Hello everyone, the Historian here, along with Ketina, Ronelyn, Schmallturm and Spoo. It's the penultimate episode of this adventure on the planet Vortis, so, without further ado, let's get to the summary!
Episode summary: First aired 13 March 1965. Barbara and her Menoptra friends are surrounded! The Zarbi and the larvae guns advance...and our friends are able to run to one side and escape! But they are quickly followed. Barbara leans against a rock face and a door opens behind her. The three enter, the door shutting behind them. The Zarbi are unable to get in after them.
Back in the Carsenome, the Doctor and Vicki are standing still, control collars around their necks. The Zarbi are ignoring them, which allows Vicki--who has been faking by wearing the collar that the Doctor deactivated--to remove the Doctor's collar, freeing him! The Doctor is delighted, wondering if this "reversal of the field" means he'd be able to control the collar using the power in his ring. The two, realizing most of the Zarbi have gone, contrive to get the collar around the neck of the remaining guard. Sure enough, it moves as the Doctor directs it! Leading their "guard," the Doctor and Vicki begin to make their way out of the Carsenome, confirming again that the Zarbi seem to have left to mass at the plateau to combat the Menoptra spearhead.
Barbara is amazed by the size and beauty of the structure she has stumbled into. Prapillus explains that this must be a Temple of Light, built by the ancient Menoptra to worship their gods of Light and long-lost. Suddenly, a voice comes from the other end of the temple--it is Hilio, leader of the spearhead, along with Hlynia. They'd discovered another entrance to the temple. Hrostar tells Hilio that the spearhead has failed, but the other does not believe it. Barbara tries to confirm that their force was destroyed, but Hilio does not trust her. Finally, he accepts the truth. Prapillus, invoking the history of the Menoptra, tells Hilio that they must trust Barbara, who can teach them to live "without wings." They turn to Barbara for advice and she asks what the original plan was. It seems it was to proceed to the center of the Web and destroy the Animus, using a "destructor," designed by the wise men of the Menoptra. This device (aka the Isop-tope) would reverse the growth of the Carsenome, making "its cells grow inward and die." Barbara suggests trying to carry through with an attack. But how?
Below the surface of Vortis, Ian and Vrestin rub their newly freed hands. The Optera have agreed to help them to try to destroy the Animus. Hetra and Nemini begin to lead them into the tunnels.
The Doctor, Vicki and "their" Zarbi leave the Carsenome and make their way across the planet's surface. As they rest, Vicki tells the Doctor that she's named their Zarbi "Zombo." The two banter a bit and move on.
Below, the Optera begin to tunnel through an area blocked by stalactites and stalagmites, which they break to form a passage. Ian and Vrestin find the air to be a bit foul, but manage to persevere as the Optera come to a wall in the tunnel and Nemini begins to dig. But the gas in the air is getting worse and Vrestin faints and Ian calls to them to dig!
Inside the temple, Barbara explains her plan. Most of them will mount an attack to draw the few Zarbi guarding the Carsenome out. Taking advantage of the disturbance, one of them will run in with the Isop-tope and try to destroy the Animus. There is argument about who will go in, when the door begins to open and a Zarbi comes in! But it is Zombo, followed by the Doctor and Vicki, who are delighted to see Barbara. The Doctor wonders where Ian is....
The gas is beginning to disperse and Vrestin has regained consciousness. Nemini warns them to be careful and then begins to dig again--but a stream of acid begins to pour in through the hole! Ian starts forward to help, but Hetra pushes him back. Nemini must block the hole with her body or they will all die! "It is danger...that is always with us," Hetra says as Nemini screams in anguish and perishes. The Optera move away to try digging in another area as first Vrestin, then (after a lingering, sad moment looking at Nemini's body) follow.
In the temple, Barbara has brought the Doctor up to speed. He thinks her plan is good, but asks whether anyone actually knows what is at the center of the web. No one does; Prapillus tells him that even Menoptra legend tells only of the Animus after it had arrived from "outside." It appears to draw its power from Vortis' magnetic pole (where its center lies), which explains the moons that appeared in the sky on its arrival. The Doctor realizes this would also explain the force that dragged the TARDIS down to Vortis and is keeping it there! The Doctor suggests that Barbara lead the Menoptra in the mock-attack, while he and Vicki take the Isop-tope into the Carsenome. Hilio is not thrilled with entrusting the Isop-tope to a stranger, but there is no doubt that the Doctor and Vicki would be able to get back inside the Animus' "headquarters." Reluctantly, Hilio hands over the device. The two will return and then Barbara will start the attack. Prapillus calls the Doctor over and asks if the Menoptra might be able to use Zombo in their attack. The Doctor is dubious, as he would have to lend Prapillus his ring and he is loathe to do so. But, as precious as the ring is to him, Prapillus asks, how precious is the Isop-tope, given into the Doctor's charge, to the Menoptra? Barbara comes over to ask if anything is wrong and Prapillus uses the opportunity to seal the deal. The Doctor tells Prapillus to use it and return it--on his life.
Later, outside the Carsenome entrance, the Doctor gives the Isop-tope to Vicki to hold, judging that she would be less likely to be searched. The two enter and are immediately surrounded by the Zarbi!
Below, Ian, Vrestin and the Optera have come to the place beneath the Carsenome. When Vrestin asks what they should do, Ian replies, "We go up."
In the temple, Barbara and the Menoptra wait to begin their attack.
And, back in the Carsenome, the Doctor and Vicki are thrown to the floor, holding each other for support as a gun from the wall shoots at them! The two are stuck still, covered in a thick coating of web....
Well! That's what I call a cliffhanger! Now, as promised, a discussion post! A major note about this week: this one was transcribed by Spoo, as Ketina's hands were bothering her. As such, things are a bit more paraphrased than exact. All right, mostly paraphrased. All right, only a few things are verbatim. Trust me, a lot of comments are summarized; the discussion was a bit broader than it appears! But, here we go...
All: Well that was fun.
H: It felt a little slower.
Sc: A lot happened.
R: This was between all the fight scenes. Although that beginning bit felt very "sid and marty kroft".
H: Screwed the cliffhanger a little bit. They were surrounded, then they weren't and that felt a little weak.
Sc: Well they found this hidden door...
H: But they ran around a bit and then came to the door. Felt a little weak. They didn't know it was a door...
K: Barbara leaned up against it and it opened...
H: the Menoptra said it wouldn't open for the zarbi...
R: And the plot would have sucked if they'd all gotten eaten.
S: There was some profound speechifying in there. Genuinely stirring.
H: Hilio was the designated jerk for the episode apparently.
Sc: "I do not trust you... it will not work... talk to the hand."
K: I didn't understand why the Doctor didn't need Mr. Ant to get back in... I suppose the "cattle" wouldn't notice.
H: I liked Maureen O'Brien's mugging for the camera to indicate the necklace wasn't working. It was fun.
K: That was goofy.
R: Ok, THAT bit is the one you're complaining about as goofy...?
Sc: I thought the death of the caterpillar woman was actually very good.
K: That was sad. :( I actually didn't understand why she needed to die.
H: She died because she accidentally broke open a spout of acid, and she stuck her head in to plug the hole. The leader made it sound like the acid was a common risk.
[Miscellaneous discussion about the genders of the actors v. genders of the creatures.]
H: Hartnell's wig seemed off.
K: Pet name for the captured ant Zombo the Zarbi...
H: ...continues a trend for Vicki, she seems to make pets of horrifying creatures. Remember Sandy the ant-lion-like pet in "The Rescue" that wound up being an herbivore.
[Miscellaneous reminiscing about previous episode and threatening noises made by herbivores]
S: They made such a big deal about rebreathers needed on the planet, yet they seemed to be ok...
H: Well, the others got pills, maybe Barbara was slipped a pill between scenes.
R: Lots of magic stuff going on.
Sc: Oooh, look at my magic ring...
H: Well, they've hinted that the ring has a link to the TARDIS and is important before. And as an aside, it does continue to be important throughout the Hartnell years... in fact, [SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER]
[Miscellaneous chatter about magic rings in the pilot of Babylon 5, that were never mentioned again, thankfully]
Sc: ...so, if we go into space, I wonder if we encounter bee people...
S: The whole "use our brains not our wings" speech was very stirring.
Sc: "And Barbara has taught us how to work without wings", good connection.
H: All the individual Menoptra were pretty good - Hrostar, Prapillus with his "I know the Zarbi", etc.
[Misc. discussions of genders and ages of the Menoptra again]
K: The little gesture of affection to Vicki from the younger Menoptra [Hlynia] was rather touching too. So often with that many characters it's rare to see that much personality in minor characters / ensemble casts.
H: Not in DW...
R: But how many cave people do you remember...
H: But remember early on in previous episodes you get to know a couple of the minor characters and then they get SHOT DOWN. [I was talking about the first episode of "Reign of Terror." --H] DW actually does a good job thus far developing them.
[Misc cross-talk about how many Thals everyone can name]
H: And Vestrin and Ian seem to be really good friends as well.
R: Fan fic...?
K: Noo. A bit of a love triangle / love square going on there... complicating Barb and Ian's relationship to add a couple bug things in there. I mean, I'm convinced B&I did it in "The Romans". They were drunk... they were alone... they were in Rome.
H: No, they weren't...
K: They were OUTside ROme... they had off-camera nookie.
R: You're forgetting one thing: they were british.
S: And I did a general fist shake at where and how they left off. Bad timing!
H&K: Well, it IS a cliffhanger... and a pretty d**n good one too.
H: This is a good one. The quality of cliffhangers have gone back and forth on me, but this one was a pretty good one.
H: What'd you think of the Optera this week? You were snickering a bit at the vestigial limbs...
R: The entire costume is vestigial. The hopping stuff is really distracting.
H: I think the movement actually works.
S: Matt, what did you think of the hopping?
Sc: It doesn't "bug" me, I guess.
H: And we see another example of how the Zarbi costumes put them behind schedule, since we noticed the camera stop suddenly and they had to keep the shot anyway. Shows how much they did with how little they had, really - very difficult to do a lot of editing in a timely fashion.
H: Vortis sets were still good. Acting was generally excellent. Great story.
R: Story, yes... but again, reach vs. grasp on some of the movement and characterization... but I'm still watching.
H: See y'all next week.
So, what did you all think? Even though this week was a bit less...transcript and more paraphrase than usual, does it work, or should we go back to the old format? Let us know!
Until next week, I remain
NEXT WEEK: "THE CENTRE"