Recap: At a secret British naval base during World War 2, there are plots upon plots. A squad of Russian soldiers are sneaking about, trying to steal a decryption machine, but apparently it’s what the British want them to do, as part of a long-range plot against the Russians. Also, there are Viking inscriptions in the crypts under a church, and a curse involving stolen treasure.

spoiler warning

Episode 3:

A captain comes in and Millington tells him that the Ultima Machine must not be touched by anyone, it must be allowed to complete its task. The Doctor points out that the base defenses are reduced, as part of Whitehall’s plan to let the Russians steal the machine.

Millington orders the captain to radio for reinforcements, but the captain reminds him that he’d recently given the order for all radio transmitters to be disabled and Perkins was just sent about that task not long ago.

Millington is outraged (okay…) and dashes off. The others follow and they find Perkins smashing the radio room transmitters. He reports to Millington that the transmitters are disabled as per orders and The Doctor congratulates him on a job well done, and then tells him to put them back together, while Millington looks on helplessly.

The Doctor, Ace and the Vicar leave, going outside, where The Doctor explains that the transformed girls are not vampires, as the Vicar feels (having pointed out that this location is where Dracula first sets foot on British soil, apparently) but ‘haemevores’, saying that is mankind’s evolutionary fate, turning into creatures that feed on blood.

The Doctor asks the Vicar about the parish records and learns they go back to the 18th century. “Good, now for a little local history,” the Time Lord says, hurrying off.

Ace stops them, worried about Kathleen and her baby, worried if the haemevores were to come to the base. The Doctor sends her off to check on them.

On the shore, the Russians find Prozorov’s corpse. The captain takes his papers, but orders his men to hurriedly grab the Sergeant’s body and carry him off, as they see the creatures from the lake approaching.

Ace finds Kathleen and checks on her and Audrey. When Ace questions where Kathleen is going (as she’s packing), she says she’ll manage, “Frank’s got shore leave in a few weeks.” Ace asks if Frank is her boyfriend, and Kathleen is shocked at the idea that Ace didn’t know she was married. After all, she has a baby! (Different times, what what?)

Frank is in the merchant navy, the Atlantic convoy.

I used to think I’ll never get married,” Ace says, “but now I’m not so sure.”

Judson is in Millington’s office, saying they’re “wasting our time on some superstition.” Millington argues the legends will come true, the treasure will be brought to them, “and all the dark powers of Fenric shall be ours.”

Judson complains about his chains, indicating the wheelchair. Millington retorts, “That was over twenty years ago, why must you remind me?” Oooooh, I didn’t expect that, though I suspect it’s obvious if you think about it.

The girls lead the creatures through the mist on the shore, pursuing the Russians, who watch from atop a hill. Sorin explains that six months ago, a Russian sabotage team was sent into Romania, only one survived. “He talked about dead men coming out of the black fog. The official report said he’d been listening to too much local gossip about vampires.”

Ace rejoins The Doctor and the Vicar in the church, as they go over the parish records. The Doctor seems particularly exasperated by her interruption, as she asks why the bell tower looks like a fortress, wondering if the builders were expecting trouble.

The Vicar replies that there’s no record of any battles having taken place there, but The Doctor replies, “Today’s events haven’t been written down yet.” He instructs the Vicar to find the “descendants of the early Viking settlers,” and then tells Ace to accompany him.

They head to the crypt’s secret rooms, looking for the Oriental treasures the inscription talked about. Ace finds the discard flask, as the Vicar calls out for The Doctor. She puts it in her bag as they head back up.

The Vicar shows records of the Viking descendants – Joseph Sundvik, and his wife, Florence. Daughters Sarah, Martha, Jane, Clara and Annie. The Doctor says the curse has been passed down through the generations. He tells the Vicar to find out which daughters married, what the new surnames are.

Ace notices some water on the floor, but the Vicar says it’s the roof, it always leaks when it’s raining.

Problem is,” The Doctor replies, “it’s not raining.”

The doors and windows are suddenly under attack from the creatures. Ace and the Vicar and The Doctor struggle to keep them out. Ace ends up running to the roof, where she sees many of the creatures. She pulls a rope ladder out of her backpack and drops it over the side and begins to climb down.

She makes it down, but is grabbed by the creatures.

The Russian soldiers skulk about the town, near the church.

Ace fights the two creatures. They overpower her and seem to be about to feed on her, but the soldiers come to her rescue, shooting them. The creatures get up and are shot again. Ace starts climbing back up the ladder.

Inside, The Doctor yells at the Vicar that he’s got to have faith. The creatures burst in, and are suddenly wailing in pain and there’s a musical tone, which I think is in-story. Ace arrives and looks about, suggesting this is the case.

Captain Sorin arrives with his men and The Doctor orders everyone into the crypt, instructing the Vicar to grab the record books. Once in, they secure the doors.

The Doctor explains that the noise he was making was “just something to frighten off the haemevores”. They discuss vampires and crucifixes, but The Doctor explains it’s the faith, not the cross itself. “It creates a psychic barrier, just like I do,” he adds.

When the Vicar worries that they’re trapped, Ace says they can take the mine shaft. Sorin says he must go back to his men, but the Vicar argues that the creatures will get him.

I must try. If I fail, I fail,” the captain replies. He leaves his two soldiers with them.

Ace asks The Doctor to teach Sorin how to do that singing trick, but The Doctor says it’s a matter of faith. Sorin says he believes in The Revolution and The Doctor asks if his faith is complete. “If we meet again, you will have your answer,” is Sorin’s reply – I like that. Again, the strength of this serial is the dialogue as well as the plot.

As the others head below, Ace stops Sorin; he takes off his scarf and gives it to her, telling her to be careful. That’s interesting.

Down below, Ace pulls out some Nitro-9 and blows a hole so they can get to the mine shaft tunnel.

Sorin opens the door, confronted by the girls and a creature. He pulls out his pin/badge/symbol of the Revolution and they scream, clutching their heads, allowing him to move past them.

In the tunnel Ace pulls out the flask, wanting to make more Nitro, but the Doctor says no. The soldiers stay behind to fight off any pursuit, The Doctor instructing them to wait two minutes before catching up.

When The Doctor finally notices the flask, he says that’s the oriental treasure they’ve been looking for. He takes it from Ace.

Sorin moves through a mob of the creatures outside, and they turn from him, walking away, heading into the crypt, drawn by the flask being handled, presumably.

The Doctor and Ace and the Vicar move through the tunnel, hurriedly.

Sorin returns to his men at the beach. They ask what is happening, commenting that the air is unnaturally still and warm.

There is a storm coming,” Sorin replies.

In the tunnel, as they near the end, Ace and company hear gunfire from the soldiers behind them. They exit, to find Millington and some men waiting there. The commander gives the order to seal the exit and as The Doctor struggles with the British soldiers, worried about the Russians, Millington takes the records from the Vicar and the flask from Ace.

Millington explains, “Many years ago when I was Chief Petty Officer on board a ship, we had an explosion in the engine room.” The Doctor interrupts to say the Russian were their allies. Millington ignores, continuing his tale, “I had to seal it off to save the ship. Keep the flame restricted to one section.”

The Vicar pleads, saying the soldiers won’t stand a chance against the haemevores.

Still, Millington goes on, “We could hear men screaming from behind the bulkheads for nearly an hour. Then, the screaming stopped,” he turns and walks away.

The Russians cut some barbed wire at the camp perimeter. Sorin goes through, instructing his men to abort the mission if he’s not back in ten minutes. They take cover, behind one small tree. You have to use your imagination that they’re hiding better than that, I suppose.

Sorin calls out for Millington, saying he wishes to speak to him, officer to officer.

In the decryption room, Millington shows Judson the flask, saying he told him it would be brought to them. “There is power,” he says. Judson takes the flask.

Millington’s captain reports that “The house guests have arrived.” Millington is confused and the captain says that one is outside, wanting to talk to him.

Outside, Sorin addresses the commander. Soldiers raise their weapons at Sorin as Millington instructs Sorin to have his men surrender. Sorin calls out for his men to do so, adding, “Like the wolves of winter.”

Apparently this is code for get thee gone, as the Russian soldiers in hiding take off. Millington has Sorin arrested.

The Doctor arrives, arguing with Millington that the Russians aren’t the problem, it’s the creatures. Millington seems to think the creatures aren’t that big a problem, despite The Doctor’s arguments to the contrary.

Ace checks on Kathleen, who seems upset. Kathleen hands her a letter, which Ace reads. Her husband’s ship was attacked and he is listed as missing, presumed dead.

The Ultima Machine prints out words, perhaps names.

Ace confronts The Doctor, mad at him, saying he always knows what’s going on, but can’t be bothered to tell anyone. “It’s like a game and only you know the rules,” she says. She says he knew that the inscription was a computer program and he knew about the flask.

When she asks if it’s because he thinks she’s stupid, he says it’s not that, it’s about “Evil, evil since the dawn of time.” When she questions more, he tells her to stop asking questions.

She yells at him to tell her, and he does, “The beginning of all beginnings. Two forces, only good and evil. Then chaos. Time is born, matter, space. The universe cries out like a newborn. The forces shatter as the universe explodes outwards. Only echoes remain and somehow, somehow the evil force survives. An intelligence. Pure evil!”

Ace asks if he’s talking of Fenric, but he says that’s just Millington’s name for it. “Evil has no name. Trapped inside a flask like a genie in a bottle.” He says they need to get the flask to stop it. Ace suggests releasing captain Sorin, saying she can distract the guards.

The Vicar watches as the door sealing the tunnel exit is slowly being weakened from within. Somehow the creatures are melting it.

Ace draws out the guard from where Sorin is being held, being mysterious and semi-seductive. The Doctor slips in, and frees Sorin.

The soldier asks Ace what she can see. As she answers, we see the head of the Viking ship under the water, a creature’s hand stroking it. “Undercurrents, bringing things to the surface.”

She tells him she can’t say, he argues she promised. She rushes off.

The Vicar watches at the door is broken down and the girls and creatures step out. He holds up his Bible, but one girl says it won’t do any good as he doesn’t believe.

We’ll see,” he replies, and the musical tone begins, causing the girls and creatures to scream.

The Doctor, Sorin and Ace hurry. The Doctor says Fenric doesn’t have a body yet, so they can still stop him.

The girls argue that the Vicar doesn’t believe, and their words cause doubt and they swarm him.

Millington returns to the decrypt room. He looks at the print out as Judson wonders what the machine is doing. A bolt of energy strikes him from the machine, shoving his wheelchair backwards and he cries out in pain, falling to the floor.

Lightning strikes near Maiden’s Point.

The creatures march past the fallen Vicar.

The Doctor, Sorin and Ace rush into the decryption room, telling Crane not to touch Judson or anything. She argues he’s an invalid and can’t stand without help.

The Doctor replies he’s dead. Millington says, “The time is now. The Chains of Fenric are shattered. The gods have lost the final battle.”

We’re too late,” Ace says, “it’s him!”

Millington continues, “The dead men’s ship has slipped its moorings and the Great Ash itself trembles to its roots!” He whispers, “Fenric,” as Judson stands up, on his own. Judson’s eyes are closed, but when he opens them, they’re definitely not human eyes.

Judson/Fenric says, “We play the contest again… Time Lord,”… and the credits roll.

Now that was a great cliffhanger, even though it was obvious something along those lines was going to happen.

Episode 4:

Kathleen sings to baby Audrey as the storm roars outside.

Fenric tells The Doctor that the Time Lord left him trapped in the shadow dimension for seventeen centuries, but now he has a body again, and the preparations are complete. He raises his hands and disappears in a flash and gust of wind.

Soldiers run in, Millington orders them to shoot The Doctor, but the soldiers ask why. When he says for treason, they take The Doctor prisoner. (Still not obeying him, interestingly enough.)

The haemovores walk down a tunnel as Fenric materialises in front of them, saying, “I was only expecting one.”

Outside, The Doctor, Ace and Sorin are lined up to be shot (ok, guess they were) and the Time Lord pleads for them not to kill Ace. Sorin argues that killing them doesn’t make a difference. Ace cries out, “Mum, I’m sorry!”

As the soldiers take aim, the Russian soldiers toss a few grenades, creating a diversion and our heroes escape. A firefight breaks out between the Russians and British soldiers.

Millington rants on about a battlefield stretching on one hundred leagues and in the end the ancient enemies will do battle one more time. He’s a bit bonkers, methinks.

The Doctor tells Ace he must play the game to the end this time. When she asks what game, he says “A very simple game, a game of chess.”

Fenric sends his haemovores to fetch “the Ancient One”.

The Doctor says he needs a chess set. Ace says Millington has one in his office and Sorin says getting in there’s not a problem. He orders his men to clear a path to the British position.

At Maiden’s Point, the two girls summon another haemovore from beneath the waves. It rises up, seemingly bulkier than the others.

Millington enters a bunker, three soldiers setting themselves as guards outside it.

Fenric stands, rejoicing in the “Sound of dying” as Millington enters. When Millington interrupts, Fenric chastises him for interrupting “while I’m eulogising” and then demands to know where the Time Lord is, but Millington doesn’t know who he means.

Fenric goes on about being trapped for seventeen centuries, saying the Time Lord pulled bones from the ancient sands and carved them into chess pieces and challenged Fenric to solve his puzzle, but Fenric failed. “Now I shall see him kneel before me, before I let him die,” he promises.

DAMN this serial is creepy fun.

Ace grabs at the chess set, but sets off a chemical grenade trap. The Doctor throws a trash can on top of it, though plenty of the green gas got out, so they should be dead.

Ace quips that he should have put some explosives under the table. They look, and sure enough, there are some. They both dash out, escaping just before the explosion, but the chess set is still in the room. Or, well, it was.

Fenric confronts the Ancient One, “At last, another of the Wolves of Fenric decides to show up and play his role.” The haemovore looks at him like he’s flat stupid. It replies, “My world is dead.” Fenric says this is no great loss. He’s a real charmer, that Fenric.

Fenric tells him that this is the 20th century, so it’s not his world “for a long time yet”. Oh, so they’re from the future. Huh. He tell him they must first kill at the humans first.

Ace and The Doctor clean each other up, celebrating that at least Ace was able to grab the parish record book on her way out. The Doctor tells her that it’s important because it has the name of the ancient families – Judson, Millington, Wainwright, Dudman…”

Hearing Kathleen’s last name, Ace tells The Doctor she saw a chess set in Kathleen’s suitcase as she was packing. They head off to find her.

In the room where the women work, they’re all cowering. The door opens and they scream.

The British soldiers toss the poison in grenades at the Russians, killing all but Sorin and one other, the latter saying, “This isn’t war, this is massacre!” They decide it’s all because of the Ultima Machine and they agree to destroy it.

Millington confronts Fenric, saying his creatures are killing his men, but is taken aback at the presence of the haemovore. “We call him the Great Serpent,” Fenric answers.

Millington quotes, “And the Great Serpent shall arise from the sea and spew venom over all the Earth.” Fenric looks about the bunker, at the stockpiled poison, saying there’s enough in there to contaminate the world forever.

A British soldier listens in and then slips away.

Millington is horrified.

The soldier (I think the one previous referred to as Captain) finds The Doctor and Ace, “They’re insane,” he tells them, “they’re trying to control the world with chemical weapons!”

All part of Fenric’s evil game, no doubt,” The Doctor replies, saying the weather is as well. Sorin arrives and he and the captain face off, but agree to join forces to “fight the real enemy”.

Ace is delighted to learn they’re all getting along. Sorin praises her courage and for wearing their emblem, but she says it’s not a real one, just something she bought cheap in a market. He gives her his emblem (oh, that’s not good… that saved his life, once.)

She’s totally in teen lust with him, so yeah, he’s gonna die, I bet. He even takes her hand and kisses it. Yep, dead man walking.

The Doctor urges them to hurry up, reminding Ace they need the chess set.

Soldiers enter the women’s work station, to find they’ve been turned into haemovores. One soldier doesn’t run and is swarmed by them and killed.

The Doctor and Ace find Kathleen and Audrey in the women’s barracks. The Doctor gets the chess set and dashes off, but Ace stays behind with her grandmother and mum. (Yep, you know it is. They haven’t admitted it yet, but you know it.) The Doctor insists they not leave the hut.

Crane puts on her coat and is about to leave when Fenric and several haemovores enter. He says she took care of him for years, treating him like a child, and feeds her to the haemovores.

Ace and Kathleen bar the door and windows with furniture.

The young Russian enters the decryption room to sabotage the Ultima Machine, but Millington shoots him, saying they were never allies, they will always be the enemy.

See you in hell,” the soldier tells Millington, who leaves him to die.

The Doctor sets up the chess board.

Ace and Kathleen sit, the latter holding Audrey. Ace goes on about not liking dark buildings, referring to the house from Ghost Light. Kathleen wonders what sort of world this is to bring up a child. Haemovores begin to break in, so the ladies slip out the window.

The Doctor struggles to remember how the chess board was set up. He finally gets it right.

Ace and Kathleen and Audrey rush to a jeep, pursued by haemovores. Ace tells Kathleen to take Audrey and go to London to find her (Ace’s) nan and gives her the address. Kathleen gives Ace a picture of Audrey and Ace kisses Audrey on the forehead, saying she’ll always love her. Kathleen drives off as the haemovore girls approach Ace.

Fenric orders the Great Serpent to take the poison and dump it into the ocean. The Great Serpent asks about the other haemovores, and Fenric replies, “You know how to kill them.”

The Serpent lifts his hands and concentrates.

The girls fall in front of Ace, crumbling to dust.

The Doctor regards the chess board. Fenric enters the room, demanding to know where the game is.

You couldn’t resist it, could you, the game of traps? The contest as before,” The Doctor says, indicating the chess board.

One move, find the winning move, spring the trap on me. If you can,” he taunts Fenric.

Millington confronts Captain Bates who is tending to the wounded Russian. The commander says the captain’s problem is that he doesn’t know who the enemy is. “A traitor is someone who doesn’t know who the enemy is,” and as Millington raises his gun to fire at Bates, the Russian shoots Millington, gasping out, “But I do.”

The Doctor confronts the Great Serpent, saying he’s been waiting for him. The Serpent asks if he knows him and the Time Lord answers, “Thousands of years in the future, the Earth lays dying, the surface just a chemical slime. Half a million years of industrial progress.”

Ace dashes in to where Fenric is studying the chess board. Fenric seems to be losing his body; he cannot see who it is, thinks it’s the Time Lord, asking him to show him the solution. “The con… the contest is too much for such a weak body,” he says.

Ace says she doesn’t know the solution. He begs her to tell him and she runs off.

The Doctor says that this is another of Fenric’s games, saying he was brought back in time to destroy his past, which would destroy his own future.

Bates helps the Russian to his feet. Ace comes in, wondering what’s happened. They say they’re all right now, just pawns in a game, but the pawns are fighting together.

Ace realises that’s the solution, the winning move and she runs off again. Um… why?

Sorin finds Fenric, even weaker. The Russian says it’s time to die. Fenric says he doesn’t know why he was selected for the mission, but Sorin says it’s because he speaks English, “My grandmother was English.”

Emily Wilson, granddaughter of Joseph Sundvik,” Fenric elucidates. “You are touched by the Curse of Fenric. I selected you. You are one of the Wolves of Fenric.”

Sorin levels his gun at him, but Fenric stares at him weakly.

Ace enters, finding Sorin bent over the chess board. She says Fenric would have never guessed the solution, saying the white and black pawns join forces. (Okay, that makes no sense, as it violates the rules of the game.)

Once she tells him, Sorin turns around and Ace sees his eyes are glowing – Fenric is inside him now. (Told ya. Dead Man Walking.) The Doctor runs in, screaming, “Ace,” like that’s going to do any good.

Black wins, Time Lord,” Sorin-Fenric says, laughing. Lightning strikes the chess board, which bursts into flames.

Ace demands to know what’s happening. Fenric replies, “The Wolves of Fenric, the descendants of the viking who first buried the flask, all pawns in my game.”

Doctor Judson, Commander Millington, the Ancient One, Captain Sorin,” Fenric rattles off the names of his wolves. The Ancient One (is that the same as the Great Serpent?), “…and now you.”

Ace asks what he means and he tells Ace that baby Audrey will grow up and in thirty years, have a baby of her own – Ace. “You just created your own future,” he tells her. “The baby is your mother. The mother you hate.”

Fenric gives the order to the Great Serpent/Ancient One, whichever he is, that has come up behind Ace, to kill them… slowly. Ace pleads to The Doctor to set Fenric straight, saying he’s got it wrong.

The Doctor says nothing, but looks serious. “The Wolves of Fenric have released me,” Fenric says. Ace says The Doctor never fails and she has faith in him – complete faith.

As she says this, the musical tones start. The Doctor continues to say nothing. Fenric again gives the order to kill them again, but the haemovore cannot penetrate Ace’s psychic force and clutches his head, crying out.

Time for one more game, then,” Fenric asks The Doctor. He picks up some of the poison, telling The Doctor if he kneels before him, he will spare Ace. She looks to him, “I believe in you, professor.”

Again, Fenric offers the choice, kneel before him and he will spare Ace. Either way, The Doctor will die.

Kill her,” The Doctor says.

Fenric giggles. “The Time Lord finally understands.”

You think I didn’t know? The chess set in Lady Peinforte’s study,” The Doctor asks, referring to SILVER NEMESIS from last season. “I knew.”

OH MY GOD. OH, NO, THEY DIDN’T.

Fenric shakes his head, “Earlier than that, Time Lord. Before Cybermen, ever since Iceworld, where you first met the girl.”

Ace looks confused. The Doctor asserts, “I knew.” He looks at Ace, “I knew she carried the evil inside her. You think I’d have chosen a social misfit if I hadn’t known? She couldn’t even pass her chemistry exams at school, and if she manages to create a time storm in her bedroom… I saw your hand in it from the very beginning.”

Fenric laughs. Ace pleads, “Doctor, no.”

He tells her, “You’re an emotional cripple.” Then back to Fenric, “I wouldn’t waste my time on her, unless I had to use her somehow.” Ace falls to her knees, crying out, “NO!” Fenric laughs some more.

He then tells the haemovore to kill them, but the Serpent forces Fenric back into the test chamber while he protests. The Great Serpent activates the poison gas within and the smoke fills the chamber.

The Doctor grabs Ace, saying it’s over, they’ve got to get out of there, but she tries to resist, telling him to leave her be. He gets her to her feet and drags her out, as she still yells.

The chessboard burns.

They escape the bunker a moment before there’s an explosion. The Doctor tries to explain to Ace that he had to make her lose her faith in him, as her belief was holding the haemovore back.

She cries, lamenting the mean things he said. He continues to try to explain.

Marks in teenage psychology,” Ace says.

It’s not true, believe me,” he argues. He taps her nose, but she doesn’t look too convinced.

Later, they’re at Maiden’s Point. She’s holding the picture of baby Audrey, but asks The Doctor why she can’t stop hating her mother.

You loved the baby,” he says. She argues that she didn’t know she was her mum. “Love and hate,” he replies, “frightening feelings, especially if trapped, struggling beneath the surface.”

He tells Ace not to be afraid of the water and she dives in. As she swims below the surface, we hear Kathleen’s voice, talking to baby Audrey (who is crying). “Audrey, it’s all right, darling.” Then Ace’s voice, “I’ll always love you.” The two snippets repeat, as does the baby’s cries, as Ace swims.

Ace comes out of the water, splashing and comes up to The Doctor. “I’m not scared now,” she says. The walk away arm in arm. Regarding the sign.

Dangerous undercurrents, Doctor,” she asks.

Not any more. Nyet,” he replies, and they both laugh… and the final credits roll.

Okay, a bit of a silly ending there, but other than that, this was easily one of the best serials of the entire series. WOW.

Too bad the next one is… sigh. Maybe it’s better than I remember.

I doubt it.

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