Recap: Tegan, still retaining a fragment of the Mara within her mind, has caused the TARDIS to go to the Mara homeworld, on the eve of a ceremony celebrating the anniversary of the Mara’s defeat at the hand of the Federation. Things look dire as both Tegan and Lon, son of the Federator (governor of several planets) are infected by the Mara…

spoiler warning

Episode 3:

The Doctor is locked in a cell, but Chela brings him some food, telling him he will be kept locked up until after the ceremony, later that afternoon. The Doctor protests that is too long, it will be too late.

TeganMara sends LonMara to fetch the great crystal.

Chela confides that Dojjen, the Director before Ambril, was convinced that the Mara will return.

For a few moments, we see the old man from the beginning of the serial, still seated out in the desolate wasteland, eyes still closed.

Chela says Ambril has charge of the great crystal and it is safe.

Lon returns home. Lady Tanha demands to know where he has been. She gives him a hard time for being out, having fun while she was being bored at the official dinner. She sees he has an artifact from the secret room, but he passes it off as a fake from the marketplace. She examines it while he goes to his quarters.

Nyssa skulks about some corridors, but quickly hides from Chela. She watches him enter the room to report to Ambril. Chela tells Ambril that he feels The Doctor is harmless and Ambril agrees.

Nyssa finds where The Doctor is being held.

Having donned gloves (presumably to cover the tattoo on his arm), Lon takes the artifact back from his mother and leaves again, Lady Tanha demanding to know where he is going.

Ambril hands a journal to Chela – it is Dojjen’s journal. Ambril tells Chela to read from it. He does, and it talks about the Mara being in the mind, in the heart. Ambril proclaims it to be nonsense when Chela asks if it was written in some code.

Lon enters just then, saying he is glad to hear that. He says he is there to ask a private favour of Ambril, and the Director dismisses his assistant.

Nyssa tries to pick the lock, but it is a simple mechanical lock. Nyssa hides as the door opens and Chela brings Dojjen’s journal to The Doctor. Nyssa overhears that the key should be in Ambril’s possesion, or at least his office, and slips off as Chela gets The Doctor to read the journal.

Ambril protests to Lon that he swore an oath, one dating back to the destruction of the Mara. He tells Lon that not even the Federator himself may see the great crystal. Lon pulls out the artifact, catching Ambril’s attention.

Chela tells The Doctor that was the last thing Dojjen wrote before “he danced the dance of the snake.”

Ambril is ecstatic at the artifact; when Lon mentions that there were many, “scattered around”, the Director is almost speechless. Lon offers to show him where the rest are and they depart.

Nyssa sneaks in Ambril’s office after they depart.

Chela explains that the Federation banned the snakedance a century ago. The dance is one of purification, to prepare against the return of the Mara. But since the Federation was using the story of their destroying the Mara, they drove the dancers into the hills so they wouldn’t spread their ‘sedition’. Chela confides that according to the legends, the dance involved certain “mental powers”.

Nyssa finds the key, only to discover Lady Tanha and her guard watching her from the doorway to Ambril’s office.

In the bazaar, children (and adults) watch a puppet show, a very Punch and Judy style one. Ambril and Lon look on.

Lady Tanha takes the key from Nyssa, and insists that she come with her.

As the puppet show goes on, a puppet of a giant snake attacks the male puppet after he hurt/killed the female one, and swallows him up. Lon collects some candles from a seller and then leads Ambril off.

Lady Tanha brings Nyssa to the cage where The Doctor and Chela are still conversing about Dojjen.

Ambril protests when Lon brings him to the snake cave, saying that every inch has been searched, that it possibly couldn’t be the source of the artifacts, but the Federator’s son insists. Lon then says he should be blindfolded. When Ambril protests, Lon says that if he wants to have the claim to have discovered it all on his own, he’ll have to play along. The Director is easily swayed by this and agrees.

After Nyssa has been locked in the cell with The Doctor, Lady Tanha asks Chela about her son. The assistant director confides that he had been there, but had private business with Ambril.

Lon leads Ambril through the caves to the secret door. (Surely Ambril would be able to guess what room they were in…) Lon leads him through the door and then allows him to remove the blindfold. (The candles they have are not lit, amusingly enough.) Ambril is delighted to see the room and the artifacts.

As he moves about, he finds the marketplace barker, who is doing his spiel. Lon laughs at Ambril’s confusion until TeganMara yells at him to stop wasting time. She demands to know where the great crystal is.

Nyssa reads the journal. The Doctor says that there must have been something to convince Dojjen about the reality of the Mara, something concrete enough to send him down the path he took. Nyssa, regarding the crystal, comes to the conclusion that they must be man made, for them to be so perfectly aligned to the thought patterns of people.

Ambril asks if this is all a prank, a hoax. Lon brings up the artifacts, smashing one, asking if they’re a hoax, too. Ambril says no, they can’t be.

The Doctor and Nyssa realise that the crystals are beyond the technology of the people of the planet. The Doctor says, according to Chela, the crystals are 800 years old.

TeganMara learns that The Doctor has been asking about the crystals, too. She says he must not be allowed to interfere, he must be killed. Lon tells the Director that the crystal must be placed in its proper place during the ceremony. Ambril protests, and Lon starts smashing the artifacts until the Director agrees.

We learn of the (postulated) origin of the Mara – the Manussans created the great crystal to create matter out of thought. But they did not understand that the matter created would be influenced by the thoughts, the quality of thoughts, the emotional aspects. The frustration and anger and discontent in them created the Mara.

Returning the the bazaar, Ambril removes his blindfold. Lon promises that after the ceremony, Ambril will be allowed to “discover” the artifacts again.

The tattoo on TeganMara’s arm comes to life.

We see the old man again. Eyes still closed. Still seated.

Nyssa wonders why Dojjen didn’t destroy the great crystal when it was in his charge, if nobody believed him, if none would listen to his warnings. The Doctor says this is a good question.

Lady Tanha prattles on to Chela about her son and his boredom. Chela is out of his league, and seems to be afraid to say anything to her ladyship. Lon and Ambril return, saving Chela from having to fret any longer.

Nyssa is getting stir-crazy and frets, while The Doctor advocates patience.

Lon says Ambril has an announcement to make. The Director announces that during the ceremony, Lon will play the part of his ancestor. As part of the ceremony, the crystal will be placed in its proper place. Chela is horrified at this, but Lon bullies him into submission. Ambril is dispatched to fetch the crystal. Chela gets the key from the desk as he departs. Lon notices and asks his mother what was on the table after the assistant director slips out the door.

TeganMara taunts the barker with the now three-dimensional snake on her arm.

Chela frees The Doctor and Nyssa. He leads them out.

Lon sends the guards to seal the entrances. The guards surround the escaping prisoners and Chela. Lon arrives and gives order for them to be killed. Nyssa screams… and the credits roll.

That scream seemed awfully forced, even for this show. Kinda a lame cliffhanger because of that. Would’ve been just fine without it – in fact, much better. Nyssa’s seen too much to scream at the threat of being killed.

Episode 4:

Lady Tanha shows up and stops the guards from killing the heroes. As The Doctor says they’re not there to kill Lon, his only concern is Tegan and the great crystal, Ambril shows up, carrying a box.

We see the old guy again. Yep.

Preparations for the ceremony/festivities fill the bazaar.

TeganMara taunts the barker with the snake. Yep, still.

In Ambril’s office, The Doctor and Chela and Nyssa challenge why the crystal is being put in its rightful place during the ceremony – particularly why Lon requested it and why Ambril is going along with it.

The Doctor demands to know what Lon has done with Tegan. Lon mocks The Doctor’s accusations of evil. Lady Tanha orders them taken away, but Lon says they should be allowed to see the great crystal. Ambril protests, but Lon over-rules him. As the Director is about to open the chest, The Doctor, Chela and Nyssa run off.

In Ambril’s office, Lon is admiring the great crystal, which is palm-sized. Ambril reports that they have escaped into the marketplace. He presses Lon about their arrangement, which Lady Tanha overhears. She tries to inquire about what he’s up to, but Lon passes it off as a “surprise”.

In the marketplace, an “attendant demon” surprises and touches The Doctor. Chela explains this is part of the day’s festivities, and those touched by an attendant demon (a man in costume, obviously) must pay a coin or have water dumped on their head. Chela saves the day when The Doctor confesses that he has no coins on his person, by paying for him.

I did recall this bit and always thought that was a neat little ‘tradition’. I don’t know if it was taken from some historic one or made up, but I really like it, always have – for whatever reason, it always has resonated with me.

Lady Tanha tries to see Lon’s arm; he’s explained it’s “just a scratch”, but she’s a mother and tries to see it, worried it might be infected. Finally, he yells at her to leave him be.

A giant snake puppet is led through the marketplace. A man with a bullhorn calls out, asking who will be the one to stand up to the monster. There’s music and excitement.

Ambril has brought Lon the costume for him to wear at the ceremony. Lady Tanha is standing with her back to the room, motionless, unresponsive. She seems to ignore Lon and the others.

The Doctor, Nyssa and Chela go somewhere in the desolate area. The Doctor sits, focusing his thoughts on the crystal, hoping to reach out to Dojjen. The crystal glows in his hands. “Now we wait,” he announces.

Lon returns to Ambril’s office in the most garish costume. Lady Tanha is so proud, so complementary. It’s possibly the most ricockulous outfit I’ve ever seen in this show, and that’s saying something.

Chela asks the same question Nyssa did earlier – why didn’t Dojjen destroy the great crystal when he was the Director? Again, The Doctor has no answer. Just then, Dojjen (the old man we’ve seen, which is no surprise) shows up.

The snake is paraded through the marketplace.

Dojjen has a little snake bite his wrist, then passes it to The Doctor. Nyssa protests, but The Doctor says he has no choice.

The procession makes their way to the snake cave.

Dojjen speaks to The Doctor via his mind, telling him to look into his eyes. Dojjen says for him to ask his questions. The Doctor has trouble doing so at first, but then asks what is the snakedance. Dojjen says this is the dance. There’s some really annoying music playing in the background, making it hard to understand everything that is being ‘said’.

There’s some talk about the “slow point” (I think, like I said, hard to discern) being important to destroy the Mara and the slow point is found within.

At the chamber of the Mara, Lon tells Ambril he will tell him when to place the crystal in its proper place. Outside, the great snake has arrived at the cave. The bullhorn man tells them all to submit to the great snake.

The Doctor comes out of the state with Dojjen, saying he hopes he learned what they needed to defeat the Mara.

In the chamber of the Mara, the snake puppet and procession has arrived. Bullhorn dude calls out, asking who shall stand up to the snake. He asks thrice, and on the third time, Lon stands up, saying he will challenge the Mara in the name of the Federation and his own.

First, Lon is to be tested. It’s all ceremonial and such. He faces three temptations – fear, despair and greed.

As they approach the cave, Nyssa gets snarky with The Doctor for helping her. Not sure what that was about.

At the final temptation, Lon breaks character, destroying the fake crystal in the snake puppet’s mouth, challenging their beliefs, calling it all a farce. He demands Ambril hand over the great crystal. When the Director protests, Lon removes his other glove, revealing the tattoo of the Mara!

A guard outside is taken out by The Doctor and company.

Lon takes the great crystal to the snake carving in the wall. He says after 500 years, the Mara has returned and how fitting it is he that should restore the crystal to its owner. He opens the secret door and TeganMara walks out, instructing him to do it now.

Lon does so and the wall lights up. Everyone collapses, crying out, holding their heads. Tegan throws down the snake from her arm, which grows large. The Doctor yells at everyone not to look, to find the still point (told you it was hard to understand what was being said) within to resist. Nobody is listening, though.

Tegan and the snake merge. Her face is in its mouth and speaks, demanding to know who is resisting. The Doctor is the sole who is not looking at her/it. The Doctor rises, focusing his intent on the blue crystal Chela gave him. She calls out for him to be stopped.

The Mara uses Tegan’s voice, trying to trick him into looking, calling out to him for help, but he resists. She sends Lon and the barker to stop him but when they touch him the crystal burns them. Dojjen, through The Doctor, attacks the Mara. The Doctor is able to leap forward and pull the great crystal out, destroying(?) the Mara.

Tegan screams as the Mara is cast out again.

Dojjen, back in the desolate area, rises and walks off.

People recover slowly. Tegan cries and The Doctor sits next to her, assuring her that the Mara has been destroyed… and the credits roll.

Ok, not the best, but much, much, MUCH better than Kinda. I wonder if I found KINDA so disappointing because I was partially remembering this one? It’s been… must be close to twenty years since I’ve seen most of these.