Doctor Who (Tom Baker) – Warriors Gate

 

This four part story that was written by Steve Gallagher and ran from 3 January to 24 January, 1981 saw, by stories end the departure of Romana (Lalla Ward) as well as K9 from the TARDIS, as the E-Space Trilogy comes to an end.

Biroc (David Weston) gets aboard the TARDIS, and steers it into a void that is filled with the ruins of an old building and a starship, it also contains the only way out of E-Space. The Void is on the verge of a collapse, however, so will the Doctor (Baker), Adric (Matthew Waterhouse), Romana and K9 escape back to normal space or will sacrifices and revelations shake up the universe again?

Biroc is a member of a slave race that the crew of the damaged spaceship make use of, as they try and escape E-Space. The crew use the Tharils, of which Biroc is a member, to navigate the timelines, but the crew have been stuck there for months and months, and there are some nice comedic moments from members of the crew when they react to lift-offs and landings, as well as their interactions with one another.

The building the Doctor discovers in the void is more troubling filled with cobwebs, and suits of armors filled with skeletons, it’s downright spooky, especially when one of the skeletons starts stalking the Time Lord, but it gets a little goofy pretty quick. They do reveal information about the Gateway out of E-Space, and reveal that they were created as a slave race as well, and worked for the Masters (not The Master- who is due for a return…)

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There are hints right from the off that this is Romana’s last story, as she asks Adric what would happen if she and the Doctor parted ways, and K9 isn’t feeling himself, either.

Still, the Doctor sorts everything out before the story’s end, including who the Tharils really are, and how to traverse the Gateway and return to N-Space (normal space), but Romana elects to stay in E-space instead of returning to Gallifrey and the Doctor gives her K9 to keep her company.

I will say that the story does some pretty fun stuff with video effects, and early computer images, it feels like a very experimental story in a lot of ways, though the model work continues to be a little iffy, lacking the ability to convey size and movement.

As I watched the episode, I was struck by something a future regeneration would say, and to paraphrase, as I look at Baker in this story, all I can think is, don’t you think he looks tired? I’m rather glad his run is coming to an end, as iconic as he is to the show, I think it’s time for him to move on, and it’s happening soon…

Next time the Doctor encounters The Keeper of Traken!

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