Okay, I’ve never seen this and don’t know much about it, though I do know who the antagonist is. And I’m excited because of that alone. So let’s do it! (Edit – having watched it, I do believe I saw this as a very young child. I have vague recollections of having watched some Pertwee serials when I was younger than 9 years of age, though I’ve always considered Tom Baker to be my first Doctor – I have definitive recollections of my first Tom Baker serial, and I will discuss that when we get to that one.)
It’s a dark and stormy night (no really) outside a fortress set into a mountain’s side. A man in robes walks through the castle, entering a throne room. There, he informs the king that several guests have arrived, they await only the ambassador from Earth.
The chancellor (the man who just arrived) and the high priest begin arguing about decisions made and abandoning the old ways. The king (a young king, it must be noted, played by David Troughton, the son of Patrick!) stands up and yells for them to stop. Despite the king’s efforts, the two men keep arguing – the king asserts to the priest that it has been decided that Peladon will, with approval of the arriving delegates, join the Galactic Federation.
Torbis, the chancellor, shoots Hepesh, the high priest, a smug (rather assholish) grin as he departs. All he needed to do was stick out his tongue to be properly immature about it. As Torbis heads to deliver news of the arrival of the delegate from Alpha Centauri to the others (as bid by his king) a furry monster attacks him in the hall. He is knocked down (and killed, presumably) and when Hepesh and a mute servant arrive, they find his body. The servant, having seen the creature, points to a sconce bearing its likeness when Hepesh, arriving too late to see the creature, asked what happened. Hepesh proclaims that the curse of Peladon will be fulfilled.
The TARDIS appears on the mountainside, outside the fortress. Inside, The Doctor and Jo are there. Jo complains that she was all dolled up for a night out with Captain Yates (yeah, Mikey, you score boy!) but got talked into going for a test flight – this is the first flight since he’s gotten the TARDIS working, apparently.
He turns on the scanner but the viewscreen shows nothing. Other scanners show that the atmosphere is safe, and he suspects they’re at the base on Earth, until the TARDIS, perched precariously, starts to rock. They exit the TARDIS just before it falls to the bottom of the cliff. Seeing the fortress, they start ascending towards it, seeking shelter from the storm and assistance in retrieving the TARDIS.
The delegate from Alpha Centauri, a vaguely insectoid appearing creature, presents itself before King Peladon. It speaks with a high pitched, voice. Topesh brings up the death of Torbis and Alpha Centauri gets scared, but the king eases its concerns.
Jo finds a tunnel in the rockface and leads The Doctor within.
Alpha Centauri is brought to meet with the delegate from Arcturus, who also reacts to the news of the death with concern for self only. Arcturus is a head with tentacles in a casement. It displays a weapon to show Hepesh that it is capable of self defense, and obliterates a vase in demonstration.
Jo and The Doctor have gained access to the castle. Seeing a statue of a monster, The Doctor tells Jo they are not on Earth.
Hepesh and the king recall when he was a boy and sat on the throne for the first time. We learn that the king is half Peladonian and half Earthling. Hepesh still believes that Aggedor – the royal beast of Peladon – was what killed Torbis, as a warning not to join the Galactic Federation. Hepesh is against Peladon joining the Federation, he distrusts the aliens, but the king is adamant. He tells his priest to summon the delegates.
The Doctor and Jo make their way through a maze of corridors. They hear the roar of some creature (the monster that struck down Torbis), but come across a blocked up tunnel. The Doctor lowers a torch and opens a secret door. As he and Jo are about to pass through, he pulls her back, just in time to hide from an ICE WARRIOR! (Woo hoo!)
They follow the Ice Warrior into the castle proper and try to head back to the tunnel, but are surrounded by Peladonian guards.
The Ice Warrior (a guard caste) joins a leader Ice Warrior in the throne room, with the other delegates. The king is meeting with the delegates to discuss the death of Torbis and the legend of Aggedor. Just as Hepesh, while retelling the legend, speaks of a stranger arriving bringing great tribulation, The Doctor and Jo are brought in, but the other delegates take him to be the delegate from Earth.
Jo must pretend to be of royal blood, as the only females allowed in the throne room of Peladon are royalty; otherwise, she would have to be put to death. She plays the part of “Princess Josephine of TARDIS”. They explain that she is there to observe only.
Alpha Centauri, quite the worry-wort, brings up the danger. While they talk, a servant of the court prepares to lever a statue onto someone who walks by in the hall outside the throne room. The Doctor gets the arguing delegates to withdraw to the delegates chambers for further discussion.
As they leave, The Doctor looks up, sees the statue tumbling forward… and the credits roll.
Ooooh, curiouser and curiouser. Ice Warriors, silly aliens, resentful high priest, novice king – I like this already.
The Doctor pushes the other delegates out of the way (including the Ice Warriors), saving their lives, as the statue loosened by Grun (the large mute who found Torbis earlier) crashes to the hall floor. Hepesh pulls the “Aggedor has been merciful, we must give thanks,” line, whereas The Doctor (and after he suggests it, the delegates) feels they should investigate to see what happened. Hepesh makes it known his feelings, but the king yells from the throne room that he is king and asks everyone back in. The king asks them not to listen to fear and to stay and hold the conference. Jo slips away and investigates the site of the statue, finding something at the base, which she pockets.
King Peladon asks “Princess Josephine” to stay, after the delegates leave to consider their position. The king is happy for an equal, someone he can talk to as a person.. but he also wants to flirt with her. He asks if she will believe him, and when she says she does (as Jo is easily swayed by good manners – we saw this in DAY OF THE DALEKS, when the Controller wined and dined her and she bought into his spiel wholesale), he asks her to speak to the delegates on his behalf, which only upsets her.
Hepesh and Grun meet in secret; Grun is acting on Hepesh’s instructions. The priest performs a ceremony to bless him with Aggedor’s intent – to destroy The Doctor!
The item Jo found turns out to be an electronic key, belonging to the Ice Warriors. Obviously, it’s been planted, but The Doctor is buying into it wholesale. His previous experience is blinding him.
They hear an alarm and run to the delegate’s chambers, where Arcturus is, his life support has been tampered with. The Doctor fiddles (yep, that again) with it, saving Arcturus’ life. Hepesh says it is Aggedor, but The Doctor fairly bluntly accuses the Ice Warrior delegate.
Jo searches the delegate’s rooms, finding the component in the Ice Warrior’s chamber. Ssorg (the guard caste Warrior) comes in and finds her. She confronts him with the component, but he denies it is theirs. He leaves her there to consult with Izlyr, the Ice Warrior delegate.
Arcturus cannot remember who attacked him. The Doctor storms off, but Grun grabs him and tries to tell him to follow him. When he doesn’t, the mute drags him in the direction he wants, as Hepesh watches from around the corner.
Izlyr presents his suspicions of The Doctor in regards to Arcturus’ attack. The delegates quickly jump to conclusions based on Jo’s presence, King Peladon’s half-human heritage and Earth’s plans to form a strong union with Peladon, gaining more power in the Federation and so forth.
Ssorg arrives to talk to Izlyr, showing him Arcturus’ missing unit. The delegate tells the others that Jo had it.
In the Ice Warrior’s chamber, Jo escapes through a window, going outside. She moves along a narrow ledge (oh, I think I smell a cliffhanger, ahahhahahahah) in the storm, and makes it to the next window, entering into a hallway.
Grun drags The Doctor through a secret door, indicating that the princess is in danger.
Jo runs through the halls, encountering the monster. She runs off.
Grun leaves The Doctor in the catacombs after hearing the monster’s roar.
Jo runs back into the arms of the Ice Warriors. Izlyr sends Ssorg to investigate, but he comes back and says there is nothing. Izlyr accuses her of trickery, but says he will help her find The Doctor as it is time they answer his questions.
The Doctor runs from the monster.
Izlyr brings Jo back to the Ice Warrior chambers. He begins to interrogate her. During the course of the conversation, Izlyr reveals that what was done to Arcturus would not have been fatal, even if unattended, only uncomfortable. Jo says The Doctor claims they are a race of warriors, but Izlyr says they have rejected violence, except for in self defense now.
When she asks about Ssorg’s gun, if this is a peaceful mission, Izlyr responds, “Unfortunately, in order to preserve peace, it is necessary to survive.”
(Great line, that one.)
The Doctor is pursued by the monster, escaping through another secret door. He finds himself in the inner sanctum of Aggedor and Hepesh has Grun grab him and bring him before the king with a charge of Extreme Sacrilige – desecrating the holy of holies, the inner sanctum.
Peladon responds he has no alternative – there is no defense allowed and only one punishment – death… and the credits roll.
The Doctor protests, pleading with King Peladon, saying he didn’t know the tunnels would take him there. The king is unaware of the existence of the tunnels (what, as a little boy he didn’t explore the caste? I find this hard to believe), but Hepesh insists there are no tunnels. He’s obviously set this up, having Grun leave The Doctor in the tunnels, so they could ‘catch’ him violating the holy temple.
The delegates speak up for The Doctor, asking for leniency, saying a pardon would carry much weight with the Federation; Hepesh says the Federation cannot outweigh their holy laws.
Jo appeals to Peladon, begging him to spare The Doctor, to prove they are a civilised people. Peladon says there is one only way – trial by combat. The Doctor reluctantly agrees. He is told in the morning, he will face the king’s champion, Grun in combat to the death.
Peladon proposes marriage to Jo, an alliance between their realms. Jo gets upset with him.
Hepesh comes to The Doctor, says that the guard is removed from his door and it is unlocked. The Doctor quips, “I see, killed while trying to escape, is that it?” Hepesh says he does not want The Doctor’s death. He lays out the escape route for The Doctor, and even tells him that his ‘space shuttle’ has been found and is being brought back to the citadel.
Hepesh tells The Doctor he fears the Federation, the change they will bring. He tells The Doctor, “We do not stand alone,” but he will not explain what he means.
The delegates and Jo debate leaving or staying. Alpha Centauri and Arcturus argue for leaving, Izlyr and Jo for staying. Ultimately, they decide neither to leave nor to stay and protest, but rather to stay and do nothing.
The Doctor rigs up a little spinning mirror that has some hypnotic effect. He takes the map laid out by Hepesh and departs his chamber.
Ssorg invites Princess Josephine to speak with Izlyr. He explains that the delegates will not leave The Doctor stranded, as it requires a unaminous decision, and Izlyr voted to stay. He offers to help her rescue The Doctor, as repayment for The Doctor saving his life when the statue fell.
Arcturus is listening through the wall to their conversation. He moves off before they exit.
The Doctor slips into the catacombs.
Hepesh sends his guards into the catacombs, with instructions to kill the alien if he resists.
The Doctor follows the map and stops when he comes across the roaring monster. He pulls out the little doohicky and spins the mirror on it, approaching the monster.
Hepesh consults with Grun, talking about their ally’s plan. He consoles Grun, who wanted to kill The Doctor in combat. He promises Grun that all of this is being done to maintain the king’s honor.
Izlyr and Ssorg enter The Doctor’s chamber, to find him gone. Izlyr says if The Doctor has been eliminated, “Hepesh and this planet will have much to answer for!”
The Doctor sings to the monster, moving the mirror back and forth as it spins. Aggedor becomes docile, almost asleep to The Doctor’s singing Venusian lullabys. Jo shows up and chases off the monster, much to the disappointment of The Doctor.
The Ice Warriors confront King Peladon about the location of The Doctor and Jo. Hepesh claims their escape proves his guilt. The Doctor and Jo show up, claiming they have just seen Aggedor. Hepesh keeps calling for The Doctor to be put to death, but the king and Izlyr call to hear his story.
Hepesh calls for The Doctor to be taken to the pit, to face his challenge. Jo appeals to Peladon once more, but he nods his agreement with Hepesh.
The delegates, Peladon, Jo, others assemble as The Doctor and Grun descend via ropes into the pit. They fight with pole axes, but after The Doctor disarms Grun, Hepesh throws him a sword. Soon, The Doctor is disarmed, but he grapples and disarms Grun.
The two men wrestle, use judo/leverage holds and the like.
Arcturus and Hepesh exchange glances as The Doctor defeats Grun but steps back and says he will not kill the king’s champion.
Arcturus extends his blaster weapon, Alpha Centauri screams, and we see Ssorg’s weapon fire… and the credits roll.
Ssorg shoots Arcturus, killing him. Hepesh and one of the palace guards exchange a look and slip out.
Back in the throne room, The Doctor, remaining delegates and Jo consult with the king. They explain that Arcturus was working with Hepesh – Hepesh wanted control of Peladon (or of the king, at least) and Arcturus hoped to gain access to Peladon’s mineral assets. If Peladon had joined the Federation, Arcturus would not be able to have sole access to them. It suited both to keep Peladon from joining the Federation.
Hepesh moves through the catacombs.
The Doctor says they must find Hepesh and stop him – if he were to contact the Federation, he could accuse the Ice Warriors of murdering Arcturus (Izlyr says that Mars and Arcturus are ancient enemies), which would start galactic conflict, and the Federation would take sides and this could rip it apart, and Peladon would be blasted apart.
After the king asks for the Federation’s support if civil war breaks out; as thi sis generally not allowed by the Federation, the delegates recess to debate amongst theirselves, though The Doctor and Jo wander about on their own.
They find the secret door, left open by Grun, who was trying to get The Doctor’s attention earlier. He sends Jo to attend the delegates while he goes into the catacombs to see what Grun wanted.
Hepesh meets with the captain of the guard, as they plan an attack – no harm to the king, of course, but he wants the delegates dead. Grun shows up, beckoning Hepesh to follow, but the priest tries to dismiss him. Grun won’t take no for an answer and grabs the priest. He fights with several of the guards, but Hepesh strikes Grun from behind. The guards rush off to begin their attack.
The delegates hold their vote, Jo and the Ice Warriors voting for helping Peladon. Alpha Centauri doesn’t vote in favour until the two Ice Warriors turn and stare at her… him… it. Almost reluctantly, Alpha Centauri votes, but says it does so under protest and accepts no responsibility. Alpha Centauri reveals that its communicator has been damaged, so Izlyr sends Ssorg to fetch theirs, so that they may contact their spaceship in orbit.
This startles Jo and she shows concern, especially after Izlyr asks if she has one in orbit as well. Izlyr asks her if all is well and she says it is, and he mentions to her her forthcoming marriage with Peladon, shocking Jo.
Ssorg discovers their communicator has been destroyed as well.
The Doctor finds Grun stunned and manages to learn that Hepesh has many soldiers and is planning to attack.
The delegates realise that Hepesh must have had their communication devices destroyed.
Hepesh and his men approach the throne room. His guards attack those posted.
Alpha Centauri is freaking out, squawking like a child. They have to yell at it to get it to shut up.
Guards fight guards in the throne room. They take the king prisoner and the loyal guards surrender. Hepesh confronts the king.
“I thought you would bring me the crown of kingship. Are you going to bring me death instead?” – Peladon
Hepesh tells Peladon either he will restore the ancient ways or the line of Peladon will meet “an ignoble end”.
The Doctor and Grun find the monster and The Doctor uses his mirror and sings to it as the king’s champion watches on.
Hepesh arrives at the delegates’ chamber telling them they will accompany him; if he does not return with them all, the king will be put to death.
The Doctor gets the monster into a sleep-like state and guides him by grabbing his horn and walking him back the way they came.
Hepesh tells the delegates to go away, to tell the Federation that Peladon wants nothing to do with them. Just then, The Doctor bursts into the throne room, demanding, “Who challenges Peladon? Kneel and pay homage to his sacred guardian!” He steps aside as Grun, preceded by Aggedor, come into the throne room.
Hepesh says he is the high priest, and he is the master of Aggedor. Grabbing a torch, he approaches the beast and gives it orders to kill The Doctor, but instead it attacks the priest. As Alpha Centauri screams like a companion, The Doctor uses his mirror to bring the beast under control again.
Peladon runs to Hepesh’s side; the old man is dying from the wounds. He says perhaps he was wrong, but all that he did was for Peladon, and then he dies. As Peladon cries, Jo comforts him and says “They are waiting for you.” The king rises, covers the priest’s face with a purple cloth.
The Doctor returns and tells the captain of the guard to order his men to surrender, which the man does. King Peladon says there will be no punishments.
Later, The Doctor takes Jo to the TARDIS. When she says she hopes it will get them back to Earth, The Doctor says he does too. When she questions his doubt, he says it was no coincidence that they appeared on Peladon at a momentous occasion, helping to avert a catastrophe in the planet’s growth.
Jo realises that the Time Lords must have been behind it. The Doctor says he imagines they’ll send them back to Earth now they’ve done what’s been needed, and Jo says at least they’ll see a coronation before they go. The Doctor replies that he hasn’t attended a coronation “since Elizabeth I… or was it Victoria?”
“Name dropper,” Jo accuses him, and she’s 100% correct on that.
Aggedor comes into the room, startling Jo. The creature seems to have grown fond of The Doctor, and he takes the creature away to be penned up.
Peladon arrives to tell Jo he wants her to stay, that he needs her. When she confesses that she’s not even a real princess, the king replies, “That… doesn’t… matter.” She says she really cannot stay; he says he won’t give up, he will talk to her after the coronation and she gives him a soft kiss on the lips.
Peladon leaves to return to his court as The Doctor returns. He says they’ll go attend the coronation and then slip away. Jo is torn, but agrees that it’s best that she go with him. They go off to attend.
The real Earth delegate argues with Alpha and the Ice Warriors that she is the official representative of Earth. When Alpha Centauri says that The Doctor is the delegate, we get one of the classic Who moments:
“The Doctor? What Doctor? Doctor Who?” – the real delegate.
The Doctor and Jo come around the corner and overhear this. They immediately slip back and agree it best if they miss this coronation. Jo says they can go see Victoria’s instead.
They hurry back to the TARDIS and slip inside moments before the delegates arrive, only to see the TARDIS dematerialise. The Earth delegate gapes in surprise (why, I’m not sure – transmat is part of Earth history before they become a galactic race)… and the final credits roll.
WOW, what a great serial. I loved seeing the Ice Warriors as the good guys! I had no idea they weren’t the baddies until watching it. Loved the court characters, the king, Grun, Hepesh. Great story, lots of fun.