The Trial of a Time Lord continues with Mindwarp. This four-parter was penned by Philip Martin and ran from 4 to 25 October, 1986. As the Doctor’s (Baker) trial continues, as well as his clash with the prosecutor, the Valeyard (Michael Jayston) who presents his evidence.
The story, and the case unfold, as the Doctor and Peri (Nicola Bryant) find themselves confronting the villainous Sil (Nabil Shaban) who is on Thoros Beta alongside a scientist, Crozier (Patrick Ryecart), who crafts terrible experiments, and is working to prolong the life of Sil’s boss, Kiv (Christopher Ryan).
The Doctor doesn’t remember everything as the trial continues, but soon recalls all of the terrible things that occurred, even the realisation of why Peri isn’t with him.
Among those being experimented on, before Peri is caught and trapped by Sil and Crozier is the wonderfully bombastic Brian Blessed, who may be of great use before the story comes to its close.
Something seems to be wrong with the Doctor, as he sides with Sil after being subjected to one of Crozier’s devices, going so far as to ignore Peri’s pleas, going so far as to torture and interrogate her and may leave her to a terrible fate.
The Doctor refuses to believe what he is being shown, but he is reminded that the Time Lord repository, The Matrix cannot lie… how much do you want to bet that it can and does before the end of the arc?
The Doctor as he watches the recall from the Matrix is troubled by his behaviour, as he seems to willingly work with Crozier and Sil, and leave Peri in dire straits. While he admits to the court that some of these things happened, he feels, somehow, that the emphasis is wrong.
As things play out, a terrible thing happens to Peri, causing this to be her last tale, and honestly, I wish they had left it like this, it’s brutal, wrong, and shows that the Doctor can be too late… We learn later that she survived, but it works better as a shock if she doesn’t.
And while some of Peri’s fate is laid at the hands of the Doctor, the Council is just as guilty, having pulled the Doctor out of time to begin his trial just as he was about to rescue Peri. That is dark!
I do like that the stories can be a little darker, something that didn’t happen very often with earlier versions of the Doctor, but does seem to happen a little more often now.
And as a bit of a cool moment, while the Doctor is inspecting Crozier’s lab, I’d swear he comes across the chestburster xenomorph from Alien in a container.
The trial continues next week with a new Companion, and the Doctor digs closer to the truth, and a verdict in Terror of the Vervoids.