Ugh. I hate Mel. Ugh.

Episode 1:

We open with a recess having just ended; the Inquisitor asks if the recess was long enough for The Doctor to deal with his loss, but he says he doubts there ever will be suffficient time for that.

The Valeyard calls him out, saying The Doctor’s remorse is a charade, considering how he was the one who allowed for his companion to come to an end.

The Inquisitor reminds the Valeyard that “The Doctor is fighting for his life,” which is interesting, because even though the Valeyard had, on several occasions, suggested or requested that this become a real trial with real consequences, the Inquisitor had never acknowledged any change from it being an inquiry.

Regardless, she asks if The Doctor is ready to present his defense, and he says that he is. He thanks her for allowing him access to the Matrix, saying he will be showing evidence from his future.

Is it going to be The Doctor’s defense that he improves,” asks the prosecutor.

Somberly, The Doctor regards his enemy, then says simply, “Precisely,” nodding once.

This, I must see,” quips the Valeyard.

The Doctor introduces that his evidence involves a scenario that not only threatens a group of people trapped on their own, but would, if unresolved, threaten everyone on Earth.

A planet comes up on the Matrix screen, which The Doctor introduces as “Mogar, a planet on the Perseus Arm of the Milky Way. Rich in rare metals, a top priority consignment of these precious metals is being loaded aboard Hyperion III, an intergalactic liner that ferries between Mogar and Earth.” As he talks, we get a pan shot of the liner. “A scheduled flight, in the Earth year 2986. Crew is aboard, the last passengers are reporting in. Many will never complete the journey. For, in order to protect a secret hidden on the space liner, one will become a murderer.” And with that last bit, there’s a dramatic musical tone. While he’s be exposition-happy, the camera view has shifted to inside the liner, where a variety of humanoids mill about, many sitting and drinking or playing games.

Crew members walk about, overseeing, tending to their charges. It’s an opulent scene.

A woman in pink is bitching to the crew about losing her luggage. The woman is a professor, apparently. (OMG, it’s Pussy Galore!!! The professor lady is played by Honor Blackman!!) Security Officer Rudge, who had been standing nearby and heard the commotion, comes over to handle matters. He realises she went to the wrong cabin (six instead of nine – so how’d she get in to find her luggage wasn’t there?)

As she storms off, a bearded man in green checks in, ironically being assigned cabin number six. His name is Mr. Grenville and Rudge approaches him, introducing himself. As they talk, an old man calls out to Grenville, calling him “Mister Hallet” and saying how nice it is seeing someone who isn’t a stranger.

Grenville tells the elderly man that he’s mistaken. The old man protests, saying they met three years ago when “Hallet” came to investigate granary shortages. Grenville insists the old man is confused and storms off.

One of Professor Pussy Galore (haven’t learned her name yet)’s associates gets nervous about an investigator on board. She tells him (his name is Bruchner) to “go and check the safety measures for the Isolation Room. Immediately.”

Grenville is seen poking about what seems to the cargo hold. He slips on a worker suit while the workers are busy and gets in line with them.

The ship has left Mogar.

On the TARDIS, Mel (ugh) is putting The Doctor through some exercise. She rewards him with some carrot juice. He complains that his ears are starting to grow longer.

A technician manning a scanner sees an “unidentified ship” on the screen/radar/whatever you use in space.

In a hallway, Janet (crewmember) is startled by one of the aliens (they wear a full bodied suit, almost armor-like.) It talks to her, but in a mechanical/alien language. She tells it to turn on the translator, and it does so, asking why they didn’t depart on schedule.

She says a gentleman from Mogar (the alien’s planet) was a late arrival, and thus the delay. The Mogarian walks off without further word.

She walks on to the radar room, where the tech dude says there’s an unidentified ship that’s not responding to the usual channels. After she leaves, the door to the room opens, but the man is unaware. Someone (with a humanoid hand) injects something into his neck and he collapses. They then begin fiddling with the instruments.

Back in the TARDIS, a message with the same beeping is received. It’s a mayday call. Mel says they have to respond, The Doctor agrees, and the TARDIS appears in the cargo area.

The Doctor says that was no ordinary mayday call, it was sent to him specifically. He’s wondering why it wasn’t signed if they knew him (he’s obviously wondering if it’s a trap.) As they talk, a guard spots them from the catwalk.

The Doctor says there’s evil in this place; he changes his mind, saying they should go elsewhere, but then two guards take them prisoner.

The scanner tech is seen reporting to Rudge and the commanding officer, being questioned about the attack on him. It seems the security tape in the room was deactivated. The Commodore dismisses him, but just then The Doctor and Mel are brought in.

The Doctor recognises the Commodore, addressing him as “Captain ‘Tonker’ Travers”. The Commodore corrects him and then complains about him showing up on his ship in a line that seems ripped from Casablanca, maybe? “Of all the places in this infinite universe, you have to turn up on my ship?”

The Doctor asks if the Commodore sent the mayday, but he says he authorised no such signal. When Mel complains about their greeting, the Commodore says the previous time their paths crossed, it was not a happy situation.

The Doctor tries to leave, but the Commodore has this restricted to passenger areas and escorted to the lounge.

Rudge complains about stowaways on his final status report. The Commodore tells Rudge to give The Doctor enough leeway, “and he will snare our culprit for us.”

We see a high security area filled with some plant-cactus pods. One of the Mogarians is poking about, seemingly having breached the area. It takes some silver seeds and leaves.

The Doctor complains, saying they’re being used. Mel still thinks it’s the Commodore who sent the message, but The Doctor isn’t convinced. She says the quickest way out would be to solve the mystery. She encourages him to look at the passenger manifest while she pokes around to see if anyone makes contact.

A Mogarian seems to be paying them great attention.

Mel wanders the quarters, but Rudge comes across her. She pretends she’s looking for the gym, and he offers to escort her there.

The Doctor asks for a copy of the passenger list.

Bruchner rushes into the “ISOLATION ROOM”, quite hurriedly. There’s a dramatic tone.

In the gym, the professor is working out. Rudge turns on a aerobics workout tape for Mel to listen to as she works out. He leaves. The professor’s other assistant arrives and tells her that there’s a problem in the hydroponics centre. HE tells her it’s been broken into, and she leaves, instructing him to get Bruchner in there.

Someone communicates with Mel through the headset, but she doesn’t know who it is.

Rudge authorises The Doctor to view the passenger list. He doesn’t recognise any of them. As he walks away, Mel enters to say she’s been contacted and the person wants to meet in cabin six (ahah!) The Doctor says he’s going to refuse the role of “judas goat” and go for a “non-provocative stroll around the deck” instead.

Professor Lasky and her two assistants head to the hydroponics area (where the pods are and where the Mogarian we saw earlier had broken in.) She chastises the one assistant the whole time (she’s really a miserable person all around thus far), while Bruchner goes in and reports that the “Demeter seeds” have been stolen.

Mel goes to cabin six, where the door is unlocked. Inside, the Demeter seeds are in plain sight. She enters, calling out. As she pokes around, an inside door slides open and The Doctor walks out, saying she’s not supposed to be there.

They argue safety in numbers vs two heads in the same noose. The room is in shambles and they wonder what has happened.

Rudge summons the Commodore to Waste Disposal, saying there’s an accident. A body has been thrown in and the Commodore says it is murder. The Doctor and Mel arrive, saying that the passenger in cabin six was the one who contacted The Doctor. They went there, but the room was a wreck, but there was a single shoe, matching one left by the disposal unit.

They deduce that Grenville was the man killed. The Doctor says he doesn’t know who he was.

Bruchner reports to Lasky about the emergency in the disposal unit; she’s content that it has nothing to do with them.

Back in the gym, The Doctor tells Mel that’s the end of the line, as their contact seems to have been disposed of. (My pun, not theirs.) Someone seems to have been in the control room, but we only see the door close, as Mel and The Doctor argue whether there’s any more they can do to investigate.

He encourages her to her “arbitrary course” and leave him to himself.

In the courtroom, The Doctor says he doesn’t remember that. The Inquisitor reminds him it’s from the future, so he cannot. He counters that he reviewed the evidence earlier, and there have been changes. He argues that he wouldn’t have ignored Mel’s argument, and that the words he used to dismiss her weren’t even him – “misused and didn’t even sound like mine.”

The Valeyard accuses him of theatrics to try to stop this playback, as Mel, too, is going to die. Interestingly enough, the Valeyard uses the phrase “arbitrary course”, which The Doctor notes (even repeating quietly, though the others don’t notice or at least address.)

The Doctor insists that the evidence is being distorted; the Valeyard all but screams in reaction, saying it is preposterous, that the Matrix could lie. He puts it back on The Doctor again, saying he sent Mel back into danger.

No, no, this is all wrong,” The Doctor protests, “Every instinct of which I am capable would have made me prevent her!”

Yet, you did not,” the Valeyard retorts.

Sad, dramatic music plays as the Inquisitor says he must continue with the submission or she will be forced to consider the evidence for the defense concluded.

Faced with no other choice, he continues the playback.

Mel is seen in the cargo hold. The communication/scanner officer, Edwards, confronts her. She says she wanted to look at the hydroponics, saying she thinks it has something to do with the mayday call.

He agrees to show her there and she asks about the professor. He talks about her and her assistants (the other we didn’t know the name being Doland.) He says they had to allocate part of the hold for the hydroponics area. He explains that only low-spectrum light is allowed in there so the plants remain dormant.

Edwards goes in first, saying he doesn’t want her breaking her neck, “At least, not until…” but his words are cut off as he touches the interior door and is electrified!

He falls through the sheeting and a series of explosions spark off as Mel screams. One of the pods reacts, a flower poking through the outer shell… and the credits roll.

A bit rushed of a cliffhanger but not bad otherwise.

spoiler warning

Episode 2:

Several pods react as Mel screams. She rushes off, but two guards stop her. She tells them what happened, and one takes her off while the other stays behind, only to be attacked by one of the plants.

The Valeyard stops the playback to accuse The Doctor of another death, saying it was only luck that made it the guard and not Mel.

Again, The Doctor argues that the Matrix playback has been changed. He says he is being manipulated but carries on.

(Bit of a hard sell on that point. Ah, just checked, these episodes were shown a week apart, so I guess they felt they had to remind the audience of The Doctor’s assertion that someone is changing the evidence.)

Doland exits the ISOLATION ROOM, handing some broken trays to the guard posted outside, saying nothing to be concerned about.

The Doctor sits in the gym, bored, musing, something. Lasky comes in and asks why he’s not wearing a “pulse-ometer”. He says they’re only keyed for single pulses, not double.

A double pulse, what are you, a comedian,” she asks.

No, more a sort of clown, actually,” he replies. And this is true – The Doctor is definitely a Fool/Jester archetype if there ever were one.

Rudge arrives to summon him to the bridge. Two guards are with him and they escort him there to speak up for Mel. He vouches for her to the Commodore, and she tries to explain.

Rudge gets a call from the medical team, saying they can’t find Edwards’ body. The guard who escorted Mel says he left a man down there, but Rudge says there’s no sign of him either.

The Commodore tells Rudge to find those men, then chastises The Doctor. He says The Doctor can’t tell him what’s going on.

I can,” Mel says, “the answer’s simple enough – you’ve got a killer on board.” Again, a dramatic striking of background music.

A Mogarian enters the hydroponics area. He collects a leaf from the floor, and then listens to an air duct or something, where there’s rattling.

The Doctor and Mel pass by the ISOLATION ROOM, wondering if the guard posted there is keeping people out or something in.

Bruchner and Doland walk, the former complaining they should have never gone as far as they have. Doland says Bruchner has “the temperament of an overcautious rabbit”. They arrive at the hydroponics, to find every pod is empty!

Bruchner is very concerned about what’s been unleashed.

Mel asks what The Doctor did with the seeds. She wants to ask Lasky about them, but The Doctor approaches her, asking her if she knows about the Demeter seeds. She asks the stewardess to summon security, calling The Doctor a thief.

Bruchner saw something moving, but Doland says he’s imaginging it. The Mogarian hides from them.

Mel and The Doctor (well, mostly Mel – it seems Lasky won’t listen to The Doctor but is more than happy to talk to Mel) explain where they found the seeds, and this seems to have placated her anger. She says they’re very special, but cannot imagine why a mineralogist would want them.

Lasky claims the seeds will grow in desert sand and increased food production threefold.

Rudge arrives but Lasky says it was a mistake, her calling The Doctor a thief. She gets a wonderful dig in at our Time Lord, “The fellow may be a fool, but he’s not a criminal.”

In a huff, The Doctor pops a Demeter seed in his mouth and eats it.

On the bridge, the Commodore and his pilot change their course, cutting 72 hours off the total travel time. The Commodore is anxious to get “expert investigators” on board.

Two Mogarians play Galaga or Galaxian on a screen hovering on the table between them. It looks like they’re both playing at the same time, so not sure if one is controlling the bottom ship and the other the enemy ships or what. The game ends, they nods at each other and the screen fades.

On the lounge, the ship shakes as the navigational changes are made. The Commodore assures everyone what is going on, saying it is no big deal. The Mogarians (after turning on their translators) ask about the Black Hole of Tartarus.

The second Mogarian turns on his translator to join the convo. A third Mogarian arrives behind them. This third one doesn’t turn on his translator when he joins in, a point The Doctor seems to notice.

The Mogarians argue with the Commodore, bringing up their issues with the Earthlings mining their planet. The Commodore bows out of the conversation, saying politics is not within his realm. The Doctor quips that perhaps it should be, and the Mogarians engage in conversation with him, complaining that the humans are going through the universe “like a plague fo interplanetary locusts”.

In the courtroom, the Valeyard complains about being “subjected to a dissertation on interplanetary politics”. The Doctor mocks him, saying he’s so keen on prosecuting him that he’s missed what just happened.

The Valeyard argues, “My eyes never left the screen.”

You may have been selected to prosecute me, Valeyard, but I hope you’ll never be chosen to defend me,” The Doctor continues his mocking.

An occasion that will not arise, Doctor,” the Valeyard assures him. “Your lives are forfeit as I’ve ably proven.”

Something vital just happened in that scene,” The Doctor asserts, “and the Valeyard perversely switched our attention to more trivial matters.”

This continues a bit before the Inquisitor instructs them to cease their arguing and return to the playback.

The three Mogarians are seated at a table. A drink is brought to one, which it sips through a straw.

On the catwalk, Rudge and the Commodore discuss the mystery of Edwards’ disappearance.

Suddenly, the Mogarian sipping the drink falls over, choking. The Doctor tries to remove his faceplate, but the other Mogarians argue he will die if he does so, as they cannot breathe oxygen.

The Doctor argues that it is not a Mogarian, and removes the faceplate to reveal Grenville, but he’s already dead. The Doctor says his name isn’t Grenville, it is Hallet. The old man says he knew it was Hallet, but says the man refused his identity.

The Doctor says Hallet was here to investigate something, but when the old man recognised him, he was forced to fake his own death and adopt another identity, that of a Mogarian.

Rudge is disturbed to find out that there was an undercover agent on board without his knowing. The Doctor says he may have been a suspect. Rudge questions how The Doctor knew he wasn’t a Mogarian.

In the courtroom, the Valeyard asks the same question, suggesting that The Doctor has been editing the Matrix evidence. The Inquisitor says if this is true, “That would be a serious offense, Doctor.”

The Doctor stands up, “At the risk of appearing impertinent… Sagacity… I would point out that you, the Valeyard and everyone here present could have acquired the same knowledge.”

When she asks him to explain, he says, “With respect, you will not hear it from me,” he plays back the scene earlier when the two Mogarians confront the Commodore (turning on their translators, and then Grenville joining but not doing so.)

The Valeyard and Inquisitor ask about Hallet’s methods, the latter saying they were “very unorthodox”. The Doctor agrees, and thanks the prosecutor “for putting his finger on the nub of my defense”, explaining that he could no longer stay on the sidelines.

Starting the playback, we see The Doctor and Mel on the catwalk. She says that anyone could have poisoned the drink (really? So the drink was passed around from passenger to passenger before being delivered to Hallet?)

The Doctor agrees that they have “a plethora of suspects” and she is delighted to learn he’s on the case. He says he admired Hallet and says the seeds were left by the investigator for The Doctor to find.

Mel says it was meant to lead him to the hydroponics center and they walk off.

Bruchner confronts the guard who has left his post at the ISOLATION ROOM. The guard was listening to some rattling in the air ductways, but returns back to his post immediately.

The Doctor and Mel enter the cargo area. He says Hallet sent the mayday, summoning him as both catalyst and distraction. He wonders at Hallet’s methods, as he finds them a bit blunt for a more subtle man.

They banter some (at least she’s not arguing/whining all the time like Peri did. So far, Mel’s ok, not as bad as I seemed to recall. I’m still not the biggest fan, though.)

The Doctor pulls out a leaf that he took out of Hallet’s pocket, comparing it to the empty pods. They talk about the professor, and The Doctor explains that she’s a thremmatologist. Mel asks what the difference of that and an agronomist is.

Science of breeding or propagating animals and plants under domestication,” The Doctor explains.

The Doctor steps into one of the pod husks, wondering what was inside.

In the gym, Bruchner is panicking. The other two say they have no reason to believe there is any danger. Bruchner brings up the ISOLATION ROOM, but she says it is “an unfortunate mishap that has no relevance to the situation.”

She reminds him they agreed not to divulge their discovery until they reach Earth. He says she doesn’t understand, “the crime we are committing in the name of science will make us infamous!” (That’s a dramatic statement, and there’s a dramatic chord at that moment.)

Something is watching them from the air ventilation system. You know, the system we keep seeing people listening to noises in? Yeah, that one. We get a glimpse of it and it seems to be something quite alien/inhuman. Even… dum dum dum… plantlike!!

Janet (stewardess) sees Mister Kimber (old man) going to his quarters. He says he doubt he’ll get any sleep, what with the events. “At my age, one doesn’t like to be reminded of mortality,” he explains. (Kimber is played by Arthur Hewlitt, who played Kalmar in the Tom Baker serial STATE OF DECAY.)

She leaves to fetch him a warm drink.

In his room, one of the plant creatures attacks Kimber and Janet brings his drink. Hearing the shower on (turned on by the plant creature), she leaves the drink. She passes The Doctor and Mel, who see Lasky exiting the ISOLATION ROOM, wearing a surgical mask, which seems very out of place for her specialty of study.

As Mel points out that there’s two problems in finding out – one, the guard, and two, no mask – she hears rattling in the… guess where? Can you? Bet you can’t, I bet… you did guess it was the ventilation system? Oh, good, you’re paying attention!

The Doctor grabs a hatchet and hits the alarm. The guard runs from his post and the Time Lord sends him to the lounge, saying passengers are in danger. They grab rebreathers from the fire hose/hatchet/alarm station and enter the ISOLATION ROOM.

Inside, they find a covered bed; pulling back the cover is a man who seems mutated – with the theme I’m guessing (cuz I don’t remember for sure) that he’s infected with something from the plants and is changing as a result. He turns and opens his eyes (and one eye is quite different, not even an eye) and Mel screams (cuz that’s what annoying female companions do)…and the credits roll.

A decent cliffhanger, more of a “what the hell is going on” than a “oh no, danger will robinson!” type.

See you Friday…