type – so it seems an unnecessary expense.
I noted that in The Way Back that Dudley Simpson’s music was on the sparse side, but that’s not an observation that can be made of this episode’s score. Like most of Simpson’s work on Doctor Who and Blakes 7 around this period, it’s very much a case of Dudley’s Greatest Hits. Many of the cues are very familiar (it has more than a hint of Spearhead from Space, for example), but since there’s stretches where not much of interest occurs on screen, playing spot the cue does help to pass the time.
Somewhat of a filler episode then, particularly since it’s sandwiched between two key Blake/Travis showdowns.