Another one where I’m not remotely sure I recall what it is about. I kinda like that, it’s almost like watching it for the first time.

 

Episode 1:

 

An alien landscape, rocky terrain with domes fills the screen. Inside one of the domes, we see a man chained to the wall . Several robotic devices move to face him. One fires a beam; he dodges it once, but the second time it strikes him in the gut and he cries out.

 

Elsewhere, a couple is watching this on a CCTV. Apparently, it’s not the first time this guy has been “laserise”-d. The man complains about the lack of food that was delivered – apparently they’re on rationed food.

 

They begin discussing the Governor and an upcoming vote. It seems there’s a lot of unhappiness here. Arak (the man) wants to go to sleep, but his wife(?) says he can’t because of the vote – apparently voting is mandatory and when he says she can vote in his place, she says she’d report him to the police.

 

In the TARDIS, The Doctor is working on the console; he says he’s done it and Peri begins complaining, pointing out a variety of errors he’s made since they’ve left Telos. (Wow, she’s annoying, I don’t remember her being so annoying.)

 

Elsewhere we see, OH MY GOD IT’S SIL!! I LOVE SIL!!!! YAY, SIL!!!! (Sorry, but Sil is so delightfully smarmy and yucky and… oh, he’s just wonderful.)

 

Ahem. Anyhow. It’s a… I’m guessing this is the Governor’s office, but I’m not sure. A human stands behind a desk, as Sil, who is a… I think he’s a reptillian creature (or maybe an amphibian?), not very tall, so he spends most of his time seated atop a mobile pedestal of sorts.

 

Sil is demanding, politely in tone and words but that’s all, that the man lower the prices of the Zeiton-7 ore his people mine. Sil threatens to withdraw his corporation’s contract. The Governor resists, and says they could branch out into other sources of revenue, such as selling tapes (tapes? In the future? How quaint…) of the torture from the punishment dome.

 

Sil laughs (and I remember this one of the endearing things about him – when he laughs, his tongue trills), pleased at the Governor’s business sense. Sil is a bloodthirsty little bastard and demands to know if the tapes are full of “torture, blindness, executions?”

 

The Governor tells him he’d have to speak to his Chief Officer, who oversees COMTEC Division product. Sil says he would like to help organised the exporting of their tapes, but only if the Governor consents to lowering the asking price for the Zeiton-7.

 

Again, the Governor’s reply is no and Sil throws a hissy fit. A bald man comes in to inquire about the negotiations, saying the people await hearing something and the Governor is bound to give them some information.

 

Sil says it is a stalemate on everything and he has already going beyond his authority. The Governor appeals to Sil, saying they must have a raise in price.

 

Sil says he will wait until after that evening’s vote, to see if the Governor is still in favour with the people; if not, he will negotiate with the new Governor.

 

On the TARDIS, Peri is moping, when suddenly the TARDIS column stops moving, making an odd noise. The Doctor opens the scanner, saying they’re in the middle of nowhere in space in a void. He sits down in a chair, moping, saying they don’t have any power.

 

He tells Peri it’s okay for her, she’ll grow old and die in the TARDIS, but he’ll go on regenerating until all his lives are spent.

 

spoiler warning

 

(I know he’s still prone to melodramatic whimsy, but come on, we can’t contact anyone for help?)

 

Sil talks to the bald man, saying that they pay him in secret and he wants him to get a new Governor to deal with. (Sil kinda talks like Yoda a bit, “Like this Governor we do not.”)

 

Baldy asks for some patience and trust. Sil worries that the Governor is onto them, and whatever they secretly are after. The bald man says it’s no big deal, but Sil suggests that perhaps he should offer the Governor him and his payments instead.

 

Sil says there has been enough talk, he wants to watch the Governor’s broadcast and vote.

 

The address begins, the Governor speaking to his people, saying that he believes the people of Varos deserve more for their effort of mining.

 

The couple from earlier are seen; he’s complaining about it, saying “get to the point” and she’s telling him to shut up. He complains more and she threatens to report him as a “subvert”.

 

The Governor’s speech is done and he appeals to them to hold out for a fair price and vote Yes for a ten percent reduction in food rations. He says that voting No is for those “who wish for full bellies today and nothing to eat tomorrow”.

 

There are two sets of buttons on the wall, one on either side of the screen. The man steps forward, punching NO, on the right side. The woman punches YES on the left side. He rolls his eyes at her.

 

The Governor watches as the results come up on a screen:

YES: 633,156

NO: 987, 627

 

It’s a landslide against him. He places his arms in manacles in his chair which close on his wrists and watches as the screen displays:

 

GOVERNOR’S RECOMMENDATION

DEFEATED

 

A green pulsing glow above him starts. He begins writhing and gasping in pain. He struggles against the manacles, but he’s stuck there.

 

The man watches on the screen, cheering it on, hoping for death, while the woman covers her face. The Governor survives, however and she praises him for being strong, saying that’s three losing votes in a row.

 

Sil, anxiously asks if the Governor is dead, but learns that he survived. He demands of baldy that they get rid of him soon. Baldy says to negotiate now while the Governor is weak.

 

When the Governor exits, Sil presses for more negotiation. The Governor tries to delay it, but Sil says it’s now or never and he capitulates, asking for a few moments to rest.

 

Sil has his bodyguards wheel his pedestal into the Governor’s chamber to await him, while the Governor speaks to baldy.

 

Baldy says that he warned him that the people would not accept more rationing. When the Governor asks, he tells him he suspects he’d be lucky to survive one more losing vote.

 

A subordinate speaks up, suggesting that the Governor give the people something “to entertain, to please the people”. He suggests giving them the life of the rebel Jondar in a public execution. The subordinate and baldy begin debating how entertaining it would be, whether it would be too quick or too uncertain.

 

Reluctantly, the Governor gives Bax (the subordinate) the okay to authorise it and thanks him for the suggestion. Bax sits down at his station and begins giving the instructions to alert the people of an “imminent public execution”.

 

Peri walks in with a book, a TARDIS manual, but The Doctor throws it aside, saying he knows what has happened. She picks up the book and he agrees to peruse it, to “confirm my diagnosis”.

 

While he does so, the column moves and this gives him hope. Suddenly he jumps up, telling Peri not to give up, and tells her to hold the book while he fiddles with buttons and toggles.

 

The Governor makes another broadcast, telling the people about the upcoming death of Jondar.

 

In the cells, a guard tells a woman that her husband, Jondar, is scheduled for death. The guard, Rondel, was once Jondar’s friend, and she appeals on that, but he says that Jondar turned against the people of Varos.

 

She says that Jondar found out that the elite live so much better than everyone else, that is what Jondar is rebelling against. Rondel says it is all lies, but she says Varos is what it always was, a prison planet – “a colony for the criminally insane”.

 

It seems the ruling class are the descendants of the original prison guards. She appeals to him to save Jondar, but he says it is too late.

 

The Doctor works on the console, while Peri reads settings from the book. There’s a joke, comic bit or something (not very funny) over her use of “zee” versus “zed”. (Peri is an American, remember.)

 

Finally, The Doctor is able to get the TARDIS to use the emergency power to make a short flight, but he says they’ll need Zeiton-7 to realign the trans-power system.

 

Oh, sure, of course. Just so happens they need Zeiton-7… only available on Varos.

 

A masked guard named Quillam visits with Jondar’s wife. Quillam’s mask completely covers one side of his face and most of the other – there’s only one eyehole. He taunts her with talk of turning her into a reptile or simian. (He’s a scientist, I gather.)

 

He orders the guard with him, Rondel, to take her to the rehabilitation unit, and then departs.

 

The sentence is read by Baldy to Jondar – death by laser obliteration. Baldy says that, as Chief Officer, he confirms all procedures have been followed and the sentence is proper.

 

Speaking to the guard who will be watching, he makes sure he has his “anti-hallucination helmet”. Hmm, lasers cause hallucinations?

 

Good, we wouldn’t want one of my guards to succumb to the phantoms of the punishment dome… not with all of Varos watching,” Baldy tells him.

 

Baldy leaves and the guard puts on his helmet as the laser cannon begins warming up.

 

Suddenly, the TARDIS materialises on the far side of the chamber; the guard fiddles with the helmet, obviously feeling it might not be working. He fires on the TARDIS, much to the disapproval of The Doctor, who watches with Peri from within.

 

Maldak calls in a report of failure of his anti-hallucination helmet. He is ordered to stay until the execution is done. (So much for worrying about that.)

 

The TARDIS scanners determine that the atmosphere is breathable. Peri wonders why the man fired on the TARDIS then turned away as if it wasn’t even there. The Doctor says they should ask him, and he heads out.

 

Sil and Baldy watch the screen, waiting for Jondar’s death. It’s a random thing, so nobody knows when it will happen. Sil is all squirmy in anticipation.

 

The Governor, seated nearby is nowhere near as pleased. Bax enters to report something to Baldy, but he and Sil yell at him to leave.

 

The Doctor and Peri exit, and try to speak to Maldek. He says they’re hallucinations. When he calls in to control again, The Doctor says they’re there to repair it for him and demands he hand it over.

 

When he goes to take the helmet off, The Doctor grabs Maldek’s gun and they struggle. They near Jondar, who kicks at the guard, helping The Doctor wrestle away the gun. With the guard dispatched, The Doctor tries to shake Jondar’s hand, but he’s chained up.

 

Since this is on camera, Sil is freaking out, demanding to know if this is planned. The Governor says it’s not and demands to know if they are rebels. Sil says they all must be executed. Baldy and Bax head off to deal with the situation.

 

Sil threatens the Governor that he could give an unfavorable report to his corporation, and this would not turn out well for Varos’ selling of Zeiton-7.

 

The Governor seems very weak and all but collapses. Sil’s bodyguards help him into a chair and Sil begins trying negotiations again. The weakened Governor sticks to his seven credits per unit, which makes Sil laugh, as Zeiton-7 is in great demand by anyone who wants to use it for “their space-time craft”.

 

The Governor has passed out and doesn’t hear this, or hear when Sil sends one of his men back to their ship to report back and call for a “colonising force” to be sent. He says with Zeiton-7, he will rule this galaxy, and perhaps all others.

 

The Doctor uses the laser cannon to free Jondar. However, guards have arrived, keeping them from getting to the TARDIS. They point the laser at the approaching guards and one is taken out.

 

Three guards on a little buggy go in pursuit.

 

In their home, the couple is watching all of this; the man is cheering on Jondar and his new friends.

 

Jondar says he can’t go much further, he has to stop and rest. When they hear the patrol car approaching, The Doctor creates a short circuit in some machinery that takes out all the power, including the lighting and the power that runs the buggy.

 

A mysterious feminine hand beckons from a secret door and The Doctor and Peri and Jondar follow.

 

The patrol car arrives, but they’re nowhere in sight. Jondar’s wife and Rondel are the ones who rescued the pursued. Rondel says he can help them escape through the guards’ exit.

 

Jondar explains that this area is used to torture and entertain the populace. When they tell The Doctor that the people are starving, he scoffs, saying that Varos has Zeiton-7. Jondar scoffs, saying, “That stuff? Who wants it?”

 

They exit, but are fired upon by the guards. They run back, and all this is observed on the feed. The man is cheering them on still, but the wife says wait till they meet the guards at the end of the tunnel.

She says she likes the one in the funny clothes.

 

As they move through the area, Jondar and his wife tell The Doctor that the entire dome is wired for cameras, for the entertainment of the people. Supposedly, there’s a route to freedom, but nobody’s ever found it before being killed by the traps or hunted by the guards.

 

The Doctor says if they can get back to the TARDIS, it’ll be easy to escape. The four of them (I missed what happened to Rondel, maybe he separated from them.)

 

They enter an area called The Purple Zone; the couple watching laugh, saying they like this section.

 

The four enter the area, which is lit by purple/pinkish light. Turning a corner, they encounter a giant fly.

 

The Doctor tells them to close their eyes. They say they cannot, but when he yells for them to do so, they do. He tells them it’s just an illusion and guides them down the hall, linked by their hands.

 

Bax, Sil and Baldy watch, debating whether they’re lucky, clever or have inside information. The guard with them is mentioned (but not by name or fate). Sil says they don’t seem to be Varosians. He thinks they’re from a rival company and wants them in for questioning. He also demands that “that object” (the TARDIS) be brought to him at once.

 

Baldy stares at him, but doesn’t protest.

 

Past the purple light, The Doctor captures a fly, telling them that was what they saw, just magnified out of proprotion.

 

Jondar tells them that not all dangers are imaginary and goes on about how the populace loves to see a group of condemned face a threat they think is fake but is real. He says this is one of the ways the elite keep the people in line, it serves as entertainment and warning.

 

They move on, but suddenly react to a horrible stench. The Doctor wonders if it’s real or not. Suddenly, two green eyes rise up out of the darkness, but The Doctor determines they’re just lights.

 

At control, Bax reports to Baldy that the people are responding positively to what they’re watching (I was going to comment that I bet the Governor got his entertainment he was looking to give the people.)

 

Baldy says that will lead to a greater impact when they are captured, tried and executed. He predicts that “the recording of their final agonies will sell on every civilised world!”

 

Peri leads them back to where the TARDIS should be, but it’s gone! The Doctor says it can’t be far away and heads down a tunnel looking for it.

 

At control, Sil supervises their attempt to break into the TARDIS. When the Governor arrives to inspect the object, Sil threatens him that if the strangers are from another company, that will end all relations with Varos, but the Governor says he doesn’t know who they are. He gives orders to the Chief (Baldy) to use every guard to capture them and then leaves, telling them to keep trying to open the TARDIS as he departs.

 

Peri complains (shocker) that all the corridors look the same. The Doctor heads down one corridor, telling her to check out another, but a patrol car shows up and he is separated from the others.

 

Guards capture Peri, Jondar and his wife. One of the guards is Maldek, who slaps Peri with his glove for making a fool of him. She is taken to be interrogated, Jondar and his wife are taken for termination.

 

The Doctor finds his return blocked off by a swinging wall. He’s forced to go onward into a bright light.

 

The woman watching says, “Oh, dear… and I really liked him!” Suddenly the video is interrupted by the Governor making an address, saying that the rebel and his compatriots have been captured or killed. He tells them that help for the rebels from another world is suspected.

 

He says their vehicle has been apprehended and their leader is walking into a “no options kill centre”, and “he will suffer the fate of all who seek to overturn the law of Varos.”

 

The Doctor walks on down a smoky corridor, blinking as he sees shifting sands in the distance.

 

The Governor puts it to a vote, asking the people for their vote on his campaign to crush the rebellion. He places his arms in the manacles and is released moments later – the vote is in his favour! He thanks his people for their vote.

 

The Doctor takes off his jacket, sweating and gasping as if he were in a desert. He struggles forward, still seeing shifting sands, and collapses.

 

The husband and wife viewers watch, the man laughing, the woman upset.

 

The Doctor sees a hallucination of Peri, offering him a drink of water. He reaches out to her but she fades.

 

Sil and Baldy watch and gloat as the Governor approaches. They talk of how the hallucinatary inductor will make him believe he cannot survive, and therefore, he will die.

 

The Doctor is shown crawling down a corridor on the public viewscreen. The married couple both seem to be affected, the husband asking if they have anything to drink.

 

Peri is brought into control; seeing The Doctor on the screen, she calls out, but is told to keep quiet. As The Doctor collapses again, the Governor orders the camera to zoom in “for death throes”.

 

The Doctor lifts his head, looking about, seeing desert everywhere and then collapses once more.

 

Sil cheers, “Dead as death!” The Governor gives the order to hold the shot a few seconds longer and then orders them to cut it… and the credits roll.

 

I like that ending – it’s not a super gripping cliffhanger, but then you know he’s not dead, so doing it this way was a pleasant change from the “oh noes, he’s going to die” cliffhanger.

 

A fun serial so far. And, YAY, SIL!!!!!

 

See you Friday.

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