Friday, May 22, 2009

"The Keys of Marinus"

Hello everyone, the Historian here, along with Ketina, Ronelyn, Schmallturm and Kroroboros. And here we are at the end of another story, with the last, eponymous episode of "The Keys of Marinus." What did we think of this final episode? You'll find out after the summary!

Episode summary: First aired on 16 May, 1964. Over the phone, Susan tells Barbara that "they" plan to kill her, while Ian has been condemned by the Millenium tribunal to death! Barbara, Sabetha and Altos decide not to tell the Doctor of Susan's predicament, so he will spend all his energy on helping Ian. The three then decide to ask Aydan's wife, Kala, for help, figuring she too would want to get the ones who murdered her husband. She proves no help at all, saying she knows nothing of Aydan's friends, but she sympathizes, telling Barbara she knows how it must have been when Susan called her. After the three leave, Kala opens a door to reveal Susan, tied up and gagged! Kala's phone rings and a mysterious voice tells her to kill the girl and that he will retrieve the key that night. In a holding area, Ian waits for a hand on a clock to reach a star symbol...when it will be time for his execution. Meantime, outside the courtroom, the prosecutor, Larn, offers condolences to a despondent Doctor and Tarron places the evidence from the trial--papers and the mace that had acted as the murder weapon--into a locked cabinet. At the same time, Barbara, walking away from Kala's, realizes that Aydan's wife couldn't have known that Susan called her, and the three race back just in time to capture Kala and stop her from killing Susan! They call Tarron, who interrogates Kala, but it does not help Ian's case, as the woman claims Ian was the one who gave her orders. But Susan remembers that the mysterious voice on the phone said he would retrieve the key. The Doctor, who knows where the key is, lays a trap. When a mysterious figure goes to retrieve the Key from within the mace, police jump him and the Doctor unmasks Larn! Later, after sending Altos and Sabetha back to Arbitan early with the first four keys, the Doctor and his companions take their leave of Tarron and return with the fifth Key. But meanwhile, Altos is being interrogated by Yartek, leader of the Voord, who killed Arbitan back in episode one. After Yartek threatens Sabetha, Altos tells him "the old man" has the fifth Key. Susan, Ian, Barbara and the Doctor meet up again, the Doctor having satisfied himself that the force field has been removed from the TARDIS. Thinking that things are a bit too quiet, they ambush a Voord. Ian and Susan go in search of Arbitan, while the other two look for Altos and Sabetha. Ian and Susan go to the control room and discover a figure in Arbitan's robes with the hood up. He claims that the machine discharged energy and they cannot come close to him and asks about Altos. The two travellers realize something is odd, since Arbitan knew Altos, but Ian gives him a Key anyway. The two then go to find the others, Ian revealing he'd given "Arbitan" the fake Key from the jungle area. The crew and Altos and Sabetha flee as Yartek puts the fake Key in the machine which explodes! Later, the crew says their goodbyes, leaving Sabetha and Altos to begin their new life together...

Whew. The summary actually kind of belies the fact that this episode felt like it went very fast, possibly because of the"split" nature of the plot. About two-thirds of this week went to finishing up the murder mystery (which, to be honest, they kind of gave away last week) and the last third being a wrap-up of the plot from episode one, which did feel a bit rushed. All in all, it mostly worked though, bringing a pretty okay story to a pretty okay end.

I, for one, liked the design of the Voords, though Schmallturm thought the wet/drysuit look was kind of silly. The big question, of course, is why they still had the suits on; it was implied back in "The Sea of Death" that the Voords wore the suits (and they are most decidedly suits) to protect themselves from the acid. So why continue to wear them? A religious thing, maybe? Or perhaps they're needed for some other reason as well? The script doesn't say, but I suppose they're wearing them to look suitably "monstery." And yes, I will grant that, as neat as I think the Voords look, the "Yartek masquerading as Arbitan" thing was silly. The helmet didn't quite fit in the hood of Arbitan's robe, did it?

Another thing that I found funny (but that no one else remarked on) was Ian being executed "when the big hand gets to the star!" I don't know why, but the simplicity of the clock just struck me as silly. It's as if Terry Nation said, "We want a science fictiony clock, but something ridiculously simple...I know, one hand and only one piece of notation...hmmm, ess effy...I know, a star! The kids like that, right?" Or maybe that's just me.

As Schmallturm said, "Wow, I didn't think Ian was that smart!" Meaning, giving Yartek the fake key. It seemed obvious to me, though I have seen this story before, many years ago (more about that in the wrap-up). But this episode did give everyone something to do, even (miracle of miracles) Sabetha and Altos, who got their "protect each other from Yartek" scene. Barbara quickly picks up on the rather obvious (to me) clue dropped by Kala in a very natural way. Susan realizes "Arbitan" is a fake, among other things, and the Doctor goes from despondent to triumphant very nicely. I just can't get enough of Hartnell and the evolution of his character.

A couple more plot notes: As Kroroboros put it, regarding Barbara and the others' overpowering Kala before she could kill Susan, "If you're going to kill somebody, lock the darn door!" We also noted that old Terry Nation recycling plan again, this time with plot points: both Kala and Yartek are tripped up by making conversational slips, Kala about Susan's call and Yartek about Arbitan not knowing Altos. (Though, to be fair, the latter case was just kind of icing on the "he's not really Arbitan, is he" cake for Ian and Susan.) It's a small point, but having both in the same episode really made the, er, coincidence stand out. (I'm surprised David Whittaker didn't nip that in the bud!)

All right, any more from me (about the story in general) will come in the wrap-up post later this week. Next week, though, back to the historicals! Until then, I remain



Ketina here,

Well, overall the episode wasn't too bad. I liked the wrap up to the court case / murder mystery plot. My favorite bit was at the end when the Doctor points out that the investigator could learn a little about skepticism from Pyrrho. Ian says it was lucky that the Doctor had read Pyrrho and the Doctor remarks "Read him? No, I met the man." or something along those lines.

There were a lot of little gaffs that unintentionally added to the humor this week. Several lines of dialog were mildly muffed by various characters for instance. But the standout for me was the Voord tripping on his own flipper. Creepy costume until you see their feet. Flop flop.

I was a little disappointed at how quickly they resolved the final plot with the Voords, but I suppose there wasn't enough time after the murder plot, and it didn't have enough to fill a full episode entirely on its own. Ian's turn around with the key was clever, although obvious to me as well, but that was about the only good bit during that plot.

Sorry, not much from me this week.



1 comment:

Alzarian said...

And so it concludes. In watching the final episode, I started to realize how simple and inconsequential the story was. However, in watching the individual mini-adventures, I was certainly enjoying myself. Perhaps the whole does not equal the sum of its parts?

The Voord never truly come across as all that menacing, and the solution is a bit too easy to truly be memorable. Still, on the whole, I had a good time with it, even if it is a bit more simplistic than I like my "Doctor Who".

That being said, the story only really suffers for the final portions back on the island. All of the business with the courtroom mystery is quite good.