The first episode (of four), “The Temple of Evil“, starts off with another shot of a toy TARDIS disappearing, then we cut to a corpse in regalia, on a table, with the full sized TARDIS beyond it. Barbara and Susan exit and Barbara starts showing off her knowledge. (She is a history teacher, after all, and the Aztecs happen to be one of her specialities, apparently.)

 They find a secret door (another very common trope in this first season of Doctor Who), and Barbara is taken prisoner. Within the first few minutes we have the line, “Doctor, look at this extraordinary city!” – again, something that is said (in slight variation) more than once so far this season. Interesting to note this – was it an intentional choice or happenstance?

 The Aztecs argue about human sacrifice, after greeting The Doctor, Ian and Susan politely. The Doctor points out that the Aztecs were always courteous to their victims. Barbara is being treated grandly, since she was wearing the bracelet of the dead high priest.

 Oh, shit. Barbara is going to forbid human sacrifice… stupid, stupid. “But you can’t rewrite history! Not one line! What you are trying to do is utterly impossible – believe, I know! I know!” – The Doctor to Barbara. Oh, I wonder at what he’s speaking of. There’s so much mystery about our favourite Time Lord and what happened prior to he and Susan meeting Ian and Barbara on Earth.

 Barbara tries to stop the sacrifice, but the willing sacrifice throws himself off the side of the temple, causing his own death. The high priest of sacrifice is on to Barbara, and promises to destroy her.

 At his promise to the viewers, the credits roll.

 A straight historical story (no aliens, no monsters, just the heroes dabbling in history), this is a much better story than I expected it to be.


E2 “The Warriors of Death”

 This episode begins with The Doctor giving Barbara a righteous scolding. Because of Barbara’s meddling, they are in danger, Susan is locked away. She cries, and The Doctor gets soft. The Doctor tells her she must play the two priests against each other.

 Ian has been drafted into the ranks of the warriors, and is challenged by Ixta, one of their warriors, and Ian defeats him with a nerve hold.

 Already this serial is far more superior than the previous, in characterization and storytelling. Lots of double-dealing in this storyline, politicking and manipulation. A complex storyline. The biggest elements are the distrust of Barbara as a false goddess and Ian vs Ixta; the latter tricks The Doctor into giving him a trick to use in his fight with Ian.

E3 “The Bride of Sacrifice”

 The fight between Ian and Ixta becomes a fight to the death. Barbara arrives, trying to stop it, but is challenged by the high priest of sacrifice to save Ian if she is true. She puts a knife to his throat to ensure that Ian’s life is spared.

 Things continue; The high priest of sacrifice tries to poison her and she goes ballistic on him. The Doctor macks all over the pretty woman in the garden, and ends up (unwittingly) proposing marriage to her.

 The high priest of sacrifice finally realises that Barbara’s weakness are in her servants, and plots to use Susan.

 “Yes, I made some cocoa and got engaged.” – The Doctor.

 Ian and The Doctor investigate a tunnel, hoping it will give them access to the tomb, so they can get back to the TARDIS, but Ixta is on to them and closes the tunnel before revealing to The Doctor that it fills with water. Ian is trapped inside as the water fills. They did love their cliffhanger endings.

E4 “The Day of Darkness”

 Everything is heading a collision, set for the timing of a solar eclipse. Ian escapes a watery death, reunites The Doctor with Barbara, and then goes to rescue Susan. Ixta is placed in charge of guarding her. As he brags to Susan about Ian’s death, Chesterton shows up and KO’s Ixta. The high priest of sacrifice ousts the high priest of knowledge and seems to be greatly in charge.

 Ian and Ixta have one more fight – their rubber match if you will. This time they fight fully armed. The choreography of the fight is really bad. Really, really bad. Ian wins by flipping Ixta off the temple, to his death.

 The travelers escape back into the tomb and to the TARDIS, and the high priest of sacrifice seems to win all. They leave. Time passes and we see the travelers confused – they seem to have stopped but are still moving.

 End credits roll.

 A typical time travel story – where someone tries to change the past but fails, but well done. I rather enjoyed this story a lot more than I remotely expected to. Straight historical episodes are rare, but there were more than a few in the early days of the show, from what I understand.

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