Recap: The Doctor, suffering post-regenerative melodrama, has come to Titan III to meditate until he is fully himself again. He and Peri have discovered another Time Lord, Azmael, the former leader of Jaconda. Azmael serves the new ruler of Jaconda, a bug-like creature called Mestor. Azmael has kidnapped two genius twins to do some math. The Doctor was just seemingly killed in an explosion.
The Doctor begins to appear, looking confuses, but disappears. Lang demands to know what’s going on and Peri shrugs him off.
Elsewhen, The Doctor appears in the console room and begins working at the controls, complaining about “hit or miss performances”.
With Peri and Lang, The Doctor appears, oddly on the opposite side of the console. He seems surprised when Peri voices that she thought he’d died in the explosion.
Lang demands to know what’s going on. They confirm that he was the only one who survived the crash. He’s unaware of what actually caused the ship to crash, however.
Peri and The Doctor explain they saved his life, and The Doctor asserts they did not abduct the twins; this causes Lang to pull his gun on him, demanding to know what he knows about them. The Doctor says they have to work together if he wants to see the twins.
The Doctor prepares to go to Jaconda.
The twins chastise Azmael for leaving behind his friend and Peri to die. The old Time Lord says they will survive.
Just then, Drak alerts him to another ship on the same course as they. Azmael says it is no concern.
Noma informs Azmael that he set the safehouse to self-destruct. Azmael is outraged and says he gave no such order. Noma agrees, saying “It is what the Lord Mestor would have wished.”
The Doctor tells Peri and Lang he’s not sure why Azmael tried to kill them. Lang says that stopping at Titan III was to put them off the scent, but The Doctor disagrees. He says that Azmael must have faced some menace that has “unhinged his mind”.
On Jaconda, a porter from the royal hatcheries is brought before Mestor. It seems that he was stealing vegetables for his family. Mestor says the punishment is death and orders the guards to stand aside. He sentences the porter to “death by embolism” and the porter is encased in a green glow that kills him.
Mestor orders the body taken away for cold storage (suggesting it could be used as food for the slaves) and gives instructions for Azmael and the twins to be taken to the laboratory when he arrives.
The TARDIS arrives on Jaconda; The Doctor, Peri and Lang exit. The Doctor is horrified to find the planet a terrible, ugly, barren place. The Doctor realises that “the giant gastropods” from Jacondan mythology are responsible for all of the devastation.
Lang says it’s nonsense. The Doctor says the area they are standing in was once a forest, but all that remains are barkless trees and slime trails. He orders them back into the TARDIS.
Azmael contacts Jaconda control, requesting permission to land. He is given permission and instructions to report to palace upon arrival.
The Doctor argues with Peri and Lang about going to the palace. He gets melodramatic again. “Self-pity is all I have left!”
Between Peri’s nagging and Lang’s gun, he agrees to take the TARDIS to the palace. They appear in the catacombs and The Doctor says he’ll accompany Lang, who protests.
“I may be behaving like a manic barometer, but don’t shrug off help when it’s offered. You can’t afford to,” he tells Lang. Lang reluctantly agrees, saying he’ll kill him if he becomes unstable again.
The twins nag Azmael, who turns on them and threatens them at becoming animal fodder.
Peri and Lang follow The Doctor, who isn’t all that sure of where he’s going, though he pretends otherwise.
Azmael takes the twins (accompanied by Drak and Noma) to the palace laboratory. They see a room full of eggs; Azmael says it’s an incubator for the future citizens of Jaconda.
The twins meet Mestor’s chamberlain, whom Azmael calls a lackey. The chamberlain leaves to inform Mestor. Noma stays, saying he has been commanded.
The Doctor shows his companions carvings in the tunnels, showing the myth of how an ancient queen offended the sun god, who sent a plague of gastropods, until the sun god changed his mind and created a drought to kill them. But The Doctor says there must have been some eggs that survive.
Several of the humanoid slugs pass by and The Doctor, Peri and Lang hide. After they pass, Lang steps out and gets suck in the slime trail. He begins using his gun to try to burn his way free.
Mestor meets the twins, instructing Azmael to inform the twins what is going on. Azmael says they need another day. Mestor agrees, saying he will give him that. Azmael demands that Mestor stay out of his thoughts. They argue, but Mestor agrees. Azmael demands that Noma is removed, leaving only Drak to observe him, and Mestor and party depart.
Azmael tells Drak that he was left there as well because they do not trust him, they think he a traitor. Drak says he is not a traitor. Azmael agrees, but says they think Drak is a friend of his.
“I would value your friendship.”
“It might cost you your life.”
“I can think of worse reasons for dying,” Drak says, and he and Azmael grasp each others’ hands in camaraderie.
Azmael then calls the twins over and shows them a map of the solar system. He explains that he once ruled Jaconda, but Mestor has usurped his rule. He asks the twins to help him provide new sources of supply, to bring two lesser planets into orbit around Jaconda, to become the larders of Jaconda.
He needs the twins’ mathematical prowess to establish the perfect balance of the planets to safely orbit Jaconda.
The Doctor complains that Lang is taking too long. He then turns on Peri blaming her and telling her not to argue with him about it being all her fault.
“I will! I’m not letting a manic-depressive, paranoid personality like you shut me up!” GO PERI!!!
After being told to calm down, The Doctor storms off without them.
The twins ask what happens if they refuse to help, Azmael says he will have to kill them.
The Doctor enters, hearing them argue. “Villain! Murderer,” he shouts at Azmael, who is delighted to see his friend still alive. The Doctor charges, shouting, “A thousand neurons on your head!” He grabs the old man, choking him, but the twins and Drak break them up.
The Doctor snaps out of his instability just then, apologising, but demanding to know why he tried to kill he and Peri. The twins and Drak explain that it was Noma. When Azmael inquires how he escaped, he says it’s not important, but wants to know what’s going on.
Lang finally gets his feet out, and he and Peri head off to find The Doctor, but they are attacked by Jacondan guards. Lang is knocked unconscious and Peri is dragged off.
Mestor praises Noma for killing Peri and The Doctor, but just then Peri is brought in. Mestor changes his praise of Noma. The guards tell Mestor about Lang and he orders them to fetch him.
Azmael asks The Doctor his opinion of his plan. The Doctor asks, “You know what will happen, don’t you?” The twins say they’ve already told him. Azmael insists risks must be taken, but The Doctor says this is doomsday. “One tiny error in your calculation, you’ll blow a small hole in the universe!”
Just then, Lang staggers in, telling him they’ve got Peri, as he collapses to the floor. The Doctor dashes to the door with the intent to rescue her, but Drak stops him. Azmael says he cannot go, for Mestor would learn of his plan. “No, Doctor, if necessary, she must die.”
The camera zooms in on The Doctor’s face, as he shouts, “Peri,”… and the credits roll.
Fun, over-the-top cliffhanger there. Me likey.
Noma demands to know why Mestor doesn’t kill her, but he finds her pleasing. (This is a thing, isn’t it. First Sharaz Jek, now Mestor.) However, Mestor is concerned that they haven’t brought back her companion yet, and says he senses danger.
Drak tells The Doctor to be at peace, as he paces about manically. Noma enters with guards and they take The Doctor prisoner; Azmael says to Noma that The Doctor is their friend and will save them from Mestor, but Noma says Mestor is their friend.
The Doctor is brought before Mestor; he’s pleased to see Peri alive and is thrown to the ground before Mestor. Peri begs for them to release him.
The Doctor says he can help with Mestor’s plan, saying he has the practical knowledge to guarantee success. Mestor senses that he’s telling the truth; The Doctor is aware of Mestor reading his mind.
When Mestor asks why he resists his presence in his mind, The Doctor replies, “I’m secretive by nature. Besides, if you were to learn everything too quickly, you’d have no reason to keep me alive.” Brilliant bit, that.
The chamberlain says he is playing with him and not to be trusted. Mestor uses the green glow to cause the chamberlain great pain for daring to argue.
The twins tell Azmael that it is very disconcerting for them to be suffering their memory loss and suggest if he restored their memories, it’d be easier for them to help and they’d be grateful. He agrees and removes the discs from their wrists.
They have their memories and he sends them to work as Lang recovers. The Doctor and Peri are brought in and The Doctor tells his friend he’s agreed to help with the ridiculous plan.
The twins protest working with interruptions and Noma tells them they will do as told. They tell Noma they won’t do their best work. The Doctor and Peri jump in, suggesting if that were to happen, Mestor would be very unhappy and do the embolism ray on Noma.
Noma sends the guards out; the twins and Azmael insist that he join them.
The chamberlain tells Mestor what he’s heard of The Doctor from Azmael before, that he’s a man of great cunning. Mestor says “He’s also egocentric, wilful and quite mad.” Yeah, that pretty much sums up Six.
Mestor instructs the chamberlain to find the TARDIS.
The Doctor questions Azmael about the plan – it seems the planets will occupy the same space, but be in different time phases, one day ahead of the other. When Peri questions that Mestor can travel in time, Azmael nods, saying, “Thanks to me.”
In his throne room, Mestor laughs.
The Doctor is in a trance; Peri tries to get him to react, while Lang looks on. The Doctor suddenly responds, saying the situation is all wrong. He points out that if the planets, which are smaller, are brought closer to the to sun, their orbit would decay and they’d crash into the sun.
The Doctor says Mestor knows this would happen and though he doesn’t know why, this is the intended goal.
The chamberlain and two guards find the TARDIS. Mestor’s power is used, from afar, to open the door. They enter.
The twins have completed their calculations. The Doctor says very good, but is more interested in getting into the hatchery, as he feels the answer is in there. Azmael opens the door and he enters, followed by Peri, Lang, and Azmael.
The Doctor questions where the mucus that feeds the larvae inside is, “These eggs are dry and rubbery. Let’s see what’s inside. A laser cutter, I must have a laser cutter.”
Azmael fetches one and they use it, but nothing happens at first. But then, the larvae inside reacts. The Doctor and Azmael realise that they need much more heat than that to react, to spawn. When The Doctor asks if this room contains all the eggs, Azmael says not hardly, and shows them a huge tunnel beyond filled with eggs further than the eye can see.
Suddenly, it all falls together – the eggs are tough enough to survive the heat of an exploding sun! It seems that Mestor’s plan is to colonise the universe.
Mestor, still in his throne room, is aware of their discussion.
The Doctor says that he and Azmael must deal with Mestor. Azmael says he’s used up all his regenerations and The Doctor is likely to lose his mental focus at any time.
The twins destroy the notes from the computers, keeping the calculations in their heads.
Drak is discovered to be dead, his mind burnt out. Azmael says that means Mestor was using him to monitor their conversations and knows all that has been said.
The Doctor fetches a couple vials and sends Lang to check the corridor. Everyone slips out, Lang and Peri taking the twins to the TARDIS. Peri stops to wish The Doctor good luck before they head out.
“Nice girl. I hope I see her again,” he says to Azmael watching Peri leave.
“I’m sure you will, old friend.”
The two Time Lords head off to the throne room.
Noma receives a mental order from Mestor to find the twins, kill everyone else.
Peri and Lang seem to have gotten lost.
The Time Lords enter the throne room; The Doctor tells Mestor he knows what he’s up to. “I’m not having your sluggy eggs spread all over the universe causing havoc.” That’s such a fun line. I bet Colin loved the pomposity of his Doctor.
Mestor says he is mad, daring to threaten him. The Doctor challenges Mestor, bringing Azmael to warn him to caution. The Doctor demands that Mestor give up his plan, but the gastropod refuses. The Doctor says he brought this on and throws one of the vials at him, but Mestor is protected by some form of laser barrier/field, which destroys the vial before it can reach its target.
Peri and Lang find the right passageway, but Noma and his guards await them. The twins stand in front of Peri and Lang, knowing the Jacondans won’t fire on them. Lang uses that to fire on the guards, getting them, but being winged in the process. However, Noma is the only Jacondan left and Lang gets the drop on him before he can grab a gun.
Mestor is upset at these developments. The Doctor taunts him, “Indigestion Or is it bad news?”
There’s a great deal of banter between The Doctor and Mestor; it seems that The Doctor is intentionally trying to enrage Mestor. Again, Azmael tries to play peacemaker, telling Mestor that The Doctor is not himself.
Mestor says that does not matter, since he tried to kill him, The Doctor will cease to exist. Still, The Doctor taunts and disrespects the gastropod. Mestor says that he tires of his own existence (The Doctor quips, looking at Mestor, “I don’t blame you!”) and will take over The Doctor’s mind and body.
The Doctor laughs, “You? Take over my mind? It would be like throwing a pebble into a lake. It will sink without trace.”
Azmael insists he can do it, but The Doctor laughs, “To a Jacondan perhaps, but I am a Time Lord!”
Mestor is all but enraged (which is seemingly The Doctor’s intent), “Would you like me to demonstrate?”
“Indeed,” The Doctor replies, crossing his arms over his chest.
Mestor blasts Azmael with a green ray; Azmael speaks with Mestor’s voice. However, Azmael seems to recover himself, though he is struggling. He tells The Doctor that Mestor has over-extended himself, trying to control too much.
The Doctor says they must mind-link, but Azmael refuses, saying he will pass to The Doctor that way. He tells The Doctor to destroy Mestor’s body before he returns to it.
Obeying his friend, The Doctor throws the other vial, which strikes this time, and Mestor’s body is smoking and smouldering.
However, Azmael, speaking with Mestor’s voice again, says it is too late. “Now, we must mind link.” Azmael speaks with his voice, “Saying, no.” Both voices come out of Azmael’s mouth, and Azmael tells Mestor that he is regenerating.
The Doctor says he cannot regenerate, but Azmael says he knows that. We see the spirit of Mestor leave Azmael’s body, and the old Time Lord says he is gone.
Noma is screaming in pain as Peri, Lang and the twins watch. Noma says that Mestor is dead.
Dying in The Doctor’s arms, Azmael says that in his state, The Doctor would have been the pebble in Mestor’s lake. This was the only way. The Doctor tells him that he was the finest teacher he ever had.
“You’ve learned all I know, and much besides,” Azmael says. He takes off his ring and gives it to The Doctor, saying, “My only regret is leaving Jaconda. It gave me a good life, many great moments. One of the best, my friend, was that time by the fountain.” Aw… I’m getting choked up a little.
And those are the last words spoken by the Time Lord Azmael.
“I shall miss you, old friend. I shall, indeed,” The Doctor says softly.
Peri notices that the TARDIS door is open. After she goes to find The Doctor, Lang goes to investigate, finding the chamberlain and guards hiding behind the console. He directs them out.
The chamberlain tries to tell Lang that their planet is finished and they should use the TARDIS to leave. Lang tells him to shut up.
The Doctor surprises Peri in the tunnels.
Still, the chamberlain petitions Lang to take him away. The twins say they could pilot it, but The Doctor arrives saying he’ll handle it. He says it’s time to get the twins back to Earth, but Peri wonders who will lead the Jacondans.
“Certainly not that thing,” The Doctor says, referring to the chamberlain, “and not Azmael, either… he’s dead.” Peri says they have to help, but The Doctor says they’re capable of handling it on their own.
Lang says he’d like to stay, that he has nothing on Earth for him. The Doctor gives him Azmael’s ring and goes into the TARDIS.
Peri sends the twins in after him and she apologises to Lang for The Doctor’s behavior. He says it was nice to meet her, no matter how strange the circumstances, and then he and the chamberlain head off.
In the TARDIS, Peri chastises The Doctor for being so rude to Hugo (Lang). She asks if he’s having another one of his fits.
“You may not believe this, but I have fully stabilised.”
“Then I suggest you take a crash course in manners.”
“You seem to forget, Peri, I’m not only from another culture, but another planet. I am, in your terms, an alien. I am therefore bound to have different values and customs.”
“Your former self was polite enough.”
“At such a cost. I was on the verge of becoming neurotic.”
Peri all but shouts, “We all have to repress our feelings from time to time! I suggest you get back into the habit.”
“And I would suggest, Peri, that you wait a little before criticising my new persona. You may well find it isn’t quite as disagreeable as you think.” (I wonder if the writers were talking to the fans with this dialogue.)
“Well, I hope so,” Peri says.
The Doctor turns and walks to the door leading deeper into the TARDIS, “Whatever else happens, I AM The Doctor… whether you like it or not.” He smiles, and slowly, Peri does as well… and the final credits roll.
I am a huge fan of the Sixth Doctor and I loved this exchange. I have to believe that it was a subtle breaking of the fourth wall and the writers were talking to the viewers.
A fun serial, notably for the Peri/Doctor interactions, as well as the connection with Azmael.
I’ve read that this was voted the worst of the first 200 stories in a 2009 poll. Obviously, nobody’s ever seen The Web Planet, The Celestial Toymaker or several other really bad serials from the early days.