All right, who broke the camera?!?
If we had an index file, we could look it up in the index file... under "index file
— Tegan discovers recursion
Previously on Doctor Who
, the Doctor took a nasty spill from disconnecting the Pharos Project
's power cable, prompting a sudden regeneration. (It's a big one too — even his shoes regenerated!
) Unfortunately, he doesn't take to it very well, and is in danger of turning senile; that is, unless he can get some rest and healing in the TARDIS' Zero Room, a sensory deprivation suite.
The freshly-regenerated Fifth Doctor wanders around his TARDIS with some regeneration amnesia, peeking into rooms and unraveling his scarf. The TARDIS is kind enough to hand her new Doctor a crickety outfit and a cricket room. Tegan just met the Doctor hours ago, and (though she took the whole new-body thing surprisingly calmly) even she
realizes that he's gone batty. They get him into the Zero Room note
, but he's only just stretched out (three feet above the ground) and closed his weary eyes when the TARDIS' Cloister Bell alarm starts up. This is annoying enough for us humans when we're tired from a hard day slinging data and just need a good night's sleep before an important meeting in the morning; imagine how much it must suck if you're tired from saving the world and dying
and being born again, plus the alarm isn't for an 8 AM meeting but an urgent warning that your spacetimeship is headed into the Big Bang.
Tegan and Nyssa put their heads together (as usual, Adric is being difficult and
unwillingly in league with the villain), consult the TARDIS manual and inexpertly steer it to "Castrovalva: the Dwellings of Simplicity". Its brochure makes it sound like an alien day spa: the perfect place for a bit of R&R. The Doctor wakes up for a bit, and the TARDIS tries to help out by dumping a lot of random medicine on his head and providing him with a wheelchair. While spinning in circles in said chair and being extremely amnesiac, he instructs his companions on how to propel the TARDIS away from disaster by deleting rooms. Luckily, the control room doesn't accidentally get deleted. Sadly, the Zero Room does, so they have to improvise a new portable one out of some TARDIS doors.
Once they've landed and spent most of an entire episode
carrying the Doctor through the woods, they discover that Castrovalva is... weird. It's built funny. All the books in the library are written in the same handwriting, even the very old ones. The quaint passageways always seem to lead to the same town square. Even more ominously, the kindly and wise elder statesman of the city is played by someone named "Neil Toynay", which of course is an anagram for "Tony Ainley", which means that the whole thing was an elaborate trap set by the Master! And they must escape Castrovalva as it dissolves into a puddle of M.C. Escher
illogic around them.
spells "regeneration trauma". No wonder the Tenth Doctor was bedridden and in need of a cup of tea
after his regeneration. (And little wonder the Sixth Doctor spent his regeneration recovery trying to kill anyone and everyone around him.
Eventually, the Doctor regains his memory, convices the townsfolk to override their collective Weirdness Censor
and defeats the Master. Also, it turns out that Tegan didn't steer the TARDIS at all — that was all the Master's doing. The Doctor pins a vegetable to his coat and happily heads over to the next adventure.
Watch it here
- Bizarrchitecture / Mobile Maze
- Chased by Angry Natives: You don't built a fortress on a impenetrable bluff if you welcome visitors. Zig-Zagged by the Castrovalvans themselves, who later reveal themselves to be a proud scholar race — underneath all the fur and feathers, of course.
- Chekhov's Gun: Nyssa and Tegan pretend that the Doctor is still lying in the Zero Cabinet. They know the Master well enough to predict he'll spend hours crow-barring the cabinet open rather then sticking to his plan. "One long last look before I destroy him utterly!"
- At first glance, the self-changing tapestry is mere artwork. The Master aims to turn it into the galaxy's biggest 3-d printer.
- Chekhov's Lecture: Tegan embarrasses herself by giving a rather naff suggestion on how to find the Doctor's file. Nyssa primly replies with a speech about recursion.
- Continuity Nod: The disoriented Doctor confuses his current companions for several previous ones, even going back to One's time when he calls Tegan "Vicki." He also takes on the mannerisms of the First ("I wonder, my boy, what you would do if you were me, hmm?", Second "Oh no! We've gone into the wrong part of the TARDIS! Jamie, you go back! When I say run, run!" and Third "Won't be long now, Brigadier — if the ice warriors don't get there first!"), suggesting a sort of dementia.
- Democracy Is Bad: Used for the purposes of a gag.
- Distracted by My Own Sexy: Averted this time around. The Fifth Doctor looks in the mirror, but his chief reaction is disappointment/alarm that the curls are gone.
- Easy Amnesia
- Establishing Character Moment: The Fifth Doctor comes across as very gentle, very naive and very normal for the majority of the episode, but after about three quarters of the story, the "that's democracy for you" line firmly establishes him as a Deadpan Snarker as well.
- Evil Wears Black: Subverted. Shardovan's the only Castrovalvan that wears black which makes the rest of the characters suspicious but he turns out to be a Red Herring.
- Fake Memories: Heck, the Castrovalvans have Fake History
- Falling Chandelier of Doom: Shardovan swings from a chandelier and crashes into the web, freeing Adric and breaking the Master's illusion.
- Giggling Villain: Anthony Ainley is quietly chuckling to himself all through this episode and the last one.
- Gilligan Cut: The Doctor mentions how flying the TARDIS is difficult and you need to do more than flip a switch. Cut to Tegan, praying and flipping a switch.
- Glamour Failure: In truth, this was a barren jungle before the Master conjured up the city and its inhabitants.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Sardovan.
- Hidden in Plain Sight: The Master appear to be holding Adric captive in an undisclosed location elsewhere. The net is actually located right behind the tapestry, which explains how the Master could be in two places at once. The Master pulls this off twice: His TARDIS is camouflaged as the fireplace.
- I Die Free: Shardovan's Famous Last Words.
Shardovan: You made us, Man of Evil - but we are free!
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: When The Doctor first sees himself in a mirror and talks to himself, it looks like he's addressing the audience.
The Doctor: That's the trouble with regeneration. You never quite know what you're going to get.
- Living Battery: Adric's block transfer computations are powering Castrovalva.
- The Load: Literally, in the Doctor's case. With the Zero Room lying in shambles, the Doctor and Nyssa contract a miniature version using a few leftover TARDIS panels. This makeshift Zero Room must then be wheeled all the way to Castrovalva. The Doctor promises that he will levitate within the box, thereby lessening the weight of it, but this (naturally) proves to be false as poor Tegan and Nyssa stumble around the jungle.
- M.C. Escher: The episode is named after an Escher landscape lithograph (not one of his eyeball-benders).
- Mind Probe: The Master keeps Adric trapped in a hadron web that forcibly extracts Block Transfer Computations from his mind, and trying to force the Master out of his head seems to be pretty painful for the poor kid.
- Mind Screw
- Nice Hat: All of the Castrovalvans, but especially the Portreeve, who appears to be wearing a hat made of two Perspex boaters.
- No-One Could Have Survived That: The Master ducks into his TARDIS once his creations turn on him — but he's too monomaniacal to leave the web behind, so he gets tackled by the Castrovalvans as the city vanishes and buried them all (and his TARDIS) under solid rock. The Fifth Doctor doesn't address this, however, and even speaks of the Master in the present tense. He knows better.
- The Nth Doctor
- Perfect Pacifist People: The Castrovalvans who have evolved from a hunting society into a scholarly race. Justified in that it was all a trap by the Master, who knew that the Doctor would prefer to recover in a peaceful planet.
- Pinch Me
- The Pratfall: Nyssa's slow descent into the Butt Monkey begins here. When the wheelchair supporting the Doctor's sarcophagus tumbles into a creek, Nyssa is sent to fetch it and winds up somersaulting into the drink, losing her mantilla in the process.
- Reality Is Unrealistic: People have often joked about the Doctor's regeneration almost failing, when all that happened to him is falling off a satellite dish, compared with some of his other regenerations. Realistically, though, it's a surprise he could talk after that...
- Red Herring: The audience is clearly intended to believe that Shardovan (who is shifty and sinister and dresses all in black) is the Master. Probably intentional in-story as well.
- Resurrection Sickness: The Fifth Doctor had it bad. Probably the worst of any, barring perhaps the Eighth Doctor's. Made worse considering that his ship was headed into the Big Bang while he tried to recover.
- Shaggy Search Technique: The Doctor, still dizzy from his regeneration, bungles his first trip into the TARDIS and ends up the cricket room. Having shed most of his old clothes (and shoes) in the halls to avoid getting lost, he makes a jump for the cricket whites and gear on display. He's so taken with the result that it becomes permanent.
- Significant Anagram: The above-mentioned anagram for Anthony Ainley.
- Scenery Porn: The picturesque Castrovalvan countryside, which comprises a good deal of Part Two.
- Throw It In: According to The Other Wiki and the DVD Commentary, Matthew Waterhouse was severely hungover and vomiting behind a tree in the scene at the end of Part 4 where the Doctor and Nyssa talk about landing the TARDIS. Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton kept acting, and the producers kept the shot, deciding it was useful anyway: it would show the ill effects on Adric's health from being under the Master's control.
- Tomato in the Mirror: For the Castrovalvans, especially Shardovan
- Trail of Bread Crumbs: The Doctor's companions aren't much use when it comes to navigating the TARDIS — though Five is, admittedly, foggy on the subject — requiring him to leave bits and bobs of the Fourth Doctor's clothing lying at intersections, so he can be found. Good thing that scarf was so huge. (Tegan uses her lipstick.)
Tegan: (following string)
Looks like the Doctor's coming unraveled
in more ways than one.
- Villainous Breakdown: The Master has a meltdown after his precious web is destroyed. "My WEB! '''MYYYY WEEEEEEEEB!!"
- We Can Rule Together: The Master to Adric
- Weirdness Censor