Season thirteen opens with an episode I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen – maybe I have, maybe I haven’t. I know it involves UNIT, so that’s a plus. Let’s get started!

Episode 1:

at a drilling platform in the sea, a man is on the radio to the mainland, when there’s a sudden strange interference. One of the pilons of the platform collapses, sending the entire platform into the water, exploding on the way down!

The Doctor, Harry and Sarah march through the brush and wilderness. From The Doctor’s headgear, I’m assuming they’re in Scotland. The Doctor consults a device (early GPS concept, or just a compass?) that leads them to a nearby road, where they flag down a vehicle.

Benton drives a jeep into a small town. My suspicions about Scotland are confirmed by the bagpipes playing loudly. Inside the local pub (or inn?) the Brig has set up and is meeting with a man about his company’s losses and the loss of life. Benton arrives to report no word of The Doctor yet. However, shortly thereafter, he and his companions arrive.

The man who gave The Doctor and his companions a lift turns out to be the Duke of Forgill; he’s come into town to see Mr Huckle, the oil man consulting with the Brig. He’s not pleased with the oil man’s presence, nor with the Brig’s reluctance to discuss UNIT’s presence.

On the beach, a body in a lifesaver has washed up ashore.

The Brig explains that there have been three disasters at sea; The Doctor is irate that he’s been summoned back to Earth for such a paltry issue. He goes into a rant about Earth’s dependence on oil (interesting to note that the same talk about not being dependent on oil goes on today, some 37 years later…)

Reluctantly, The Doctor agrees to help with the investigation. They go to the oil company, where Sullivan is to look at the bodies of the dead men, while Sarah goes to the village to talk to the locals. The Doctor and Brig stay and talk with Mr Huckle, learning that the radio blackouts have preceded each incident.

Sarah chats with the landlord of the inn, Mr. MacReynold, who claims to have second sight (he’s the seventh son of a seventh son…) Sarah discusses the Duke, how he seems to be odd, and the man says the Duke has changed recently, since the oil company came in.

A creature, alien or monstrous, watches their conversation via a video monitor.

MacReynold relates different stories from the past of men who went missing, saying there are ancient mysteries and evil spirits.

On the shore, the man in the lifesaver rises and staggers out of the water. One of the Duke’s men, patrolling the lands, sees him. The Duke is fed up with people wandering onto his property and even told Huckle earlier that he’d have any men shot.

Harry, driving along, sees the man stagger and fall as he comes down a dirt road from the shore. The Duke’s man watches from afar, hiding. As Harry reaches the man, he talks about it being too late, it came from the sea, but before he can answer Harry’s questions, the armed man shoots both of them.

The inhuman creature(s) work controls on their console, which seems more organic than technological. They talk about making contact.

The sea churns and we hear the strange interference that came on the radio. Something large, under the water, moves.

Huckle is on the radio with another platform, when the interference begins. The man on number three rig and Huckle cannot reach each other.

Harry is in the hospital – the bullet graze his skull and he is in shock. The Brig relates the destruction of another rig, forty men killed. The same pattern – radio blackout, then that sound, then nothing. The Brig and The Doctor leave Sarah to wait at Harry’s bedside.

In the back of the Brig’s jeep, there’s a piece of wreckage from the previous rig. There are some “curious markings” on it that catch The Doctor’s eye, two deep punctures. He sends Benton to get some plaster of paris.

Back at the inn, The Doctor makes a cast of the holes, revealing giant teeth. The Doctor informs the Brig and Huckle they are dealing with a giant sea monster of some sort.

The inhuman/alien(s) watch this conversation and say(s) that The Doctor has already found out too much and be destroyed.

At the hospital, Harry starts to come around. He tries to tell Sarah what Monroe (the man from the rig who washed up) told him, but he’s too weak. Going to call The Doctor, Sarah leaves the nurse to watch over him, but she’s AWFULLY sinister-seeming.

Harry is murmuring, still talking to Sarah (who isn’t in the room, but he’s still not 100% coherent). We hear the strange noise and Harry starts to shriek.

While Sarah is on the phone with The Doctor, one of the creatures attacks her (bet it’s the nurse’s true form) and she screams… and the credits roll.

So far, a pretty solid serial. Alien or inhuman threat, giant monster, preaching about dependence on oil.

Episode 2:

The Doctor dashes off, followed by Benton. There, the nurse says that Harry and Sarah disappeared and she has no idea where they went. She’s totally part of the threat… or at least the writers really want us to believe it.

The Doctor pokes around sick bay, entering an area for the divers to depressurise. In there, he finds Sarah Jane and opens the door to the chamber. She explains what happened, but suddenly the creature that attacked her closes the two of them in the chamber and begins to fiddle with dials.

Harry is brought into the chamber with the alien/inhuman creatures. He meets Broton, the war lord of the Zygons. Broton says their spacecraft was damaged centuries ago but they have since learned their homeworld was destroyed, so now they plan to take over Earth. (So… they waited centuries for rescue? Wow, patience is their strong suit…)

Sarah begins to panic, having difficulty breathing.

Broton shows Harry their giant sea creature, the Skarasen; he tells Harry they rely on its lactic fluid for survival (yeah, sure, tell the human how to defeat you, that’s just fucking brilliant.) Broton claims nuclear missles would be “mere pinpricks” as they have made it a cyborg.

The Doctor hypnotises Sarah so she won’t breathe. Um, okay.

The Brig sits at his desk, making plans to have the coastline supervised. Smoke begins to billow through the door, but it’s locked. It’s a gas, apparently, as everyone quickly collapses.

Benton finds The Doctor and Sarah in the pressure chamber. The Doctor has slipped into a trance but shortly wakes after Benton comes in. He wakes Sarah from her trance as well.

Huckle arrives at the inn, finding the Brig and his two men unconscious. He hears a roar in the distance.

A UNIT soldier moves through the mist, and turns when he hears a roar. The Skarasen is sighted.

Everyone in the village has been gassed. The Doctor, Benton and Sarah return to talk to Huckle about the village. The Doctor sends Benton out to scout about.

On the Zygon ship, Broton receives a report about The Doctor and Sarah arriving at the village. The Zygon who left them for dead is chastised. They watch as Huckle hands The Doctor a “trilactic activator”, whatever that is, Broton is upset they have it. He gives orders for Harry to be “prepared for use”.

The Doctor tells Huckle that it is a signal device for the monster.

Harry is taken to have a body print made. He is led into a chamber, where we see a bunch of people in some sort of suspended animation. The Zygons have the ability to take the forms of those whom they body print. (It seems one of the pods has a nurse in it, so that explains that.) The Zygon demonstrates by becoming “the Caber”, the man who shot Harry and Monroe.

The Doctor posits that the device emits a signal like an animal mating call. Huckle leaves and shortly thereafter, the Brig comes around.

Benton and another UNIT soldier find a dead soldier in the field – it was the one in the mist, I believe. The Zygons watch as The Doctor and Brig leave Sarah behind in the inn to wait for Harry.

Harry” returns to the inn, saying he escaped. He picks up the signal device and leaves, Sarah giving him a hard time. He knocks her down and runs off, and she gives chase. She stops to get a couple UNIT soldiers to help her give chase.

This is the ubiquitous running scene, apparently.

Sarah splits up from the UNIT soldiers (okay) and finds him hiding in a barn. He attacks her with a pitchfork, but she side steps and he goes over the edge of the loft, revealing his true form of a Zygon (Murdlar being its name.)

Broton orders immediate molecular dispersal of Murdlar before the humans can take the body. Sarah returns to the barn with her soldier friends, but the body is gone.

Back at the inn, Sarah Jane suggests that they are being watched or spied upon. They tell the Brig that any one of them could be one of the creatures, but The Doctor says it could be some form of electronic surveillance. The Zygons watch this and Broton orders that UNIT and The Doctor be destroyed.

Sarah Jane watches the signal device move and begin to signal the creature. The Doctor says their machine guns may not be enough, but he offers to draw it off, while UNIT works on triangulating the source of the signal’s control. He hops into a jeep and drives off.

In the middle of nowhere, the jeep engine dies. Unable to restart it, The Doctor runs off into the moors. The Skarasen pursues. This is the second running scene, it seems. The Doctor tries to get rid of the signal device, but it seems to have bonded to his skin.

He runs off as the Skarasen gets closer. We see a little bit more of it – longer neck, scaly body.

At the inn, they triangulate the approximate location – Loch Ness!

The Doctor collapses as the Skarasen/Nessie gets close. Broton, watching on the video monitor, says, “Die, Doctor, die,”… and the credits roll.

Good cliffhanger. Of course it’s the Loch Ness monster. Of course! (I rather prefer the explanation for Nessie given in… the Colin Baker serial, TIMELASH.)

Episode 3:

Harry enters the Zygon control room and throws himself on the control panel, randomly grabbing controls, disrupting contact with the Skarasen. The Skarasen slams it’s paw down, but The Doctor moves, but the signal device is smashed.

Since the Zygons aren’t getting a trace from the signal device (which they’re calling a “reciprocator” now), they assume that The Doctor was killed. You know, because it’s always best to make assumptions. The Skarasen is recalled, and Harry, who has been subdued, is taken away.

Benton and other soldiers search the inn for bugs, as MacReynold argues the whole time that they’re wasting their time. Benton almost discovers one of the video cameras, hidden in a buck’s head, a gift from the Duke of Forgill.

The Brig and Sarah Jane, searching for The Doctor, find him wandering in the moors. Somehow, he’s back to his usual hat and not the Scottish one. The Doctor tells them that the creature is a cyborg; they tell him that the signal was traced to Loch Ness. The Doctor says they need to visit the Duke in Forgill Castle.

The Duke greets them, though not pleasantly. When they say there’s something about Loch Ness, he makes a crack about the monster, but they say they’re quite serious.

MacReynold notices the eye of the buck head moving as he cleans up.

The Duke finds the idea that aliens are behind things to be as preposterous as the idea that the Loch Ness monster is real.

The nurse shows up and reveals her Zygon nature, attacking MacReynold. Benton and other soldiers hear his scream and run in, finding him dead. The nurse has removed the buck head’s eyes (the cameras.) Benton leads his men into the woods, and they see the Zygon (why it didn’t take human form again, I don’t get) and fire upon it and give chase as it runs off.

The Brig receives a call at Castle Forgill, saying Benton has cornered one of the Zygons (not that they’re known as such.) Sarah is left at the castle to go through the library (with the Duke’s blessing) as The Doctor and Brig head off.

The nurse wanders through the woods and a UNIT soldier sees her. She’s injured, and when the soldier looks to her wounded arm, she attacks him and steals his jeep.

Back at the inn, Benton reports to the Brig about the attack. They then discuss the buck’s head missing its eyes and that it was a gift from the Duke – suddenly, there is concern about leaving Sarah behind with him.

Sarah asks to look at some books and the Duke summons the Caber to have him fetch the steps. The Duke explains that Caber is a nickname, as he is a Highland Games champion – his real name is “very Gaelic” and likely Sarah Jane couldn’t pronounce it.

Sarah climbs the steps Caber brings in and ends up opening a secret door in the bookcase. She goes in to investigate. The Duke sees the open door and quickly departs. Deep inside, Sarah finds an automatic door that leads to… well, I’m going to assume it’s the Zygon ship… and it is!

Skulking about, she finds the room of human bodies in their little pods.

Back in the castle, the Duke and Caber bring the injured “nurse” into the secret area to the ship.

Sarah Jane finds Harry. He begs her to let him out, but she’s not sure it’s really him. When he calls her “old girl,” she realises it is him. They hear the Caber and nurse and hide.

The Doctor and Brig return to the castle; seeing blood on the floor and Sarah’s jacket, they realise that something is wrong. The door opens and Sarah and Harry exit. The Doctor slips in the tunnel and screams. As the Brig, Harry and Sarah move to follow, Brotons and Zygons appear saying they are leaving and taking The Doctor with them. Broton says the “big event” is yet to come. They slip back in the tunnel and close the door.

The Brig and others leave and we see them firing depth charges into the loch. The Zygons power up their ship and bring it out (and I can’t help but notice it doesn’t look terribly different from the platforms, as it seems to be three legged? Maybe it’s four, I can’t tell for sure.)

As it lifts up out of the water and flies off, the Brig and others watch… and the credits roll.

Not the most gripping cliffhanger, but still a good one.

Episode 4:

Broton gives the order for a jamming signal to interfere with any radar. The Doctor nags Broton and the Zygon war lord assures him that the plan is still unchanged and in a few hours, they will not need to hide any more.

Sarah Jane suggests that the Brig let them search the castle, to see if they can find any clues what the Zygons are up to. Sarah and Harry poke about the library, and Sarah finds papers about the Duke being president of the Scottish Energy Commission; Harry says they’re wasting time and they leave.

Broton (played by John Woodnutt, who is also playing the Duke – and it’s worth noting that Woodnutt has four serials he’s been in, or will be in, including this one. He was in two Pertwee serials, SPEARHEAD FROM SPACE as Hibbert, who I think was one of the scientists, and more notably as the Draconian Emperor in FRONTIER IN SPACE. He also later features in the Tom Baker serial THE KEEPER OF TRAKEN, one I enjoy muchly) gives the order to bring the ship down.

Okay, the ship looks to have four legs, not three, so disregard my earlier thoughts on similarity between it and the oil rigs.

Benton reports to the Brig that radar all over Scotland is being jammed, so they’ve lost track of the spaceship. Shortly after, Harry and Sarah show up. The Brig talks about an underwater object being tracked moving south, though the ship has been lost.

Broton approaches The Doctor and takes on the appearance of the Duke. We learn that a great refugee fleet of Zygons are on their way, but not to arrive for centuries. However, they must reshape Earth into a new planet, suitable for Zygons.

The Brig gets a call from the Prime Minister; he speaks to her (the last time a PM got on the phone with the Brig, it was a male PM, back in the Pertwee era. Wasn’t named, and neither is this one. Interestingly, this is before Maggie Thatcher came to the post, so this was rather impressive of the writers of the show to see a woman PM, as she was the only woman to serve that post to current date.) The PM insists that there be a media blackout and the public not informed.

The Doctor uses his body to send a transmission out, a signal to be traced. Running power through his body, he’s hurting himself while doing it. UNIT triangulates the signal, just before they lose it.

The Zygons believe The Doctor to be dead. Broton (still in the Duke’s form) leaves, saying it is good that The Doctor is dead. In the command chamber, he learns that that Skarasen is fifteen (or maybe fifty, hard to tell with the whisper Zygon voices) miles from target. Broton prepares to leave to place the signal device on the target.

In the storage room, The Doctor frees the Duke of Forgill from his pod.

Broton leaves, saying when Phase Two is completed, he will broadcast his demands.

The Doctor triggers a fire sensor, and he and the humans hide in the alcoves; he, the nurse, Duke Forgill and Caber escape and make it to the command room. The Doctor sets the self-destruct and leads the humans out.

Outside, UNIT troops arrive (and Sarah Jane; Harry’s there, too, but he IS part of UNIT) and approach the ship, just in time to see it explode. The Doctor and the freed humans all hide with UNIT as the ship blows.

As everyone starts congratulating him for defeating the Zygons, but The Doctor warns them that Broton is still loose and he’s got the signal device and plans to have the Skarasen attack somewhere in London; the Duke of Forgill fills them in that a world energy conference is going down just off of the Thames.

They dash off to London. Once there, they split up, and The Doctor and Sarah Jane find Broton in the basement. Sarah Jane rushes off for the Brig as The Doctor and Broton struggle.

The Brig and his men arrive, opening fire on Broton. With his dying words, Broton says “the Skarasen will destroy you all.” The Doctor finds the signal device in his pocket and runs off to the roof, throwing the device into the Thames just as the Skarasen shows up and everyone in London is screaming.

After eating the device, the Skarasen heads back home. Back in Scotland, The Doctor and his companions, along with the Duke and the Brig walk through the woods to the TARDIS. We learn all has been neatly wrapped up, as much as a giant monster in the Thames in London can be, at least.

The Doctor invites everyone along for a ride; the Brig declines (imagine if he hadn’t? Imagine the Brig romping around the universe with The Doctor, an official companion? HOW COOL would that have been?) Harry also declines, sadly. Sarah Jane agrees, “providing we do go straight back to London.”

The two of them enter and the Duke watches perplexed as the TARDIS dematerialises.

Not a horrible serial; some clunky writing here and there, but the fun parts more than make up for it. Sad to see Harry depart as a companion, really enjoyed him.  

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