Timestamp #145: Mindwarp

Doctor Who: Mindwarp
The Trial of a Time Lord, Parts V-VIII

(4 episodes, s23e05-e08, 1986)

 

“May I remind you this is a court of law, not a debating society for maladjusted psychotic sociopaths.”

The trial continues as the Valeyard and the Doctor continue bashing heads. The Inquisitor scores the best burn and puts the squabbling children in their places before directing the proceedings to continue. The brown-nosing by the Valeyard – he addresses the Inquisitor as Sagacity, which is the state of being sagacious, or rather showing acute mental discernment and soundness of judgment – doesn’t hurt his case any, but it sure puts the Doctor on edge.

Today’s episode of Time Lord Theater is the adventure in which he was engaged just before being summoned to court. The setting is Thoros Beta, a pretty planet with pink oceans and pastel skies. As the TARDIS touches down just offshore, the Peri and the Doctor wade to the beach and start searching for the source of a weapon owned by the lecherous Warlord of Thordon, a man whom they just visited.

The travelers find a cave and explore it, finding a kelp monster that attacks Peri. In the struggle, the Doctor accidentally kills the beast, but the Valeyard makes the case that the Doctor’s actions were deliberate. A group of men arrives and, after accusing the Doctor of murdering the Raak, the leader asks if the travelers are part of Crozier’s group. The Doctor tries to play along, even though he faces inquiry for the Raak incident, and is invited back to the laboratory.

Crozier is a scientist who is conducting some kind of mental conditioning experiments. When the guards begin to question the Doctor, he and Peri apply the “skedaddle” test to the Raak’s corpse and flee. During their run, they find a chained man who has been altered to act and look like a wolf. They are nice to him and he relents, but they are forced to run further by the guards. They hide, and from the shadows, they observe Sil and two others of his species being carried by.

In the courtroom, the Valeyard asks if the Doctor relishes danger. When the Doctor deflects, the Valeyard points out that the Doctor courts it easily and places his companions into peril more often than not.

 

Returning to the episode already in progress…

The man in Crozier’s chair is King Yrcanos, a warrior who is resisting the attempting the tranquility conditioning. The Doctor and Peri sneak into the laboratory after Crozier and the guards leave to report the Raak’s death to Sil and company. We find out that Crozier’s experiments are designed to help Kiv, one of Sil’s species, overcome paralyzing headaches due to a rapidly expanding mutant brain. As the Doctor sabotages the lab equipment, Sil, Crozier, and the guards enter the room and confront the Time Lord. The Doctor is strapped into the machine, and Sil orders it to be used as a mind probe to extract the truth about the Raak’s death.

This is a lot of effort over this accident, but if it’s that critical to the experiment, I can see why.

King Yrcanos awakens in true Brian Blessed fashion, destroys the laboratory, and frees the travelers. Yrcanos outlines a plan to attack Sil and his followers, and a stunned Doctor agrees enthusiastically before collapsing. In the courtroom, the Doctor admits that he cannot remember anything after Crozier’s machine jolted his brain. The Valeyard doesn’t believe him but warns him that a nasty surprise is coming.

I don’t like this dark foreshadowing. I have a bad feeling about this.

 

Returning to the episode already in progress…

The king and his new companions go to where the new slaves are brought into the compound. Yrcanos tries to sneak attack the guards, but the scramble-brained Doctor fumbles his stealth roll and yells out, spoiling the surprise. Yrcanos flees, cursing the Doctor’s name, and Peri soon follows when the Doctor refuses to help her. Left with Sil and the guards, the Doctor sides with the reptilian rogue and claims that the odds were not on their sides for the attack.

In the courtroom, the Doctor protests, but the Valeyard retorts that the Matrix cannot lie.

 

Returning to the episode already in progress…

In the lab, the Doctor confirms that the Raak attacked first, setting Crozier on a path to fix the experiment. The Doctor lends a hand, and although Sil is skeptical, he is eager to save his people (who we find out are called the Mentors).

Elsewhere, Peri finds the heart of the operation before being discovered by the leader of the guards.  She runs and finds Matrona, leader of the servants, and she joins up rather than returning to captivity. As King Yrconas finds the wolf-man and frees him after recognizing him as one of his subjects, the servants are sent to Kiv’s chambers. As soon as Peri enters, the Doctor uncovers her ruse and denounces her as an enemy.

In the courtroom, the Doctor confirms that this was a ploy to gain the Mentors’ trust and allow the travelers to escape. The Inquisitor demands to see the interrogation tapes to corroborate his story.

 

Returning to the episode already in progress…

Peri is chained to the rocks by the sea. The Doctor tortures Peri and tells her that Crozier is planning to put Kiv’s brain in the Time Lord’s body. The whole thing, between the betrayal and the torture, is really uncomfortable. Crozier calls off the interrogation and orders them back inside. When they return, Yrcanos attacks the Doctor. Despite her reservations, Peri saves her friend, an act that angers the king.

In the courtroom, the Inquisitor offers (once again) a public defender for the Doctor’s case, but he refuses, reasoning that if the Time Lords want him dead, he cannot trust any of them to save him.

 

Returning to the episode already in progress…

The Doctor flees the scene and arrives at the lab. Crozier is trying to transplant Kiv into a new body that he found washed ashore, and the Doctor jumps in to assist. Meanwhile, Peri follows Yrconas to find pockets of resistance in Kiv’s organization. The three of them, Yrconas, Peri, and Dorf the wolfman take a rest, eat some flay fish, and plot while overcoming a spate of jealousy. They move on and are soon captured, but their captors are rebels against the Mentors. An army is raised and they go on the hunt, but they are eventually apprehended. When they try to escape, they are all shot down.

Luckily, they were only stunned, but for a moment in the courtroom, the Doctor truly thought that Peri was dead and that he was responsible.

Back in the lab, after a rather harrowing medical drama, Kiv is successfully transplanted, but there are complications. The brain is not quite compatible with the body of a fisherman, and the body is winning by taking over the memories. In order to save Kiv, they need to move his brain one more time. Crozier suggests Peri as a suitable candidate, but the Doctor shows his apprehension so Crozier sends him to the induction center to find a suitable candidate.

In their new cell, Peri expresses a desire to go back to her own time and be with people she loves. King Yrconas asks her about love, and Peri teaches him in her own magical way. Soon after, she is taken to the lab and sized up for the transplant.

The Doctor tricks the head guard and frees Yrconas and Dorf. The group follows the Doctor’s plan, taking over the induction center and setting their sights on the control center to free all of the slaves in the compound. A heartbreaking stray shot kills Dorf but the team takes the control room and destroys it.

As the Doctor rushes to save Peri, the Time Lords remove him from time and take him to the court, effectively catching us up on his timeline. Their reasoning is that he had unleashed chaos and set irreversible events into motion with Peri that would threaten the future of human evolution. They then show him what happened after he left Thoros Beta.

Kiv is transplanted into Peri’s body, effectively erasing her brain in the process. Yrcanos attacks the lab, but the Time Lords place him in a time bubble to await the perfect time to strike, basically turning him into an unwitting assassin. The Doctor chides the Inquisitor for this act of second-rate gods.

Kiv awakens in Peri’s body as the time bubble dissipates, and Yrcanos storms into the lab. He sees what has happened to the woman he has grown to love and he kills everyone in the room.

He killed everyone.

The Doctor is incensed – as am I at this point – but the Inquisitor and the Valeyard tell him that is was necessary to stop the pending disaster. The Doctor doesn’t believe them, and he vows to find out exactly why he is in this place outside of time.

 

Upsides: Brian Blessed was amazingly over the top, and it was glorious; Thomas Branch, the actor behind Dorf the wolfman sold the man’s best friend routine so well that my heart hurt when the character died.

Downside: I don’t like what they did to Peri in this story, between the Doctor’s perceived betrayal and her death. She has been abused so much during her travels with the Sixth Doctor (usually at his hand), and she deserved so much better.

 

Rating: 3/5 – “Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.”

 

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Terror of the Vervoids

 

 

The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

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4 thoughts on “Timestamp #145: Mindwarp

  1. Between the Doctor’s memory loss and all the oddities in what we see, it’s never clear if things happened just as they’re shown in this story. Considering how we saw in The Mysterious Planet that the Doctor and Peri’s relationship seems to have gotten better, I like to believe that some of the worst excesses in this one were alterred.

    Sil was incredibly popular, with some saying that he was the first Who villain introduced in the 80’s that had kids routinely playing as him on the playground, so it was a no-brainer to have the little slug return. There was a different story planned for him in the original season 23 before the show was put on hiatus as well.

    Be prepared for lots of carrot juice coming up.

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