Recap: The Doctor is placed on trial by the Time Lords for interference. As evidence shown by the prosecutor, a sinister-seeming Time Lord called the Valeyard, we watch the story of The Doctor and Peri’s adventure on Ravalox, a planet that turns out to be Earth, though nowhere in the right location in the universe.

On Ravalox, there are two societies – the surface-dwelling Free, who are “primitive” worshipers of an Earth-god, and the subterranean technologically-advanced people of Marb, who are ruled by the Immortal, a robot from the planet Andromeda. There are mysteries abound.

We left off with The Doctor, Peri and two less-than-savory (but very entertaining) chaps named Glitz and Dibber, trapped between a service robot from below (seeking to recapture The Doctor who had escaped from there) and a band of the Free, who want to kill the outsiders for destroying their totem.

And, go!

spoiler warning

Episode 3:

Balazar recognises one of the Free, addressing him as “Broken Tooth,” and gets him to fire on the service robot, which Broken Tooth does. The video feed goes out and Drothro and his assistants can’t see what’s going on any more. The L3 robot says it needs The Doctor back – it is obviously suffering and weakened by the damage done to the “totem” up above.

Balazar and Broken Tooth are reunited, talking about Merdeen helped them both.

Dibber and Glitz tell The Doctor that the black light aerial is “gone”, Dibber saying he put it out of action. The Doctor says this could start a chain reaction! When The Doctor tries to head back into the subterranean city to fix the black light system, the Free say they all must accompany them back to the village and they don’t take no for an answer.

In the courtroom, the Inquisitor asks if “these unpleasant scenes” are necessary to watch – it seems she is bothered by the “primitive physical violence”.

So do I, ma’am,” The Doctor chimes in, “especially when I’m on the receiving end!” I do love Six, he’s just so much fun.

The Valeyard says he finds it distressing as well, but says The Doctor “has a predilection to violence”, which enrages The Doctor. Six goes on a bit of a rant trying to justify/explain using violence on occasion, but he is cut off by the Inquisitor, who says he will have time to present his case later on.

She tells the Valeyard that she would “appreciate it if these brutal and repetitious scenes are reduced to a minimum.” He says while it is not his intent to upset her, “the accused offenses are such that a certain amount of… graphic detail is unavoidable.”

She reluctantly acknowledges this and instructs the playback to continue.

The Free lead the outworlders back to their village.

In Marb, Grell confronts Merdeen. There’s some great dialogue here.

Stepping out of the corridor behind Merdeen, leveling a weapon at him, Grell says, “You seem lost.”

Not I,” replies Merdeen, “Although you seem to have mislaid your train, Grell.”

Stealth is better achieved on foot… especially when we hunt dark secrets.”

Merdeen sizes up Grell; surely he’s been expecting this for a while. He says, “I thought we hunted The Doctor.”

Him, too,” Grell admits.

The Immortal interrupts this to tell Merdeen that it has “urgent work” for Balazar, but cannot find him. Merdeen says he will search for him at once. Merdeen then tells Grell to continue searching for The Doctor and walks away.

The service robot comes back to life. Drathro’s assistants start bickering about which one of them reactivated it until the L3 robot yells at them.

Broken Tooth whispers in Queen Katryca’s ear as the others are led in. The Queen asks if The Doctor is a star traveler and if he is interested in their totem, both of which he agrees to (the latter, once Glitz explains she means the black light converter.)

When she learns that The Doctor has no guns on him, she finds that interesting, saying “that makes you very unusual for a star traveler who is interested in the Great Totem.”

The Doctor explains that he is there to repair the converter and says that the Immortal needs black light to function.

Fascinating, considering your friend,” she means Glitz (whom The Doctor has already foresworn any friendship with) “has already said it was a navigational beacon.”

The Doctor looks at Glitz, then back at the Queen of the Free, “He lies.”

She laughs, “A common complaint among star travelers.”

Katryca says the gods are angry at the presence of the star traveler and she will read the flames to find out what the gods wish. The Doctor tries to leave, saying he must return to Drathro and she has no quarrel with him, but she says star traveling is forbidden by the gods.

She has everyone but Balazar locked up, saying he will join their tribe.

As the service robot makes its way through the forest, the assistants complain about “all that unpleasant green” and asks Drathro why it wasn’t burned away.

The L3 says that only part of the planet was engulfed by fire. The assistants bicker and snipe.

In the cell, The Doctor asks why Glitz is on Ravalox. He says he’s there “to collect a few mouldering files of no value, except to scholars such as myself.” I do love Glitz, so much fun.

The Doctor all but laughs at the suggestion and points out that blowing up black light converters isn’t really fitting with the claims of scholarly philanthropy.

A small expediency if I am to endow a library on my home planet of Salostophus,” Glitz replies. The Doctor knows the place, saying it’s in the constellation of Andromeda. Glitz is surprised that The Doctor knows of it.

Peri chimes in, “What we don’t know is the name of this planet.” Glitz says that is Earth, albeit in the wrong place but “only by a couple of light years.”

That’s why the lost expedition missed it,” Dibber explains. The Doctor asks what expedition that was and Dibber starts to explain about some robots in a relief ship, but Glitz interrupts, telling him not to prattle.

Balazar says that the name “Earth” is mentioned in one of his sacred books, but just then the service robot bursts through the wall. (The robot seems to be designated an L1, as that is prominantly displayed on the robot’s outer shell.)

The robot captures The Doctor; when Glitz and Dibber make a move to run, Peri says they need to help The Doctor, but they say he’s “in good hands”.

Balazar and Broken Tooth report to Katryca that the Immortal walked through the wall and the prisoners escaped. She yells for her soldiers to get the guns.

Seeing the habitation on the surface (via the service robot’s camera), Drathro says that they must be outlaw work units and are “outside the plan” and this threatens its existence (the robot, not the plan, though perhaps that too.)

Drathro orders the assistants to take defensive measure, to identify and destroy the traitors.

In the courtroom, The Doctor leaps out of his chair, saying “All this is irrelevant and hypothetical!”

Backyard testimony,” the Valeyard replies, still seated.

The Doctor asks, “What possible value does the Farmyard here think there is in listening to some half-incapacitated robot and a couple of diminutive nitwits who might as well be robots?”

You’re allowing your disrespect to show again, Doctor,” the Inquisitor warns him. He apologises and says the question still stands. She says the Valeyard can include any evidence he considers relevant, as long as he can justify it.

The Doctor says that any record not involving him must be sheer conjecture, but the Valeyard says, “The accused is clearly ignorant of the latest methods of surveillance, my lady.” Hmm, I wonder if the Valeyard got a job with the NSA?

The Valeyard informs Six that the Matrix can record non-Time Lord experiences, “as long as they are within the collection range of a TARDIS.” Oh, I bet the NSA would love something like that…

The Doctor is rather surprised to learn this, but then he retorts, “But my TARDIS is an old model… are you telling me it’s been bugged without my knowledge?”

The question is never answered (directly), but it is obvious that this in fact has happened. The Inquisitor orders the playback to continue yet again.

(Hmm, I know the CIA – Celestial Intervention Agency – was an actual Time Lord agency, though only ever mentioned in one serial, THE DEADLY ASSASSIN, but I wonder if they had a NSA branch, too?)

The Free catch up with the service robot (still carrying The Doctor). Think it is the Immortal, they open fire on it. Watching from a distance, Peri struggles as Glitz holds her back from trying to help The Doctor.

Drathro is upset to see that the surface-dwellers have guns. One of the assistants posit that if they have guns, they must have advanced technology to produce guns. The other says they are obviously savages, so the guns must have been supplied from elsewhere.

Drathro seems to think The Doctor must have given the guns to the savages. Suddenly, the L1’s video feed goes down.

Drathro continues, saying The Doctor is from Gallifrey and he must have been sent to “recover the secrets left by the Sleepers”. Drathro feels that The Doctor has armed the surface-dwellers, intent on starting a rebellion to destroy Drathro.

It’s a paranoid robot, our L3.

Grell stalks Merden through the corridors, then cuts him off, leveling his weapon at him again.

Merdeen asks, “Are you following me?”

Like you,” Grell replies, “I’m looking for a lost man. It simply occurred to me that it might prove more productive if we searched as a team.” That’s why you’re pointing your crossbow-looking weapon at him, right?

Grell confronts Merdeen about the cullings, first vaguely, then directly accusing Merdeen about sending the ones who are to be culled to the surface. When Merdeen tries to play it off, first one way, than another, Grell ends up saying that they should talk about it, unless Merdeen would rather Grell go to the Immortal with his suspicions.

The Free celebrate the end of the Immortal’s reign. Katryca says with the Immortal dead, all the secrets of the castle are theirs to claim. She leads them on towards the subterranean entrance on a raiding party.

Peri runs over to the service robot, to check on The Doctor. Meanwhile, Glitz sends Dibber to fetch some “multi-blasters”. The Doctor wakes up, calling Peri “Sarah Jane”. She complains about that, and helps him out from the robot.

Peri tells The Doctor that the Free have gone to take over the Immortal’s castle, now that they’ve killed it. The Doctor tells her that isn’t the Immortal and he runs off to try to catch up with them, to stop them. Peri follows.

The Free enter the tunnels, Broken Tooth and Balazar (both having lived there) leading the way. Balazar and Broken Tooth argue which way to go, but Katryca chooses for them, saying she has seen it in the flames.

The assistants try to repair the black light system, but Drathro says the aerial was destroyed, and there’s nothing to do about it.

The Doctor tells Peri that he has to shut off the black light system, else it explode and kill everyone in the tunnels. However, if he does shut it off, it will shut Drathro down, too, and he doesn’t expect the L3 will just allow him to do so.

Peri whines, wondering why they’re going down there if there’s a good chance it will explode, “Peri, I can’t let people die if there’s a chance of saving them!”

I’m really not caring for Peri all that much. She is so much about just wanting to run away ALL THE TIME. I don’t need her to be self-sacrificing and uber-heroic to like her, but this is just too much. (Not a reflection on Nicola’s acting, she does a fine job, but they way they wrote her is getting irritating. At least there’s no monster that’s trying to seduce her.)

Glitz meets Dibber at the entrance. The latter tells the former that he saw The Doctor and Peri enter earlier, and Glitz says that’s proof that he’s after the same thing they are. They banter and then enter, bringing their big guns down. Glitz warns Dibber not to let The Doctor know they’re after “the stuff”.

Suddenly, there a shrill beeping, and the Valeyard explains “the remainder of that evidence has been excised, my lady.”

Excised? Why,” demands the Inquisitor.

By order of the High Council,” he answers.

This is a judicial inquiry appointed BY the High Council, but independently conducted,” she points out.

It is my duty, Valeyard, to decide what evidence is relevant.”

Of course, my lady. The High Council simply felt that certain areas of testimony should not be revealed.”

Why not?”

Against the public interest, my lady.”

After a pause, the Inquisitor replies, “I cannot conduct a proper and searching inquiry without full access to the evidence.”

The Valeyard says that she would be able to view the full record privately, but she says that would be unfair to the defendant. She asks if The Doctor would like to “lodge an official objection at this stage”.

The Doctor hems and haws for a moment or two, but declines. He says to let the Valeyard continue, “Give him enough rope to hang himself, eh?” The Inquisitor acknowledges this and orders for the Valeyard to proceed.

Sitting down, the Valeyard gives The Doctor quite the stare – he’s obviously wondering what our hero is up to.

Back in Marb, The Doctor urges Peri to hurry. Merdeen steps out and confronts The Doctor, saying they are hunting him. He aims and shoots… and the credits roll.

NOW THAT IS A CLIFFHANGER. I liked it. Well done, what what?

Episode 4:

Merdeen fires his crossbow, but it’s not The Doctor he’s shooting at, but Grell, who is behind The Doctor and Peri, taking aim. Merdeen rushes to Grell’s side, asking him why.

Grell gasps that Merdeen betrayed them, but Merdeen protests, saying they were not meant to live like that, but Grell dies before he can explain. Merdeen blames himself, saying he brought him into the guard, and hoped Grell would see there was no need for the cullings.

The Doctor says he hopes to make the Immortal see the wisdom of that, and he and Peri rush on to the Immortal’s castle.

In the ‘castle’, the assistants panic as Drathro says they all will be destroyed. However, they see the Free approaching the castle on the monitors.

As Katryca orders her men to fetch tools to cut down the doors, they open on their own. She storms in, followed by the Free, but they are greeted by the Immortal! As the L3 robot confronts them, the assistants slip out (I’m guessing they opened the doors, hoping to escape in the distraction.)

Drathro says the Free are outside the plan and they have brought disorder. He grabs Katryca and fries her with electricity; Broken Tooth grabs ahold of him and joins his queen in death.

The Immortal sends them out to await culling, saying his guards will track them down.

The Doctor, Merdeen and Peri find the assistants arguing in the hallway. They go on about the impending explosion and The Doctor and companions hurry on to the castle.

In the courtroom, The Doctor interrupts, asking, “I didn’t appear to be hurrying there, did I?” Well, actually, yeah, you did. He goes on to appreciate his seemingly non-hurrying gait which he says covers great ground in short time.

Apparently the Inquisitor is the one who stopped the playback, as she chides him, “I did not interrupt the evidence to commend you on your athleticism, Doctor.”

The Doctor is surprised, “Oh… well, you can if you like, all compliments gratefully accepted.” She reminds him this is “a serious trial”. Really? I thought it was an informal thing…

Leaping to his feet, The Doctor shouts, “It is not serious! It is a farce! A farrago of trumped-up charges!”

The Inquisitor says he will have a chance to rebut “any or all of the Valeyard’s charges”, but The Doctor mocks him, “I always thought Valeyard meant ‘learned court prosecutor’.” When the Valeyard insists it does, The Doctor retorts, “Not in your case, sir. Your points of law are spurious, your evidence weak, verging on the irrelevant, and your reasoning, quite unsound. In fact, your point of view belongs in quite another place. Perhaps the mantle of Valeyard was a mistake. I would therefore suggest that you change it for the garment of quite another sort of yard… that of the knacker’s yard, for your argument is as tired and worn out as the poor, unfortunate creatures that end up there!”

(Sorry for the amount of dialogue I’m quoting… no, I take that back. I’m not sorry. The TRIAL OF A TIME LORD story is rife with great dialogue and you’re going to get a lot of it, so deal.)

The Inquisitor demands he apologise, but he refuses, saying it is the truth.

The Valeyard says The Doctor “is known for these childish outburts… I do not find the ramblings of an immature mind offensive.” They argue back and forth, The Doctor saying he was trying to save people and that could not be considered immature or a crime.

The crime was being there, Doctor,” the Valeyard replies, “the immaturity is not realising you had broken a cardinal law of the Time Lords! Your presence initiated the whole chain of events that we have witnessed!”

The Inquisitor says that addressed the reason she had stopped the playback to question the relevance, and asks if they may continue, telling them both “I tire of this empty banter.”

Back in Marb, The Doctor, Merdeen and Peri find the Free waiting to be culled and they explain what happened to Katryca. Merdeen leads The Doctor to a communication box to try to reason with Drathro.

Glitz and Dibber make their way through the corridors, the former saying he needs to rest. Dibber asks that, if they do find the castle, take out the L3, how does he know they’ll find the secrets that Glitz is always going on about.

Glitz assures him that he is certain on that point, but Dibber wonders if they’ll still be worth anything, after 500 years. Glitz responds, but part of the dialogue has been edited out of the Matrix playback, “Do me a favour, Dibber, if the Sleepers found a way into the [REDACTED], the biggest net of information in the…”

In the courtroom, The Doctor jumps up, demanding to know what is going on. The Inquisitor turns to the Valeyard, wondering the same. Again, the Valeyard pulls the “not in the public interest to reveal” card.

The Doctor asks, that if “those two rogues” knew the information, how could it be harmful for this court to know it?

The Valeyard tries to dismiss any “wider issues” saying the proceedings are only concerned with The Doctor’s actions. The Inquisitor says that is for her to decide, and orders him to play the last sequence again.

Glitz continues, “…the biggest net of information in the universe. Do you think they were nicking recipes for making chutney?” Dibber asks if Glitz knows what the secrets are, and the rogue says it is facts, figures, secrets of scientific nature worth a fortune. He says they’ll sell the information to different governments.

Dibber, not the brightest candle, seems to have difficulty grasping this, and Glitz walks off, “Don’t think about it, Dibber, you’ll give yourself a hernia.”

At the communication box, Merdeen shows the Immortal that he has brought The Doctor. The Doctor tries to reason with Drathro, who instructs him to enter alone. The L3 then orders Merdeen to have the organics waiting outside his castle culled.

Peri and Balazar beg Merdeen not to cull the Free. He says he cannot free them. They beg him to let them be, at least for the time being.

The Doctor arrives in Drathro’s castle, saying he must shut down the black light system. The L3 argues that he will cease, but the Time Lord points out he’ll cease if he doesn’t shut it down. The L3 doesn’t care, even when The Doctor brings up the organics. Drathro says they exist only to serve him, without him, their lives are empty.

They argue the comparative value of robots vs organics.

Peri tries to find another way into the castle; Balazar suggests the ration chutes.

Still, The Doctor and Drathro debate the purpose, the understanding of life. The L3 won’t listen, and The Doctor accuses Drathro of hubris.

Dibber and Glitz arrive at the castle doors. Dibber questions what do they do if the L3 is still active. They see Peri, Balazar and Merdeen approach the hatch for the ration chute and join them.

The Doctor says the black light explosion could create a chain reaction that might even threaten the entire universe, but the L3 doesn’t care. When he sees Peri, Merdeen, and the two rogues in the food chute, he accuses The Doctor of being a distraction.

In the chute, the hatch seals and a turbine starts up. Laser beams start firing about (cuz, you know, laser beams are needed in food production) but Dibber fires his mega-gun at the wall, blasting a hole into Drathro’s castle.

They rush in, but Drathro disarms Dibber. Somehow Glitz drops his gun, too? I know Glitz is a bit of a coward, but he could have fired on the robot, surely? Anyhow, he begs that they come in friendship.

Drathro tells them they are waiting for something unique, a black light explosion. The L3 says, “If I am doomed, you all are doomed.”

Glitz tries to bluff, saying they have plenty of black light, on their ship. Drathro seems hopeful, but is suspicious of their intentions. Glitz says they could even take him back to Andromeda, but he’d have to bring the secrets. Drathro agrees, and goes to fetch the secrets, leaving Glitz and Dibber to tie up the others.

Glitz ties The Doctor with a slipknot, saying that’s the best he can do for him.

Strange how low cunning succeeds where high reasoning fails,” The Doctor muses.

Don’t knock low cunning, Doctor. You’re still here, aren’t you,” Glitz replies.

Drathro arrives with a case containing the secrets and departs with the rogues. The Doctor frees himself, then Peri and Merdeen, saying he needs to help with a three stage cut-out. He starts barking orders for them to flip switches and toggles and such, saying they’d be lucky to only contain the explosion.

After a bit, he orders Merdeen to take Peri out. He does a bit more, then leaves, saying, “I did my best… I only hope it’s enough.”

As he flees, explosions start.

Near the exit, Drathro cries out and falls over, leaving a smoldering wreck. Dibber goes over to inspect, but the secrets were fried, too. However, all is not lost for the rogues, as Dibber has some silictone, which he got from the aerial converter. Apparently it’s the hardest and most expensive metal in the galaxy, and there’s several tons of the stuff – Glitz is delighted, saying they can still make a profit with that.

The Doctor finds Balazar, and they are rejoined by Merdeen and Peri. The Doctor charges Merdeen and Balazar with taking their people to the surface and starting anew.

Goodbyes are said and as they head off, The Doctor tells Peri there are still some questions that need be answered – who moved Earth, and what were the secrets?

In the courtroom, The Doctor says that’s one in his favour, “There can’t be many people who can literally claim to have saved the entire universe.” He and the Valeyard start debating, the former claiming lives were saved, the latter saying lives were lost because of his meddling.

When the Valeyard starts to turn The Doctor’s words against him, the Inquisitor tries to simmer them down, suggesting perhaps, for the time being, The Doctor has said enough.

Said enough? I have a great deal more to say, I wish to demonstrate…” but before he can continue, she orders him to be silent, saying he will have his turn when the Valeyard is finished his presentation.

The Doctor snipes again, saying if the rest is as riveting as the first part, “wake me when he’s finished.”

Finished? I’ve barely started,” the Valeyard says as ominous background music strikes. The Doctor says he hopes the Valeyard’s evidence gets better, and the prosecutor agrees it does, saying, “The most damning is still to come. And when I have finished,” the music is building all the while, “this court will demand your life!”

The camera zooms in on The Doctor’s face… and the final credits roll.

A fun start to an epic season. So much fun in this story and so much fun to look forward to.