Friday, December 3, 2010

"Death of a Spy"

Hello everyone, the Historian here, along with Ketina, Ronelyn, Photobug and a welcome return to Cz, who hasn't been part of the Project since "The Dead Planet" back in 2008! Today, refreshed from our turkey-induced comas, we return across the wine dark sea to the fair plains of Illium.....or something. Let's get to the summary!

Episode summary: First aired 30 October 1965. Paris calls out for Diomede to come and Steven steps in. Vicki cannot help herself; she asks Steven why on earth he's there! Steven, too late, says, "Shh, Vicki!" But Priam has heard the "Greek" call "Cressida" by her real name, just as Cassandra, who had been lurking, bursts in, proclaiming this as proof that Vicki is a Greek spy. "Kill her!" she cries. "Kill both of them!" Vicki embraces Steven in fear as guards approach, swords drawn...

Paris commands the soldiers sheath their swords--he is in charge of the army, not Cassandra. He tells her to get back to her temple. Priam is both surprised and impressed at this sudden backbone from his son, but is still a bit contemptuous that Paris is so proud over one prisoner. Paris counters that this is Diomede, a very good catch. Steven pipes up, saying that only Paris could have caught him. At Paris' prompting, Steven continues to heap praise on his captor. Cassandra reminds everyone that regardless of all this, Vicki/Cressida and Steven/Diomede have clearly met before. Vicki tries to explain, but Priam cuts her off. Paris says Diomede is a Greek and Cassandra says Cressida is a Greek spy, Priam says. And a sorceress! adds Cassandra. Yes, quite, says Priam, reminding Vicki that she's claimed to know the future. He again cuts Vicki off, telling her that the war's been going on ten long years and the Trojans are tired. As a show of good faith, Vicki must either give the Trojans information that will win the war or use her "supernatural powers" to turn the tide of battle in their favor. Vicki, clearly terrified, asks what will happen if she doesn't and Cassandra tells her they will burn her as a sorceress, a false prophet and a spy! Well, Priam says, one of those at any rate. But he has every confidence "Cressida" will come through for them. He will give her one day to do so. Steven, knowing the Doctor's timetable, is immediately worried. Yes, Priam says, until tomorrow evening. He then suggests to Paris that the prisoners be taken away, which Paris agrees to. Priam reassures Vicki that the dungeons are most comfortable...

In Odysseus' tent, the Doctor shows his "host" what he is working on--the concept for a flying machine. He takes a piece of parchment and folds it into a paper airplane, suggesting they build larger ones, capable of carrying a man. You could build a fleet, sending men over the walls of Troy! But how to get them in the air, asks Odysseus. Catapults! the Doctor responds. He then has to explain what a simple catapult is to the Ithacan. The Doctor has rigged up a model using pins and string and demonstrates flying the paper airplane. Odysseus says he wouldn't cling to one of those things! In fact, he has a test subject in mind: the Doctor! The Doctor stops smiling...

In the dungeon, Vicki and Steven are in adjoining cells. Each berates the other for screwing things up. Steven tells Vicki that yesterda the Doctor had been given two days to figure out a way to capture Troy--and now Vicki has been given one day to save Troy! And he doesn't think Cassandra will give Vicki even that long. Vicki retorts that Paris wouldn't let Cassandra do anything, and neither would Troilus! She tells Steven that Troilus is Paris' younger brother...and that she kind of likes him. Does Steven know what the Doctor was planning? No, says Steven. "I suggested the wooden horse, he...he said that was something Homer made up." Suddenly, there's a rattle, as if someone had thrown a stone at the outside wall. Suddenly, a face appears in the outside window of Steven's cell--it is Cyclops! Steven tells him that he's found the Doctor's other friend and that they mustn't attack Troy. Cyclops grunts; he understands. He must tell the old man....but then there is the sound of someone coming. Cyclops retreats as Troilus enters Vicki's cell with a plate of food, sent down by Priam. He asks what "Diomede" was doing, and Steven replies he was just looking out at the lovely city. Troilus tells him he should sit down and be quiet and then turns and gives the food to Vicki. She asks him to sit down and talk, but he says he can't, he's on duty. Still, he sits down. Vicki begins to eat as Steven watches, hungrily.

In Odysseus' tent, the Doctor is pacing up and down, thinking. Odysseus tells him there are men assembled, ready to build the flying machines, but the Doctor tells him to dismiss them. Odysseus is angry and threatens to use his new catapult to launch the Doctor without a machine! The Doctor, realizing he has no choice but to bow to the ridiculous, quickly proposes a new, much better idea: a hollow, forty foot high horse! They fill the inside with soldiers, leave it on the plain, pretend to sail away...Odysseus picks up on the rest immediately. The Trojans bring it into the city! He smiles.

Back in the dungeon, Vicki and Troilus continue to talk. He tells her Cassandra says she's a witch. Do I look like a witch? asks Vicki with a smile. No, says Troilus, but he's never met one before. He and Vicki talk a little about the war; she is surprised he is a soldier as he is hardly older than she is! Troilus admits that he honestly does not like killing, but he does love adventure. I know what you mean, says Vicki...

In Agamemnon's tent, the Doctor is describing the idea he describes as "simple" and an effusive Odysseus calls "revolutionary!" It takes a little while for Menelaus to understand the basics of the Horse, but Agamemnon seems a little cannier. Odysseus explains that, while the rest of the Greeks appear to sail away, Achilles and his Myrmidons will be hidden on the plain while Odysseus and his Ithacans will be inside the Horse--along with the Doctor, of course. When the Doctor starts to splutter, Odysseus tells him, "I'm standing no more nonsense from you, Doctor." The explanation continues: the Trojans, who worship the Great Horse of Asia, will see the wooden Horse as a representation of their god and bring it into the city. What if they burn it? asks Agamemnon. A calculated risk, replies the Doctor, but they are unlikely to set fire to their own god. Then, when night falls, the soldiers creep out of the horse, open the gates and the city will be theirs!

Back in the dungeons, Vicki is finishing up her food. Troilus gets up to leave, but Vicki asks whether he is going to give food to Diomede as well? Why? Troilus answers. He's a Greek, he deserves to be hungry. Besides, he won't starve; the guards will throw some scraps to him later. Vicki is furious, which makes Troilus a little jealous. He asks whether Diomede is a friend. A good friend! responds Vicki. How can you be friends with a Greek? asks the Trojan youth. "Oh, look, Troilus, when you...come from the future you make friends with a lot of people, and he's one of them." But he's not a...special friend? Troilus asks. No, says Vicki. Oh good, says the youth, "that's what I was...I mean, that's what the others were worried about." Vicki, realizing what he really meant, gently suggests that they shouldn't worry and perhaps both she and Diomede should be let out. Troilus says he'll mention it, but he doesn't imagine anyone will take any notice of him, but he promises to do his best. He also tells her he will return if there is any news. They say goodbye, somewhat shyly, and Troilus leaves. After he is gone, Steven, grinning, tells Vicki she should be ashamed of herself. Defensively, she snaps that at least she's doing something to get them out...and besides, she thinks Troilus is rather nice. Still smiling, Steven says, "I think you might at least have had the decency to have saved me some food!" Vicki hands him some of her food which she'd saved and then tells him he'll be getting scraps later. As Steven eats, Vicki muses that she could be happy here in Troy, in time. Steven reminds her that time is one thing they haven't got. Although he tried to send the Doctor a message, he can't be sure what Cyclops will do--and Troilus interrupted before he could give the mute servant all the information. Hopefully, he got out of Troy safely...

Outside the city, Paris and a troop of Trojan soldiers find Cyclops, who is trying to return to the Greek camp. Although Paris tries to interrogate him, Cyclops can say nothing. Without orders, a Trojan soldier casts his spear, running the mute through. Paris berates the solider, and wonders who the little man was. Cyclops' body lies dead on the plain.

In the Greek camp, Odysseus and the Doctor stare up at the completed Horse as night begins to fall. Odysseus is supremely confident, but the Doctor is nervous about being in the middle of the whole thing. There's no safety margin in the construction! he says. Odysseus laughs; if the whole thing collapses, they shall have to make do. "Not another word, Doctor! To coin a phrase, you are coming for a ride!"

In the dungeon, a soldier brings Steven his plate of food scraps. Steven attempts to overpower the soldier, but two more are waiting outside. They return Steven to his cell.

It is now night. Inside the Horse, the Doctor sits nervously, while the Ithacans try to sleep. He calls Odysseus over to a spyhole and the Ithacan looks out, seeing Trojans approaching over the plain...

The Trojans approach the Horse, staring up at it in awe.

Next morning, Troilus bursts into Vicki's cell, waking her with wonderful news. The Greeks have left! The war is over and she is being released on Priam's orders! The king, you see, believes it was Vicki's magic that did this, although she tells Troilus she had nothing to do with it. Doesn't matter, replies the youth. Everyone is giving her credit--except Cassandra, who is furious. But, Vicki asks, what about Diomede? Troilus asks Steven if he thinks he can fight the entire Trojan army. No, replies Steven. "Well that's just as well," says Troilus. "You're the last of the Greeks now. Your friends have all sailed home without you." He then takes Vicki, who throws an apologetic look at Steven, up out of the dungeon.

In the Horse, Odysseus calls for silence as the Trojans begin to move the wooden statue. His triumph is near at hand.

In Priam's palace, the king welcomes Vicki/"Cressida" back, asking her why she didn't tell them the Greeks would leave. Cassandra nastily snaps that Vicki didn't say anything because she didn't know anything, but Priam tells her to be quiet. Paris enters, confirming the joyful news and adds more--he has found the Great Horse of Asia! They go out on the balcony. Paris points out onto the plain where they can see the Horse being pulled towards Troy. Priam is elated, but Cassandra calls it an omen of disaster. Vicki is surprised--the Trojan Horse! But she thought it was only a story...but her murmur is heard by Troilus, who asks her what she said...and by Cassandra, who rounds on her, demanding she tell them what the Horse brings--the death of Troy! Paris snaps that he will have no word spoken against his find, the Horse, and Troilus adds that he will have no word spoken against "Cressida!" Cassandra replies, "Then woe to the House of Priam. Woe to the Trojans!" To which Paris answers, "I'm afraid you're a bit late to say 'whoa' to the horse! I've just given instructions to have it brought into the city."

Outside the city, Trojans pull ropes attached to the Horse, bringing it ever closer to the Trojan walls....

Before we get to the discussion transcript, here's a link to the episode script. As always, I encourage you to read it, so you can get the jokes!

Ketina's Transcript/Paraphrase

H: Historian
K: Ketina
R: Ronelyn
P: Photobug
C: Cz

K: That was an odd ending. Big horse instead of a cliffhanger.
H: The original title of this episode, before it had to be changed, was "Is There a Doctor in the Horse?"
P: Or "Are you happy to seize me"
H: The head of drama of BBC said that they couldn't have joke titles. This one was actually "Death of a Spy", I assume due to what happened to Cyclops.
C: Aww, jeeze.
R: That character lacked depth.
H: Perception?...
P: Okay, if I see this guy, don't stare..eo at him.
R: If Cassandra eats all the scenery in this episode, there won't be any left for the next one!
H: Welcome back, Cz. We haven't seen you in almost two years.
C: Yaaaay!!!
H: Let's talk about the episode (more than the puns, although the episode itself did have a few).
R: I really liked the play between Odysseus and the Doctor. He was like "I know you're a shyster, and I can work with that." I really liked that they had to go all the way back to Odysseus for someone to realize that the Doctor is full of it.
P: The whole scene at the start when Vicki supposedly says Steven's name, we don't actually hear her say the name.
H: It is there, but the quality of the audio makes it really hard to hear.
P: From my perspective, I didn't catch that, and that disturbed me. But then, people have been saying I've been disturbed for years.
K: I thought the Historian said something about us having enough of puns. :P
H: What did you think of the Doctor's flying machine?
P: Yeah, that was a little odd.
R: I think he was trying to come up with something that wouldn't work, but that would seem plausible to Odysseus.
H: Buying some time to get away.
R: And again, Odysseus called him on it.
H: But Odysseus made the catapult. And then later the house. How did they make a horse in one day anyway?
R: They had an army of Amish.
P: They made furniture.
H: No, those are the Shakers.
K: The movers and the Shakers.
P: Now who's punning.
K: :P
P: How is it you're giving us pun-ishment.
H: So, Cz, what did you think?
C: How did they find the pictures for the Reconstruction?
H: They had some pictures taken during the filming, and others in this story are composite shots. They had parts of the picture and photoshopped different pictures together. But they have audio tapes for all of them.
P: But many of the audio tapes didn't survive very well, and that's why the quality isn't always so good.
H: So what did you think?
C: It was weird. It would have been nice if they added more subtitles of the action.
R: Especially the scenes with Paris and Priam, when they were shoot dialogue back and forth so quickly at each other. It was like watching a David Mamet play where everbody's mouths were covered so that you couldn't tell who was talking.
K: But they changed the faces back and forth to who was talking.
H: Yeah, I noticed that they changed the pictures back and forth...
R: But so fast that it was still to difficult to tell who was talking.
*wait, who's talking now?*
K: It was like an Adult Swim cartoon. A bad one.
H: This was much better than most Adult Swim cartoons.
K: Just the animation level was like that.
R: Mumble mumble PRIAM, mumble mumble PARIS, mumble mumble mumble.
P: Robble robble robble.
H: So, getting away from the reconstruction and back to the story. There was the big romance between Vicki / Cressida and Troilus. There's the implication that she's telling Steven that she's talking Priam up to get freed, but later she confesses that she like-likes Troilus.
P: So she could end up being her own great-great-great-great-something-grandmother.
H: A lot more greats than that, I think, given that she's from our future as well. So, that's an interesting development.
K: I think we're about to see the end of Vicki. I'm reminded of Susan all over again.
R: There hints of that. But, I should point out, if I recall correctly, that Cressida and Troilus did not turn out so well.
K: They didn't? What happened in the myth.
H: It's a medieval legend. Just wiki it if you're interested.
C: Where's Helen?
R: They probably couldn't find anyone enough hot enough to play the role.
H: But that is a good point. But then Troilus was talked about all through the second episode but didn't show up until this one. This is back when people were contracted by the episode instead of by the story. So if they didn't need to use them, they tended not to.
K: Still, I think they couldn't find a hot enough actress to play the role.
P: But is it important to the story?
H: Not so far. After all, even Menelaus doesn't want her back. And speaking of Menelaus, he continues to be a great character. I loved his few lines "oh, going home, I'm all part of this plan! Oh, come back? I knew there was a catch. I need a drink!" Alas, Agamemnon didn't have very much at all in this episode.
K: It's all about Odysseus. And where the hell did Achilles go?
H: Again, they didn't have to hire him for that week.
R: He was off being gay.
H: For those who might not have checked out our comments from last week, Ronelyn had an issue with pronouciation with Diomedes. One of our readers (thanks again, Gavin!) has pointed out that in the UK that was an accepted academic pronuciation of the name.
R: I'm grateful to have astute readers to correct us.
P: I'm grateful to have readers. :)
H: I would say that this week didn't have the laugh a minute feel. But it was snappy.
R: You can't always pack every scene. But this one had plenty of slow burners.
H: This one had a lot of plot.
R: But there was a lot of "Faaathar, don't embawrus me in front of the pwisoners."
H: Yes, Paris was awesome.
C: Was the Doctor always this cowardly?
H: Sometimes, but not always. And not nearly as cowardly as Patrick Troughton is reported to be.
R: He was a lot braver when Susan was around.
H: Or even when Vicki is there. There's a great argument (to counter the new series' view of the Doctor/female companion dynamic) that every female companion is a granddaughter surrogate. Certainly this is true with many of the female companions for the first three Doctors. So, anyway, I think it was a good story. Any other comments?
P: The pacing of the story was a little slower. It was interesting to see them unweave the story of the Trojan Horse, and then weave it back in. That was really unique and a cool thing about Doctor Who. I have faith it will clean up nicely in the last episode.
K: I actually like the way that in the previous episode the TARDIS was a Trojan-Trojan Horse.
H: Cz, do you have anything else to add?
C: Not really. Still catching up on this reconstruction idea. I prefer the newer stuff I think. I wasn't a child when those were made.
H: NONE of us were even alive when these were made. This story was aired in 1965.
R: Can't help feeling bad for poor Cassandra. Although with the way she acts, she does make it a little difficult to like her.
H: Ketina?
K: Well, like I mentioned, I wonder if next week will be Vicki's swan-song. Romance appears to be a driving force of companions leaving.
H: We don't know that YET!
K: Anyway. Yeah, I liked it. I admit, I'm not "getting" as much of the humor because I'm too distracted but the inadvertent humor of the reconstruction quality.
R: Cyclops's mime-y death was really funny.
H: I think this was probably the weakest episode so far of a very strong story. Hopefully they'll pull it up last week.
P: Yeah, this one was discouraging to me.
K: Could it also be because we took a week off?
P: Possibly.
H: And, unfortunately, we're taking two weeks off for the end of the year holidays very soon.
R: Tune in, for our next episode, for "Troy, Troy Again, or Seige You Next Week!"
*groans from us all!*


And that's it for this week! I'll only add a reminder that we saw this episode courtesy of the fine work of the folks at Loose Cannon Productions, and I encourage everyone to check their recons out. Good stuff! Until next week, I remain



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