The Master (Roger Delgado) returns to menace the Doctor (Pertwee), Jo (Katy Manning) and the Brigadier (Nicholas Courtney) with a machine, inhabited by an alien parasite that feeds on the evil impulses of the mind.
This six part story was written by Don Houghton and aired from 30 January to 6 March, 1971.
The Master posing as a professor arrives at Stangmoor prison with the Keller machine, something he’s created and has housed the parasite in. He plans to test it out, causing riots and the prisoners taking over, the first move in his plan.
He wants to use the prisoners to move against UNIT, on security for a peace conference and also transporting a powerful missile armed with nerve gas; a weapon he plans to launch and wreak havoc with.
Using mass hypnosis the Master manipulates a number of parties and once again the bodies begin to pile up. Once the Doctor realizes the Master is behind everything the battle of wits commences anew, with world peace and countless lives hanging in the balance.
The machine, under the control of the alien proves to be a threat to everyone, even the Master.
The prisoners and the machine begin to chafe against the Master, who remains singularly focussed on launching the weapon, though he tries to keep them all under control.
With a bit of Venusian karate, charm, smarts and humour the Doctor seems to be doing ok until the machine attacks him in a sequence and even the Master is stunned by the machine’s power over his nemesis. When the two work together to try to control the creature with Jo’s life hanging in the balance the two of them are actually a lot of fun to watch together. There’s a respect and play there that comes across in beats and dialogue.
The Brigadier gets to lead an assault on the prison, and it’s pretty epic in its orchestration.
I quite liked a lot of this episode, but can’t help but laugh at some of the facial expressions Pertwee gets when he’s conveying pain, like when the Mind attacks him. It is cool that when he is attacked though, we get glimpses of fire, and hear the Daleks and see the Cybermen, all of those things help build the character, so it’s not just something he’s carrying around in later regenerations, he has this guilt and fear long before the last Time War starts.
While I may not be a fan of the fact that our hero is stuck on Earth for the foreseeable future, I am really enjoying this incarnation of the Time Lord. So I will continue my journeying with him, and see what new adventures await… The Claw of Axos threatens our heroes next week!
Stay tuned for that!!