Recap: Doctor Who S15 E6 "The Invasion of Time"

"So lemme get this straight, if I help you get rid of the Doctor and his friends and everyone else, then the Sontarans will have their own show?"
Vardan Leader: Congratulations, Doctor. You show great promise in the application of power. You could be a first grade dictator.
The Doctor: Thank you. You're very kind. That's very kind of you.

The Doctor is acting strangely. He runs the TARDIS back to Gallifrey, claims the Presidency, banishes Leela to the wilderness outside the Capitol, and lets the Vardan conquerors (floaty bits of see-through tin foil) in. Why is he Not Himself? Is he truly their servant? Is he looking out for Number One nowadays? What's with his sudden new taste in decor?

Being President gives the Doctor access to the Matrix, which contains all the knowledge of the Time Lords. He balances it on K-9's ears and connects it to his TARDIS.

Leela and a really overqualified Time Lady named Rodan roam about in the wilderness outside, where they meet a group of barbarian Gallifreyans (not part of the Time Lord houses) who are really quite bad at being barbarians.

Naturally, there are wheels within wheels, and the Vardan menace is defeated — with two episodes left in the season. Wait... the cheers have stopped. What the... Uh oh, Sontarans! Cue a wild goose chase inside the TARDIS, which gives us quite an extensive view of the interior, its gardens (giant carnivorous plants and everything) as well as its fabled swimming pool.

Leela, meanwhile, feels right at home with the barbarians and assembles them into a Badass Army. As their new Lady of War, she organises a charge of the Citadel and infiltrates the Capitol to help out the Doctor. He uses forbidden technology to destroy the Sontarans, wiping his memory of events — and of the Matrix — in the process. Leela suddenly decides she's fallen in love with Chancellery Guard Andred whom she's just met, and remains on Gallifrey with K-9.

The Doctor bids a sorrowful farewell to Leela and K-9 and returns to the TARDIS. He then pulls out a large box from the storage room marked "K-9 Mk II" and starts to grin at the camera.


  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Lampshaded.
  • Alien Non-Interference Clause: Rodan monitors spaceships and casually remarks she sees a battleship probably about to destroy a planet. When Leela asks her to attack the ship, she's appalled at the thought of interfering.
  • All There in the Manual: The novelization of the story explains that the De-Mat Gun doesn't just vaporize people, it actually removes them from time completely, as we had previously seen the Time Lords do to the War Chief and his henchmen. And since Stor was the mastermind behind the whole invasion of Gallifrey, when the Doctor uses it on Stor it not only erases him, it also undoes both the Vardan and Sontaran invasions of the planet.
  • Aside Glance: The Doctor looks a few times straight into the camera when talking to himself. Adred does it once too, then looks embarassed for having done so.
  • Batman Grabs a Gun: The normally firearms-averse and technically pacifist Doctor has a forbidden Time Lord weapon constructed for him, and uses it on Stor when he's about to destroy Gallifrey's source of power.
  • BBC Quarry: Forget the descriptions of silver trees, auburn skies and crimson grass; Gallifrey's nature actually looks like a sand quarry!
  • Big Damn Heroes: Leela & co.
  • Big Electric Switch: There are several in the Time Lord citadel's security control room (which, despite being technically advanced, is whimsically designed to look old-fashioned nearly to the point of steampunk).
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The Doctor breaks it two times in the story, saying 'Even the sonic screwdriver won't get me out of this one.' in one scene, and then grinning at the camera at the end.
  • Deadly Decadent Court: After the Crystal Spires and Togas of the first stories, and the pompous but weak depiction of "The Deadly Assassin", this story's powerful but deeply corrupt and self-serving portrayal of the Time Lords became the pattern for most later stories featuring them en masse, both in the TV show and other media.
    • Lampshaded by the Doctor:
    "I don't know what they teach you at the Academy these days, but if you can't pull off a simple palace revolution, what can you pull off?"
  • The City vs. the Country: Leela being a Country Mouse and Rodan a City Mouse.
  • Deflector Shields: Gallifrey is protected by a sort of force field.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: The Sontarans threaten to blow up Gallifrey.
  • Evil Chancellor: Castellan Kelner. (Chancellor Borusa is not evil here, though he has moments of ruthless pragmatism.)
  • Fascists' Bed Time: A blanket curfew is instituted within scenes of the Vardans taking over.
  • Food Pills: Rodan's food supplies consist of a few multicoloured pills.
  • Forgot About His Ability to Regenerate: Just like in "The Deadly Assassin". Many Time Lords seem to forget they have the ability to regenerate.
  • Gambit Pileup
  • Gilligan Cut:
    Rodan: Nothing can get pass the Transduction Barriers
    The Doctor: K-9, destroy the Transduction Barriers.
  • Going in Circles: Inside the TARDIS.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: The Key of Rassilon, which every President since time immemorial has been charged to seek, has been in the office of the Chancellor all along; the Chancellor has a secret trust to keep it hidden so that no President has all Rassilon's powerful artifacts at once. Needle in a Stack of Needles is hinted at — the Chancellor has an enormous collection of keys needed to do his job — then subverted: the true Key is the one stuck in the keyhole of his desk drawer.
  • Human Aliens: What the Vardans turn out to be. Somewhat lampshaded when the Doctor acknowledges that this is disappointing.
  • I Fight for the Strongest Side: As soon as someone is about to take over power, the Castellan is there to lick their boots.
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: When Rodan suggests that the TARDIS interior could do with some sprucing up, the Doctor complains that he's a Time Lord, not a painter & decorator.
  • Irony: There's nothing more useless than a lock with a voice print.
  • I Will Only Slow You Down
  • Karma Houdini: The Castellan, we never get to see him punished for being such a dick.
  • La Résistance: Leela, Rodan, and the outsiders.
    • First Andred and his men, against the Doctor.
  • The Man Behind the Man: The Sontarans are the real invaders, not the Vardans.
  • Man-Eating Plant: A plant in the Doctor's garden is quick to eat a Sontaran.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: Leela refuses to believe the Doctor has really gone to the side of evil. The Castellan is a more villainous example.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The Doctor knowingly collaborates with the Vardan invasion of Gallifrey, confident that he can defeat them. Then it turns out that they were being backed by the Sontarans...
  • Not Now, Kiddo: The Sontarans attempt to locate the Doctor; the Castellan attempts to tell their Commander where he is, but each time the Commander reacts angrily to being interrupted, and doesn't let him speak. When he finally succeeds in conveying the information, the Commander of course demands to know why he didn't say so sooner.
  • Oh, Crap
  • Panty Shot: During the outside scenes, Leela's skirt is blown up.
  • The Password Is Always Swordfish: Or rather, the voice print is "There's nothing more useless than a lock with a voice print".
  • Playing Possum
  • President Evil: Subverted; the Doctor is playing the Vardans.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Sontarans.
  • Put on a Bus: Leela
  • The Quisling: The Castellan.
  • Ret Gone: What the forbidden Time Lord weapon does to its target.
  • Space Amish: The Outsiders.
  • Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: The Time Lord president inauguration ceremony consists almost entirely of giving people the chance to object to the new president.
  • Superdickery: The Doctor behaves very much like a villain for the first few episodes. Of course, no one is surprised when there turns out to be a perfectly noble explanation for his behavior.
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs
  • Undying Loyalty: Despite everyone telling her The Doctor's gone bonkers, Leela never losses faith in his inherent goodness.
  • Vichy Gallifrey: Especially the Castellan; who, for one, welcomes his new Sontaran overlords.
  • Victory Guided Amnesia: The Doctor suffers some memory loss after the Time Lord superweapon blows up in his face, it's not made clear how much memory was lost.
  • With Due Respect
  • Wrench Wench: Rodan is quite good with machines.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess
  • The X of Y
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: The Part 4 cliffhanger.
  • Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb