Continuing the adventures of Blake’s 7 – The Early Years from b7media, The Trial by Simon Guerrier continues from the previous adventure, The Dust Run, and again features Carrie Dobro as Jenna Stannis and Benedict Cumberbatch as Max Townsend. The previous adventure ended with Max entering Jenna’s interrogation room to announce that he is now a Federation Officer, and he’s her defence counsel.
We quickly learn that the events of the previous adventure, as told in flashback, were of an incident when Jenna and Max were teenagers. The “interrogation” was more about “them” wanting Jenna to “dish the dirt” on Max, which she didn’t really do.
It turns out that Jenna is to be put on trial for another incident, one to do with her smuggling activities that involved another old friend, Nick (voiced by Stephen Lord). Although Jenna is apparently keen to tell the truth, Max wants her to make subtle changes to her testimony to ensure that she doesn’t give out any Federation secrets about its propaganda plan (that would indirectly serve Roj Blake in the upcoming elections).
Jenna is keen to get through the trial without being found guilty. To be found guilty would lead either to her death, or her permanent consignment to the prison planet of Cygnus Alpha.
Learning that Nick is dead, Jenna feels free to lay the blame for everything at his feet (as she was prepared to do to Max in the previous story), but Max feels that she needs to take some portion of the blame in order for her “story” to sound plausible to the jury.
What follows is an excellent story, made all the more so by the mostly unrelated background gleaned from the previous adventure. The flashbacks to the incident in question are cleverly repeated two or three times as Max changes Jenna’s testimony, and Jenna does likewise.
The actual trial is really quite short, with Max not really doing the best for Jenna as he’d promised. But, then, a number of things that he promised turn out to not be quite what he’d previously implied.
In short, the story ends with Jenna being dragged off to the prison transport, the London, in time for its next scheduled trip to Cygnus Alpha which, of course, leads us nicely into Jenna’s first appearance on the TV series.
This really is quite an excellent story, with credit to both of the primary actors who give us subtly different performances. Cumberbatch imbues Max with slightly different intonations depending on what he wants to get out of Jenna, whilst Dobro gives us a Jenna who maintains a level of consistency regardless of what she’s facing so you don’t really quite know what her motives are, or what she really knows.
Definitely one to recommend, and worth working through The Dust Run for.