...Okaaaay, this can be explained...
"Lord Nimon! It is I, Soldeed!"
The premise starts out as the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur in space
. A group of young men and women from the planet Aneth are being taken to the planet Skonnos as sacrifices to Nimon, a powerful alien with the appearance of a bull-headed man who lives in the centre of a vast labyrinth. Among them is the hero Seth, who is going to defeat Nimon once and for all.
Unfortunately for Aneth, Seth is only a Badass On Paper
: the truth behind his reputation consists of a little bit of luck and a great deal of exaggeration. Fortunately, the Doctor and Romana have come to help. They're up against the magnificently
hammy co-pilot of the slave ship (Malcolm Terris), the even more fantastically
hammy high priest Soldeed (Graham Crowden), and the tremendously
hammy Nimon itself (Clifford Norgate). Romana gets captured and shoved into the labyrinth with the sacrifices, while the Doctor tries to find out what's going on and plan a rescue.
The Doctor meets Soldeed, who tells him that in return for the sacrifices, Nimon has promised to restore the Skonnon Empire to its former glory. Meanwhile, in the labyrinth, Romana and the sacrifices encounter Nimon, and begin to discover that there is much Soldeed hasn't been told, and that the Skonnon Empire's glory is very low on Nimon's true list of priorities. Instead, the Nimons are a planet-devouring race, and they've built a black hole teleporter that will transport the entire Nimon population to the Skonnon Empire's cities.
The co-pilot is killed by the Nimon, overacting so hard that his trousers visibly split. Graham Crowden (who, incidentally, was cast as the Fourth Doctor but turned the role down) makes up for the co-pilot's death by overacting for two. When he dies as well, K-9 saves the day.
- Apocalypse How: Crinoth has already experienced what seems to be a Class 5 or 6 when we first see it. It subsequently becomes a Class X when the Nimon blow up the planet to give them energy for their teleportation system.
- The Atoner: Sezom
- Badass On Paper: Seth. He never wanted to be a hero, and now is less worried about what happens to himself than about letting down the people who are counting on him.
- Big Bad Wannabe: Soldeed looks and talks, basically, like Ming the Merciless, and thinks the Nimon will enable him to become an interstellar conqueror.
- Bull Seeing Red: The Doctor does a bullfighting routine with his coat to distract Nimon.
- Call Back: When the Doctor gives Romana the task of examining the Nimon travel capsule, the first thing she does is borrow his teaspoon.
- Camp: One of the series' most glorious examples.
- Corpsing: Graham Crowden, who plays Soldeed, does this after he gets fatally shot. However, it actually comes across as being perfectly in character, so he gets away with it by turning it into some kind of crazy chortle.
- Evil Is Hammy: Soldeed is infamously campy. So much so that his confrontation with Romana has a dance remix. "MY DREAMS OF CON-QUEST!"
- Fake Ultimate Hero: Soldeed is a Fake Ultimate Villain — he's supposed to be a great scientist but all his powers and abilities come from the Nimon. This throws him for a loop when a real scientist (the Doctor) turns up.
- Failed a Spot Check: Apparently a Nimon racial characteristic. Not only do some of the Nimon fail to see Romana and Sezom hiding behind a translucent wall, two of them fail to notice the Doctor open their travel capsule, look in on them, slam the door, and bounce them back to their start point. Even by the standards of Classic Who villains, that's pretty bad.
- Fauxlosophic Narration: The Nimon's speech, according to Soldeed
- Ham-to-Ham Combat: Tom Baker vs Graham Crowden.
- Also, Lalla Ward vs. Graham Crowden.
- Also, Malcolm Terris vs. Graham Crowden.
- Also, Lalla Ward vs. Malcolm Terris.
- Also, Tom Baker vs. the special effects.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Sezom
- Inside a Computer System: The Labyrinth is actually a giant computer, while the Mobile Maze aspect is the computer's circuits moving.
- Large Ham: Graham Crowden as Soldeed
- Tom Baker and Lalla Ward, to an extent
- Last of His Kind: Sezom. The first Nimon pretends to be this, but it later turns out to be a Blatant Lie.
- A Load of Bull
- Mobile Maze
- Mood Whiplash: Despite the nasty implications of what the Nimons do to unsuspecting planets, the story is generally quite soft and comical for the most part... until the final episode, where Romana is accidentally teleported to the burnt-out, almost totally depopulated planet Crinoth, the previous victims of the Nimon. After that, the story's mood becomes surprisingly grim and apocalyptic.
- Negative Space Wedgie: The TARDIS encounters one in the first episode which turns out to be a side-effect of the black hole travel system.
- No Budget: This story was basically produced with the loose change from the season's budget, so as to save all the money for the following story. Unfortunately, The BBC got temporarily shut down by industrial action before any substantial amount of the following story was filmed, meaning that this ended up being the grand finale for Graham Williams' era of the show.
- Our Wormholes Are Different: Black holes used as conduits for interstellar travel.
- Planet Looters: Nimon
- Shout Out: The line "I'm glad I reminded them to paint their ship white; last time anything like this happened, completely forgot, caused quite a hoo-ha," is another reference to Greek mythology, specifically when Theseus forgot to paint his flag white, causing his father Aegeus (who had an agreement with Theseus to paint his flag white if he came back alive) to jump off the palace in despair.
- Significant Anagram: Most of the character and place names are derived from their mythological counterparts.
- Smug Snake: Soldeed, full stop.
- Space Pirates: The Doctor and Romana are accused
- Unaccustomed as I Am to Public Speaking...
- Vestigial Empire: Skonnos
- Villainous Breakdown: Soldeed does not take the realization that he's been had well.
- What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: lampshaded:
ROMANA: Don't you think that's a bit dangerous?
DOCTOR: No, I don't. What could possibly go
(Lurch. The Doctor falls.)
DOCTOR: Ow! Wrong. You know, I've simply got to stop saying that. Every single time I say what could possibly go wrong, something goes
- Whole Plot Reference: To the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur.
- The X of Y
- You Rebel Scum!: Parodied with a guard who addresses his prisoners as "weakling scum" every time he speaks to them.