This picks up right immediately after the last one ends off, with The Doctor and his companions beaming down to Earth. This is one of the rare two episode serials (two by twenty-five minutes, not to be confused with the 45 minute serials of Colin Baker’s and later runs.)

Episode 1:

The Doctor transmats down into a circle of spheres. Harry appears and disappears several times before materialising. Sarah ends outside of the spheres, upside down in the tall grass. The Doctor inspects the spheres (which, honestly, after 8-10K years, should be completely underground or something by now. They’re only a foot or two tall) while Harry tends to Sarah.

The Doctor suggests that his companions go for a stroll, as he’ll be busy with repairs. They wander about, but Sarah hears something. Harry says it’s just her imagination – there hasn’t been life on Earth for 10K years. Harry is rather dismissive of her concerns (and honestly, while there’s likely no NATIVE life, why don’t they assume something like a Wirrn could have just as easily landed here as on the ark?)

Two humans watch The Doctor from the high grass. They’re wearing space suits and one has a laser rifle/pistol trained on him. The other runs back to let a third member know about it.

Harry slips down a stiff slope into a ravine. Sarah tells him that the edge of the hole has been covered – it’s a trap! She goes off to fetch The Doctor.

The man watching The Doctor runs off as a robot on wheels comes near. It chases him to a steep incline, and as he tries to slide down, he tumbles and falls. His scream alerts The Doctor, who comes running to find his corpse. As he checks on the man, the other two men show up and shoot The Doctor, who drops.

Sarah Jane returns to the circles, but The Doctor is nowhere in sight. She finds his sonic screwdriver laying atop one of the spheres.

Harry hears someone at the top of the ravine and dodges when small boulders are thrown down. He crawls into a cave, seeking shelter.

The two men drag the unconscious Doctor back to their camp; another man watches from the grass.

Sarah returns to the pit Harry is in, but there’s no sign of him. She pulls a long branch over.

The Doctor recovers at the campsite and the two men threaten him, demanding to know what he’s done with their crewmates.

Harry exits through a tunnel into the open.

Sarah is grabbed by the man who was watching the other two. He covers her mouth and wrestles her back from the pit, just before the robot arrives. It stops and seems to scan the area before heading off.

The man watches to be sure that the robot is gone before questioning her. He reveals that he covered the pit to try to catch the robot. He talks about the alien in the rocks – the robot (he calls it a machine) captures them and takes them to the alien to torture.

The leader of the crew shows up and he doesn’t believe The Doctor’s claim of being from Nerva. It turns out the crewmen are from a human colony and they only know of Nerva as a legend. The Doctor is very fascinated by a small device on the front of the leader’s spacesuit; he says it’s not a product of human tech, and it’s a video link, as we see from the monitor receiving the signal.

The stubby hand of a Sontaran is seen pressing buttons under the monitor. (C’mon, it’s not spoilery, their name is in the title of the serial!) In response, the robot moves off in some direction.

The three crewmen argue what to do over The Doctor.

Roth leads Sarah Jane back to the camp, but won’t go closer; he’s afraid of Vural, the leader – he says he saw the alien let Vural go and believes him to be working with the alien.

The Doctor is being interrogated again. He offers to help them, saying he can fix the transmat, they all pop up to Nerva and and call for help. Vural grabs him and gets very antagonistic over “that Mother Earth crap”, saying they won’t take orders from them. While they’ve been sleeping for 10K years, Vural’s people have been forging an emptire.

Roth distracts the crew and they run off after him. While they’re gone, Sarah Jane frees The Doctor and they run off. Roth and Sarah take The Doctor to the pit, but he falls while trying to slip down. The robot comes up behind Sarah Jane and Roth, both of whom cower in fear.

Harry climbs through some rocks, skulkily. He spots a spherical object – obviously a Sontaran spacecraft.

The Doctor comes to at the bottom of the pit. He calls out for Sarah, but there’s no response.

Harry approaches the sphere, hiding in the rocks. He sees Roth and Sarah, captured by the robot, brought there, bound in cable. The Sontaran exits and takes off his helmet… and the credits roll.

Not a real cliffhanger, because we knew the Sontarans we in it from the title. Of course, she knows of the Sontarans from her first serial, THE TIME WARRIOR.

Episode 2:

Sarah gasps, “Linx,” thinking it is the same one – she doesn’t know they’re clones. The Sontaran approaches her, saying, “The female of the species.”

Sarah says he can’t be there, she saw him blow up in the thirteenth century; the Sontaran introduces himself as “Field Major Styre.” Roth runs off, saying he won’t be tortured again. Styre shoots him dead, and asks why Sarah Jane screamed when he did that.

From behind the rocks, Harry watches all of this.

In the pit, The Doctor is found by the crewmen as he climbs out of the pit.

Harry moves closer, finding a man in manacles, chained to the rocks.

As The Doctor climbs out, the robot arrives and the men start firing on it. It captures all three of the crewmen.

Styre demands to know where Sarah came from; he tells her he knows she was not on the GalSec ship. He puts a headband on her and leaves her tied up. Harry comes in and finds her, but is not able to reach her, as Styre set up a force field.

Styre reports in to his superior officer, the Field Marshal. He gives his report on the humans he has tested – a report needed before the Sontarans can launch an assault, presumably on one of the human colonies?

Styre initiates a test on Sarah, using the headband on her, subjecting her to a fear test. She first sees the binds on her wrist as a snake… then the rocks above her seem to fall… then the ground about her feet starts slurching up her legs…

The Doctor arrives and neutralises the force field. Removing the headunit, he frees her, but she passes out. Styre arrives and when The Doctor charges him, he knocks the Time Lord down. The Doctor tries to escape, but is shot.

Later, the three crewmen are brought to Styre’s spacecraft. He exits, and Vural starts begging to be spared, saying he worked with him. Vural tries to explain to his crewmen that he did it for them, but Styre says that he won’t honor an arrangement with someone who would betray his own people.

Harry returns, finding the one prisoner dead, and Sarah and The Doctor unconscious. He hides as Styre appears to check on the dead crewman. He reports that after nine days, seven hours, the subject died from “fluid deprivation”, which is a weakness to be exploited.

Harry moves to strike Styre, but The Doctor grabs him from behind and pulls him away. He tells Harry to take care of Sarah while he tries to find out what Styre’s purpose is.

Styre has the three crewmen in another experiment; Vural is tied to a rock, the other two holding a “gravity bar” above Vural. Styre starts increasing the weight of the gravity bar and the men struggle to keep it from crushing Vural.

The Doctor encounters the robot and, using the sonic screwdriver, disables it.

Arak, one of the humans, tries to get to a knife when Styre is summoned to the communications device (which is outside the ship. Makes PERFECT sense.) The Doctor is hiding amongst the rocks above the communication device and overhears that the entire invasion fleet is being held up, waiting on Styre’s report.

The Doctor tells his companions that he has a plan – he’s going to challenge Styre to one-on-one combat. He says that Styre won’t turn him down. His goal is to tire Styre out so that he has to return to his ship to re-energise (Sontarans do not eat food like humans do.) While he has Styre busy fighting, he wants Harry to sneak in the ship. He hands Harry the sonic screwdriver and then leans in to tell him what to do.

Styre is back to testing the humans when The Doctor approaches, saying Styre has fallen into his trap. He tells them that the crewmen are part of the Earth slave class, while he represents the “true warrior class” and challenges him to single combat.

Styre rises to the challenge and grabs a large machete-type knife. The Doctor has a pole and they begin to fight. Sarah Jane goes to help the crewmen while Harry enters Styre’s ship.

The crewmen, freed, run over to help The Doctor. Vural is killed in the fight, but they manage to delay Styre long enough for Harry to get some equipment out of the ship. Seeing this, The Doctor allows Styre to enter his ship unimpeded, and when he staggers out, moments later, he is dying. He collapses to the ground and his body seems to deflate, then equipment inside the ship explodes.

The Doctor gets on the communications device and contacts the Field Marshal, telling him that they have access to all their plans. The Doctor threatens that, if the Sontarans cross the “buffer zone” their fleet will be destroyed. The bluff carries weight and the Field Marshal signs off with a threat of destroying them all.

The last two crewmen say their farewells as The Doctor and his companions beam away in the transmat sphere circle… and the final credits roll.

It’s interesting to note that Styre and the Field Marshal were played by Kevin Lindsay, who not also played Linx in THE TIME WARRIOR, but Cho-Je in PLANET OF THE SPIDERS!

Not a bad episode, awfully short and suffers for it a bit. But I know the next serial more than makes up for it with the extra two episodes allocated to it… the next one is the one I’ve always considered to be my all time favourite.  

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