One good solid hope's worth a cart-load of certainties.
— The Doctor
The Doctor, Romana, K-9 and Adric are still stuck in E-Space
. While they're trying to figure out a way back into N-Space (our universe), the TARDIS is hijacked by a lion-headed Humanoid Alien
that walks in through the TARDIS doors while the TARDIS is still in flight
. The alien brings the TARDIS to land, announces that his name is Biroc and that they should not trust the people they are about to meet, and departs as mysteriously as he came.
Our heroes find themselves in a featureless white void, empty except for the TARDIS, a stranded spaceship (whose crew, led by Captain Rorvik, are indeed untrustworthy), and an incongruous ruined stone building.
Many confusing things happen. And Adric flips coins a lot.
It turns out that the void is some kind of pocket dimension
that is on (or, perhaps, somehow is
) the boundary between N-Space and E-Space. When they eventually find the way out, consequently, our heroes are able to choose which way out to go. The Doctor and Adric return to N-Space in the TARDIS, while Romana and K-9 decide to return to E-Space and help Biroc in his continuing quest.
- Almost Dead Guy: "The secret to the gateway is... [thud]"
- Animated Armor: The Gundan robots are designed to resemble decorative suits of armor when they're at rest (and are mistaken for such before their true nature is revealed).
- BFG: Adric holds off the slave traders with their own giant cannon. "I don't know what these levers do...but it's pointing in your direction."
- Biting-the-Hand Humor: The privateer crew are, according to John Nathan-Turner, based on Stephen Gallagher's many tribulations while writing at Granada TV, and the poor work ethic he found there.
- Deliberately Monochrome: Some of the weirder parts of the story, for thematically-appropriate but difficult-to-summarize reasons.
- Distressed Dude: All the Tharils we see prisoner are male.
- Feudal Future: The Tharils' empire in its heyday.
- Gravity Sucks
- Grey and Gray Morality: Between the Privateer crew and the Tharils. Rorvik and his crew have the air of ordinary people just doing their job. Of course, that job is slavers, but as it turns out, the Tharils themselves were slavers of humans in the past.
- Hand Signals: Romana tells Adric not to come out if she gives the danger signal...then mimes putting her hands up.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters
- I Choose to Stay: Romana
- Incredibly Lame Pun: "You were the noblest Romana of them all." (Compare Julius Caesar V.v)
- Ironic Echo: The weak enslave themselves.
- Killed Mid-Sentence: See Almost Dead Guy.
- Killer Robot: The Gundan robots.
- King of Beasts: The leonine Tharils were once kings.
- Made a Slave
- Meaningful Name: The Tharils are thralls to the Privateer crew.
- Mind Screw: So, imagine you're in a cubby-hole you found behind a mirror, and that hole is in a different universe from the main room. Seriously, don't think about that too long, or you know what will happen.
- Pocket Dimension
- Punch Clock Villain: In the worst sense. The privateer slavers think nothing of using the Tharils as ballast. Once they figure out that Romano is "time-sensitive', they immediately stop treating her like a sentient being and toss her into the clink, too.
- The Revolution Was Not Civilized: The reason for the Tharils' plight.
- Sheathe Your Sword: Doing nothing (Tharils) vs. doing something (Rorvik) becomes an arc over the four episodes. In Rorvik's case, "doing something" resulted in the destruction of his ship and crew.
- Slave Race: The Tharils, but this wasn't always the case.
- Supernormal Bindings: The shackles made from dwarf star alloy, used to prevent the enslaved Tharils slipping away into the timestream.
- Those Two Guys: Aldo and Royce. According to the novelisation, they came with the ship when Rorvik hired it.
- Too Dumb to Live: Rorvik
- Used Future: The spaceship clearly comes from one.
- Villainous Breakdown: "I'll finally be able to GET SOMETHING DONE!"
- Void Between the Worlds: The main setting.
- Wag the Director: Between the esoteric plot, an auteur director, unhappy producers and the two lead actors up in arms, it's a miracle that the script is intelligible. According to director Paul Joyce, who was unprepared for Baker and Ward's feud, "I don't think even Tom Stoppard or Harold Pinter could have written a scene that would have satisfied both Tom and Lalla at that point."