With Terry Nation and Chris Boucher contributing three scripts apiece, Allan Prior being restricted to one (though there was possibly a second which was held over to Season 4) and Robert Holmes taking a year out to work on his teleplay Fothergill (and Jukes of Piccadilly - whatever the fuck that was - English remake of Dukes of Hazzard maybe, dunno, go to a proper website) new writers were needed for Season 3 - four in fact were recruited (well, three and a half what with Trevor Hoyle and all). James Follet would write one script this year and another for Season 4; he was mainly writing radio plays and the odd novel before this (clunking Lewis Collins vehicle and Iranian embassy cash-in Who Dares Wins was based on one of his books). While he did write the odd TV script before and after "Dawn of the Gods" suggests he didn't watch much of it.
This one reminds me of "The Web" as this episode features several of its' broad elements - the ship being pulled off course and trapped, with the source being something from Auronar history that looks like shit. Sadly, if "The Web" was a turd then "Dawn of the Gods" is a watery spray of diarrhea. The first 'Week off the Federation' episode of the new-look show (and the first since, er, "The Web", I think) isn't a rip-off, however, as Follett has clearly never seen the show or anything like it before, or probably even read the Junior Colour Encyclopedia of Space.
It starts, after some low-level chilling and bickering among the crew, with the Liberator being pulled off course by a black hole. This is the high point and there have been worse hooks; Orac massaging the reasons for the course change because he's curious about a black hole is actually rather good and again points to the computer becoming more of a character but it goes downhill. The ship goes through the black hole and crossing the event horizon is portrayed as a bit of turbulence, though there's time for both Avon and Tarrant to act stupidly - Avon by trying to put on a space suit under the impression it will help and Tarrant by stopping him in the belief that the crew should all die together. Have there always been jazzy gold spacesuits kicking around the flight deck and I've just not noticed them?
The script then ascends several more levels of Whatthefuckery. On the other side or inside of the black hole is a base or planet or something with a breathable atmosphere but when the crew get out (you know, out of all those hatches they use when they park the Liberator on planets in episodes like "Never" and "How Does It Even Balance?") they're attacked by a sort of overgrown Cybermat and then captured by a guy in coat and tails with a cane that shuts down all their technology and makes Dayna always tell the truth. Everyone's then captured at the whim of the Thaarn, an exiled creature from Auron mythology, with the Liberator set to be broken up as salvage.
Avon and brainbox Tarrant, their space-suit spat instantly forgotten after they bond over bullying Vila into being the first out of the ship, are wrangled into doing sums for the Thaarn, who doesn't like computers and wants to take over the universe for some nebulous reason (why he doesn't want the Liberator for anything other than raw materials isn't really explained). Thankfully there's a man named Groff there dressed like a bookie from a thirties film there to explain all this madness. Cally meanwhile gets her meatiest role since the first season and gets to trick the Thaarn into dropping the defences. Vila and Dayna meanwhile get thrown in a cell and have the decency to fucking stay there until everyone escapes by getting onboard the Liberator and just flying off. And is Paul Darrow in his own clothes here?
I can't even believe I'm writing this shit down; just spooling off a synopsis sounds like a bad review because it's nonsensical. I must have watched "Dawn of the Gods" about ten times now and it doesn't make any more sense or seem any less risible. It's so bad, so bewilderingly bad and stupid that you wonder if you've missed something, if you're being stupid and the thing is going over your head. But it really does seem to be a very bad script very badly made, with dreadful design choices only adding to what is possibly the series' worst episode.