Recap: The Doctor and Peri, seeking the super rare mineral Zeiton-7 to repair the TARDIS, arrive on Varos, in the middle of a televised execution-as-entertainment. Helping the rebel sentenced to death, they end up being chased by guards and discover that things on Varos are very, very bad. The TARDIS and Peri have been captured by the guards, and The Doctor has seemingly just died in a hallucinatory desert!

 

Oh, and SIL!!!!! It has Sil!!! Yay!

 

spoiler warning

 

Episode 2:

 

Sil laughs, delighted. Peri chastises them, saying he can’t be dead. The Governor says that he is. They explain to her how he died in the hallucination.

 

They demand to know who she is.

 

The married couple are thirsty and guzzle down their drink. Etta (the wife) tells Arak that she saw The Doctor move on the screen. Arak says he will be dead, as they’re going to put him in the acid bath next.

 

Two guards place something wrapped in heavy plastic in the acid first. Arak says that’s to show that the acid is highly corrosive.

 

Sil accuses Peri of being an agent of Amorb (the rival company he’s convinced she works for.) Peri complains that she doesn’t understand what he’s saying (he’s talking like Yoda again, “You agents of Amorb are!!!”)

 

The Governor confides in Peri that Sil’s language translator has a quirk, but asks her not to tell him, “It’s my only amusement.”

 

Baldy asks the Governor not to upset the Galatron delegate (that would be Sil), but the Governor’s response is to say why not find someone else to buy it for the price they ask.

 

Baldy says that the people have voted to accept Sil’s offer, and if he doesn’t, he must die. The Governor puts his foot down (figuratively) saying that he will do so after he discovers the truth about this girl and her dead friend.

 

The Doctor lifts his head and looks around. The two guards are watching the package they put in dissolve, so he gets up and says he had the most peculiar dream. Startled, one guard knocks the other into the acid.

 

The other guard struggles with The Doctor, but the man in the acid ends up pulling him in. The Doctor watches and then takes his coat, “Don’t mind if I don’t join you,” he quips as he leaves.

 

Baldy comes in and tells the Governor that The Doctor has escaped, that he was pretending to be dead. Peri is delighted to hear this. The Governor tells Baldy to recapture The Doctor and they’ll use Peri as leverage to get information from him.

 

The Doctor wanders and finds some clothing and such hanging. He puts on a mask like Quillam was wearing, grabs a coat, but turns around to find the masked Quillam standing there, with a gun pointed at him.

 

Quillam asks who he is, and the Time Lord replies, “a student of science, much interested in primitive nuclear technology.” Quillam demands he remove the mask. He recognises The Doctor from the screens.

 

Quillam takes The Doctor prisoner, saying they should talk to the executioners.

 

Sil accuses Peri of belonging to Amorb and being a “lying liar”. She tells them she’s from another time, three centuries before. They don’t believe her.

 

Baldy suggests that they send her to the rehabilitators, saying “a disturbance of her molecular structure will bring about the truth.” Sil jumps on, saying they should put her in the “reshapement chamber”, to find out if she becomes a beast or bird.

 

The Governor asks her to tell them the truth, why is she there? She agrees, saying the TARDIS is a spacecraft that needs a special metal and that’s why they came.

 

The Governor says that The Doctor has been recaptured and it’s time for a “primitive execution”.

 

In their home, Arak wakes to find Etta filling out a “viewer’s report”. He gets worried, asking if he’s in it. He says he was tired, that reports are spying… but quickly realises that he shouldn’t rant on and tries to backpedal, covering the things he said earlier.

 

The Doctor is caged. A guard enters, telling him that his appeal has been denied. The Doctor says he’d be sorry, had he asked for one. He and Jondar and Areta (Jondar’s wife) are led out. A priest is reciting from a holy book and in a bit of metafiction/fourth wall, The Doctor asks him, “do you always get the priest parts?”

 

They are led to a stage where a hanging is about to happen. Peri is brought there with The Governor, Baldy, Sil and guards (Sil’s and Governor’s). Peri apologises, saying she’s tried to get them to understand the truth.

 

The Governor asks The Doctor what is the truth, and he says to help the people of Varos to realise their potential. Sil laughs, making a joke about eating rocks.

 

Baldy says the plan is to hang the men and to give the women over for “reshapement and cell mutation experiments,” to warn women against assisting their men in treason against Varos.

 

The Governor asks if The Doctor has anything to add, anything that might stay his hand. The Doctor has one last request, he wants to know who Sil is, why he is there.

 

Sil says his presence can be of no interest, but the Governor answers, saying that the delegate of the Galatron mining corporation is there for yearly renegotiations over the market price of their ore.

 

The Doctor confirms that they’re speaking of Zeiton-7, and says that’s all the questions he has for the moment.

 

Areta and Peri are taken away, struggling. The Doctor and Jondar are taken onto the stage, nooses placed around their necks. Again, the Governor asks if the Time Lord has anything to say that might save their lives.

 

The Doctor says that his death will prevent Varos from ever breaking free of extortion from those such as Galatron Mining Company. He gives a speech and Sil shrieks, demanding they pull the lever.

 

The Doctor continues, saying Zeiton-7 is a rich commodity and he can show the people of Varos new prosperity.

 

Sil screams for their death; the Governor snaps at him, “I will give the order for execution!” In response, Sil sends his men, shrieking, “Kill, kill, kill,” at them. Sil’s bodyguards struggle with the guards, as they try to reach the lever.

 

One of Sil’s men reaches it and gives it a pull. The floor beneath The Doctor and Jondar drops and they fall, but the ropes go with them. It turns out this is a staged trick to elicit the truth, a technique the Governor has found to be “often successful”.

 

The Doctor says that he noticed that the cameras weren’t broadcasting, and thus suspected something was up. The Governor says he must investigate the statements The Doctor made on the stage, under threat of noose, but the Time Lord says he will not say anything, discuss anything, until he has confirmation that Areta and Peri have been released from the cell mutation experiments.

 

Sil accuses The Doctor of having nothing to reveal, that he is just a liar, an Amorb agent sent to usurp Galatron’s contract.

 

The Governor says that if The Doctor is lying, the next noose won’t be rigged… but if The Doctor’s claims are true, he will want to know why Galatron has been ripping off Varos for so long.

 

Sil, enraged, says that he withdraws Galatron’s offers – the Governor seems to have planned this, intended this, as he states that this releases him from having to accept them as his people had voted, and thanks him for that.

 

Peri and Areta are strapped to tables, pulsing lights and sound about them. They talk, worried… suddenly Areta says something is happening to her arms, and Peri sees her hand sprouting quills!

 

Sil and Baldy argue, each accusing each other of screwing things up. Sil reveals that a Galatron Occupation Force is on its way and they just need to delay until they get there.

 

When Baldy says The Doctor will reveal the truth about Zeiton-7, Sil says that will only happen when the women are released from the cell mutation experiments, and since that has not yet happened, they have nothing to worry about.

 

Sil then says he wants to observe the proceedings, claiming he is interested in science (but we know he just wants to delight in the misfortune of the women.)

 

Peri’s body is covered with quill/feathers now. Areta’s skin seems leathery, with pronounced facial ridges. Sil, watching, says the latter is almost attractive now. Sil says he will keep them as pets.

 

The Doctor and Jondar demand to know where the ladies are; the Governor says he gave orders to stop the experiments, but Baldy says it was too late, the process had advanced too far.

 

They then talk to Quillam, who is the supervisor of the experiments as well as the dome of punishment. He shows them the two women on the screen, seeing it is an unstable process. Based on their transformation, he says that Areta’s mind finds herself unworthy, where Peri seeks to fly away.

 

The Governor requests that Quillam cancel the experiments, but Quillam says his is a permanent position and nobody may command him, “certainly not a transient Governor in the twilight of his reign.”

 

Quillam and the Governor argue, trading barbs. Suddenly, The Doctor asks him if he still experiments on himself. Quillam says, “Not any more, why?”

 

Quillam asks how he knows this and The Doctor plucks off Quillam’s mask, revealing a mutated face. Taking advantage of the distraction, Jondar takes the guard’s gun, The Doctor taking another’s. He points a gun at Quillam, who doesn’t give in, so The Doctor shoots the control machine.

 

Jondar and The Doctor free Peri and Areta, who have reverted back to normal. The Doctor tells Jondar they must find the exit. They get the ladies out of the tables, using their names to reassert their identities as they do so.

 

Baldy and Quillam discuss that The Doctor must be eliminated, but Quillam says the dome will take care of him.

 

Once more, The Doctor, Jondar and the ladies find themselves sneaking through the corridors of the dome. They see a patrol car unattended and leave the girls behind to try to steal it.

 

Peri wakes and wanders, calling out for The Doctor, alerting the guards. Jondar holds them off as The Doctor fetches Areta, but cannot find Peri.

 

Arak and Etta are watching again, the latter surprised to find that The Doctor is still alive.

 

Sil threatens that if the Governor does not sign, Galatron will abandon Varos, but the Governor says Sil is in no position threaten now.

 

Baldy arrives with Peri, saying he brought her there “to display as evidence before the people”. The Governor says he will decide when and if he will broadcast, but Baldy says he has the authority to insist on a final vote, since the Governor failed to quell the rebellion led by Peri and The Doctor.

 

The Doctor, Jondar and Areta ride in the patrol car, looking for Peri.

 

The Governor says that they will soon die, as so many Governors have before. He tells Peri that the next Governor will be selected by a random drawing. All the while, Maldek is holding his gun at them. The Governor appeals to him, asking him to let Peri go free.

 

Maldek refuses. The Governor appeals to him, suggesting that he might be the next chosen as Governor… and even if not, he might be blamed for not resisting Jondar and The Doctor when he led them to free Peri and Areta.

 

Still, Maldek says no. The Governor backs off, asking that he kill Peri to spare her from the rehabilitators. Maldek gestures with his gun, and the Governor returns to his chair, saying that he tried.

 

The Doctor, Jondar and Areta have reached the area called “endgame”; they speculate the exit must be there, but the dangers are more real than ever.

 

Baldy is seen finishing up his address to the people, summing his arguments. He says that the Governor will speak to them and they must vote.

 

The Doctor and the rebels walk down a hall, filled with hazy yellow light. They get silly smiles.

 

The Governor’s speech concludes, saying they must vote and he is not afraid to die. Arak steps forward and votes NO for himself and Etta both!

 

The Governor puts his arms in the manacles as Peri watches. She backs away as his body is bathed in green light and he begins to gasp and cry out. He speaks as this happen, telling his people that the system is wrong, that they sell themselves cheaply.

 

Peri cries, pleading if there is anything she can do. He says no, but suddenly Maldek shoots the cell disruptors, saving the Governor’s life.

 

Arak hits both NO buttons again, but Etta yells at him, blaming him for messing up the system, “they’ll be coming around for you – voting twice AND using someone else’s voting box?”

 

Maldek tells Peri and the Governor that The Doctor is in the end zone and says they can get there through the ventillation system.

 

The Doctor and rebels see their own selves beckoning to them, coaxing them onward, but The Doctor suddenly resists, saying they are only shadows.

 

The figures fade in response, and when they look down, The Doctor and rebels see they’re about to step into a pit that appears to be filled with lava or molten metal of some sort. They turn back, looking for another route.

 

Sil demands to know why the Governor is still alive, but Quillam and Baldy assert that they are still the power.

 

Crazed, shirtless, balding men in what amounts to diapers pursue The Doctor and rebels. Yes, it’s really as unimpressive and stupid as it sounds. The Doctor stops Areta before she runs into an area filled with plant life, saying the tendrils are poisonous.

 

They pass through, careful not to touch a tendril, just in time before the two diapered men come up growling behind them. One of them brushes against a tendril and dies on the spot.

 

Wow, that was really bad.

 

They make their way through, careful not to touch a tendril, except when The Doctor rummages through his coat looking for string, then a mass of vines is jostled by him with no effect.

 

This serial was pretty cool until this part happened.

 

A patrol car with Quillam, Baldy and two guards arrives. The Doctor and rebels stand amongst the vines. Baldy demands that they kill them on the spot, but Quillam wants to gloat, to make The Doctor suffer first.

 

Baldy argues that this is no time for vengeance, but Quillam won’t listen. All the while, Jondar is holding string that they’ve used to pull back some of the vines and at The Doctor’s command, he lets go.

 

The vines fall into Baldy and Quillam and guards, killing them all.

 

The Governor, Maldek and Peri arrive, but The Doctor shouts at them not to enter. He and the rebels exit, saying that the vines are poisonous. Once out, he and Peri hug.

 

Sil reports to his superiors, requesting an invasion force. The screen prints, “INVASION PROCEEDING AWAIT FURTHER REPORT”. He sighs, pleased, and orders his guards to water him. (So, he’s an amphibian then. This makes me think of Cassandra – “Moisturise me!”)

 

He says he must look his best if he’s going to be emperor of this planet. He preens, watching himself in the mirror as he is watered down.

 

Suddenly, the Governor, Doctor, Peri, Maldek enter. Sil says he called them there to inform them that an invasion force is coming from Thoros Beta, his homeworld. He rants how he will be running things from now on.

 

As he rants, a report comes in that traces of Zeiton-7 found on an asteroid, and as such, the invasion of Varos has been canceled. Additionally, they need more Zeiton posthaste and Sil is ordered to accept any asking price the Varosians have.

 

Sil is horribly upset by all of this.

 

The Governor suggests they recommence negotiations from a more reasonable base, say twenty credits per unit? Sil goes into a conniption fit at this.

 

When the Governor asks what they can do to repay The Doctor, he says some Zeiton-7 would be of great assistance. The Governor says he shall have all they want, and goodbyes are said.

 

Sil cries out to them, begging them not to leave him at the Varosians’ mercy.

 

The Governor is shown making a broadcast, talking of working for a better future. He ends the broadast, thanking them for allowing him into their homes.

 

Etta and Arak watch, stunned. “No executions, torture, nothing,” he says.

 

It’s all changed… we’re free.”

Are we?”

Yes.”

What should we do?”

Don’t know.”

 

The broadcast screen goes static-y… and the final credits roll.

 

Okay, the end more than made up for that stupid bit earlier. There was a LOT of social commentary in this serial, about television and entertainment and what people will put up with. Skimming online, I see there are a lot of essays/web pages/articles about that, so I will leave that for them and just say this was a highly entertaining serial, with a handful of silly bits – but again, that is really indicative of the show.  

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