Who Is This Anna Grant Person Anyway?

By Arwen Spicer

It's possibly the most convoluted plot line in *Blake's 7*. A testament to the ambiguity of what Anna Grant was up to, particularly in her relationship with Avon, is the sheer variety of interpretations fans have generated. The following is my interpretation. While I have done my best to base it on the canon, it necessarily involves a great deal of conjecture. For simplicity's sake, I refer to Anna as "Anna" throughout, using the names "Sula" and "Bartolomew" only to refer to those constructs (versus the person herself).


The nature of the relationship between Avon and Anna depends on how well they knew each other and, especially, on when they were involved relative to Anna's other activities. A common interpretation holds that their relationship was fairly brief and superficial, possibly established when Anna was assigned to "run" Avon as he pursued his embezzlement scheme. I find this interpretation unconvincing. One, admittedly problematic, piece of evidence for a deeper relationship is Avon's connection to Anna's brother, Del Grant. When the two first come face to face in "Countdown," Avon immediately greets Grant as "Del." (Grant does not greet Avon by name.) Subsequently, the two invariably call each other "Grant" and "Avon." We know that men from Federation society generally go by their last names. The great exception is Vila, whose first-name status may be a product of his lowly Delta origins, or a response to his childlike pretension to inadequacy.[1] Grant, however, shows no signs of being "working class," and Avon is not in a position to want to antagonize him by using a demeaning form of address. The simplest explanation for Avon's "Del" is that Avon and Grant once knew each other very well, perhaps almost as closely as family. Avon instinctively greets Grant by the same name by which he'd previously known him. Thereafter, in their attempts to work together despite bad feeling, they retreat to last names as a means of maintaining a professional distance.

Of course, Avon could have known Grant well without knowing Anna. Anna, for her part, calls Avon "Avon," suggesting that she met him later or knew him less intimately than her brother did, at least for a time. If Grant and Avon knew each other before Avon knew Anna, it seems plausible that Grant introduced them. This would seem to argue against the reading that Anna was simply assigned to "run" Avon, unless she was assigned because she already had a convenient "in" via her brother. In general, while Avon and Grant's relationship points to some sort of long-standing tie between them, it is not definitive evidence that Avon and Anna had such a tie. At the same time, if Avon and Grant were close friends (Avon had to have one somewhere in the galaxy), it is likely that Grant would have talked about his sister, so even without knowing Anna directly, Avon might have known a lot about her second-hand.

More definitive evidence for a deeper relationship is Avon's character itself. If we know anything about him, we know that he does not give his trust easily (certainly not to a friend's sister he hasn't known well personally). While his inability to trust becomes more pronounced as time goes on, it is already characteristic of the man we meet in "Space Fall," the one who attributes the failure of his embezzlement to relying on other people. Indeed, Anna's questions about trust in "Rumours of Death" and Avon's answers (he's "afraid" he does trust her; trust is only dangerous if you have to rely on it) suggest that his distrust of trust is in place before his arrest. Avon's tendency to distrust makes any explanation for his being duped by Anna seem unlikely. How could a man who is by long habit profoundly self-contained and untrusting fall in love (or become blindly infatuated) with an undercover operative over a short space of time without suspecting she was anything but what she seemed? On the other hand, how could such an intelligent, inherently untrusting person know someone closely without suspecting any part of her vast deception? Faced with such unlikely options, it's reasonable to choose the least unlikely. The latter possibility (deep relationship) requires Avon to be uncharacteristically unobservant of inconsistencies that must have occurred in Anna's behavior. The former (superficial relationship) requires him to fall in love with someone he doesn't know well. I am more inclined to believe that Anna is brilliant enough to deceive Avon in a serious relationship than to believe that Avon would fall in love with anyone (much less essentially admit to it) without a great deal of exposure to that person.[2]

How Did Anna End up "Running" Avon?

I can think of four scenarios: 1) He broke the law, was found out; she was assigned to pull him in and seduced him to do so. 2) He decided to break the law while they were already together, and Anna (a security agent) was put in the position of having to turn in her boyfriend. 3) They both seriously planned to escape the Federation, but Anna got cold feet. 4) Anna convinced him to break the law for her own purposes and set him up from the beginning. The only plausible scenario, as I see it, is 4.

I've already suggested that scenario 1 requires an abruptness and superficiality to their relationship that seems out of keeping with Avon's personality and, arguably, with his seemingly well-established ties to Del Grant. Scenario 2 would simply not occur unless Anna had no basic sense of decency toward Avon at all, which does not seem the case (more on her feelings in the next section). Consider that if Avon took it upon himself to embezzle millions of credits so that he and Anna could flee the Federation, he would have told her about it early on. He is far too meticulous and would have too much respect for Anna to simply spring it on her that they're about to be fugitives. And if he had told her about his scheme and, thereby, placed her in a conflict of interest between her relationship with him and her duty as a security agent (and/or the need to maintain her cover as a good one), she would have told him to quit the scheme before it ever began in earnest. She could easily have sold this position by arguing that the plan was too dangerous and/or that, for all its problems, she didn't want to leave the security of the Federation. Avon would have objected and argued and fumed--and settled down to follow her lead just as he typically does with Blake. If, as a last resort, Anna simply refused to go with him, I do not believe he would have continued the plan without her, especially since he would have believed that if he fled, she'd be "marked for collection." At worst, he might have ended their relationship. But on the other hand, if she turned him in, they'd be split apart anyway, so she doesn't have much to lose there. Thus, if Avon's criminal tendencies threatened to upset the delicate balance of Anna's situation, she could have returned things more or less to status quo without so dire (and cruel) a course as faking her death and having him sent to Cygnus Alpha.

Scenario 3 (cold feet) is possible but does not, by itself, provide an explanation for the intricacy of Anna's machinations. All that deception would be very difficult to implement if Anna decided to pull out of the embezzlement plan in medias res. Nor does scenario 3, by itself, give an explanation for such a change of heart.

It's entirely possible that, at some stage, Anna contemplated leaving with Avon, but whether she did or not, the embezzlement situation must still originate in scenario 4: she set him up. Based on canonical evidence, this makes sense. Let's start with the facts. We know that as Bartolomew, Central Security's top agent, Anna was in charge of pulling in Avon for embezzlement. Shrinker states that Avon was allowed to proceed with his scheme because Central Security believed he was political, but we have only Shrinker's word for this, and there seems to be a lot he wasn't correctly informed about (like Bartolomew's identity). However, the fact that Shrinker apparently did know about the embezzlement for some time before Avon's arrest suggests that he was correct that Bartolomew knew of it from the beginning (or near to it). Further, we know that Anna is also Sula, wife of Counselor Chesku and (unbeknownst to her husband) a rebel leader. We can be fairly sure, however, that her original identity was Anna Grant, since she shares the family name with her apparently much more straightforward brother.

These basic facts, again, raise timing questions. When did Anna become Bartolomew? Sula? When did she marry Chesku? When did she become part of the resistance? When (relative to these other events) did she become involved with Avon? She may have already been married to Chesku at the time of Avon's arrest. Indeed, since "Sula Chesku" shows no sign of having an important Federation job--how would she have time for one?--her status as Chesku's wife may serve as her prime cover, explaining her presence in the upper echelons of the Federation. Thus, she may well have been married to Chesku for about as long as she had been Bartolomew, which would date from before the embezzlement scheme. Alternatively, her original cover might have been Anna Grant, and "Sula" might have been created after "Anna's" death.

However, it seems probable that "Sula" the rebel existed before Avon's arrest and, thus, that "Sula" as a cover identity existed too. We are not told when Anna joined the resistance, but we can make inferences based on her attempted coup. She executes a careful, long- term plan, developed on Earth at the very heart of Federation power without Servalan (a cagey person) having been aware of it. Laying the groundwork for this coup would probably take several years. So unless Anna is brilliant enough to build a more advanced resistance scheme faster than Avalon or Kasabi or Blake, she had been doing resistance work since well before Avon's arrest (which was probably three to four years before the execution of her coup).

It seems likely, therefore, that near the time of Avon's arrest, Anna was holding down no less than four simultaneous identities: Anna, Bartolomew, Sula (good Federation citizen), and Sula (resistance leader). This was too much to be feasible. How could she find the hours to work as a top security agent, make appearances as Citizen Sula, coordinate resistance work, and spend enough time as Anna to maintain a serious (and unsuspicious) relationship with Avon? Something had to give, and the least essential identity was Anna Grant. She could not stop being Bartolomew because that's not the sort of post one leaves, except in a box. Moreover, the top secret clearances must have been invaluable to her resistance work. She would not stop working for the resistance because that was, in fact, the work she was morally dedicated to. (I see only two possible motives for Anna's rebel activities: 1) to reform the government or 2) to gain power. The latter does not seem likely. As Central Security's top agent, she could probably have seized power from within the system at less personal risk. Moreover, her contempt for Servalan's "megalomania" is unvarying.) Anna could not abandon "Sula" because Sula was essential to both her cover as Bartolomew and her cover in the resistance. "Anna," therefore, had to be eradicated so completely that the identity would require no more maintenance: "Anna" had to die.

Cutting her ties to Del would not be much of a problem. If he was a famous mercenary by "Countdown," he must have already been off mercenarying by the time of Anna's faked death.[3] It would be extremely risky for him to investigate her death on Earth. She was, however, stuck with a preexisting relationship with Avon, who loved her and was not about to go away. She could not trust him to be in on her plans. In addition to the inevitable dismay he'd experience at the scope of her deceptions, he would not approve of Anna's being a Federation security agent, doubtless responsible for many people's capture, torture, and death. Nor, on the other hand, would he approve of her resistance work; we know how he feels about that. Finally, he would not be thrilled to hear she was married, if she was at that time. In "Rumours," Anna states that she knew that if Avon found out, he would kill her. I doubt he would have (if she hadn't pulled a gun on him), but her statement confirms her belief that she could not reveal her real life with him.[4] Yet if Anna merely faked her death by traffic accident, for example, Avon--she must assume-- would not let matters rest until he had investigated every aspect of her demise, probably discovering that there was no demise. He would, then, be in a position to blow all of her covers. Indeed, his very snooping might do so, even if he had no desire to expose her. So she had to make him go away in such a way that he could not come back to investigate her death.

She, therefore, planted in his head the idea for a crime that would both provide a convenient explanation for her death and remove him from Earth for a very long time. Now, doubtless Avon already had criminal tendencies. He may have broken the law before. He might, in fact, have regularly talked of chinks in Federation banking security. It would take only a little push from Anna to move such a conversation from theory to a practical plan, a plan in which Avon might well believe he himself had taken the initiative if he came up with the logistical specifics. As Bartolomew, Anna could, then, "run" him all the way up to crisis point ideal for faking her death by arguing to Central Security that he was probably political and, therefore, should be kept free to lead them to his rebel friends.[5] If this was her plan, it went off exactly as she had intended and would have succeeded indefinitely if Avon had not contrived to come back to Earth to avenge her.

Did She Love Him?

I think she did. She treated him execrably, but this treatment does not seem willfully sadistic or carelessly off-handed. Rather, it seems the product of a need to prioritize incommensurate responsibilities. There came a point at which Anna could not manage her resistance work and Avon at the same time, and the resistance work got priority. There is a coldly principled logic to this reasoning that, ironically, the Dr.-Plaxton-(to-say-nothing-of-Vila-) sacrificing Avon would respect. Overthrowing the Federation's corrupt regime was simply more important than Avon--or their relationship--or Anna Grant's own identity.

As far as canonical evidence goes, Anna's scenes with Avon reflect both well and badly on her. They have two scenes together: the funky flashback bedroom scene and the grand finale. In her review of "Rumours," Marian de Haan observes that Anna's behavior in the flashback appears insincere, and I agree.[6] But assuming that there is more to this than unfortunate acting/directing, this insincerity does not necessarily indicate either Anna's true feelings or her usual manner with Avon. The circumstances of this scene are extraordinary: Avon is just about to fetch the infamous exit visas. Even if Anna did not set up the mishap he suffers in claiming them, [7] she would still be on the point of springing her trap. Given the stress of this situation, it makes sense that her manner would be peculiar. Avon, for his part, would probably notice that she's acting strangely. But as far as he's concerned, they are about to make their great escape from the Federation. This, too, is a circumstance of great stress and one in which abnormal behavior would be normal. Thus, as a show of Anna and Avon's normative relationship, this scene, if unflattering, is less than revealing.

Their final scene provides more opportunities for Anna to show herself in an unflattering light. Lies and insincerity are rife, but again, do not necessarily mean that Anna has no underlying love for Avon. When she first hears his voice, her shock is certainly real (how could not be?). By the time she turns around, however, she is already slipping into an act. Acting, at this point, must come very naturally to her. She hasn't even possessed a "real" identity in something like three years. A few high ranking officials, like Servalan, know that Bartolomew is Anna Grant, but these are not people she would have sincere conversations with. It seems safe to say that, except for a very recent revelation on the part of Servalan, no one knows (or perhaps ever knew) that Anna is Sula is Bartolomew is a rebel leader. In such a position, honesty, far from being a first instinct, would not even seem a possibility.

So Anna launches into an act that is, in essence, a continuation of the story she originally fed to Avon (and Del Grant): the loving, loyal, abandoned girlfriend struggling to survive as a Federation criminal. But she isn't prepared to pull off the act. She had no idea that Avon would show up in the middle of her coup. If she ever rehearsed what she'd say if they met, she probably hadn't done so in some time. Unsurprisingly, her acting is lousy, filled with unsellable bits like "Why won't you touch me?" and "Is there someone else?" as if these pressing questions need to be addressed while standing in a wine cellar as Federation troops descend on a revolt in which "the men" are already restless over Servalan's continued existence. Avon, not being completely stupid, isn't buying it. Moreover, Servalan is about to drop the Bartolomew bombshell--only, she doesn't have to because Avon is putting it together by himself. So Anna pulls a gun on him.

Going for her gun seems like desperate self-defense. She states that she believes he would kill her. When Avon fills in "unless you killed me first," she does not deny it. Anna presumably tries to kill him because she believes that it's either him or her (and her coup). The fact that she is, nonetheless, slow on the draw might indicate an underlying emotional indecision. (Likewise, the fact that she survives for a surprisingly long time after Avon shoots her suggests that he hit her well off-center, perhaps due to a similar instinctive indecision.)[8]

From the moment Anna is shot until her death, her manner changes. Her discourse becomes more sincere in tone and plausible in content. This makes sense: she knows she only has a few moments to express the truth, and since she'll soon be dead and all her major secrets are out, she has no practical reason to lie anymore. Her dying words can be boiled down to three assertions: 1) it wasn't all lies; 2) she loved Avon; 3) she let him go. I see no reason to doubt the honesty of any of these statements. Particularly if, as I have argued, she was involved with Avon before entrapping him and entrapped him specifically to rid herself of him, she almost necessarily must have been with him out of personal affection. Professionally, he was a liability. And if she did love him, then her love, at least, was not a lie.

This leaves the question of what exactly she means by letting him go. Ostensibly, the statement is ridiculous: she had him pulled in for embezzlement, as a result of which he was sentenced to life imprisonment. Yet her words have several possible meanings. It has been speculated, for example, that the paper Avon is examining in "Space Fall" gives schematics for the *London*'s computer, thus providing him with support for manipulating that computer. It seems reasonable that Anna would have been in a sufficiently powerful position to have someone slip him this paper and, therefore, a chance at escape. Alternatively, she might be referring to setting him up for embezzlement per se, a crime carrying a life sentence, as opposed to some other crime that might carry a death sentence or something even more nasty. Another possibility is that by having Bartolomew provide all necessary information about his case, she spared him from extensive interrogation. Perhaps, however, her statement is more emotional than literal. As painful as the story of her death under Federation torture is for Avon, it is undeniably less painful than the truth. Anna constructs a scenario that permits Avon to retain his faith in their love. While this certainly works to her advantage, helping to maintain her cover identity and deflecting his potential anger at her, it works to Avon's (relative) advantage as well. Perhaps, then, she let him go by sparing him knowledge of her betrayal.

We'll never know for certain. And therein lies the pathos of the Avon and Anna story: Avon will never know either. For understandable reasons, he kills her before she has time to explain what she thought she was doing--and Anna was the only person in the galaxy who could begin to answer that question. But whatever the true nature of Anna's machinations and however ill-judged or morally questionable, the canon gives us ample evidence that they were rooted in sincere revolutionary dedication and were not incommensurate with her claims to have truly loved Avon.

[1] Nicola Mody suggests that Vila's use of the name "Vila" might also be a concerted attempt to avoid the name "Restal," which would be the primary name the authorities would be listening for.

[2] It will be observed that, for all his protests to the contrary, Avon quickly comes to trust (and arguably love) Blake. This attachment, however, forms under intense and intimate circumstances (living on the *Liberator* together and routinely risking their lives) that give them an opportunity to come to know each other well relatively fast, an opportunity Avon probably did not have with Anna. In either relationship, Avon's core need would be a perception of deep, reliable knowledge of another person, which may be achieved through time or intensity of experience but probably not in a superficial relationship.

[3] Grant's reported fame seems at odds with Avon's surprise that this famous mercenary was Del Grant. Perhaps Grant had been using a false name until recently? (That cover might explain his being able to contact Avon on Earth after Anna's "death" to make his own death threats.)

[4] The final tragedy of Anna's situation may be that she did not trust Avon enough. If she had been honest with him once they were seriously involved, it is doubtful he would simply have murdered her and conceivable (if unlikely) that he might have been roped into helping her (as he was with Blake). Ironically, this would make Anna's final tragic mistake akin to Avon's Gauda Prime misjudgment.

[5] A twist on the "political" angle might be that Anna's own rebel activities were beginning to look suspicious and that she scapegoated Avon to take the heat off Sula's rebels. When Avon was found not to be political, Bartolomew could argue that all those hints of rebel activity had, in fact, been apolitical crimes linked to the embezzlement.

[6] Episode review for "Rumours of Death"

[7] It's quite possible that Exit Visa Man shot Avon on his own initiative. This would explain why all Avon's contacts were pulled in as soon as he dropped out of sight. Anna herself wouldn't have known what had happened, so she would pull in his contacts both to make sure that her own faked death went off as planned and for the more obvious (honest?) security reason of having people to interrogate about Avon's whereabouts.

[8] Because I do like Anna, I'd like to think that she didn't intend to kill Avon. While this is admittedly reading against the grain, I don't think it contradicts the canon. She could have been intending to train a gun on him as a means of getting him temporarily under control (maybe strung up on the wall with Servalan?) because she did not have the time to deal with him while trying to salvage her insurrection. Now, Anna does state that she believes he'll kill her. But perhaps, if she could get him safely locked away, it would be worthwhile to at least try to reason with him before killing him? In this scenario, the reason Anna does not deny Avon's assumption that she was going to kill him is that by the time she's dying, there's no point. It wouldn't help to say, "By the way, you didn't really need to shoot me." Yes, it's unlikely. But it's possible.

Back up to Essay index

Back up to Blakes 7

Last changed on 15th of August 2005