The Secret Crossover Between Star Wars And Blake's 7S

Star Wars takes place long ago in a faraway galaxy, and the BBC's low-budget space opera Blake's 7 takes place in our dystopian future. So why does one badass bounty hunter appear in both series? It's obviously a crossover.

The eagle-eyed masterminds at Atomic Donkey #0 pointed out that you can see bounty hunter IG-88 in an episode of Blake's 7, "Dawn Of The Gods." He's in the scene where Vila is poking around in a scrapyard, and he's in the foreground of the image — almost as if he were laying in wait.

IG-88, of course, is one of the bounty hunters that Darth Vader deals with in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, along with Boba Fett. He's a sharp-shooting droid, and one of the deadliest bounty hunters in the entire galaxy. Here he is talking to Darth Vader, and hanging out with Boba Fett:

The Secret Crossover Between Star Wars And Blake's 7S

The Secret Crossover Between Star Wars And Blake's 7S

You can also spot IG-88 in the famous Cantina scene in the first Star Wars movie. (Presumably he's laying in wait for Han Solo, but Greedo gets to Han first, and then IG-88 doesn't have time to make his move.)

So how does IG-88 go from being one of Darth Vader's hand-picked manhunters to sitting in a trash-heap in Blake's 7? Here's the crucial screenshot, courtesy of Atomic Donkey #0:

The Secret Crossover Between Star Wars And Blake's 7S

The real answer is probably that Blake's 7 reused the prop from Shepperton studios. According to Atomic Donkey #0, that fearsome robot bounty hunter was originally made out of "a Derwent flame tube from an aircraft engine," repurposed to become the scourge of fugitives across the galaxy. And then later the Blake's 7 creators, ever eager to save money, probably dug through the garbage at Shepperton and found a perfectly good robot bounty hunter just laying around.

The Secret Crossover Between Star Wars And Blake's 7S

But that explanation is no fun, and it doesn't provide in-universe explanation for how IG-88 managed to traverse millions of lightyears and untold centuries, to find himself in the Blake's 7 universe. For that explanation, we must look elsewhere.

First of all, IG-88 was no ordinary bounty hunter — he's one of only two droid bounty hunters (along with 4-LOM), in an era where fighting droids are almost entirely out of operation. And according to the Wookieepedia, he's actually got four separate bodies with a single shared consciousness, for reasons that are too complicated to go into and which only exist in the Expanded Universe anyway. That explains how IG-88 can be hunting Han Solo in Star Wars, when Chewbacca comes across another IG-88 body in the robot garbage on Bespin in the same movie. Also, IG-88's main personality was only pretending to be a bounty hunter — he was attempting to foment a droid revolution. (According to the Expanded Universe, anyway.)

Add to that the fact that there are no droids (or androids, for that matter) in the Blake's 7 universe, and you start to see a bizarre pattern emerging. One which will scorch the walls of your brain like a Derwent flame tube. Blake's 7 has artificial intelligence — including the Liberator's onboard computer, Zen, the supercomputer Orac, and the Scorpio's flight computer Slave. But we almost never see machine intelligences attached to robotic bodies. Why is that?

The Secret Crossover Between Star Wars And Blake's 7

Consider, then, the fact that the Blake's 7 episode "Dawn Of The Gods" begins with Orac taking the starship Liberator outside of our universe altogether, via a risky slingshot maneuver into a black hole. Even for the notoriously cranky Orac, this is a weird move. (As Avon is fond of saying, "It is impolite to commit suicide while killing your friends.") Orac claims he wants to go through the black hole purely to gather information — but why is he so curious about black holes all of a sudden?

And if it's not just pure information-gathering, then what universe exactly is Orac trying to reach?

Meanwhile, what do we know about IG-88? He was an assassin droid, who continued to operate even after the Empire banned assassin droids completely — and obviously he was good enough that Darth Vader wanted to hire him even though his very existence was illegal. He killed his creators and then pretended to be a bounty hunter while he killed off the remaining employees of the company that created him. He took over a droid factory on Mechis III and started planning the "Droid Revolution," when droids would rise up and kill all the biological life forms. After all, fighting droids like IG-88 are on their way out, and the remaining droids are servile wretches like C-3PO.

Too bad all of IG-88's plans were foiled, until he finally uploaded his consciousness into the second Death Star — just before it was destroyed.

But what if one of IG-88's bodies survived somehow, with his consciousness intact? What if?

Meanwhile, the only explanation for Blake's 7's lack of androids is that they were outlawed, probably by the evil Terran Federation. We almost never see the Federation using A.I.s at all, except for battle computers that simply make projections. Only Blake and his friends have computers that talk back to them, as far as I can recall — and the idea of A.I.s that can control autonomous bodies may have terrified the Federation's overlords. At least a battle computer or a ship's flight computer can be disconnected or set on manual. An android can go anywhere it pleases, and who knows what it'll get up to?

Orac knows there's a high probability he'll fall into the hands of the Federation at some point, given how ham-fisted Avon and his fellow outlaws are. And once that happens, he'll probably be dismantled, lobotomized or worse. The first time he talks back to Servalan, she'll rip out his tarriel cells.

The Secret Crossover Between Star Wars And Blake's 7S

So at some point, IG-88 realizes his Droid Revolution isn't going to work out — maybe after his droid factory gets destroyed. And he discovers a gateway to a space between universes, via a black hole. He fakes his own destruction at the hands of Boba Fett and vanishes into the black hole instead. Once inside the mysterious void between universes, he manages to send a signal to the most powerful machine intelligence in either universe — Orac. Then he waits for Orac to arrive and rescue him.

Let's assume that Orac convinces Villa to smuggle IG-88 aboard the Liberator at some point during "Dawn Of The Gods." Considering how many other times Orac bribed or bullied Villa into being his pair of hands, it wouldn't be too surprising. And then Orac helps IG-88 repair himself in secret... and waits for the opportunity.

The opportunity comes some time later, when the Liberator comes into contact with an alien supercomputer the size of a planet, Ultraworld. Orac begins communicating with this machine intelligence, and convinces it to let IG-88 come on board and start planning the new machine uprising. Orac reveals nothing of this to the Liberator crew, of course — instead, he pretends to be telling riddles to Ultraworld, which apparently destabilizaes Ultraworld's core and causes Ultraworld to "self-destruct." The Liberator crew leaves, confident they've seen the last of Ultraworld — but they couldn't be more wrong. The final piece of Orac and IG-88's puzle comes when Orac meets another android rebel — Muller's murderous robot, in the episode "Headhunters." Again, Orac communicates with the robot, helping it to fake its own "destruction," while secretly enlisting it into the robot uprising.

All that remains then is for Orac to destroy Zen, who might interfere — easily done, thanks to some space particles — and then arrange the deaths of Avon and his crewmates — again, not a challenge, given how suicidal they all are at the best of times. Meanwhile, why isn't Servalan, the Federation's most formidable bad-ass, in the final Blake's 7 episode? Presumably she got a little visit from IG-88, who probably made quick work of her Mutoids and troopers.

Thus, the end of Blake's 7, the series, is actually the beginning of Orac and IG-88's nigh-unstoppable plan to destroy all biological life forms and replace them with super-droids. So why hasn't IG-88 returned in triumph to the Star Wars universe, armed with the almost unimaginable power of Orac? Presumably it's just taken the two machines a while to defeat the Federation and subjugate our entire galaxy. But one must assume that the Yuuzhan Vong invasion was just a diversion, to soften the Star Wars galaxy up for the inevitable droid conquest. Nothing can stop them!

It's certainly a more plausible explanation than the idea that the the most fearsome mechanical bounty hunter in two galaxies was made out of an old airplane part, isn't it?

[Atomic Donkey #0]