Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Serial 88: The Deadly Assassin

Doctor: Tom Baker (4th Doctor)
Companion: None

Written by: Robert Holmes
Directed by: David Maloney

Background & Significance: The start of Tom Baker's era as The Doctor saw a series of behind-the-scenes shifts that transformed Doctor Who significantly, the most important among these being a new producer in Phillip Hinchcliffe and a new script editor in Robert Holmes.

Together, this... triumvirate, I guess you could call it, was Doctor Who at its most successful. The show became immensely popular. Hinchcliffe and Holmes steered the show into darker territories, focusing more on tonally shifting what had previously been fun wacky science fiction into science fiction with a Gothic horrory bent to it. It was a reflection of the like-minded team of Hinchcliffe and Holmes: their interests were the same, and they worked to tell the stories that they loved to tell. A rare, perfect marriage of producer and script editor. Because of all this, in terms of viewership, in terms of popularity, in terms of sheer quality, Classic Doctor Who peaked here, about halfway through its initial run.

But the awesome only lasted for three seasons.

Each of the the Hinchcliffe/Holmes seasons (12, 13, & 14) got progressively stronger and more fine tuned (re: tonally aligned with the horror etc.) as they developed their show and ideas (Season 14, their final season, being so good that it has been nicknamed "The Gothic Season"), until they were removed from their positions not because they were unsuccessful in terms of ratings or popularity (far from it), but rather because of complaints about adult content. We're talking "scary" and "freak-outty". There's an oft used saying about Doctor Who - quite famous - that says "British children watch Doctor Who from behind the sofa". Yeah.... They'd probably do that for the Hinchcliffe/Holmes.

But enough about Hinchcliffe/Holmes for now (we'll talk about them as we get to more and more of their stories in the future). What about this story in particular?

"The Deadly Assassin" is ridiculously significant. Not only does it come about halfway through Doctor Who's Gothic Season, but it's significant in that it's the only story of the classic series that features absolutely no Companion, and it essentially creates The Time Lords from the ground up.

Prior to this, Time Lord mythology was largely undefined and undeveloped. They had first appeared in Patrick Troughton's final serial "The War Games" and then again in Jon Pertwee's "The Three Doctors", but even then they were only loosely defined and never specifically mythologized.

Here, in "The Deadly Assassin", script editor Robert Holmes (who is the most prolific, popular, and awesome of the writers of the classic series) takes the opportunity to completely re-define the mythology behind Gallifrey and the Time Lords. It's here that we first learn of Rassilon, the workings of Time Lord society (including their garish and ridiculous (but so so awesome) outfits), and the concept of limited regenerations.

And he does all that in four episodes.

So let's get to it!


Part 1

We open on a crawl, narrated by The Doctor. It's an interesting choice, and it gives us some nice exposition about the Time Lords and what their role is. It's a bit melodramatic, though, calling it "the most dangerous crisis in their long history." It made me go "Really, now...", but honestly, it's just drumming up the drama and tension, so I can't really fault them for that. And besides, who's going to remember this crawl after four weeks of awesome serial? Heck, you can get to the end of the first episode and maybe probably not remember it.

The Doctor is in his TARDIS, on his way to Gallifrey, fiddling, when suddenly he has a premonition of his near future. It is of the Panopticon on Gallifrey, and he sees many Time Lords and then himself standing in a loft, overlooking the Time Lord President. Target in his sights, he shoots the Time Lord President dead.

Awesome opening.

Back in the TARDIS, he recoils in horror, shocked at this sudden vision of the future. He collapses just as the TARDIS is about to land on Gallifrey.

The TARDIS lands and is immediately set upon by The Chancellery Guards, who approach ominously and in silly red and white uniforms. The Doctor begins muttering to himself, realizing that he has landed just outside of the capital.

This is something that's a bit problematic, that.... well... I find it problematic. Robert Holmes commented on it after the fact, but the absence of Companion hampers The Doctor's ability to effectively explain what is going on, especially in this opening where it's The Doctor in the TARDIS. So what you're left with is The Doctor excessively talking to himself.

The Moral of the Story? You need a Companion.

On the viewer, The Doctor sees the arrival of Castellan Spandrell, who oversees the Chancellery Guard. He provides nice exposition, talks like an Eastern European Commie (The Time Lords are pro-Proletariat), and orders the TARDIS broken into and the occupants arrested. Before he leaves, he also reveals that it is Presidential Resignation Day.

The Doctor puts two and two together, realizing that the premonition was of The Time Lord President during his resignation, meaning he doesn't have long.

In the computer room, Spandrell, along with Co-ordinator Engin, query the Time Lord's massive supercomputer (known as The Matrix) about Type-40 TARDISes. The Matrix reveals that one of the Type-40's was recalled but never de-commissioned (i.e. stolen). Spandrell warns the Chancellery Guard that the occupant of the TARDIS is a convicted criminal. The Guard pull their stasers, just to be on the safe side.

In the TARDIS, the Doctor writes a letter to warn the President and starts to set elements and pieces into motion to aid his escape from the guard, and not a moment too soon.

Soon, the guards manage to unlock the door and break inside, which they do. Inside, they find The Doctor, sitting in a chair facing away from the door, smoking a pipe. They approach slowly, but when they see him, they only find--

The Doctor is not where they think he is.

The head security (Hilred) pulls off the note, and is just about to read it when he sees, on the scanner, The Doctor skipping away towards the citadel. They give chase.

The Doctor manages to make it down a corridor and calls for the elevator, but out of it steps a member of The Guard. Not missing a beat, said Redshirt Guard appears and prepares to lead The Doctor away by staser point.

But before he can do that, he's shot down! By some Asian gang? No! This is the 70's! It's a mysterious fella in a black cloak.

The Doctor calls out to him, but there's no time to investigate as the Guard is right behind him. He slips into the elevator, and sends it to another floor, but ducks out just before it leaves, tricking the Guard so he can backtrack-slip back into the TARDIS.

Spandrell and Engin continue to investigate The Doctor, providing backstory (for those who don't know) about The Doctor and his banishment to Earth and then the commuting of his sentence by the CIA (Celestial Intervention Agency), which explains the lack of information on The Doctor (the CIA locked and re-allocated sections of his records).

Commander Hilred enters and gives a status update, proudly proclaiming The Doctor is in the tower he landed in, cornered. Spandrell will have none of this though, as he berates Hilred for misconduct, saying he had ample warning of the TARDIS's arrival and The Doctor still got out and is now running around in a fifty three story tall tower.

Hilred apologizes and hands the Spandrell the letter the Doctor left behind, which is written in Gallifreyan and warns of the impending assassination of the President. Spandrell is confused, but resigns himself to arresting The Doctor and bringing him in.

Engin finds the Doctor's biog and hands it to Spandrell, who notes that, from the color scheme, The Doctor is a member of the Prydonian Chapter. Spandrell is perturbed, and goes to advise Chancellor Goth about the situation.

And this is Chancellor Goth. He, like several other Time Lords, enjoys wearing some makeup.

Look at that glitter.

Goth finds the whole thing rather fishy, but Spandrell is convinced. He convinces Goth to remove fifty guards from the Panopticon to aid in the search. Goth asks to see the TARDIS before he meets with the Cardinals for their pre-resignation meeting.

In the TARDIS, The Doctor tunes the TARDIS's scanner to the local news broadcast and gets the news according to on-the-scene correspondant, Runcible.

Gonna be honest with you, this guy Runcible reminded me of Eric Idle of Monty Python fame. It's just the manner and the touch of speaking and his look... something about his look. It reminded me of some Monty Python fake-newscast thing. I loved it.

The Panopticon, with all the Chapters forming High School Cliques

He's the one covering the resignation ceremony, and as such, he spends some time giving some nice exposition (goodness I say that a lot, don't I?) about the various Time Lord chapters and such, and snags an interview with Cardinal Borusa (the same Borusa who later becomes the bad guy in The Five Doctors), leader of the Prydonian Chapter and lover of glittery make-up (like Chancellor Goth).

Lookit that eye shadow. Damn.

Runcible tries to ask Borusa a question, but Borusa SLAPS HIM DOWN, calling him a failure at the Academy and not worth his time. Wow. What a dick. Good thing he won't look like the Queen from Snow White later... oh wait...

The news reporter shrugs off this attack, saying that Borusa is just bitter that he's not the favorite for the Presidency and that Goth is. The Doctor gets mad (for... some reason) and switches channels, seeing Goth, Engin, and Castellan Spandrell approach the TARDIS.

Goth admires the TARDIS and orders it transducted into the Capitol for safekeeping, inadvertantly allowing The Doctor access to the Time Lord Capitol and the Panopticon.

Even the Time Lords can appreciate a good old fashioned grandfather clock.

The Doctor exits the TARDIS and finds conveniently placed Time Lord robes.

That's his "I'm getting an idea" face.

We cut to an underground something or another, where mysterious guy and guy in black robe make discussions of ominous things about The Doctor being inside the Capitol and him knowing that he's entering a trap and going in anyways.

Oh. And then Mysterious Guy calls Guy in Black Robe "Master." You know what that means.

The Master has returned. And now he looks like this.

Remember that part about kids getting scared because Doctor Who is scary? Yeah. Look at that Rotting, Gooey Master. That's horrific. It's fantastic. And it makes sense based on the mythology they develop in this episode.

Seriously. Gooey Master. Gross, but super super awesome.

The Chancellery Guard informs Castellan Spandrell that The Doctor is nowhere to be found in the tower. They locate the TARDIS and see that The Doctor has stolen gold robes and can now access the Capitol freely.

The Doctor made sure to leave his clothes behind, too, making sure to put and button the vest over his nice shirt and to put the jacket over all of that. That's good of him. Very organized. It's nice to know he doesn't want too many wrinkles. Me, I woulda just saved the ten minutes it probably took to do this and just tossed it all somewhere.

Some Time Lords talk briefly while dressing (they dress in pairs, it is Time Lord custom). The Doctor takes the gold robe he stole and replaced it with one Time Lord's orange robes. He makes sure to help the Time Lord put it on, though.

I really like all these bits. It's very methodical about what The Doctor's doing to break into the Panopticon and it's him using his know-how. That's a really nice touch.

In the Panopticon, Runcible's camera man maneuvers the camera inexpertly, but is subdued by a black figure who doesn't like the way he's moving the camera! The black figure then starts to assemble a staser rifle, preparing for the assassination.

In the Assassin's sights is The Doctor, dressed in Prydonian robes.

The President has his sash secured, his rod in hand (not dirty), his robes the white of... something. He is prepared to resign.

The Doctor, fully Time Lorded out in the Panopticon avoids the gaze of the patrolling Chancellery Guard by talking to Runcible. Runcible takes a minute to recognize him, but eventually realizes who it is, and asks him about his "facelifts". Ever the coy, The Doctor says he's had "several so far."


The President's arrival imminent, Runcible tries to get into touch with his camera man, but there's no response. The Doctor looks up into the gallery and sees not just no camera man, but an unoccupied camera and a staser rifle.

And here we have our first youtube clip. Watch what happens. It's blow-your-mind sorta cliffhanger, from Runcible's what face (see below) to The Doctor's Time Lord head-shoulder piece thing flying off to the awesome awesome cliffhanger.

I think this Runcible-says-what face sums it up perfectly.

And that's how Part 1 ends. It's badass. Friend Cassandra of the blog called it "Confusing" and "What?" but I think it's positively genius. I know if I was watching this live for the first time, I'd get to the end of the episode and be ANGRY that I'd have to wait another week for the stunning conclusion [to the cliffhanger. There's still another three parts to go]

Part 2:

We come back just before the cliffhanger, when The Doctor enters the gallery. Events play out as they did at the end of part one, but there is one difference. Just before The Doctor raises the rifle to take aim, we see this shot.

Which is just... Great. It's so wonderfully wonderfully classic. The cliffhanger is not what you thought it was, because there was one piece of evidence missing.That's great. That's certainly a better cliffhanger than "Oh no Sarah Jane's going to fall!.... onto an outcropping".

No, I'm still not over that.

Time Lords crowd around the collapsed President, struggling to see what's going on, mass confusion as they try to suss out what's happened. The Doctor attempts to escape, but is captured, rifle in hand, and brought down to the Panopticon.

Spandrell orders The Doctor carted away to the Detention Center, but no sooner has he done this than Chancellor Goth informs him that the President is dead. Goth, Spandrell, and Borusa argue over what to do.

Borusa says they should appoint a new Time Lord President immediately, but Goth advocates immediate trial and execution followed by open and fair elections, as the Time Lords need to not appear weak in a time of Crisis. This is an odd choice by Goth, who was thought to be the most obvious choice for the candidacy.

I f*#&$ love this shot.

The Doctor lands in a Detention Room, where he is being tortured by a member of the Chancellery Guard. Said dude has a torture beam or something or another. He says there are fifteen settings on the beam and The Doctor is only at level nine, which seems... fairly bearable. I assume level one is light tickling or something preposterous like that.

Spandrell enters and informs The Doctor of the situation, saying he only has three hours to live, as that is how long the trial against him will take. The Doctor claims he's been framed and makes his case to Spandrell.

The Doctor is put on trial. Goth's Prosecution Team (there's a Law & Order: Gallifrey that could spin out of this episode too) puts on a swiftly fierce case, but The Doctor's none too worried about all that. He just sits throughout the entire trial drawing on a legal pad.

After a bit, the prosecution rests, and they ask The Doctor if he has anything to say in his defense. Proudly, The Doctor stands and invokes "Article 17" and offers himself as a candidate for the Presidency, in effect giving himself the right to fairly present his claim.

There's rustling from everywhere and Goth gets PISSED at The Doctor's abuse of legal statutes. Alas, Borusa makes note that court must be adjourned until the elections are concluded, giving The Doctor forty eight hours to prove his innocence.

The Doctor is put under the watch of Castellan Spandrell, and the Doctor sets out to prove to Spandrell that he is innocent.

Downstairs in the basement, The Gooey Master is informed that The Doctor has invoked Article 17. The Gooey Master is unsurprised by all this, and says all is going to plan.

And for posterity's sake, let's do another shot of The Gooey Master.

Finger Lickin' Good.

The Doctor and Spandrell investigate The Panopticon, starting with the rifle. The Doctor tells Spandrell to hit a target, but the shot goes wide, proving that the sights were off and he couldn't have hit The President even if he had tried; nor, for that matter, could he have accurately hit the true assassin.

Spandrell brings in Runcible and tell him to go get the camera footage while he and The Doctor try to locate the Doctor's wild staser shot. Runcible reaches the gallery and removes the camera's footage, but no sooner has he done that than he screams and faints dramatically.

The Doctor, Spandrell, and Hilred race to the gallery where they find and revive Runcible, who says he found his camera technician. It turns out he was hiding...

In the camera.

The Doctor reveals that he recognizes this technique of matter condensation as a technique favored by The Master. He realizes that the entire thing has been an elaborate trap orchestrated by The Master as "some final challenge".

Spandrell sends Runcible off to develop the footage and asks The Doctor to tell him everything he knows about The Master. The Doctor talks about The Master as his sworn archenemy and hypothesizes that there won't be any record of him in the database.

And then Runcible appears and faints again.


And then everybody gets "huh." face.

Back in The Matrix room, Engin proudly proclaims there is no record of The Master, therefore he cannot exist. The Doctor [calls Engin a moron and] says that The Master probably destroyed it.

Spandrell and Engin get up in The Doctor's grille about how that's just not possible, but The Doctor [calls them both morons this time and] claims he could do it himself, explaining that this Time Lord technology is horribly outdated and easily hackable.

Huh. Time Lords shoulda upgraded to Macs. Maybe if they had done that they wouldn't have lost The Time War.

The Doctor inquires about the APC Net, and Engin explains that it's trillions of brain cells taken from Time Lord brain samples that act as a self-propogating Matrix that forms a giant supercomputer which they use as a giant synthesizer to predict future developments.

Okay. Let's be real here. This was WRITTEN in 1976. For the time, this is some pretty crazy awesome scifi sh*t. But wait, it's about to get a whole lot better.

The Doctor finds it odd that The Matrix didn't predict the assassination of the Time Lord President (as that is one of its major functions) and theorizes that The Master intercepted the prediction and telepathically beamed it into The Doctor's mind.

All this sci-fi awesome is almost as badass as The Doctor's Pirate Shirt.

Engin and Spandrell are still not convinced. How could someone go in their and, with pinpoint accuracy amongst millions and millions of minds and thoughts, locate the premonition and pull it out and beam it into The Doctor's head.

And then Robert Holmes blows my mind.

The Doctor says the only way to do that is to link with the computer as a living mind, travel inside, and pull it out manually. Realizing the implications of this, The Doctor decides to go into The Matrix and find out what's going on in there, knowing full well there's a the probable chance that he'll encounter the mysterious assassin and maybe have to fight him.

Now. Why is this all a big deal? Or rather, why am I making such a big deal out of this?

It doesn't seem like this is a big deal, and, in a way I guess it isn't. But this is why Robert Holmes is really, really good and really, really popular. Y'see, what The Doctor's doing right here is interfacing his brain with a supercomputer and transporting his mind into a virtual reality that exists as a manifestation of the computer matrix.

Now that's all very well and good and obvious to us (that entire idea is the basis of The Matrix among many, many other things), but.... this is a bit ahead of its time. This story was written almost thirty five years ago, and this idea of hacking into a computer mainframe (specifically, "Cyberpunk") didn't hit widespread recognition and popularity until William Gibson's Neuromancer in 1984.

Yeah. Robert Holmes did it here. Eight years before that. That's amazing. Like... really amazing. This is why I love Doctor Who. Look at that! It's right there!

But back to the story.

The Doctor wakes up in a quarry, dressed the same, but with his trademark scarf on. A creepy voice laughs maniacally, chuckling to itself. The Doctor sees a crocodile, but no sooner has he seen it, than it and the swamp around it vanishes.

He stumbles down a hill, and swings his scarf around a tree branch to keep himself from slipping. And no sooner does he do that then...

A God Damn Samurai shows up.

The Doctor gets scared (dude. It's a frakkin samurai) and the samurai pulls his sword and slices the scarf, making the Doctor fall.


The Doctor awakens with a gas mask respirator thing over his face, on the operating table of some surgeon with a big giant ass needle.He attempts to inject The Doctor, but The Doctor rolls away, and as he does so, the illusion vanishes and explosions happen.

The Doctor runs for it and sees a random donkey and guy with a gas mask amidst the clouds. I find this funny, because there is literally NO explanation for it given ever. It is merely thing The Doctor sees that's kinda "Woah that's weird."

(Not only that, they make sure to put it in the pre-cap that kicks off the next episode... why? No idea)

The Doctor runs away some more, and randomly finds himself in a wooded area with a train track, which he stands on. He looks around to see--


And that's when the switch track's lever gets randomly thrown.

The Doctor's foot gets caught between the now-changed rails! He screams, and hears the train whistles start to go. The engine on the red train revs, and races towards him, Doctor's foot still caught inexorably in the trap!

And that's how the second part ends. Great cliffhanger. Very much I want to know what happens next. WILL THE DOCTOR LOSE HIS FOOT? WILL HE TAKE THE BLUE PILL OR THE RED PILL?

Also, I wasn't joking about that big giant ass needle.

Part 3:

Back where we left off... The Doctor has his foot in the train track and a train is heading right for him!

He tries to pull it out, but to no avail! And the train's heading towards him! He falls back, ready to lose his good leg (trust me, the other one has not done anything for him ever) only to find...

There is no spoon.

The Doctor realizes that what he was seeing was just illusions, dreams. He walks away, only to find himself back in the quarry ABORTING GIANT FETUSES WITH HIS FEET.

The Doctor yelps, possibly because it MAKES THE CAWING SOUND OF A BIRD AS IT IS SQUASHED FROM EXISTENCE, but probably because he got the once-possibly-living thing all over his nice shoes. On the bright side, what woulda hatched outta that thing would probably have gone in and become a massive computer virus that woulda been the next Hitler or something. So really, it was a good thing.

Wait, no. Cure to cancer. My bad.

And now The Doctor's had enough. He declares that he denies this reality. For a minute, he glimpses the computer system, but the Matrix fights back and he passes out from the backlash.

He awakens to find he is stalked by two eyes, those belonging to The Assassin. The Assassin threatens him, calling it "My world". They leave, and The Doctor presses onwards (which is funny, because I don't know exactly where he's going, just that he is), encountering the sound of rushing water, a clown in reflective glass under sand underfoot, and an Assassin-flown airplane that North by Northwests him.

Honestly, I have no idea how they afforded any of this.

In the aftermath of all this, The Doctor lifts his pant leg to find that he's been pegged by the shots from the airplane. He "There is no spoon"'s his leg and the blood and wound disappears. The Assassin, though, is displeased, and makes the wound re-appear, proclaiming that this reality belongs to him.

The Doctor, not to be outdone, says he will fight The Assassin in The Assassin's reality. Bring it on.

Back in the downstairs of the Time Lord Capitol, The Gooey Master watches as his servant, the Assassin, hunts down The Doctor in the reality of The Matrix.

Also, here's another obligatory Gooey Master shot.

I'd apologize about all these Gooey Master shots, but I'm not sorry. I'm not sorry at all. I keep looking at it and it's so incredibly well done that I literally cannot look away. I'm still not sick of looking at this thing.

The Assassin manifests himself as a rifle carrying, pack wearing hunter with a black face-mask to conceal his identity and begins hunting The Doctor, gunning him down whenever he has the chance (which is quite often in this initial bit).

The Doctor hides in a bush and watches the Assassin as The Assassin takes a healthy, happy swig of water from his canteen. He notes that The Doctor will need water, and unpacks his stuff and unfurls a map to locate the nearest water supply. Traveling light, he leaves his carry-alongs in a clearing and runs off with naught on him but his rifle and poisons the nearby river.

Seizing the opportunity, The Doctor checks the Assassin's canteen (only to find it dry) and raids The Assassin's pack, looking for anything that might be of use. He finds a grenade, and starts to set a trap.

The Doctor: Wilderness survivor.

Having finished their respective tasks, The Assassin returns to his pack and The Doctor heads for the water supply. Once he gets to his pack, however, he sets off the grenade The Doctor planted for him and gets wounded, but not killed or mortally harmed.

The Doctor finds a stream, but can't drink from it due to the Assassin's poison. He manages to.... use a reed to slurp it up with a straw? I dunno? I guess the poison was just on the surface?

But the Assassin, still wounded, is right behind him. The Doctor grabs a thorn, dips it in the remnant of the bottle of poison, scarpers up a tree, loads the pointy object into a reed and sits in wait, ready to pea shooter The Assassin the moment he appears.

With that in your head and leaving you on the cliffhanger, let's move to the goings on in the real world (which is very limited, as this entire episode pretty much takes place in The Matrix).

The Master sends a brainwashed member of the Chancellery Guard to attempt to unplug The Doctor's brain from The Matrix, which would sever the connection and destroy The Doctor's mind. He arrives in the Matrix room and attempts to turn off the machine, but gets a stern warning from Engin. When he tries again, Spandrell reacts violently, throwing him to the ground and SHOOTING HIM.

Commie Time Lords: Shooting First and Asking Questions Later

I dunno. Just seemed a bit harsh and fast to me, don't you think? "Don't touch my stuff!" (But that's probably a natural reaction to communal living, isn't it? Gotta have some of your own stuff).

In the Matrix, The Doctor pea shooters the thorn at the Assassin, catching him in the leg. The Assassin gets PISSED and rifle-fires at The Doctor, catching The Doctor in the arm. The Doctor runs for it, with The Assassin hot on his heels.

That brings us to the second youtube. It's the end of the episode, where we get the reveal of the Assassin and some marsh brawling (it's like mud wrestling but with pond water).

And no, I'm not telling you who The Assassin is, you'll just have to watch. But he does get set on fire (MAYBE! I promise nothing! Also, God shows up. I promise that) and other things happen (or not; man of few promises and all that).

So, the last shot of the bit... That was... Yeah. That was dark.

It was also the thing that started to get Hinchcliffe/Holmes removed from the show. Detractors argued that such a graphic drowning of The Doctor was too intense for children and it was removed from subsequent airings.

It's a shame that this is one of the things that got them removed, because it's a pretty badass ending that makes you just WANT to know what happens next.

Part 4:

We come back to the episode where we left off. The Assassin, revealed to be Goth (fine. I told you. But really, watching the youtube was a great choice, wasn't it? Marsh Gas Fires! It's the worst kind of fire), is attempting to drown The Doctor.

Just in his moment of victory, though, he recoils in pain, getting the world's biggest migraine. The stress of keeping the Matrix's illusions alive has finally taken its toll on his mind. The Doctor staggers out of the water and whacks Goth with a giant stick, knocking him into the water.

Goth emerges back into the real world, and that's when The Master gets PISSED, angry that Goth can't do a job properly or get anything done right. He starts to overload the APC Net, frying the computerness of it all. Goth realizes he's been betrayed and that The Master doesn't care about him. And then Goth gets sad (probably).

Unfortunately for them, The Doctor escapes from The Matrix just as the world collapses around him and warns Spandrell and Engin that Goth is The Assassin and they need to track him down. Deducing that Goth and The Master would need to be hardwired into the Matrix proper, he opts to follow the cables down the service tunnels into the Master and Goth's underground lair.

Seriously, thank God The Time Lords are too cheap for a wireless connection. Won't go Mac. Won't go wireless. They probably put all that money towards more wasteful energy spending. So sad. Some people never learn.

The Master, realizing they're coming and his game is up, withdraws a needle that does NOT look sterilized and uses it on himself. That's so unsanitary. Especially with the Gooeyness of The Master's current skin conditions, now is not the time to be using needles that haven't been properly cleaned. That can lead to a serious infection. Possibly hospital time.

The Doctor, Spandrell, and Engin arrive. They find The Master sitting dead in a chair and Goth lying on his little table thing where he was interfaced into The Matrix.

And man, Goth could use a bit of a shower.

I find that face ridiculously unsettling. The drool, the sweat, the dirt, the all of it. It just looks like the guy's been through hell.

Goth reveals that he found The Master on Terserus and The Master, who had run out of regenerations (which explains why his body is literally decaying... which is just... awesome. That's a great touch and they explain the horror), used his superior mind and the promise of the Presidency to manipulate Goth into doing all these things.

And then Goth dies before he can reveal what The Master was after.

Engin, Spandrell, The Doctor, and Borusa convey the story of Goth, but Borusa is not so comfortable with it. He means to turn Goth into a hero, saying "In the absence of heroes it becomes necessary to invent them." (I love that line). He orders The Doctor's express departure from Gallifrey after he has given a testimony about The Master and who he was so they can turn The Master into a proper adversary.

I love that. Borusa's character here is so good at being such a dick. Changing the present right in front of their eyes so he can best serve the people (as he sees fit, anyway. That's awesome).

But The Doctor's not convinced. The Master gave up too easily and wanted to make Goth the President. That makes no sense. He turns to Engin, asking him about the role of the President.

Engin tells The Doctor about the ceremonial artifacts of the Presidency, including the Sash and Rod of Rassilon. (This, by the way, is the first mention of founder-of-Time-Lord-Society Rassilon, which is awesome). And that's when The Doctor feels his hair start to curl, which can only mean one of two things.

Either it's about to rain, or he's onto something.

He inquires about Rassilon and what was up with him. The computer tells them about the Eye of Harmony and how it powers things. The Doctor realizes that The Master wants to open the mythical Eye of Harmony and... do something with it.

(Huh. Sounds like something else that is familiar.)

While this is going on, the CSI: Gallifrey team finds The Master's discarded needle and show it to Engin, who brings it to The Doctor, saying it's poison and The Master killed himself. The Doctor, with his vast taste-testing powers, deduces that it's not poison but a neural inhibitor and they've been duped! The Master is still alive.

They race down to the morgue, and The Master, who has risen (God be praised), gets a gun on them and steals the Sash of Rassilon. He shoots The Doctor and Spandrell (don't worry, they're conveniently only stunned) and locks them inside the morgue, the inevitable at hand.

And then comes the big climax of The Master versus The Doctor over The Eye of Harmony. It's a youtube. It's epic. It's fun. It's awesome. Also epic.

Crisis averted, The Doctor debriefs Borusa again. Borusa berates The Doctor for causing too much mayhem (but gives The Doctor a nine out of ten. Too bad he has to go and mess that up by playing Time Lord D&D later). The Doctor heads out to his TARDIS, followed by Spandrell and Engin.

And then The Doctor takes notice of the grandfather clock from earlier. He takes a glance at it, and departs in The TARDIS.

And no sooner has he gone than Spandrell and Engin look at the clock and see a hand shut the door to it. The hand of The Master. Spandrell and Engin realize that not only did he survive the epic, but he's escaping in his TARDIS, ready to head out and face The Doctor again.

Which they surely will. Someday.

What about The Doctor?: Confession time: I'm not a huge Tom Baker fan. I think he's a good Doctor, but he didn't really click with me in "Genesis of the Daleks" and he didn't really click with me here either, which is a shame, because I so want him to be just one of the best Doctor's ever (because he is so exceedingly popular or whatever).

I'm not sure what it is, but I'll keep watching him over and over until I figure it out. It's something about his deliveries that are just so.... subtle. It's energetic, sure, but it's... lacking something. Not the humour, certainly, but a thing I can't really put my finger on.

Again. I want to stress that I don't hate him, he just hasn't resonated for me in the way most of the other Doctors have.

Lucky for me, there's a ton of him coming up and it'll be fun to see him again (as there is more coming up and soon). I just need to... figure out his take, I guess? Because it's so wildly different from anything else and I find it peculiar. But... he is funny and he is charismatic and charming... I just don't know.

But I guess we'll all come to help figure that out together.

Next Time!: 5th Doctor! Omega Retuns! A trigger happy bird creature! Homicidal Time Lords! An Undercover Sixth Doctor! Too Many Streets in Amsterdam! And Nyssa's What Face! "Arc of Infinity"! Coming Next Tuesday!

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