Recap: The Doctor takes Ace to Perivale so she can check in on her mates, but something is going on. All her friends have disappeared, and recently, it seems. Stray cats seem to be a huge problem for the township. Oh, and The Master is involved.
Ace stands, looking about, noticing several cats eating from a carcass. Shreela approaches from behind and Ace turns to see who it is Shreela tells her they only eat them when they’re dead.
The Master goads, “Run, Doctor, run.” Patterson moves to run, but The Doctor cautions him not to. The Master throws a ball between Sarge’s feet and he runs off, pursued by several of the felinoids. He is quickly surrounded.
The Doctor is surprised to see they’re just playing with Sarge. “Essentially, a fun-loving species,” The Master remarks. He tells The Doctor they must talk.
Ace and her friends confer. Midge suggests trying to catch one of the felinoids. Shreela says the one time they tried fighting, they lost Stevie. Midge mocks, saying “She threw sticks at it,” but Ace asks where he was. (So Stevie’s a girl, Midge is a guy. Okay. I guess that’s some pop-culture reference or in-joke I’m not getting.)
Derek says the felinoids are invincible, but Ace says nothing is invincible.
Midge mocks her, “That’s right, Ace, you tell us. You sort it out.” He’s a right jack-ass, innit he? Shreela says they need to get back to camp, but Ace says it’s not any safer there.
Ace learns that the felinoids always ride through the area they’re in, so she suggests setting a trap.
Patterson is still surrounded, being battered about, and trying his best to fight them off, as The Doctor and The Master talk. The Doctor snatches several of The Master’s little balls, and juggles, getting the attention of the group harassing Sarge, but when he tosses the balls away, hoping they’ll chase them, the felinoids go back to playing with Sarge.
The Doctor runs to a horse and mounts it; several of the felinoids give chase but The Master orders them to stay. The Doctor helps Sarge up onto the horse and they ride off as The Master yells that he controls the animals.
When they leave, the felinoids turn to the renegade Time Lord, and he hastily heads back to his tent, promising them more food – so he doesn’t control them after all…
Ace and Shreela are in trees; they have a thin line stretched across, a wire, but the first felinoid that comes along just snaps it with his claws and moves on, hissing at the girls.
Sarge tries to explain that it’s not like him to lose his head and run like that, on and on. The Doctor doesn’t seem to care. He tells Sarge they’re on “the planet of the Cheetah people. Intelligent carnivores.”
Sarge has trouble believing they’re on another planet, but The Doctor is more concerned about the Cheetah people hunting so far from their feeding grounds.
They see one of the black cats and The Doctor identifies it as a “kitling”, calling it a feline vulture with teleportation powers. Thunder rumbles and they look to the sky, seeing storm clouds rolling in. The Doctor says he thinks they’re going to be in trouble.
Back in Perivale, a milkman delivers milk. That’s what they do, after all, right? Right. He pets one of the kitlings as he returns to his truck.
Midge and Derek start fighting for some unknown reason. Ace breaks it up, but they stop as they hear a horse approaching. The horse’s hooves trigger a more elaborate trap and they charge out to find Sarge on the ground and The Doctor suspended by his ankles.
Ace is delighted to see her friend. “What kept you,” she says, a big grin on her face.
Still upside down, holding his hat onto his head, The Doctor replies, “How many times have I told you about playing with fire?”
The Master feeds one of the Cheetah people, scratching its head like a kitty. “Where are you, Doctor,” he wonders out loud. “What’s your plan?”
The Doctor leads his posse through the barren wasteland. They crawl forward, watching down at a group Cheetah people. Sarge goes on about how he’ll lead them through this, prattling on about being a hunting animal.
“Oh, do shut up,” The Doctor tells him. He tells them the planet is disintegrating and the safest place is directly through the Cheetah people they’re watching. He says they’ll have to make their way through.
The Doctor mentions The Master by name and Ace asks who he is. “An evil genius, one of my oldest and deadliest of enemies,” is the Time Lord’s reply. He says he’s not sure what he’s up to this time, but doesn’t think it’s conquest of the galaxy.
The Master sends one of the kitlings to find The Doctor. After it leaves, he struggles to keep control, persumably of his own self?
The Doctor leads the group through the lounging Cheetah people, who hiss and swipe at them but seem disinterested in antagonising – the humans and Time Lord are moving slowly, trying not to rouse the chasing instincts of the Cheetah people. They make it through and The Doctor tells them it was all just a case of keeping a level head.
Suddenly, the milk man appears, and he screams and runs pas them, directly into the Cheetah people, who are now aroused.
“Oh, no,” The Doctor laments. When Ace moves to throw a rock he yells at her saying the only thing more dangerous than being attacked by a Cheetah person is attacking on yourself.
Sarge and Midge start throwing rocks as The Doctor keeps yelling at everyone not to move. Nobody, not even Ace, seems to be listening.
The Milk man is attacked by several, as is Derek.
The Kitling and The Master watch from upper above.
The Doctor stands still, yelling for everyone to do the same.
Ace chases after a Cheetah person on a horse and throws a rock, unseating it. Shreela and others grapple with the Cheetah people. The humans start to lose the fight and run off in different directions.
The Doctor finally stops yelling at everyone to not move and starts looking for Ace.
Ace is hiding from a Cheetah person, but as she watches, it falls into some water, unconscious or dead. Ace rushes up, to pull it out and it opens its eyes.
The Doctor stops to catch his breath. The Master, again standing higher up, with the kitling at his feet, mocks him, “Good hunting, Doctor?” The Doctor just glares in response.
A Cheetah person on a horse knocks down Midge, then dismounts. Suddenly another Cheetah person arrives and attacks the other, while Midge looks on stupidly. There’s more rumbling, perhaps it’s not thunder…
As the thunder/world/whatever rumbles, The Master says, “They’re fighting again in the dead valley,” stepping closer to The Doctor.
One Cheetah person gets the best of the other, while Midge still hangs about watching.
“It’s breaking up,” The Doctor says, watching about them. The Master replies that the planet itself is alive, that the animals are part of the planet. “When they fight each other, they trigger explosions, they hasten the planet’s destruction.”
He says there’s not long before the planet blows up. He tells The Doctor he needs his help.
The Cheetah person Ace rescued reaches out to touch her jacket. It rises up and they gaze into each other’s eyes.
Midge breaks off a big tooth from the carcass/bones of a sabre-toothed tiger looking thing. He approaches the fallen Cheetah person (the victor seems to have left by now) and stabs it with the tooth like a knive.
“You’re trapped, you can’t escape,” The Doctor realises.
“Just so,” his arch-nemesis admits. “It seems the creatures of this world can’t take us away, they can only bring us to this place.”
The Master says now The Doctor is trapped here, he’ll find a way out. When The Doctor asks why he should help him, The Master replies, “It’s not just death we’re all facing. This place… bewitches you. If we stay here, we’ll be like the people who built these,” he says indicating the ruins they’re standing in front of.
“They thought they could control the planet, the wilderness.” He walks amongst them, and The Doctor follows, both regarding the architecture. The Master turns to The Doctor, “They were the ones who bred the kitlings. Creatures with minds they could talk to, eyes they could see through the way I do.” Boy, he does love the sound of his own voice, doesn’t he?
He turns away from The Doctor, talking, “It only led to their corruption. We shall become like them.” He turns to face his enemy again, his eyes glowing and when he smiles, pronounced canines jut forward, “We shall become animals.”
The Doctor recoils, looking up at a kitling who yowls. The Master howls (more like a hyaena or a wolf than a cat) in response. The Doctor walks away.
A pack of Cheetah people yowl in response. The planet rumbles.
Shreela, Derek and Sarge run. Derek collapses, exhausted. Midge walks up, still holding the knive.
The Cheetah growls/rasps to Ace, “I want water. It will make me well, very fast.” Ace fetches some water in his hands and brings it to the Cheetah person who laps it up. The creature lays its head down, resting.
The Doctor calls Ace over, telling her, “They’re extremely dangerous creatures, they could eat you… or worse.” The Doctor says they need an animal whose home is Earth, suggesting that might help them get home.
“Better keep it alive, then,” Ace says and kneels by the Cheetah person again. Okay, I’m not sure of the significance of any of this.
The Doctor warns her it could be dangerous, but she says not to worry, “I’m no one’s bowl of cat food.”
The Master, listening in, repeats, “Whose home is Earth,” and grins.
Sarge starts giving his “just follow the Sarge” and how he knows all about survival and it’s kill or be killed spiel again. Midge says he’s with him, but Shreela and Derek don’t look too keen. Sarge says they can’t have any dead wood and Midge gets in Derek’s face, repeating that.
The Master cuts something away from a carcass.
Ace tosses pebbles into the water. The Cheetah person rouses and growls at The Doctor. Ace asks where the others are, but he says he doesn’t know. Ace says she feels she belongs here.
The Doctor looks from Ace to the Cheetah person, murmuring, “Connected.” Ace goes on saying she’s scared but also excited, that she can feel like she could run forever. “I can smell things as clear as pictures,” she says, standing up.
“Anything else,” he asks her, urgently.
“Well… I’m starving, Professor,” she says, turning to look at him.
Derek cries out help and they go running. They find Midge trying to kill Derek, as Sarge tries to stop him. The Doctor runs up and gets Midge to stop, who says that Derek’s gonna get them all killed unless someone sorts him out.
The Doctor spies a Cheetah person’s necklace around Midge’s neck, asking where he got it. “I killed it,” he replies, looking away.
Sarge asks Midge for his weapon, but Midge runs off. The Doctor calls out after him, saying it’s not too late to go home and Midge stops, turning to regard them.
“Home,” Shreela asks, incredulous.
Midge looks down, as if struggling with himself, and when he looks up, he growls, his eyes glowing and his teeth animalistic. He runs off and The Doctor says they should follow him, so they do.
A kitling watches Midge and The Master, still at a carcass, grins and laughs, his teeth showing, as he sees what the kitling does.
This is the running scene. Because, you know, it is Doctor Who.
The Master sets a trap and catches Midge. The Doctor and others close in, but The Master tells Midge, “Go hunting, go home.” He has a leash around the boy.
“Midge,” The Doctor calls out.
“You see, Doctor, you did help me,” The Master says. “You kept these others alive just long enough to serve my purposes.”
The Doctor pleads with Midge to wait, but the boy just hisses. The Master tells him to go home and the boy leaps forward, The Master following, and both disappear in a flash of light.
“So there is a way out,” Shreela asks, because, you know, it wasn’t fucking obvious enough what just happened.
The Doctor turns to her, somberly, “A way out? Yes. We wait for one of us to change and then we use them before they try to escape or kill us all.”
Sarge pipes up, “Well, there’s no telling who’ll be next, is there? Let’s get a grip and…” He stops to stare at Derek, who’s looking at him, demanding to know what the boy is looking at. Sarge starts blaming Derek, saying he’s the one.
Ace sees the previously wounded Cheetah person, watching them from horseback. “Look, Doctor, she’s better,” she says. The Doctor looks, worriedly, but not at the Cheetah person, but at Ace.
Ace turns to regard him, and her eyes are glowing yellow… and the credits roll.
Not a bad cliffhanger. This isn’t quite a horrible as I recall, likely because I have a much better understanding and appreciation for the Seventh Doctor and Ace. But I’m still not sold on it.
See you Friday for the last episode of Doctor Who’s classic run. Wow.