Recap: The Doctor and Romana arrive on Tara. He sends her off to find the next segment, which she does easily enough, but then she is taken prisoner by Count Grendel. The Doctor ends up helping Prince Reynart, first in line to the throne, with repairing his android.

 

At the coronation, the prince’s android is crowned, as Count Grendel has the prince captive. Princess Strella, a look-a-like of Romana, enters and swears fealty to the new king, but The Doctor attacks her!

Episode 3:

The court reacts in horror, but it is quickly revealed that the Princess Strella is in fact an android! The Doctor says he heard the android’s circuitry spark. Count Grendel demands to know whom The Doctor is, but he is ignored.

The Archimandrite says why send an android to swear fealty and The Doctor’s answer is to get close enough to kill the king. Grendel suggests delaying the oath-taking, in case there are other androids. He offers his personal guard to protect the king, but Zadek says he cannot permit that.

Grendel asks what his majesty has to say, but The Doctor insists that his majesty is very tired. Grendel again demands to know his identity, this time The Doctor says, “I’m the king’s doctor.”

He assures everyone that the king needs rest for a day. The Archimandrite agrees and dismisses everyone.

Lamia continues to struggle with the segment to the Key To Time, trying to determine what it is made of. Romana is brought in and she questions her what it is. She gives no answers and tries to get it back, but Lamia suspects it is a piece of something greater.

Just then, Grendel bursts in, complaining that the machine failed, that The Doctor saw through it. They discuss that the crowned prince must be an android. Based on Romana’s reaction to the mention of the king’s doctor, Grendel realises that she knows The Doctor. He tells Lamia to ready another android.

K-9 returns to the cottage, reporting he has located Romana in Castle Gracht. The Doctor and Zadek discuss Grendel “holding all the cards”, as he has the prince, princess and Romana captive. The Doctor insists they still have one card – George.

Lamia scans Romana and determines she is not Taran. Grendel instructs her not to worry about that, just scan her to create a new android duplicate, one that is “perfect” this time.

The Doctor has Zadek question George, to see if it will “hold up” in public discourse. Zadek says that George seems more intelligent than Reynart, and he is bothered by the idea of a highly intelligent android, saying you cannot trust them.

Till, Grendel’s hunchbacked servant (played by Declan Mulholland, whom we last saw in THE SEA DEVILS, though perhaps more widely known as the human Jabba the Hutt who was deleted from STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE in the original editing) arrives to speak to The Doctor.

Till gives The Doctor a message from Lamia – he says now that the android has been crowned king, she fears for Grendel’s safety, saying he is politically powerless. As they step off to talk, Farrah, Zadek and George discuss whether they can trust The Doctor or not.

The Doctor returns to say Lamia has made an offer – the return of Romana for the safe exit of Count Grendel; The Doctor’s says he agreed to it. Farrah points out that it is a trap, but The Doctor says he knows but must go.

Romana insists that The Doctor knows it is a trap and he’ll spot the android right away. Grendel scoffs at the latter, saying he finds the former bit delightful. He instructs Lamia to demonstrate the offensive capability of the android.

Romana is taken back to the prince’s cell, where Lamia manacles her. Romana addresses Lamia’s desire for Grendel, pleading with her to let her go and she and The Doctor will leave Tara. Lamia says she knows she’s being used, “But that is better than nothing.”

Romana picks the lock on her manacle and tries to free the prince, but he protests, saying he’s too weak, she wouldn’t be able to escape while trying to bring him along.

The Doctor and K-9 arrive at the arranged location; they enter a small building.

The prince cries out in pain and Romana calls for the guard; when the guard enters, the prince knocks him out with Romana’s manacle while she escapes.

Grendel, Lamia, Romanabot wait outside the location where The Doctor is to meet them. Grendel’s man arrives to report his men are in position. Grendel tells them to be ready. He sends Lamia in with Romanabot, saying “go now before he arrives.”

Romana slips into the courtyard and takes Grendel’s horse, escaping.

Lamia enters the building and looks around. She seems all too pleased with herself, until The Doctor surprises her by being there already. He shows her the safe conduct papers and sends her out to fetch Romana. Grendel watches as they go in.

The Doctor tosses her the scroll, but K-9 warns him and the android misses blasting. K-9 takes out Romanabot. Hearing a scream, Grendel gives the order to his men to open fire on the pavillion.

Lamia runs out and is shot by Grendel’s men. Grendel calls in to the pavillion, offering his word as a Gracht that The Doctor will not be harmed (after giving the order for his men to open fire the minute they see him.)

In a comic relief moment, K-9 warns The Doctor to be cautious, but The Doctor says he knows what he’s doing. He steps out and is shot at – fortunately the count’s men are graduates from the Death Star Shooting Academy and miss. He ducks back in, popping out to yell, “Liar!”

Like I said, comic relief. Or something.

K-9 burns a hole in the back wall and he and The Doctor slip out into the woods. The guards shoot as The Doctor runs, still missing him (despite a promise of 10,000 gold to the man who kills him.)

Romana arrives on horseback, and the guards are ordered to hold their fire, fearing it is the princess. K-9 blasts several of the guards as The Doctor and Romana ride off on the horse. (Guess they figure K-9 is more than capable of handling himself…)

When the Time Lords arrive at the cottage, Zadek and Farrah are astounded at Romana’s resemblance to the princess. She gives Zadek a message from the real prince… king… I’m confused, because HE wasn’t coronated. She tells Zadek that Reynart isn’t doing well and they need to recuse him.

Count Grendel arrives under a flag of truce. The Doctor and Romana slip into another room before Grendel is brought in. The Doctor pops out of the room and Grendel asks to speak to him privately. Grendel tries to tell The Doctor that once The Doctor’s usefulness to Zadek is ended, he will know too much and will be dealt with accordingly.

Grendel proposes they get rid of both their Reynarts, and Grendel suggests that The Doctor be the new king. The Doctor goes into the other room to inform the others, and Zadek charges that this is treason.

Grendel replies, “Only so long as the king is alive,” and throws his spear (to which his flag of truce was tied, rather fitting imagery that) at George, hitting the android directly, causing him to spark and sputter.

Grendel flees out the door that The Doctor and Romana (who still hasn’t shown herself) had gone through earlier. The guards give chase, but The Doctor stops Farrah from firing at Grendel as he rides away on his horse, because he has Romana captive again… and the credits roll.

Really? That was a bunch of cluttery and presumptuous writing. So Romana freed herself, only to be captured again with no other purpose, other than to let them know that Reynart was in poor health? Once again, Romana accomplishes things, instead of being a simpering companion, but still for naught.

Episode 4:

Zadek sends men after Grendel, while The Doctor checks on George. Farrah seems rather impressed with Grendel’s nerve, his audacity.

Romana is brought back into Reynart’s cell. Grendel gloats over her return. He says he’s restoring Reynart’s “bride to be”. After Grendel and his men leave, Reynart explains to Romana that Grendel’s quite serious – he plans to marry them, making Romana Queen of Tara. Then, suddenly, her husband would die, and Grendel would marry her, becoming consort. When Romana died, that would put Grendel on the throne.

Grendel yells at Till over the poor wine he has been served. The Archimandrite arrives, demanding to know why he has been summoned. Grendel explains that he is there to perform the marriage ritual for the king and Princess Strella. The count tells the old man that he will stay afterward, as funeral rites will be needed before too long, and immediately after that, another wedding – his own to the widow of the king.

At the cottage, The Doctor, Farrah and Zadek discuss plans to attack Castle Gracht. The Doctor says he’ll go in with K-9 and open the gates to let their forces in.

Grendel checks on the wedded couple-to-be and then enters Princess Strella’s cell, offering her one more chance to change her mind. She refuses to marry either him, under any circumstances, or to marry the king under these circumstances. Grendel tells her she has become dispensible and he may kill her before long.

He departs, and enters the king’s cell. Romana says the king’s health is very weak. The king stirs and says that he’d never go through with it, but Grendel says that if they don’t want Princess Strella to die, they will play along.

The Doctor and K-9 cross the moat to Castle Gracht in a skiff.

Grendel tells his men that all must go smoothly – apparently, all the ceremonies are to be performed that night. He tells his man at arms that, should trouble arise, he is to go to the cellar to “deal with the princess”. The count says he will deal with the king himself.

The Archimandrite arrives, asking where the “happy couple” is. Grendel goes off to fetch them.

The Doctor and K-9 are beneath the castle, in the skiff. They find a door and K-9 blasts it.

Romana is dressed as the Princess and Reynart has a formal jacket on. The king tries to strike Grendel, but he is thrust down by the count. They are escorted by guards and Grendel upstairs.

K-9 cuts through the door (The Doctor bitching all the while how long it is taking.) The Doctor slips into the cut door, leaving K-9 with the boat. There’s another couple bits of “comedy” that I won’t even bother to relate.

In the grand hall, the Archimandrite invites the couple to kneel. They hesitate, but Grendel whispers for them to “remember the princess” and they comply.

The Doctor pokes about the castle, taking something out of Lamia’s laboratory.

The Archimandrite performs the ritual, asking them whether they take each other to be husband and wife; The Doctor interrupts when it is Romana’s (well, “Strella’s”) turn to say “I do.”

Grendel is outraged, “You seem to be make a habit of interfering in my affairs, Doctor!”

Yes, yes, I do.”

Well, you’ve done it for the last time!”

Grendel draws his sword, but when The Doctor says he doesn’t have a sword, he gives the Time Lord his sword and has Till fetch another for himself. Romana warns The Doctor that Grendel is the best swordsman on Tara.

The Dctor either doesn’t know the first thing about fencing, or he’s playing the fool. (Since we saw the Third Doctor fence with The Master in… I believe it was THE SEA DEVILS, we know he can fence… and certainly, The Doctor shows he is capable enough as they fence.

In fact, at one point, The Doctor disarms Grendel and kicks his sword back to him. The Doctor then presses Grendel, showing even more talent at swordplay than guessed before.

During the fight, the man at arms slips away and Romana follows him. Reynart opens the gate and Zadek and his men slip in.

Romana follows the man at arms to the dungeons.

The Doctor and Grendel fight their way out of the hall into a corridor.

Romana strikes the man at arms from behind as he chases Princess Strella around her cell. Strella hits him over the head with a vase and he goes down, and then she studies Romana, perplexed and demanding to know who she is.

Well, that’s a long story,” Romana replies.

Grendel refuses to surrender, even hearing the sounds of battle from elsewhere in the castle. He leaps off the side of the castle, into the moat and swims away.

Back in the great hall, Reynart asks The Doctor to stay, offering him Castle Gracht and all the lands associated with it. The Doctor declines, saying he has an important appointment on the other side of the galaxy. Suddenly, he realises that Romana is nowhere in sight. They tell him she was seen doing after Grendel’s man towards the dungeons.

Romana and Princess Strella chat; the princess is instructing Romana on how to do needlework. Romana rushes out, worried about the segment. The king and princess embrace and kiss.

In Lamia’s lab, Romana frets as she cannot find the segment. He tells her to use the tracer and she does, finding it leads right to The Doctor. He chastises her for being careless and leaving it there.

And, in yet one more moment of comic brilliance (said sarcastically), they find K-9 in the skiff, drifting in the moat, calling out, “Master… Master…”

The Doctor laughs… and the final credits roll.

Highly enjoyable serial, minus the rather insipid attempts of comedy. Lots of adventure and a really neat world. I could see The Doctor retiring to Tara when he’s in his final incarnation.

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