Recap: This is the Doctor Who spin on Arthurian legend. In a nutshell, Mordred and Morgaine have come over from an alternate world. They think The Doctor is Merlin (and he may well be). UNIT is present and a new Brigadier is causing problems with our Time Lord.

Oh, and retired Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart is here, too. And Ace is stuck in a booth about to drown.

spoiler warning

Episode 3:

The Doctor recovers. Ace has inches left before the water engulfs her completely. The Doctor grabs a piece of machinery, pulling it out of a console and this reverses the water, which we see ejected into the body of water (the lake, obviously), along with Ace.

Again, The Doctor is knocked down by one of the energy-eels.

Peter, the Site Supervisor explains to Ancelyn that the lake is where Excalibur was tossed into, according to legend. Ancelyn asks what he knows of Excalibur, and Peter quotes the legend of how Arthur gained the sword from the Lady of the Lake.

As he says it’s just a myth, NuBrig sees a sword break the water, and rising out of the water is Ace (though she’s swimming and then stumbling out of the water), bearing the sword.

She gives the sword to Ancelyn, saying now he can be King of England. “It is Excalibur,” he proclaims.

That’s what I said, Shakespeare,” Ace retorts and tells NuBrig that The Doctor is in a spaceship at the bottom of the lake.

The Brig and Shou arrive in her car.

Ancelyn fondles Excalibur, ignoring everyone else.

The Doctor is still being attacked by the energy-eel(s). He looks around for the piece of machinery he dropped, the eels keeping him away from it. Suddenly, a booted foot steps on the piece, crushing it, and the energy-eel disappears.

The Brig kneels by The Doctor. When The Doctor looks up, and smiles, the Brig says, “I just can’t let you out of my sight, can I, Doctor?” Oh. Oh. I have goosebumps. I’m gonna cry. This is their last meeting. Oh.

The Doctor is surprised that he recognises him, but the Brig replies, “Who else would it be?” Oh. Yeah, I’m crying.

Mordred arrives at the hotel and encounters the blind woman. She calls for Patrick, frightened because he’s wearing armour.

The NuBrig chastises Peter for letting The Doctor and Ace go down and not letting her know about it. Shou is there and says the Brig is down there, but NuBrig retorts, “I am the Brigadier.”

Just then, the Brig comes out of the tunnel, “So am I!” The Doctor follows just behind him.

NuBrig is surprised to see the Brig, saying she thought he retired. “So did I, Brigadier,” he replied. The Brig starts barking orders, saying the area is “crawling with armed extra-terrestrials and they’re hostile!”

The Doctor turns to him, “Same as ever, eh, Brigadier,” and grins.

Morgaine addresses her troops’ Knight Commander, sending him to find Excalibur and kill them if they resist.

Ace and the Brig don’t hit it off. As she storms off, he laments to The Doctor, “Women. Not really my field.”

Don’t worry, Brigadier, people’ll be shooting at you soon,” The Doctor consoles him.

Mordred drinks a beer at the bar in the hotel. Patrick comes up and sees the newcomer. Elizabeth is frightened, but she assures Patrick that she’s well. Mordred tells him that it’s just as well that she’s blind, as ugly as Patrick is. (He’s a real winner, that Mordred.)

A woman soldier enters, asking for a phone. Seeing Mordred, she draws a gun on him, but he is trying to get her to drink with him. Morgaine arrives, demanding to know who she is. The soldier shoots and Morgaine catches the bullet, crushing it into dust.

She ensorcels the soldier, telling her to kneel before her and tell her of their military strength. Morgaine places her hands on the girl’s head, probing her mind. The woman collapses, after screaming out, and when Patrick complains about leaving the body, Morgaine blasts it and disintegrates it.

Seeing that Mordred “drank well” while he was there, Morgaine says she must “get the tab” and in payment, cures Elizabeth’s blindness.

The Brig barks orders at NuBrig, who doesn’t argue, but Ancelyn sees that she is upset by the change in hierarchy.

Morgaine’s knights lay an ambush on the road.

The Doctor says that something is wrong, as they haven’t been attacked yet.

Moments later, the vehicles are attacked by the knights. The Brig manages to drive through the assault.

Morgaine tells Mordred she will deal with Merlin in her own manner, she doesn’t expect the Knight Commander to do so.

NuBrig, having been informed by the Brig about the ambush by radio, has Ancelyn hold the wheel of the car, while she pulls back the canopy top and fires on the knights with a machinegun.

She radios ahead to the Brig, letting him know they’ve made it through. However, looking at the road with binocs, they see an ambush laid out for NuBrig and Ancelyn. The Doctor tells the Brig to warn her.

NuBrig is feeling all proud and asks if Ancelyn is married. Before he can answer, she sees the knights lined up in the road and swerves off the road as they’re fired upon.

Ace begs the Brig and The Doctor to help them, but they both agree that there are too many of Morgaine’s troops. Reluctantly, she gets in the truck and they head to the hotel.

UNIT troops set up base at the hotel. Elizabeth and Patrick are being evacuated, as The Brigadier and crew arrive. Peter refuses to be evacuated, and Patrick agrees. But The Doctor uses his mental powers to get them to insist on being evacuated.

The Doctor complains about all the weapons. The Brig explains that UNIT has been working on weapons to deal with Daleks, Yeti, even gold-tipped bullets for “you know who” (Cybermen, natch). The Doctor quips, “What, no silver,” leaving the Brig to inquire if they have silver bullets.

Ace and Shou are hiding, as Shou was on the evacuation list. They sneak off together.

The major driving the evacuees stops and finds NuBrig’s hat. He radios in that “the seabirds” (‘seabird’ being NuBrig’s radio callsign) “are still operational.” How he divined that from her cap laying in the grass, I dunno.

The Brig reports that NuBrig and Ancelyn are alive and seem to be heading to her convoy at the lake. The Doctor is afraid that if Morgaine follows them, she’ll get a hold of the nuclear missile. When he asks the Brig if they have a helicopter, the Brig says they have something better.

He leads The Doctor outside, where the UNIT boys uncover… Bessie!! Ace gives him a hard time, asking if it runs on petrol or steam.

Ancelyn fights one of Morgaine’s knights, but NuBrig stops him from killing him. They argue; Ancelyn wants to fight them all, saying “there can be but thirty” and telling her he’s the greatest knight in the world. She says if he doesn’t start running, she’ll kill him herself.

He asks if she’s betrothed, but she says, “Not now,” and runs off as a group of knights approach. Ancelyn runs with her.

The Doctor gives Ace a piece of chalk, telling her it will protect her from Morgaine’s magic, saying to draw a chalk circle “at the first sign of anything strange”, telling her to keep Shou and Excalibur inside the circle, not to leave it until he returns.

Shou and Ace continue to make fun of the old car, but are amazed as Bessie takes off, leaving flaming tracks in the ground.

Morgaine watches Bessie in her crystal ball, calling Merlin a fool for placing such trust in children, changing the view to Ace and Shou.

Ace and Shou find some silver bullets. Suddenly, it thunders outside. Ace complains about how the Brig treated her, calling her “the latest one”. The thunder and lightning continues and the girls, realising there’s no storm outside, wonder where the chalk is.

Morgaine summons a creature, “in fire I shall summon you, in silver, I shall bind you.” In the crystal ball, we see a silhouette of a horned bipedal creature. She gestures and the silhouette is seen on her wall and she smiles in delight.

The girls draw a circle and stand in it, wondering what’s happening.

Bessie arrives at the overlook, and The Doctor gets out, seeing the convoy under attack from Morgaine’s knights. The Brig relays a message he got from the hotel, “Night has fallen here,” but The Doctor says he’ll deal with that later.

There’s explosions and gunfire all about down below. The Brig asks how he’s going to stop it, “Stand in the middle and yell ‘stop’?”

Good idea,” The Doctor replies.

Ace says “This is stupid,” but Shou hears that she called her stupid. Ace keeps hearing insults and they get mad at each other, calling names. Shou brings up that nobody likes Ace, probably not even her parents. Ace almost steps out of the chalk circle and suddenly the girls realise they’re being manipulated.

Morgaine is impressed, watching this and admirning the girls for their strength.

The knights and soldiers fight. Lots of boom boom and badly timed stunts. No, really. Three soldiers are behind some sandbags, a grenade goes off behind them, one goes over first, then almost a second later the other two actors/stunt men jump.

Ancelyn and NuBrig arrive, Ancelyn calling out for Mordred to face him. Mordred mocks him, calling him Mordred the Craven. Ancelyn mocks him for hiding behind his mommy. They both charge, swords held high to strike, but The Doctor runs between them, yelling there will be no battle here.

This is no battle,” Mordred tells him, “this is but a ruse, a diversion. My mother hath summoned The Destroyer! The Lord of Duckness (no, really, the way he pronounces darkness, it sounds like duckness), the Eater of Worlds!” (Bray Wyatt? Wow!)

He tells ‘Merlin’ to look to his children, “for soon they will be no more!”

The Doctor is horrified, “Ace, what have I done?”

Morgaine appears in the room with the girls, demanding they surrender Excalibur to her. Ace refuses. Morgaine says they shall be given over to The Destroyer, who appears, a grotesque with blue-grey scaly skin and horns.

She promises the girls they will become his handmaidens in hell, and laughs… and the girls look afraid… and the credits roll.

I dunno, that just lacked punch to me.

Episode 4:

The Doctor demands that Mordred tell his mother to call off the Destroyer. He insists that Merlin surrender to their “justice” and the children will live.

The Doctor scoffs at Mordred’s justice and uses his umbrella to hook Mordred’s sword, pulling it against his neck. He tells Mordred to tell his mother to call it off or, “I. Will. Decapitate. You.” I like this side of The Doctor.

Morgaine uses her crystal ball to scry, seeing The Doctor and Mordred struggling. She uses her power to tell her son mentally that it is a bluff. Mordred calls the bluff and The Doctor is unable to carry through.

Mordred, free of The Doctor, laughs, saying, “It is a weakness, this lack of spirit.” Just then, the Brig walks up, puts a gun to Mordred’s head, and says, simply, “Try me.”

BOOYAH!!!! Yes, I’m cabbage-patching in my chair and acting like a fool, because the Brig, he don’t play around.

Morgaine tells Mordred, “Ware this man, he is steeped in blood.” YOU DAMN RIGHT HE IS.

The Brig demands that Morgaine leave this world or her son dies. Mordred pleads with his mother to save him, but she replies, “Die well, my son.” Damn, she’s cold.

Morgaine contacts her Knight-Commander, ordering him to recommence the attack and to take no prisoners. The knights charge. The soldiers retaliate. Battle is joined once more.

NuBrig picks up a sword and starts kicking ass.

Mordred promises the Brig his mother will destroy him. The Brig says he’s tired of hearing about his mother and pushes him into the back of Bessie. The Doctor takes off with them.

Morgaine tells the girls that their friends will soon be dead and demands they hand over Excalibur. Ace suggests she come and get it, but she is unable to break the enchantment of the chalk, empowered by Excalibur.

The Destroyer says he can. Ace asks if he is so bad, why hasn’t he done anything yet, but he says that he is chained in silver and cannot do anything. He says that Morgaine fears him, but she says she fears nothing. He demands that she free him if that is the case.

Ace asks what he wants the world for, and he says to devour it. Either he begins to break his chains or Morgaine is using her power to release him, I’m not sure. The chains glow and the Destroyer begins making all sorts of noises.

Bessie arrives at the hotel and The Doctor gets out, but there is a great explosion. Mordred and the Brig are thrown from the car and Morgaine’s son escapes.

The Doctor and Brig enter the lobby, finding the girls buried under some rubble. He asks the girls where Excalibur is and they said they gave it to Morgaine, to which The Doctor replies, “Good.”

Ace begins to justify, but realises he’s not upset. She asks what he means, and he replies, “Exotic alien swords are hard to come by, but Aces are rare.”

The Brig calls The Doctor’s attention over to some shimmering light, but The Doctor isn’t sure what to make of it. He asks where Morgaine went, and Ace says, “A flash of light and she was gone.”

Morgaine asks the Destroyer where her army is. He says they are gone, “the way of all flesh.”

We see the battlefield, strewn with corpses, knight and soldier alike. NuBrig and Ancelyn are alive and seemingly well, the latter saying it was “a good fight,” though this seems troubling to NuBrig.

The Doctor says Morgaine is at the other end of the vortex (the shimmering light) and says they must go through it. He tells the girls to stay there, and he and the Brig enter, The Doctor saying, “High drama is very similar to comedy. It’s all a matter of timing.”

Mordred hides from soldiers and skulks about like the skulker he is.

Ace finds the silver bullets and charges into the vortex before it fades away. She yells, “Geronimo!!!” as she goes in, which of course makes you wonder if that’s why they chose it for Matt Smith’s Doctor.

Morgaine paces about her crystal balls as the Destroyer says she would do well to release him, as he cannot destroy Merlin while he is chained. She says she has Excalibur and without it, Arthur sleeps forever. Merlin will not find her before she leaves, saying the gateway home is almost complete.

The Destroyer laughs, saying Merlin comes. She says he cannot come through, but she realises that the Destroyer has allowed Merlin access, and he agrees, saying that she is now forced to release him.

The Doctor and the Brig arrive, the former greeting Morgaine, the latter shooting at the Destroyer. The bullets have no effect and The Doctor regards him sternly, “Brigadier…”

Nothing ventured, Doctor,” the Brig replies, putting away his gun.

Nothing gained,” the Destroyer replies, gesturing. Green arcane fire grabs the Brig and tosses him through the wall.

Your move, Merlin,” Morgaine tells The Doctor. They face off, she with Excalibur, he holding his umbrella like a sword. She says she could always beat him at chess, he replies, “Who said anything about playing chess?”

He adds, “I’ve been playing poker,” as Ace comes through the vortex. Ace knocks Excalibur from Morgaine’s grasp and tosses it to The Doctor. The Doctor adds, “And I’ve an Ace up my sleeve.” I have a feeling they’ve been wanting to use that line from the moment they named Sophie Aldred’s character.

Morgaine tells the Destroyer to destroy Merlin, but he insists she release him. The Doctor asks whom she fears more. She promises this is no idle threat, if he doesn’t give her Excalibur back, she’ll set the Destroyer upon the world.

He tells her not to be a fool and this angers her enough to do just that.

Nice work, Doctor,” Ace says. Not professor, mind.

But I thought she was bluffing,” he protests.

The Brig comes to, slowly.

The Destroyer removes his armour and flexes and roars, “Free!” Morgaine snatches Excalibur from The Doctor’s grasps, saying she has won and he has lost. She readies to go through the gateway, but just then Mordred shows up, mad that she was ready to let him die.

Morgaine is shocked that he’s still alive and The Doctor snatches Excalibur from her hand while she is distracted. (Seriously? If I had Excalibur in my hand, I’d be holding on to that pig-poker, not playing hot potato with it.)

As Mordred and Morgaine stand, the former accusing the latter that she wished him dead, she protesting that it was not so, they both disappear.

The Destroyer growls and snarls and writhes. Ace asks for a work, but the Brig shows up and calls to The Doctor to follow. Ace grabs the silver bullets and follows them.

Outside, the Brig asks what that was, and The Doctor says it was the beginning of the end of the world. “Grim as ever, eh, Doctor,” the Brig replies.

Inside, the Destroyer says, “I hunger,” and stands there looking stupid. No, really.

The Doctor says it’s no good running. The Brig says he could have an airstrike in minutes, but the Time Lord says conventional weapons won’t do any good. He turns to Ace, asking for the silver bullets. She’s surprised he knew, and he says “It’s all a matter of timing, Ace,” in response to her question how he knew.

The Brig, finding out that the silver bullets can kill the Destroyer, knocks out The Doctor and takes them. Ace yells at him, calling him a scumbag. The Brig says he’s more expendable, apologising to The Doctor, and heads back as Ace checks on our Time Lord.

The Destroyer prances about, saying this world shall be his, then another and another…

Green fire erupts from the castle as Ace worries over The Doctor.

The Brig enters, confronting the Destroyer. “Ah, little man, what do you want of me,” the Destroyer asks him.

Get off my world,” he replies.

Ace helps The Doctor up. The Doctor says they have to stop him and rushes to the castle, Ace following.

Pitiful, can this world do no better than you as its champion,” the Destroyer asks.

Probably,” the Brig replies, “I just do the best I can.” He fires thrice, hitting the Destroyer in the chest. The Destroyer clutches his throat and explodes in green fire.

A torrent of green fire erupts above the castle. The Doctor and Ace stop in their tracks and then The Doctor rushes forward. “No chance,” Ace calls out to him, “he’s had it!”

NuBrig moves about her convoy, demanding where her coffee is. Mordred steps out of nowhere, placing a sword to her neck, saying, “The battle’s not over yet.”

The Doctor finds the Brig in the rubble of the castle, calling him a “stupid, stubborn, pig-headed numbskull. You were supposed to die in bed!” The Brigadier recovers and chastises The Doctor for having so little faith in him. This is so classic.

Ace,” the Brig says, “I’m getting too old for this sort of thing. He’s all yours from now on. I’m going home to Doris.”

The Doctor is delighted to learn that Doris is the Brig’s wife.

The Brig says there’s some cleaning up to do, The Doctor agreeing there’s the small matter of a nuclear missile. They head off.

Morgaine and Mordred demand that NuBrig to give over the pass code for the missile. She says she has no idea. “Oh, I doubt that,” Morgaine says, demanding the code, as she closes in menacingly towards NuBrig.

In the spaceship under the lake, The Doctor, the Brig, Ace and Ancelyn step up to the altar Arthur’s body is slumped against. The Doctor takes off his hat and instructs Ancelyn to replace Excalibur to where it once was, saying Arthur will arise.

Ancelyn offers the sword to the Brig, saying the honour belongs to him. The Brig says The Doctor should do it. Ancelyn argues, and finally Ace takes it from him.

Ace, have you no sense of occasion,” The Doctor asks.

No,” she replies, placing the sword back where she pulled it from.

The ship comes to life about them. The Doctor says this is very odd, and takes Arthur’s helmet. There is no body inside the armour, but sand/dust/powder comes out of the helmet, and they find a scroll.

Ancelyn asks where the king is, while Ace reads the paper. She says it’s for The Doctor. He asks her what it says.

Ace reads it, “Dear Doctor, King died in final battle. Everything else propaganda.”

Who signed it,” The Doctor asks.

The Doctor,” Ace replies.

PS,” Ace adds, “Morgaine has just seized control of a nuclear missile.”

The Doctor complains he should have given himself better warning and tells Ace and the Brig to “see to the ship”.

Explosives, Doctor,” the Brig asks.

Now you’re talking,” Ace chimes in, COMPLETELY out of character. (Snort.)

Yes, we’ll give Arthur a warrior’s burial,” The Doctor answers.

Mordred dumps NuBrig on the ground outside the missile carrier. Ancelyn sees this and attacks. They fight, clashing swords. There’s a cute moment where The Doctor walks between the two, taking his hat off it greeting. They both stop and stare and gape at each other in shock, then resuming fighting.

Inside, the timer counts down. It’s at sixty. Morgaine says it’s too late, but The Doctor tries for the abort button. She stops him. They struggle.

He tells her, “If this missile explodes, millions will die. YOU will die.”

I shall die with honour,” she retorts. The counter is at forty-five.

He argues that this will set off a world-wide chain of attacks, no honourable war, just death. He demands of her if this is the sort of war she wants, the sort of weapons she would use, ones that would turn a child into ashes.

Finally, his words reach her and she hits the abort with only one second left.

Yanno, I’m really over that trope. That cliché. At least give me four seconds. Hell, twenty seconds to the end of the world is good enough, right?

She demands that Arthur face her, with honour, in single combat.

We see the ship explode. Ace and the Brig are standing in the water at the edge of the lake. She begins jumping and cheering when they see the water spout up from the blast.

The Doctor tells Morgaine that Arthur is dead. She refuses to believe him, calling him, “Merlin, Prince of Deceit.” She insists he’s lying. He argues that he tells the truth.

She mourns his loss, remembering how beautiful and bright he was. She asks if she could look upon him one last time, but he tells her he is dust now. She reminisces about being with him, how the air was like honey.

I’m sorry, Morgaine,” The Doctor says, taking the key from the missile launch console, “It’s over.” He walks out as she stands there, grieving.

Ancelyn and Mordred continue to fight. Mordred gets the best of Ancelyn, who falls. Mordred places his sword to Ancelyn’s throat.

I do not fear death, Mordred. You have slain my beloved, there is no life without her,” Ancelyn says.

So be it,” Mordred replies, lifting his sword to strike the death blow. “Tis time,” he says, just before The Doctor grabs him from behind, pulling the sword out of his hand and forcing Mordred down to his knees.

Time and Time Lords wait for no man,” he says, placing his hand on Mordred’s head, doing something to cause Mordred great pain. He screams, then collapses.

NuBrig gets to her feet and The Doctor greets her, telling her to lock up Mordred and Morgaine, and then walks off. NuBrig and Ancelyn regard each other.

The Doctor sits on a bench outside the Brig’s house. Ancelyn paces walks up.

Peaceful, isn’t it,” The Doctor asks.

The silence after a battle, Doctor” Ancelyn replies. Not Merlin, but Doctor?

The Brig walks from the house, apologising for not being a good host. He asks if they are well and then asks if they’ve seen Doris.

Doris steps out of the house and sees them, calling out, “Bye!” The Brig heads over to her.

The Doctor rises, and steps over to Ancelyn, “I think the battle may be about to begin.”

The Brig asks if she’s going somewhere and she says she’s going out with the girls.

Ace is polishing Bessie. The Doctor walks over, “I thought you said this was a piece of antiquated junk.” She plays like she did no such thing. NuBrig and Shou are seated in the back seat, promising not to break too many speed records or laws.

Doris arrives. Ace asks if she wants to drive, she’ll say she’ll drive on the way back. Doris tells the Brig to work in the garden and have something ready for supper for when they return.

As they drive off, the men watch. Ancelyn puts his hand on the Brig’s shoulder, “Ah, are they not magnificent?”

The Brig nods, “Yeah. You any good with a lawn mower, Ancelyn?”

The Doctor laughs, “I’ll cook supper,” and walks off… and the credits roll.

That was a fun, if bittersweet, serial. A farewell to the Brig. I’m gonna get choked up now. Think I’ll watch the Matt Smith clip where he learns of the Brigadier’s passing.

This recap dedicated to Nicholas Courtney, a fun actor, and to Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, the best non-companion The Doctor ever had.