I’ve seen this before, a couple times, and as recently as last year. It’s a good one, but not a great one. However, one of the most important ones of all. You’ll see why in a bit, and not just because of the big obvious reason you might know about. (I’m being vague in case there are people who have no idea.)

Episode 1:

We open with Mike Yates, no longer of UNIT, walking along a country path. There are cows in the pasture. He looks around, takes it in and moves on.

The Doctor and the Brig are sitting in the audience at some performance, obviously a comedic one. From their faces, it’s not very funny.

Mike walks along and we see a large house in the distance.

The Brig complains about it being a waste of time, but just then, they introduce a Turkish dancer, and the Brig is no longer complaining.

Mike is inside the house, and seems to be skulking. He opens a door and opens in and we hear chanting from within. He steps in and listens at another door.

A group of men are seated around an ornate rug/mat on the floor. One clangs cymbals together as they chant. Mike opens the door and creeps down, listening intently. He steps into a spider web and panics, making noise, alerting the men as he leaves.

The Doctor tells the Brig that the next act is the one he’s come to see, a mind reader.

The men chanting get up; they decide it’s time to quit for the night, and argue whether someone was there or if it was just the wind. They hear a car depart, and the leader says that only one person there has a car, Mister Yates.

The next day(?), Professor Clegg, the mind reader, is invited to UNIT. The Doctor has interest in things psychic, but Clegg pretends he is just a performer. The Doctor tells him that he knows he has some true gift. Clegg is very upset about having any actual abilities.

The Doctor talks him into demonstrating his psychokinesis, and using his mind, he moves a tray with food on it. The Doctor tells Clegg that he might be able to help him understand his powers, why he has them.

Back at the household, the man leading the chants argues with Cho-Je, the deputy abbot of the… monastery? It seems a female reporter (gee, who could that be?) is coming to visit. The man is not happy about this, but Cho-Je throws out snippets of zen koan in response. He says that it is too late, that Mister Yates has gone to the train station to fetch her.

At the station, Mike picks up Sarah Jane Smith (what a shocker) and they take off, Sarah asking what it’s all about.

Back at the monastery, Lupton, the leader of the chant circle, tells one of his fellow chanters that they’re on to something, they’re making progress, they were tapping true power the night before. He says they cannot afford to pull back and hide because of a visitor.

A simple man interrupts their conversation; Tommy shows Lupton and Barnes a flower he’s found, but Barnes shoves him down.

Sarah quizzes Mike about why he invited her there. Mike tries to play it off that he just thinks a story on their “meditation center” run by a couple Tibetan monks would be a great sell for the paper. He explains he’s there trying to sort himself out after “that Golden Age business” (referring to INVASION OF THE DINOSAURS.)

The chant circle is at it again.

Mike explains that the chant circle is up to something; he thinks it’s a job for UNIT to investigate. He wants Sarah to come check it out and then go to the Brig or The Doctor for him.

The chanters chant, more emphatically.

As Mike and Sarah Jane drive down, suddenly there’s a tractor in their way. They spin out of control, but when they come to a stop, there’s no tractor to be seen. Sarah Jane feels this is evidence that something is afoot.

Clegg is hooked up to a machine with earphones (it’s the same prop from THE GREEN DEATH!) to test his brain pattern. The Brig is asked to give Clegg something personal and he hands over his watch. Clegg does a psychometric reading, saying it was given to him eleven years ago in Brighton by a young lady named Doris, but the Brig interrupts before more can be said.

Another device can translate his thoughts into pictures. The Doctor hands Clegg his sonic screwdriver and on the video screen, we see the Drashig from CARNIVAL OF MONSTERS and The Doctor using the screwdriver to ignite the marsh gases to burn up several Drashigs.

Sarah Jane and Mike sit in a meeting with Cho-Je who is explaining what can be learned through meditation. Cho-Je says that the powers of meditation and powers unlocked through self-realisation could be used for good or evil. He leaves to teach a class.

Clegg apologises, feeling what he saw was not real. Benton comes in with a package from South America, addressed to “The Doctor or the Brigadier or Captain Yates or Sgt Benton”. It seems to be from Jo, and The Doctor asks to see it. Before he opens it, he asks Clegg to use his powers to see what is within it.

He says it is from beyond the stars, and it is a beautiful blue gemstone. The Doctor opens it, and in fact, it is the Metebelis 3 sapphire that he gave Jo.

Mike is showing Sarah Jane about the meditation center. They enter the meditation room, but Mike cautions her to be quiet. A larger group of people sit and meditate, listening to recorded chant. As they leave, Lupton and his crony, Barnes, confront them. Mike makes an effort to get her out of there as soon as possible, much to Sarah’s confusion.

Lupton watches from the window, telling Barnes they won’t be a problem any more, “That young man is frightened.”

Mike drives away, telling Sarah that Lupton knew they were coming and must have been responsible for the hallucination that almost killed them. When Sarah asks why they’re running, Mike’s reply is, “We’re not, we’re just letting him think we are.” He pulls the car over and parks, “We’ll head back on foot.”

The Doctor reads Jo’s letter. The letter says that the crystal is causing problems with their native guides, who say it is bad magic. She hopes they’ll keep an eye on it for her.

Mike and Sarah get caught sneaking back in the house through a window by Tommy, the simple man. He wants to play games with them – he seems rather smitten with Sarah Jane. He tells her the game they’re going to play is called “Secrets” and it’s a secret that she’s there. He is fascinated with Sarah’s lapel pin and she gives it to him to buy his silence.

Mike leads Sarah to the lower basement where the chant circle meets. The mat and their cushions are laid out but nobody is there. They hear voices and the two hide, Sarah getting spider web on her. The men come in and take their seats and begin chanting.

Clegg is still holding on to the crystal, and has been, while The Doctor reads the letter. The crystal glows and as he finishes the letter, the room begins to shake, papers and small items are cast about. The Doctor makes it to Clegg and pulls the crystal from his hands, but the psychic is dead.

Sarah and Mike watch as a spider materialises in a blue-green light in the center of the chant circle… and the credits roll.

Yay, Mike Yates! (Having seen what went on with Yates, it makes more sense why he’s here, etc.) Mystery, stranger spiders, an alien crystal – it’s a good one thus far.

Episode 2:

The men react in fear as the spider manifests; one man rises and flees, but the spider strikes him down with blue lightning. The spider addresses Lupton, saying it has come bring him “the power you seek”. It tells him to turn his back to it, and he reluctantly does so. It leaps and lands on his back and disappears, seemingly phasing into his body.

The Doctor plays back the machine that records thoughts, to see if Clegg’s dying thoughts were visualised. They were, and they see spiders.

Lupton dismisses the men, telling them to return to their rooms, not to tell anyone.

The Doctor says the only thing to do would be for him to look into the crystal; Benton offers to do it, as he’s expendable, but The Doctor says he’s already got one death on his conscience.

Mike sends Sarah out the window, and hides, as Lupton and Barnes discuss the spider; Lupton says it didn’t go away, it’s still there. He says their minds are joined together. Lupton dismisses Barnes, telling him not to worry.

The spider tells Lupton about the crystal, saying they must find it. Lupton is bid to concentrate, and he does. He says he sees a man staring into a blue crystal.

The Doctor is seated, staring into the Metebelis crystal. When Benton brings in a cup of coffee, the aroma of which brings The Doctor out of his trance. (It seems that, at least according to The Doctor, Benton makes the second best cup of coffee in the world.)

The Doctor starts talking about the old man hermit on the mountain (the same hermit he told Jo about when they were locked up in the dungeon in episode 6 of THE TIME MONSTER), saying that when he looked into the crystal, he saw the face of the old man, who had been the teacher who taught him how to look into his own mind.

Tommy stops Yates, as he tries to go upstairs to see K’anpo, the senior Tibetan monk. Tommy is distracted by Yate’s medallion, which he gives to the simple man. As Tommy walks off, he admonishes Mike to go to bed, and Lupton appears moments later, to reinforce the advice.

Sarah Jane has been telling The Doctor about the events, but he’s more interested in the crystal. When she mentions the spider, however, he is very, very interested, and makes her start over from the beginning.

Lupton arrives… presumably at UNIT HQ, as there’s a car lot with Bessie and a man working on The Doctor’s new car, the hovercrafty one. He asks to speak to The Doctor and the mechanic gives him directions, before asking for Lupton’s pass. Lupton blasts the man with blue lightning from his hand, just the same as the spider did to the one man in the chant circle. (No idea if he was killed or what, nobody seemed to note.)

The Doctor explains to Sarah Jane where he got the crystal from. He explains the crystal can be used to clear a mind and amplify it. When Sarah asks about the giant spiders on Metebelis Three, The Doctor says there weren’t any there when he was there.

Benton comes across Lupton, who does the lightning blast on him. Lupton peers into the lab, seeing the crystal. The spider in his mind tells him to concentrate.

As Sarah Jane dithers on about things, the crystal disappears and we see Lupton come out of a trance, holding it. He runs off, but Benton tries to stop him, so he punches him in the gut.

The Doctor, Benton and Sarah Jane give chase. Lupton encounters the Brig, who sees the others chasing Lupton, and he opens fire multiple times, missing completely – I’m horrified that the Brig is such a bad shot.

Lupton steals the hovercar, while the others take Bessie. They drop The Doctor off at the airfield and then pursue in Bessie. The Doctor takes a one man helicopter to pursue by air. I guess this is the running scene for the serial. The Doctor radioes directions to the Brig on how to catch up to Lupton.

A local cop sees the three vehicles and gives chase. I can’t help but think this is completely unnecessary. Eventually, after shenanigans, they find the hovercar parked. The Doctor lands and confers with the Brig and Benton and Sarah Jane as they argue with each other and the copper.

Lupton, who was hiding in the weeds, steals the helicopter – the spider says it can pilot it. The Doctor and Sarah Jane hop in the hovercar, which The Doctor takes into the air after him.

The copper radioes in that there was nothing to report.

The Doctor and Sarah Jane give chase, but the spider tells Lupton that fuel is low and they have to land. Lupton runs around some farmland while the hovercar lands. Again, what is the point of all this. None of this makes any sense, doesn’t add anything to the story whatsoever. It’s like padding.

Lupton steals a boat, blasting one of the men. There’s a hovercraft (the water kind) and The Doctor hops in it to give chase.. what? ANOTHER chase? Oy vey.

After a bunch of whatever, we get to the end of the chase, when The Doctor leaps from his hovercraft into Lupton’s boat. Just before this, Lupton is told by the spider to concentrate, and when The Doctor makes the boat, there’s nobody on board… and the credits roll.

Really displeased with the silly chase(s).

Episode 3:

Lupton is nowhere to be seen, and The Doctor is very confused.

In the meditation center, Tommy watches as Lupton appears out of thin air. He sees the crystal in Lupton’s hand and is fascinated by it. (Tommy likes pretty things, as likely you’ve noticed.)

Lupton returns to his room, soaking wet from his fleeing. He pulls out the crystal and asks the spider about it; the spider says it can give them more power than he could dream of. The spider tells him to shield his thoughts from her sisters on Metebelis Three.

On Metebelis Three, we see a group of spiders sitting about on tables. One of them is the queen. They communicate with the spider with Lupton, but he is privy to the conversation and demands to know what will become of him. Lupton’s spider argues that he has served them.

There is talk of “The Great One” and her plan, involving the conquest of Earth, their rightful home.

Communication ended, the spider tells Lupton to sleep and he lays down, falling asleep immediately. The spider separates from him and phases through the door.

Cho-Je meets with Sarah Jane, Mike and The Doctor. Cho-Je argues whether Lupton could have been involved with the theft of their equipment, when he saw Lupton in the house at the same time they say they were chasing him.

Barnes overhears this and wakes Lupton to tell him what he heard. Barnes wants to leave, especially after learning that the spider isn’t currently there. Lupton goes into a spiel about how he gave his company twenty-five years, but when the company was changed, he was thrown out. He tells Barnes that he came there for power, not peace of mind, and he’s not going to leave now that he has a chance to get it.

The spider eavesdrops on The Doctor’s conversation with Cho-Je.

While Lupton and Barnes talk, Tommy reaches in through an open window and steals the blue crystal. He takes it to his room under the stairs and puts it in his box of baubles. His “pretties”.

The spider returns to Lupton’s room, telling him to expect a visit from Cho-Je who will want him to speak to The Doctor. Lupton says he will not talk to The Doctor, but the spider uses their link to twist his mind, causing him pain. Lupton reverses it on the spider – seems he’s a rather quick learner.

Lupton and the spider make their plans to help each other – power for Lupton on Earth, and for the spider on Metebelis Three. They merge again and then realise that the crystal is gone.

Tommy calls over Sarah; he wants to give her a present and leads her off.

Cho-Je continues to utter rather silly zen things.

Barnes and Lupton argue over the crystal’s whereabouts. Lupton tells the spider they’re going to bluff the queen, but the spider says it will never work.

Tommy leads Sarah to his access beneath the stairs. He goes in, telling her to wait, and she overhears Lupton talking about going to their ritual area by himself. Moss, sent to bring Lupton to The Doctor, arrives but Lupton says to tell him that he couldn’t find Lupton. Lupton and Barnes depart for their rooms.

When Tommy returns with his box of pretties (including the crystal, which I bet is the present he wants to give her), Sarah Jane is dismissive to him, almost rude. She asks him politely to go tell Yates that she’s going after Lupton to the cellar.

As she leaves, Tommy holds out the crystal, saying it’s her present, but she doesn’t look. She goes down below, hiding before Lupton can come down with his mat and cushion from his room.

In the cellar, Sarah Jane watches as Lupton disappears into thin air while chanting. She runs over and steps on the mat, and cannot move from it.

The Doctor runs down and yells at her to get off it. As he runs to her, she disappears, appearing on Metebelis Three. She sees Lupton in the distance and follows him, hiding behind rocks. A pair of hands grab her from behind.

The Doctor tells Mike he’s going to Metebelis Three after Sarah Jane. When talking about the TARDIS, Mike says, “You talk about it as if it’s alive.”

The Doctor smiles, “Yes, I do, don’t I?”

On Metebelis Three, Sarah is brought to a village of humanoids. She’s accused of being a spy by the man who caught her. They argue amongst themselves, some wanting to kill her, others not.

Hearing the queen of the spiders’ retinue, the villagers hide Sarah. The queen is brought on a cushion bore by “two-legs”. One of them speaks of an assault by Arak on another. If Arak does not surrender himself, they will take one male from each family as punishment. Arak is one of the ones hiding Sarah Jane.

Arak’s father, Sabor, comes forth to explain why Arak struck the guard. Sabor lies and says that he helped his son escape to the hills. The queen says that Sabor will take his place. When Sabor’s wife comes forth, she is struck down, but Sarah Jane is being a busybody, watching through an open door and the queen sees her. Sarah Jane surrenders herself to protect Arak.

The Doctor arrives on Metebelis Three, appearing in the village just as Sarah Jane is being taken by the queen’s guards. The queen says they both will be taken in for questioning, but The Doctor fights her guards. One of them blasts The Doctor with the blue lightning and he falls at the TARDIS, reaching for the door… and the credits roll.

That’s a most excellent cliffhanger, and one we’ll leave you with until Friday.

Interesting note – one of the spider voices is done by Kismet Delgado, the widow of Roger Delgado, The Master.