Friday

Doctor Who Notes 20

The twentieth season of Doctor Who celebrates the program’s past by drawing upon various elements of the “Doctor Who Universe.” First, there is a return to Gallifrey to deal once and for all with the threat of Omega, in a sequel to season ten’s “The Three Doctors.” Then, the Mara returns from the previous season to meet its final fate. Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart returns after several years for a time-bending adventure. The Black Guardian finally seeks revenge on the Doctor for thwarting his earlier scheme to possess the Key to Time, and the Master turns up as well for another round with his arch-enemy. The series was followed, several months later, by a special anniversary episode featuring numerous characters from the show’s two decades.


From “Arc of Infinity”

While attempting some repairs to the TARDIS, the Doctor and Nyssa encounter an antimatter creature that is trying to cross the dimensional boundary. However, they escape with the process only half completed.

Nyssa: So if this creature can’t bond with you, it can have no real existence in this universe?
The Doctor: Right.
Nyssa: But to do that, it would have to have detailed biological information about you.
The Doctor: Which in my case exists only in the Matrix on Gallifrey.
Nyssa: So someone there passed it on!

* * *

Nyssa: Doctor, we’ve changed course!
The Doctor: The High Council of Time Lords -- we’re being taken back to Gallifrey!
Nyssa: Why?
The Doctor: I don’t know! It must be urgent -- only twice before in our history has the recall circuit been used!

The Doctor fears he has been brought back to Gallifrey to be executed, thereby preventing the creature from ever crossing the dimensional boundary. They are brought before the High Council, where Lord President Borusa notes that the Doctor, too, has regenerated. He also somehow recognizes Nyssa.

Borusa: The space-time parameters of the Matrix have been invaded by a creature from the antimatter world. We know its composition and how unstable is the magnetism that shields it. The creature must be expelled immediately if we are to avert disaster.
The Doctor: Without knowing its purpose here?
Borusa: Its presence here must be our first concern. Antimatter cannot coexist in harmony in our universe.
The Doctor: Lord President, this creature is here now because it bonded with me. To do so it needed something very special, full and precise details of my biological make-up. Now, I didn’t pass this information on. Somebody did. The question is who.
Castellan: We considered this, Doctor, but the implications are quite preposterous.
The Doctor: Chancellor, can bonding occur without the full imprint of a so-called bio scan?
Thalia: Not to my knowledge. But the power of this creature is outside the limits of what we know, Doctor.

The creature is really Omega, the stellar engineer who gave the Gallifreyans mastery over time. He has convinced Councilor Hedin, an old friend of the Doctor’s, to help him leave the antimatter universe and return to Gallifrey. Believing he is working in the best interests of Time Lord society, Hedin engineers an elaborate conspiracy to give Omega control of the Matrix. When the plot is revealed, however, Hedin sacrifices himself to save the Doctor from the Castellan’s blaster. Hedin apparently believed that the Time Lords owed more to Omega than to leave him in the antimatter universe, although Omega demonstrates his insanity when he seeks to induce a cataclysmic matter-antimatter explosion on the Earth. However, at first, he seems overwhelmed by the simple pleasure of existing, before his body begins to rapidly decay. Exactly what happened to him when his corporeal form disintegrated remains a mystery. He is apparently destroyed just in time, but the Doctor fears he may one day return yet again.

The Doctor: I warned you this would happen, Omega.
Omega: Things could have been different. The power and greatness of Omega could have been yours. But no! Your hatred of me --
The Doctor: We didn’t hate you, Omega. Why couldn’t you be content to survive as you were? Why?
Omega: Time to come home, Doctor. Time for rest, to find peace. But it’s over now. All must die.

After Omega takes control of Gallifrey, the Doctor is able to escape to Earth with the help of the High Council and another of his old friends, Damon, who works in the Citadel communications center. Little is revealed about their relationship, though Damon proves very loyal to the Doctor, helping him escape from Commander Maxil and the Citadel Guards and to expose the conspiracy. Cardinal Zorac complains that whenever the Doctor returns to Gallifrey, there is violence, and the Castellan and his guards do seem to relish the intrigue. Undoubtedly, life in the Citadel is generally calm, and the guards enjoy the opportunity to strut their stuff perhaps a bit overzealously.

It is unclear how much time has elapsed for Tegan Jovanka since she last saw the Doctor and Nyssa. She has gotten a haircut and also lost her job as an air hostess, which prompted her to go to Amsterdam to meet up with her cousin Colin Fraser. It is there that she stumbles onto Omega’s secret base and is taken prisoner. They are soon rescued by the Doctor, and once Omega is defeated and Colin is safe, Tegan decides to rejoin the Doctor on his travels.


From “Snakedance”

When Tegan misreads the TARDIS coordinates, taking them to the planet Manussa, the Doctor suspects that she is still possessed by the Mara, an artificially created psychic force which they encountered earlier on Deva Loka. The Mara has brought them to its home planet in hopes of forming a body for itself so as to return to physical existence. It exerts a powerful influence over Tegan’s mind until taking her over completely. The Doctor tries to figure out the Mara’s plan by examining archaeological remains, though the local authorities think he is an apocalyptic lunatic. In the end, the Mara is destroyed.


From “Mawdryn Undead”

After retiring from UNIT in 1976, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart took a position at a boys school teaching mathematics. A year later, he meets a young woman named Tegan Jovanka, who is traveling with the Doctor. On returning to the TARDIS, he meets another young woman named Nyssa and a strange-looking man claiming to be the Doctor, although experiencing a mutated regeneration due to an accident with a transmat capsule. Tegan is unconvinced that the man isn’t an impostor. The TARDIS travels to a spaceship and the man disembarks. While searching for him, the Brigadier spots seven similar aliens. He then meets a boy named Turlough, whom Tegan had mentioned. Turlough tells him he’ll take him to the Doctor, but instead traps him in a small room. However, he soon escapes and meets the aliens, who attempt to return him to Earth, but the capsule can’t leave the ship. The Brigadier pockets a homing device from the console and returns to the ship in search of the Doctor. Hearing strange noises, the Brigadier goes through a doorway into a laboratory where he meets himself. There is a blinding flash, and when he comes to, he is back at the school, seeing the TARDIS dematerialize. The experience is deeply disturbing and the Brigadier soon suffers a nervous breakdown, during which he blocks all memory of the Doctor from his mind.

Six years later, in 1983, the Brigadier’s classic car is wrecked by two students, Turlough and Ibertson. When Ibertson reports that Turlough has vanished, the Brigadier finds him up the hill with an eccentric young man who follows him back to the school and mentions UNIT, much to the Brigadier’s surprise. Only after talking with the stranger for a while does the Brigadier’s memory begin to return and he recognizes the Doctor. When the Doctor mentions Tegan, the Brigadier remembers her. This helps the Doctor figure out what happened to his lost TARDIS. Slowly, the Brigadier remembers more details of their previous encounter, though it is still hazy. They return to the transmat capsule where they find Turlough inside. The Doctor is concerned that if the Brigadier should meet himself aboard the ship, it would short out the time differential, causing a temporal catastrophe. The capsule has broken down, but the Brigadier remembers the homing device he’s had in a box for six years. Headstrong as ever, the Brigadier insists on going with them to the spaceship, wanting to find out what caused his memory loss. They discover a laboratory containing a metamorphic symbiosis regenerator, a device used by Time Lords in cases of acute regenerative crisis, which has been stolen from Gallifrey. Hearing a voice, the Brigadier goes to investigate. When he returns, it seems the Doctor has been mutilated, but once hooked up to the device, the man admits his name is Mawdryn. The Doctor returns with Nyssa, where they learn the aliens stole the machine in an attempt to become Time Lords. But the experiment caused a perpetual mutation, so they were banished to the ship and placed within a warp ellipse. The Doctor is unwilling to sacrifice himself to help them until he realizes it is the only way to cure Nyssa and Tegan of a virus created by the mutation. Just as the Brigadier is about to activate the device, his younger self enters the laboratory and there is a blinding flash. The energy from the time differential shorting out saves the Doctor, Tegan, and Nyssa, and allows the aliens to finally die. The Doctor returns the Brigadier to the school in 1983, where they say good-bye.

Turlough is not really an English schoolboy, but is Vislor Turlough, a political prisoner exiled from his home planet of Trion. He is contacted by the Black Guardian, who wishes to use him to assassinate the Doctor. The Black Guardian promises to free Turlough from his imprisonment if he agrees. Turlough makes several attempts but cannot bring himself to kill the Doctor. From the knowledge he displays, it is certainly clear to the Doctor that Turlough does not belong on Earth in 1983, and he agrees to allow him to join the TARDIS crew. The Doctor eventually learns of the Black Guardian’s plot and defeats him, freeing Turlough from his influence. Although the Doctor is hesitant to trust him completely, they travel together until Turlough finds his long-lost brother on Sarn and learns that his exile has been rescinded, at which time he returns home to Trion.


From “Terminus”

Following the Black Guardian’s instructions, Turlough attempts to sabotage the TARDIS. His actions cause a temporal instability wave to sweep through part of the ship, including Nyssa’s room, where she is working on some experiments synthesizing enzymes. The Doctor flips a switch on the main console, causing the wall of Nyssa’s room to phase into another ship. Nyssa goes through the doorway and disappears.

Tegan: Where did the other spacecraft come from?
The Doctor: The TARDIS found it. There’s a failsafe. On impending breakup, it seeks out and locks onto the nearest spacecraft.
Tegan: You never mentioned it before!
The Doctor: Well, it never worked before.

The ship soon docks at a gigantic space station called Terminus, where people infected with Lazar’s Disease are sent to die. Terminus is located at the exact center of the known universe, and the Doctor speculates that the pilot had once jettisoned an enormous amount of unstable fuel into a void, causing the explosion that led to the formation of the universe. The ship time-jumped to escape the blast, but was caught in the shock wave and pushed billions of years into the future. Nyssa becomes infected with the disease, but is cured in the automated treatment center. Realizing that her skills could turn the station from a death ship into a proper hospital, Nyssa decides to stay. Facing a perilous and uncertain future, she wishes the Doctor and Tegan a tearful farewell.


From “Enlightenment”

The White Guardian attempts to contact the Doctor to warn him of some danger. He relays a set of coordinates, but is cut off by an appearance of the Black Guardian, who threatens the Doctor’s life. After the TARDIS materializes and the Doctor and Turlough go out to investigate, the White Guardian relays another cryptic message to Tegan. They discover they are on a ship run by beings that exist outside of time called Eternals, who are in a race through the solar system in an attempt to alleviate boredom. During a reception, the Doctor takes a fresh celery stalk for his lapel. Turlough discovers one of the Eternals is in league with the Black Guardian and insinuates himself aboard her ship, where he helps the Doctor commandeer the ship and win the race. The prize is enlightenment, granted jointly by the White Guardian and the Black Guardian.

White Guardian: Let the victor receive his prize! You will never destroy the light.
Black Guardian: Others shall do it for me.
White Guardian: Destroy the light and you destroy yourself. Dark cannot exist without knowledge of light.
Black Guardian: Nor light without dark. Your powers are waning.
White Guardian: Others will recharge them for me.
Black Guardian: These creatures have no knowledge of good and evil. Enlightenment will give them power. They will invade time itself! Chaos will come again and the universe will dissolve! Where is the captain of this ship? Where is the captain to receive the prize?
The Doctor: I’m afraid the captain can’t be with us. She met with a rather unfortunate accident. Both the captain and the first mate fell overboard. I brought the ship into harbour... with some assistance.
Black Guardian: You lie!
The Doctor: I leave the lies and deception to you.
Black Guardian: Take care, Doctor. You have not defeated me, you have merely won a minor skirmish. The war still goes on.
White Guardian: It seems enlightenment is yours, Doctor.
The Doctor: I’m not ready for it. I don’t think anyone is, especially Eternals.
Tegan: Doctor, I thought --
The Doctor: Yes, not now, Tegan.
White Guardian: You’re right, Doctor. Let the Eternals return to the place from which they came.
Marriner: No! I want to stay!
White Guardian: Back to your echoing void! Back to the vastness of eternity!
Marriner: Tegan, help me!
Tegan: I can’t.
Marriner: I need you!
Tegan: Doctor?
The Doctor: There’s nothing we can do.
White Guardian: You were right, Doctor, in judging no one is fit to claim all enlightenment. I can, however, allocate a share to you, Turlough.
Turlough: Me?
White Guardian: You assisted in bringing the ship to harbour.
Turlough: It’s a diamond! The size -- it could buy a galaxy! I can have that?
White Guardian: Yes.
Black Guardian: I would point out that under our agreement, it is mine. Unless, of course, you wish to surrender something else in its place. The Doctor is in your debt for his life. Give me the Doctor and you can have this, the TARDIS, whatever you wish.
White Guardian: Consider, Turlough. Which will you give him? The Doctor -- or this? The choice is yours.
Turlough: Here, take it!
White Guardian: Light destroys the dark. I think you will find your contract terminated.
Turlough: I never wanted the agreement in the first place.
The Doctor: I believe you.
Tegan: You’re mad!
Turlough: What I said is true!
Tegan: You believe him because he gave up enlightenment for your sake!
The Doctor: You’re missing the point. Enlightenment was not the diamond -- enlightenment was the choice.
White Guardian: Be vigilant, Doctor. Once, you denied him the Key to Time. Now, you have thwarted him again. He will be waiting for the third encounter. His power does not diminish.
Turlough: But the Black Guardian is destroyed!
White Guardian: While I exist, he exists also, until we are no longer needed.


From “The King’s Demons”

The TARDIS materializes in England in the year 1215 in the middle of a jousting tournament watched by King John himself, who naturally mistakes the travelers for demons. The Doctor realizes something is amiss when he remembers the king ought to be in London to sign the oath as a crusader. He soon discovers that the King’s knight Sir Giles is really the Master, and King John is a shape-changing android called Kamelion which the Master discovered on Xeriphas. The Master plans to use Kamelion to undermine key civilizations and set himself up as ruler of the resulting chaos. However, the Doctor steals Kamelion away aboard the TARDIS, where it remains for some time. The Doctor has also sabotaged the Master’s time ship, sending him out of control. Back in the TARDIS, the Doctor sets the coordinates for the Eye of Orion for a well-earned holiday.


Next Adventure


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