“The Dark Husband”

thedarkhusbandUsually, when I decide to listen to a Doctor Who audio, I look through the list of audios I own and choose one that sounds interesting. However, with a couple of hours to kill and no Internet connection, I pulled out my iPod and chose a random  audio to listen to, and it was “The Dark Husband”, the 106th audio in the main range, featuring the Seventh Doctor, Ace, and Hex. Unfortunately, it turned out to be pretty disappointing.

Spoilers, of course.

For a bit of a break, the Doctor takes Ace and Hex to what he calls the greatest festival in the galaxy, on a gorgeous planet. When they get there, they discover that the planet is in the middle of a centuries-long war between the two different races on the planet, the red-haired soldiers called the Ri and the bald philosophers called the Ir, who both worship their god, Tuin. The festival does occur as scheduled, as it’s the one time when truce is called and all hostilities are set aside. The Doctor then announces that he actually knew that the planet had been at war and had come here to stop the war by offering himself as the Suitor. He’s immediately proclaimed to be the Dark Husband, and the search is begun for the Shining Wife, and the war is to end when the two are married.

As the search proceeds, the priests of Tuin tie the Doctor up to be sacrificed to the god by fire. Ace fights through the crowd and soldiers to get to him to free him, and is proclaimed to be the Shining Wife, the woman who shows the sought-after bravery. However, before the ceremony can continue, Hex then offers himself to be the Dark Husband, to free the Doctor from having to marry Ace (and possibly for his own reasons as well…) The two are then mind-controlled by the god, and the Doctor discovers that the marriage is followed by combat: the Dark Husband and the Shining Wife are destined to fight until one of them is killed.

Through talking to the Ri and Ir friends that he’s made, the Doctor discovers what’s really going on. The planet, Tuin, is the god that the Ri and Ir worship, and it wanted to create the perfect species but couldn’t decide which was better, strength or cunning, so it created the two races and had them fight each other. Since they couldn’t overcome each other, it then decided that once each side had its champion, the Dark Husband and the Shining Wife, the two would fight, and it would transform all of individuals on the planet into the winning race. The problem, of course, is that the two champions were human, so no matter which one won, the planet would not be able to transform the people into the champion’s race and the entire species would die. At the last moment, the Doctor’s Ri and Ir friends declared themselves the Dark Husband and the Shining Wife, then chose to die together, forcing the planet to create the species from both of them, at last uniting the two races into a whole.

The overall story was interesting enough, but it went at a plodding pace, with not much happening for most of the story. The side characters – the Ri and Ir friends – were rather two-dimensional, with the Ri soldier only interested in fighting and drinking and the Ir philosopher only interested in making snarky comments; this was disappointing because Doctor Who is usually really good at creating interesting, deep guest characters. It also felt really weird that the Doctor decided to offer himself as the Suitor when he really had no idea what that entailed at all. The war had been going on for thousands of years and no one had ever offered themselves as the Suitor, so you’d think that the Doctor would wonder why.

The one strength of the story was that it had humorous dialogue and the banter was great. It also gave me (someone who doesn’t listen to audios in the right order) a little taste of Hex, though I think I need to listen to some of his earlier stories to really see his character progression.

Bottom line, though, I wouldn’t recommend this audio; there are far better ones out there to listen to.

“Ghost Light”

GLight2“Ghost Light” features the Seventh Doctor and Ace, and is the second story in the rather excellent 26th and final season of classic Doctor Who. What’s really impressed me this season is that on top of the usual twisty-turny plot mechanics that we’re used to with classic Doctor Who (and is often lacking in modern Doctor Who), this season has a greater reach, with villains that have motivations reaching farther than just the story at hand and with more relevance to the Doctor and companion than just landing themselves in the trouble-of-the-week.

Spoilers, of course!

The Doctor brings Ace to 1883, to a house that Ace, when she was younger, had burned to the ground a hundred years later because she had felt something evil there. The house currently belongs to a strange man named Josiah Smith, who lives there with his ward Gwendoline, a housekeeper named Lady Pritchard, an explorer named Redvers Fenn-Cooper, who has gone insane, and a Neanderthal butler named Nimrod. Also visiting is the Reverend Ernest Matthews, who staunchly opposes the theory of evolution that Smith has been spreading. All of the people they encounter are very strange, and the serving staff carry guns, making this a very surreal episode.

I’ve actually had quite a problem trying to write this review because it relies so heavily on the surreality of the situation, the reveal of all of the secrets, and the motivation behind the main villain. It’s difficult to talk about it without rewriting the entire plot out, and I really don’t want to do that, so I’ll try to hit the major points here. Through the first two episodes of the story, you encounter strings of images that simply make no sense, from the Neanderthal butler to the gun-toting maids to the transformation of the reverend into an ape to the owner who seems to consider all of this perfectly normal. You’re just as confused as the Doctor as things begin to develop: there’s a spaceship beneath the house, in which an observer called Light arrived millenia ago to catalog all life on Earth. When it completed its work, it went into sleep, and its servant, the survey agent now known as Josiah Smith, continued to experiment. His current plan was to overthrow Queen Victoria to take control of the British Empire and make it a better place. The Doctor releases Light, who is upset that life on Earth has evolved, making his catalog obsolete, and decides to extinguish all life on the planet to stop it from changing. While the Doctor argues with Light and convinces it of the futility of opposing evolution, causing it to dissipate, Josiah Smith’s experiment control, a being named Control, rebels against him and gains the upper hand, and leaves with Cooper and Nimrod in the spaceship.

Now that summary doesn’t sound particularly interesting, or coherent for that matter, but that’s part of the brilliance of the episode. You spend the nearly the first half of the story trying to make sense of all of these strange things going on, and you find that they do make sense, though it’s sense on a more grand, cosmic scale. Then there’s the story of Light. I am fascinated by stories of nearly-omnipotent beings that are bound fast by rules that are barely comprehensible to humans (which is one of the reasons I love Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman). Light has only one purpose, to catalog life, and when he’s stymied by evolution, he can’t handle it. The only weakness to this episode, in my mind, was Smith’s plan. It’s very interesting that his purpose was to make the Earth a better place, but the method, taking over the British Empire, was odd.

Add to all this the Doctor. Not only was he in his fine manipulative form, his purpose for coming here was to investigate an important event in Ace’s life. He wasn’t just wandering as he normally does. Other than possibly “The Key to Time”, the latter half of the Seventh Doctor’s run has the most coherent and intricate storyline of the classic show, revolving around his relationship with Ace, and this episode is significant in establishing both Ace’s past and how much the Doctor treasures her, setting up the emotional basis for the next episode, “The Curse of Fenric.”

Sometimes I feel that every time I watch an episode of Doctor Who, I have to rethink who my favorite Doctors are, because the one I’m watching always pops to the top. After a bit of time, the list usually reorders to my usual favorites, but the Seventh Doctor keeps bubbling up the list, because of episodes like this one.

“Battlefield”

I find it very interesting that my non-fan friends are surprised when I tell them that such-and-such episode is not very good. For some reason, they think that if I’m a fan of the show, I must love every episode, and to me, that’s a very unrealistic expectation. In any fiction of a serial nature, some installments will be good and some will be bad, and they don’t always have the same type of quality. I love “Human Nature’/ “Family of Blood” because I feel it’s one of the best stories in the entire show, but I’ve probably seen “Smith and Jones” more often, simply because it is such a fun adventure. This goes for the classic show as well: you can’t run a show with seven different lead actors over twenty-seven years without some variation in quality.

Merlin and Morgaine

Merlin and Morgaine

And so we come to “Battlefield”, the first episode in the very last season of classic Doctor Who, featuring the Seventh Doctor with Ace as his companion. I watched it completely fascinated, and while I’m not sure that this was a good episode plot-wise, it was a lot of fun and I came out of it smiling.

Spoilers ahead! Not a complete episode synopsis, but instead a recap of the elements and twists.

When the Doctor and Ace arrive in present-day England this time, there’s a nuclear missle convoy stalled near a lake, and UNIT is called in to take care of it. Though the current brigadier, Brigadier Bambera, is on the scene, the Brigadier, our faithful Lethbridge-Stewart, is called in to assist. However, unknown to the Doctor or UNIT, men in chain armor begin appearing in the area.

To make a long story short, Morgaine, a sorceress of great power, comes to Earth from her dimension to find King Arthur, who supposedly is in a state of suspended animation beneath the nearby lake. Ancelyn, one of Arthur’s knights, comes to Earth first to defend Arthur and wake him, while Mordred, Morgaine’s son, chases him. When they (separately) encounter the Doctor, they immediately recognize him as Merlin; though they knew him with a different face, they could identify him simply by the power in his form.

The Doctor figures out that a future incarnation of himself visits their dimension and defends Arthur, and leaves hints to his former self to try to find and protect Excalibur, the artefact Morgaine needs to open the portal between dimensions. They discover the Doctor’s spaceship beneath the lake, but Arthur is long dead. It then becomes a race to convince Morgaine that Arthur is gone, so that she ends her war.

The plot itself is not as twisty-turny as many of the Seventh Doctor’s episodes, but it was still interesting, as you find out just what Morgaine is after and why, after all these years, she still wants to battle Arthur. Morgaine is also very interesting in her own right. She has a very solid sense of honor, even stopping to pay respects in a graveyard to the fallen soldiers from World War II, even though she had nothing to do with their conflict. At the end of the episode, when she is mourning Arthur’s death and frustrated with her centuries-long quest that she threatens to fire off the nuclear missiles, the Doctor dissuades her by appealing to her sense of honor, explaining what the missiles will do and pointing out that they are not honorable weapons of war.

The appearance of the Brigadier, the first (and only) one since “The Five Doctors”, wasn’t wasted. He starts at home, where he’s living a happy life with his wife Doris, and she’s upset that he’s being called back for a mission, even though he’s retired; she is, of course, afraid of him getting injured or killed. The Doctor is very happy to see him, and they solve the mystery together, but when Morgaine’s big monster, the Destroyer, appears, the Brigadier knocks the Doctor unconscious and faces it himself, knowing that the Doctor would not want to kill it and wanting to spare his friend the onus of having to do so. Doris was very right to worry: the Brigadier faces down the Destroyer and kills it, but nearly dies himself. It was a glorious last episode for the Brigadier, fighting as Earth’s Champion.

Ancelyn and Brigadier Bambera

Ancelyn and Brigadier Bambera

Another side plot which was fun to watch was the relationship between Bambera and Ancelyn. At first, Bambera views Ancelyn as an enemy, while he attempts to disarm her with rogueish banter. At different times, they argue and duel and fight, but by the end, they have formed a strong friendship with hints at future romance. One of the strengths of the classic show is that it takes the time to develop the guest characters, and this episode continued that tradition.

There’s nothing deep or profound about “Battlefield”, but it’s a great example of a fun and satisfying episode. It’s probably a great popcorn muncher, and if you’re anything like me, it’ll leave you happy.

“Revenge of the Swarm”

revengeoftheswarm_cover_large“Revenge of the Swarm” is the 189th audio play in Big Finish’s main range, and features the Seventh Doctor, Ace, and Hector. It turns out that this audio is a sequel to another story, and deals with Hector’s backstory, but I found it very enjoyable even though I knew nothing about either.

A lot of spoilers ahead (this one really requires a full story synopsis)!

First, let’s start with Hector. From what I could gather from the audio, Hector is better known as Hex, a companion who was also a good friend of Ace, but in some previous audio (probably very recently), his memories were captured in a bottle, and then the bottle was smashed, leaving him as a blank slate, with no memories and a different personality than Hex. I’m not quite sure how long he’s been Hector, as Ace seems to know him quite well (or maybe she knows Hex quite well and is very sympathetic toward Hector) but Hector doesn’t yet know much about himself or his problems. He’s certainly not yet that familiar with either the Doctor or Ace.

“Revenge of the Swarm” is a sequel to the Fourth Doctor story “The Invisible Enemy”, in which the enemy was the Swarm, a rapidly-evolving virus with the Nucleus as its central mind. I haven’t seen this episode, so all I know about it comes from listening to the audio, so I really can’t tell you much more, except that the Swarm takes people over and wants to expand and grow. The Doctor finally defeats it and believes it is dead.

Of course it’s not dead. It’s been weak, hibernating without a Nucleus, without a driving intelligence, in the TARDIS computer, waiting for a malleable mind to come within reach. It finds Hector, who’s very vulnerable since his memory and self have been largely removed, and takes him over, and he sends the TARDIS back in time to a space station orbiting Saturn which has been quarantined because it contains a very deadly virus, the most deadly virus known, the one that the Swarm evolved from. While the Doctor is immune to the virus due to his previous encounter with the Swarm, Ace immediately gets infected, and the space station personnel send her, cryogenically frozen, to a research station to get cured.

The main scientist at the research station has a secondary motive, though, to get a live culture of the virus from Ace and experiment on it. She knows that the virus kills all other viruses and bacteria in the host, so she wants to genetically engineer it to create a virus that isn’t deadly to humans but protects them from all other diseases, so that they can explore the universe without fear of alien diseases. The Doctor, realizing that the Swarm caused them to come here because it wants to change the course of history and clone the Nucleus so that the original goes on to be killed by the Fourth Doctor while the clone lives to try to take over the universe separately, cures Hector, and the three of them cause the station to cleanse itself with fire to destroy the Swarm. Unbeknownst to him, though, the Swarm uploads the clone into the station’s computer before the firestom.

Hector, however, hasn’t really been cured. The Swarm re-emerges in him, and he sends the TARDIS back to the research station but two hundred years in the future, when it has become the hub for the hypernet, the Internet of the future that controls the energy and information that flows between all of the human colonies all over the galaxy. He then steals the TARDIS’ dimensional stabilizer and runs off. The Doctor realizes that the Nucleus plans to use the dimensional stabilizer, which controls the materialization of the TARDIS, to drain all the hypernet and convert it into real matter and then download itself into it. As it continues to drain, it continues to grow until it has taken over the entire universe. I’m not going to describe how the Doctor finally defeats the Swarm, but I’ll discuss a little bit of later.

Part of the fun of this episode was that in order to deal with the Nucleus when it was in computers, the characters had to enter the computer, much like in the movie Tron, except that only their minds are uploaded, not their entire bodies; they’re even given motorcycles to ride to escape the Swarm’s hunters. It’s made very clear that dying in the computer will kill them in reality (their bodies would be left mindless), though I have to wonder if the Doctor would have just regenerated if that happened. The whole computerscape does give Ace some chance to show off her personality, as her motorcycle has a cannon and she has a great time blasting Swarm drones from the sky. But in general, the story was very engaging, especially because of its deft use of time travel. It was very clever to clone the Nucleus so that one bit goes on to be the Swarm that the Fourth Doctor encountered while the other bit continued on in this story.

However, one of the best parts of the story dealt with Hector and his first introduction to the more interesting characteristics of the Seventh Doctor. In order to defeat the Nucleus, the Doctor splits the group up to accomplish different tasks, with Hector and the Doctor going into the computer to do their task. They flee the Swarm hunters on motorcycles, but they’re not fast enough, and the Swarm attacks Hector, starting to tear him apart; they don’t attack the Doctor because they know he has immunity which will attack the Swarm and harm the Nucleus. Luckily, the allies on the outside download Hector and the Doctor into their bodies just before Hector dies in the computerscape.

At the end of the adventure, Hector figures out what happened: earlier in the adventure, the second time the Doctor cured Hector, he gave him some blood to give Hector immunity. The Nucleus didn’t know about this, so the Doctor took Hector into the computer, telling him their task would be easy, but actually intending for the Swarm to attack him and unknowingly get infected by his immunity, which then attacked and destroyed the Swarm. The Doctor deliberately did not tell Hector, because he knew Hector wouldn’t do it if he knew, and thus the Doctor made the decision for him, risking his life, allowing him to get torn apart by the hunters, and nearly killing him.

This is a main trait of the Seventh Doctor, manipulating events and being willing to sacrifice people when he can’t know if they’ll survive, and it was beautifully handled in this story. Hector gets understandably angry, and doesn’t back down even when Ace defends the Doctor, saying that what he does is always for the greater good, and Hector has to reconsider whether or not he can stay with the Doctor and trust him; this conflict is left open. This scene was fascinating, as you’re watching Hector figure out both who he is and whether he can condone what his friends are doing.

So, this story was a great adventure supported by great character development and an inspection into the morality of the Seventh Doctor, and it sets up for an interesting next adventure, where we will hopefully see how Hector deals with the Doctor and Ace in further perilous situations. I’m always impressed how these audio stories are so well-designed for their Doctors, as this is exactly the kind of thing that Seventh Doctor is best for.

Lull

Even in Lego, this scene makes me sniffle.

Even in Lego, this scene makes me sniffle.

Life’s been a little low on the Doctor Who quotient the past few days. After watching “The Day of the Doctor”, I completely forgot about “The Time of the Doctor” (because I’m not very fond of it) and my husband, while he likes it, didn’t feel like subjecting me to it, apparently. I’ve been wanting to watch some Third Doctor episodes, to finally get a good feel for him and to watch the Roger Delgado Master for the first time, but we’ve been busy with a number of other things. Now that we have a bit more time, we started watching the Harry Potter movies again, so that’s kind of gotten me off track again.

We have watched “City of Death” and “The Happiness Patrol,” and I’ve listened to the Fifth Doctor audio “Loups-Garoux,” but I haven’t felt like sitting down and writing a review on them. I’m not sure I’ll get there, so here are some short statements on them.

  • “City of Death” (Fourth Doctor/Romana II) was fantastic. The story is great – one of the best ever – but what really floored me in this episode was the dialogue: snappy, brilliant, and eccentric.
  • “The Happiness Patrol” (Seventh Doctor/Ace) was surreal, as in, “What was the writer on and where can I get me some of that?” But I enjoyed it quite a bit, possibly because it was so out there. I think the point of it (the main character forcing everyone into her vision of “happiness”) has been rehashed a lot in other works since this one and has become a bit banal, but it still works even viewing it now.
  • “Loups-Garoux” (Fifth Doctor/Turlough) was a good enough audio, though I’m really not fond of spiritual/animalistic themes in Doctor Who, which I view as a science-based sci-fi. (The science is incredibly dodgy, but a lot of the point of the universe is that it’s based on science, even when the science looks like magic). I very much enjoyed getting to see more of Turlough, and was pleased to see him exhibiting his usual self-preservation, but putting his life on the line when someone he cared about was endangered.

Next up in the audio queue are some Charley Pollard audios – her introduction, as well as the two audios about the fallout from her being saved from death by the Doctor.

I leave you now with a fantastic video by bookshelfproductions on YouTube: a recreation of “The Day of the Doctor” in Legos. Watch it: you won’t be disappointed.

“Colditz”

It makes me giggle… I get a regular number of hits on my blog per day, and it displays on my dashboard when I log in. Then, I publish my review for Dead Air and tag David Tennant, because a large part of that review had to do with his spectacular performance, and my readership triples. I guess you have to give the readers what they want! Well, I’m not a click-whore, and even though David Tennant is again a part of this post, I’m not going to tag him, because this one’s about the character he plays, not him. Ha! Bucking the system! I’m such a rebel!

Much of my time lately has been either devoted to playing Doctor Who: Legacy or listening to audios. We did finish our rewatch of the Eleventh Doctor’s episodes, up until “The Day of the Doctor,” but I really don’t have much to say about that. I liked the seventh series better than I did the first time I saw it, but still not all that much. *shrug* So, my blog post, at least for the last few days, have been all about audios.

Colditz“Colditz” is #25 in the main range of Big Finish audios, and features the Seventh Doctor and Ace. They land in Nazi Germany and are immediately captured and imprisoned in Colditz Castle, famed for being the prison to which repeat escapees from other POW camps are sent. This audio is known for being David Tennant’s first appearance in a Doctor Who story, playing Feldwebel Kurtz (a feldwebel is a sergeant), recorded back in 2001.

First, an opinion on the audio with minor spoilers.

This audio is a bit of an enigma. It introduces the character Elizabeth Klein, a high-ranking Nazi officer who appears to know what a TARDIS is but doesn’t have any interest in it. She’s instead interested in the Doctor himself, and her story is very interesting, well-written and well-acted. On the other side, the depiction of Colditz Castle and Ace’s internment there is uneven at best, and completely unbelievable at worst. Without going into much more detail, I’d have to say this audio comes out to be pretty average, worth listening to a few very good performances and for Klein, but not a keeper.

Now, discussion with major spoilers.

A Nazi prison camp. Not just any Nazi prison camp, but a specially-created high-security one. The concept itself brings to mind a gritty, dark story, of cruelties and despair, into which Ace is thrown while the Doctor is ripped away from her. The story does attempt to go in that direction: I was amazed (and impressed) at Kurtz’s threats to Ace that he was going to come to her room at night and rape her. He didn’t say it outright, but it was heavily implied, and I could not believe that Doctor Who would even touch on such a subject.

However, the atmosphere never materialized. It didn’t take very long for me to get the impression that when Big Finish came up with the idea of setting a story at a Nazi prison camp, the author immediately did research on them by watching Hogan’s Heroes. It’s true that only the POWs who escaped multiple times from their first camps were sent to Colditz and that they continued to scheme to escape once they were interned at the castle, but the prisoners in the audio seemed almost happy to be there. The background sounds were almost party-like, and the prisoners talked freely of their next plans to escape. They even had equipment, such as radios, secreted away from the rather ineffectual Nazi guards.

Then Ace is added to the mix. She maintains that she’s not a spy but is unable to explain why she’s in Germany in the first place, and the Germans accept that without blinking. Whenever she comes into contact with the Nazi officers, she mouths off and refuses to do anything they ask or command, and she’s never so much as even slapped for her insubordination. The German officers – Kurtz and his superior Schafer – sputter at her, but that’s about it. It was so unbelievable that at some points, I was rooting for the Germans, that they would grow a backbone and smack Ace around a bit.

The real meat of the story is in the events surrounding Klein and the Doctor. She knows about the TARDIS because she comes from an alternate future in which the Nazis won the war; they have the TARDIS but don’t know how to use it, and she’s come back to get the Doctor to force him to teach her. He realizes he needs to shut down the alternate future, and he does so (I won’t say how, but it’s very indicative of the Seventh Doctor’s manipulative nature), but in the process, Klein challenges him, asking why he’s the one who gets to decide which version of history is the one that stands, and why she and all the people in her timeline must be sacrificed for it. The Doctor doesn’t waver throughout the discussion, but it should raise such questions in the listener’s mind.

Many of the minor characters were rather, well, unbelievable. One of the prisoners, a journalist, promises to help Ace escape, but gets cold feet just before they put the plan into action, and instead of telling her that he won’t do, he goes to the Germans and rats on his fellow prisoners, so that they are captured and punished. Why? I have no idea. Mr. Tennant’s Kurtz was actually very interesting, an unapologetically despicable character (and well-portrayed; if you’ve ever wanted to hate Mr. Tennant, this is the performance to listen to). A small-minded man, devoted to the Third Reich and reveling in his power over the prisoners from his rank as feldwebel, his hands are still tied by the Geneva Convention, which requires him to treat the prisoners fairly. He’s ambitious, but not very smart, unable to play the games needed to rise in rank or become trusted by the commandant. All of this results in him brandishing his power about and simply being exceedingly cruel to everyone he can. Ace and the other prisoners play on his paranoia to manipulate him, which works sometimes and backfires other times. He was quite a horrid man, but he didn’t deserve his gruesome death, torn in half as the TARDIS dematerialized with him halfway in the door – another shocking scene that I was surprised to find in Doctor Who. If the audio had had the nerve to maintain this kind of atmosphere, allowing the Germans to dominate and preventing Ace from owning the camp, it would have been one of Big Finish’s best.

“Survival”

The last two nights’ viewing fare was “Survival,” which was the final episode of the classic series of Doctor Who. I’m going to say up front that I really didn’t get this episode, at all.

Spoilers!

The Doctor and Ace arrive in Perivale because Ace wanted to come home and see her friends, and they discover that people have been disappearing and there are a lot of black cats running around. In a nutshell (because the actual plot is much more complicated), they discover that the cats are teleporting people from Earth to their home on a distant planet where cheetah people are hunting them for food. If a person survives long enough, then he turns into a feral cheetah person and becomes the hunter. The reason they’re on Earth looking for people is that the Master had gotten trapped on the planet and was turning into a cheetah person, and he realized that if he could get a human to become a cheetah person, he could grab onto that person when it goes “home,” which would be Earth – thus a way to escape.

Ace, the Doctor, and a small group of humans end up on the planet, and when one of them, Mitch, finally turns (using a vampire phrase, which is rather appropriate), the Master escapes back to Earth. Thus, the protagonists have to wait until another person turns, and that person is Ace. She starts to turn feral, but the Doctor is able to convince her to keep her humanity, and she brings them home to Earth, where they then have to battle the Mitch and the Master. The Doctor defeats Mitch, and then, when battling the Master, they get teleported back to the cheetah planet, where the Doctor finally gets the upper hand and is about to bash the Master with a rock when he finally resists the call to violence and refuses to kill him. He is then transported back to Earth, where he collects Ace and they return to the TARDIS.

I spent most of this episode rather bemused. The theme of the episode was “survival of the fittest,” and that’s certainly what it’s about, with a number of conflicts, on both Earth and the cheetah planet, stemming from survival on different levels. It just seemed to have a very rambling plot and a creepy half-cat Master who couldn’t decide if he wanted to be a cat or not. The end, with the Doctor rejecting the life of animalistic violence, was meant to hammer home the point that once a species becomes intelligent, there is more to life than just survival of the fittest, but the episode was a tortuous route to a rather unsatisfying payoff.

The best part of the episode was the final dialogue, which was crafted with the knowledge that this was probably the final episode of the show. It was both a fitting end to the episode about violence and to the series itself, and I leave you with it now.

“There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea’s asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there’s danger, somewhere there’s injustice and somewhere else the tea’s getting cold! Come on, Ace — we’ve got work to do!”