Friday, August 27, 2010

"A Battle of Wits"

Hello everyone, the Historian here, along with Ketina, Ronelyn, Schmallturm, Spoo, MiniSpoo and MisterMother. Before we begin, I want to insert another plug for our Reader Survey. Thus far, we have received responses. Please take a minute and leave use a comment or drop us a line letting us know what you think. We'd really appreciate it. Now, without further ado, let's get to the summary!

Episode summary: First aired 17 July 1965. Steven finishes picking the lock and he and Vicki enter the cell. But the Doctor, apparently lying on a bed and covered with his cloak, does not answer Vicki's call. She pulls the cloak back to reveal only a piled up bunch of furs! The Doctor has gone...

Elsewhere in the monastery, the Monk helps Wulnoth get the wounded Eldred to a straw-covered stone shelf. They lay the wounded man on it and the Monk goes to get supplies to tend him--or so the Monk tells Wulnoth.

Back in the cell, Vicki and Steven are dumbfounded. It is definitely the Doctor's cloak that they found on the pallet and the door to the cell was definitely locked...It is Vicki who comes up with the answer: a secret passage! Steven, though highly dubious, agrees that nothing else makes sense and the two begin to search. After a while, Vicki discovers a loose stone and the two open a small door. They enter, closing the door behind them.

Meanwhile, the Monk approaches the cell, hoping to again gloat to the Doctor. He is surprised when the door drifts open at his touch. After a moment, he jumps in, fully expecting the Doctor to be hidden behind the door, but discovers no one. He looks under the bed, then pulls all the furs off it in a rage! Completely baffled, he leaves the cell and checks the lock. But before he can examine it with any care, he hears Wulnoth's voice calling to him. He puts his "monkly demeanour" back on and goes back to tend the wounded man.

Steven and Vicki are crawling through the long secret passage, overgrown with weeds, with some difficulty. Steven wonders if they might find the Doctor at the other end, waiting, but Vicki knows it could never be that easy!

And, indeed, the Doctor is not waiting at the end of the passage; he has returned to the village and is speaking with Edith. She has told him that his friends had gone to the monastery. Mentioning that the Doctor has been her only visitor that night, Edith tells the Doctor that the village men have gone after the Vikings. The Doctor is somewhat surprised and ask whether anyone has seen the Viking fleet. A fleet? No, Edith says, just a small raiding party. But the Doctor's words have her worried. He tells her he has learned many things in his travels and the plans for a Viking invasion were among them. Edith is surprised, but thinks this must be the reason King Harold has been assembling an army in the south. But she thought the danger was from Duke William...! Meanwhile, the Doctor muses to himself that the Monk being here, at this time, cannot be a coincidence. Turning back to Edith, he assures her that the Viking fleet will land south of them, on the Humber, and the king will defeat them. And, he muses to himself, shortly afterwards, Harold himself will fall to William...the Doctor wanders off towards the monastery, leaving a very puzzled Edith behind him.

Steven and Vicki finally emerge from the tunnel to discover no Doctor waiting for them. They sit to rest. Steven finally admits that, yes, the Doctor's ship must be a time machine, but how to explain the watch, the gramophone, the doesn't add up. It must be something to do with that Monk! He says they should return to the monastery. Vicki, to whom all of this has obviously already occurred, says they should find the Doctor first, as he would want to investigate all of this too! Reluctantly, Steven agrees.

Back at the monastery, the Monk rifles through a first aid kit, out of Wulnoth's sight. He returns with a capsule of penicillin, which he gets Eldred to take. On a pretext, he gets Wulnoth to leave briefly and then attempts to get Eldred to tell him more about the Vikings. The information he gets tells him the Viking fleet should be there in two or three days. The Monk is thrilled--he is on schedule! Wulnoth returns and tells the Monk Eldred will have to remain as he is very weak. The Monk slips up momentarily and mentions blood transfusions, but a baffled Wulnoth doesn't understand. He tries to talk Wulnoth into taking Eldred home, but the Saxon insists he stay. Unhappily, the Monk agrees, mainly to get rid of Wulnoth.

In the forest, the two surviving Vikings, Ulf and Sven, flee the site of the battle. They disagree about their next course of action. Sven wants to go south and attempt to complete their mission, meeting the fleet at the Humber, but Ulf believes this is suicide and wants to hole up until after the invasion. Eventually, he convinces Sven to follow his plan: go to the monastery, take the monks hostage and wait there, quietly, until everything is quiet again.

Inside the monastery, the Monk looks at a chart hanging on the wall. It is labeled "Progress Chart" and contains the following items: 1. Arrive in Northumbria, 2. Position Atomic Cannon, 3. Sight Vikings, 4. Light Beacon Fires, 5. Destroy Viking Fleet, 6. Norman Landing, 7. Battle of Hastings and 8. Meet King Harold. Items 1 and 2 have check marks next to them and the Monk now draws a check next to number 3. He pulls a cord and the roller chart snaps closed. He removes it from the wall and places it next to a large map sitting on top of the stone sarcophagus in the middle of the room. He then begins to check positions on the map using a compass, making notes in a notebook using a biro. Suddenly, there is a bang at the front door. Angrily, the Monk gathers all his papers together, appears to place them inside or underneath the sarcophagus and then makes his way to the door. He unlocks and opens it...and no one is there! He closes and rebolts the door...and there is an immediate knock. The Monk again opens the door and walks out into the courtyard cautiously...and feels something sticking into his back. It is the Doctor, brandishing a stick--though he tells the Monk it is a Winchester rifle! The two reenter the monastery. The Doctor has some questions for his former captor...

As a new day dawns, Steven and Vicki have returned to the clifftop, hoping to find the Doctor. Looking down, Vicki realizes the tide has come in and the TARDIS is (apparently) gone! Hoping to make her feel better, Steven suggests that the Doctor would have moved the ship off the beach if it was in any danger, but Vicki replies that if the Doctor had taken the ship off, he wouldn't have been able to get back. But he couldn't have just left them! Trying to calm her down, Steven suggests they return to the monastery and do what investigating they can. As he moves off, though, he sees something hidden in a bush...what looks like a cannon, trained out to sea! He calls Vicki over and they both agree that there's no way something like this should be around in Saxon times. It must be the Monk! The two go off towards the monastery with renewed dedication.

Back at the monastery, the Monk has tried to fool the Doctor by leading him in circles, but the Doctor gets wise to this. The Monk turns suddenly and discovers he is being menaced with a stick--but one that could do him a good amount of damage, the Doctor hastily asserts. He begins to get down to questioning the Monk...when there is a knock at the door! The Doctor says to ignore it, but the Monk insists answering it is absolutely essential lest the villagers get suspicious. After some dickering, the Monk agrees to supply the Doctor with a habit and that the Doctor should be the one to answer the door. A short time later, the two (with the Doctor now dressed in a monk's habit) make their way to the door. The Doctor, still threatening the Monk with his stick, makes to open the door...and comes face to face with Sven! The Viking holds his sword to the Doctor's throat as Ulf and he enter and lock the door behind them. They take the Doctor's stick and bring him back to the cell. There being no lock, Ulf tells Sven to guard the door. Ulf then enters the main hall, looking for other monks...but he fails to see the Monk behind him. The Monk has a board in his hand and breaks it over the Viking's head, knocking him out! He then gets out some rope and begins to tie Ulf up...

Outside the monastery, Steven and Vicki find the end of the tunnel they'd crawled through the night before. The two start to make their way through it, going back to the monastery...

Outside the cell, Sven has fallen asleep. He wakes suddenly and opens the hatch to check the prisoner. Not seeing anyone, he enters the room. The door to the secret passage is open and Sven makes his way towards it...only to be felled by the Doctor, who has been hiding behind the cell door! Laughing, the Doctor leaves the cell.

The Monk has gone to Wulnoth's house. He awakens the couple and asks Wulnoth for the villagers' help. The Monk tells them he needs beacon fires lit along the cliffs in a day or two as he has some "building materials" for refurbishing the monastery coming by sea. Wulnoth slowly agrees and the Monk leaves. After he is gone, Wulnoth turns to his wife. Didn't the stranger say something about a Viking invasion? And now the Monk asks for fires to be lit on the cliff tops...?

Steven and Vicki emerge through the secret passage into the cell, only to find the unconscious Sven. Vicki wonders whether he is a Viking, but Steven says it doesn't matter. Steven takes Sven's sword and they make their way into the monastery.

The Monk returns and sees the still bound and gagged Ulf. Now, he says, all he has to do is take care of the two Vikings and the Doctor, make sure the fires are lit and then...and then what? asks the Doctor, appearing brandishing Ulf's sword. It's time to get some answers!

Steven and Vicki enter the main hall of the monastery. They approach the stone sarcophagus and Vicki sees a large cable coming out of it. The two kneel down to investigate and discover small doors that the cable seems to be coming out of. They push the doors open and crawl into.....what appears to be a TARDIS control room! "It's a TARDIS!" says Vicki. "The Monk's got a TARDIS...!"


Ketina's Transcript/Paraphrase time!

H: Historian
K: Ketina
R: Ronelyn
Sc: Schmallturm
S: Spoo
MS: MiniSpoo
MM: MisterMother

M: Apparently the British Isles would have been safe from the Vickings if only they had thin pieces of wood.
Sc: Vikings... here we go, balsa wood!
M: Known weakness of Vikings...
H: What do you think of your theory from last week, Schmallturm?
Sc: The Norwegian Patriot theory? No, it's an English Patriot. By nuking the Viking invasion fleet with his atomic cannon, it means Harold will be ready for William the Conquerer.
H: Well, there was the checklist.
Sc: Yes, the checklist does give away most of the plot.
R: You have to love a plan that has "Aim the atomic cannon at the Vikings!"
H: "This is some kind of gun. They didn't have guns in Viking times, did they?"
R: They were from the far future.
S: Barrel chested Wolnoff!
H: He's burly!
S: The monk interrupted them mid-rogering or something.
K: Would they really be mid-rogering after what happened to her last week?
S: It was comfort rogering?
Sc: It was the Middle Ages...
H: Anyway...
S: I think we got to Coot Factor 7, between the not-quite Billy Fluffs and very natural dialog from the beginning. And then later on, he really does rock the habit.
H: Yes, he looks really rocking.
MS: *aims to gun at his dad*
S: He's aiming an atomic cannon at me. Not nearly as threatening as would be a strip of balsa wood.
H: If this teaches us nothing else, it teaches us that Vikings are dumb.
S: And the Viking dialog got a little "proto Klingon" halting and grunting.
Sc: Yes, lots of staring.
S: And threatening cowardice. "You have no grumba!" mutterings.
Sc: I liked the echo effect in the cell at the beginning. I thought that was kind of cool.
H: I don't think that was a replay of the scene from the end of last week. I think that was a new shot.
Sc: They had way too much fun with that secret passage.
K: Can't imagine the Doctor crawling down that passageway.
H: I don't know, he's a tough old bird.
Sc: He's a deranged old coot.
H: But he takes mastery of the situation well. Twice, he tricks the Monk. I love the way the Monk walks up to Wulnoth's hut and tries to knock on the skin door.
S: It's been a nice streak of intentional humor.
R: They did a nice job of the monk tearing the bed apart.
S: Why would he bother to bring an atomic cannon, poster, phonograph, but do all his charting on paper?
R: Because he came from the future of the 1960's and they had no electronics yet.
M: Has he no IPad?
H: My guess, which could work for everything, is that it's easy to hide the stuff and he only has a small amount of electricity. And if he gets caught, he has relatively primitive equipment like scrolls and compasses.
S: Yes, he needs the might of a TARDIS to control a... toaster?
R: There may be something else it's powering?
S: Like the atomic canon?
M: He may have had the maps because they're period maps, and the geography of any future maps he could get would be off.
Sc: Good point. He'd have to make his own maps, otherwise. Is this the first time we've seen a TARDIS transform into a local object?
S: First time we've seen a TARDIS with a working chameleon circuit.
H: Although they don't actually call it that until 1980. So, what did everyone think of the revelation of another TARDIS? Was it a surprise?
Sc: Yes.
M: So, is he suppose to be another Time Lord or something?
H: Maybe we'll see next week. He said, coyly.
Sc: Like the Dalek time machine is also bigger on the inside.
S: Or they blew the budget on the rest of the set, and decided to just reuse the TARDIS set.
Sc: Vicki did say specifically that it's another TARDIS.
H: Speaking of Steven and Vicki, once again we see clearly defined characters, and a nice job establishing their relationship. Although once again Steven is patronizing.
M: I can't believe he said "who's a clever girl." He's treating her like a parrot!
H: At the same time they'd be saying something like that on the Avengers. The interaction of the characters is give and take. It's meant to be humorous. And Vicki is the one who thinks of the secret passage, after all.
M: And we're watching it in 2010, so it's also our perspective.
S: Vicki's fear of heights seemed to go away... especially since it was so important only one story ago.
H: And in the first episode of this story, too. Anyway, I like the character interaction, and I really like the character of Steven.
S: This whole story, and the last couple as well, seem to have a better pace. They pack a lot in, there aren't as many dragging corridor bits.
H: Only two stories ago was the Space Museum, remember, so I'm not sure about "the last few stories" part. I think this season had a strong opening, then a serious dip, and now a strong ending. Anyway, I'll talk about that more in the season wrap-up post. So Vikings...
*group devolves into Monty Python Spam jokes...*
H: So, any other thoughts?
R: My only funny line was "oh, no, it seems the Doctor has escaped from this episode too" at the very start, since he wasn't in the cell. But he did show up later.
K: So, Edith recovered very quickly. I was surprise to see her all chatty when the Doctor shows up, given what she just went through. Last time we saw her, she was freaking out.
M: Catatonic.
S: You know how it is in the 10th century...
H: 11th century!
M: It was the Doctor's aura of courage, making her feel better.
H: It serves the needs of the story. But, also things like that weren't uncommon, especially when Viking were involved.
K: I would think she would have been killed.
H: But that wouldn't have fit the story. I was willing to suspend disbelief, and it helped that the character was a relatively strong one. Which is nice to see. An ancillary female being portrayed as relatively strong.
K: Did you like it MiniSpoo?
MS: YEAH! I totally liked it.
H: Anything in particular? I know you rocked out to the theme music.
MS: Yes. The answers to all of your questions are "everything". I liked everything! Still awesome!
K: We'll see if he still feels that way when we get to the reconstructions.
H: Thanks everybody.


The Historian here again, reminding you once again about our survey. Please, if you have a few minutes, leave us a comment, ok?

Next week is the last episode of this story...and the last episode of season two! The TARDIS Project will be a third done! Until then, I remain



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