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Recap: Doctor Who S1 E8 "The Reign of Terror"
Death, always death! Do you think I want this carnage?
Robespierre

For the last story of Season One, we're back in history land with this adventure in Revolutionary France.

Moments after Ian offends the Doctor's Hair-Trigger Temper in the last episode, the Doctor unceremoniously parks the TARDIS and kicks Ian and Barbara out, despite Susan's protests. The two humans insist on at the very least checking to see if they're in contemporary England. As it turns out, they're not. It's 1794 during the eponymous Reign of Terror, and the TARDIS crew quickly find themselves involved in a Scarlet Pimpernel-style escape committee saving aristocrats from the guillotine, and are then captured by the French army. The Doctor is locked in a burning farmhouse, while Ian, Barbara and Susan are taken to the Conciergerie Prison, the first stop before the guillotine.

While Barbara and Susan are rescued en route the the guillotine, (after Barbara refuses to do you-know-what with the jailor in exchange for their safety), Ian is trapped in a cell with a dying member of La Résistance. He promises to honour the man's last wish to relay a message, and spends a few more hours locked up with a corpse before successfully stealing a key and escaping.

The Doctor, having been rescued from the fire by a young boy, walks to Paris from the nearby woods (briefly getting sidetracked by a random villain, whom he brains with a shovel) and barters his clothes and ring for an impeccable French official's outfit. Now armed with a silly hat and sash, he barges into the jail and starts a grand Bavarian Fire Drill. After a few episodes of involvement with the rescue group, the traitor among them is exposed, and all that's left is to help English spy James Stirling with a final piece of intelligence gathering before they can all escape. Ian and Barbara pose as innkeepers and bump into a young artillery officer by the name of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Much of the plot turns out to be a setup, and the Doctor quickly realizes that they're in the middle of history and that they can't interfere at all. They find themselves forced to stand by while Robespierre gets violently shot in the jaw. The group retreats to the TARDIS, silly hat and all.

And thus ends Season One, with a nice view of the galaxy...

Ian Chesterton : "What are we going to see and learn next, Doctor?"
The Doctor : "Well, unlike the old adage, my boy, our destiny is in the stars, so let's go and search for it..."

Watch episodes 1-3 and 6, along with reconstructions of episodes 4 and 5 here. A fanmade attempt to "recreate" missing episodes using surving footage, telesnaps and other sources is available. The DVD release reconstructed the episodes with off-air recordings of the original soundtracks and new animated visuals.

Tropes

  • Bavarian Fire Drill: The Doctor, of course, with enough plumes in his hat to overshadow all of Broadway.
  • Cliff Hanger: The first episode ends with the Doctor trapped in a burning building, fire licking the bottom of the credit scroll all the while.
  • Darker and Edgier: A very violent serial, with plenty of on-screen death, and Barbara being asked to have sex in exchange for her freedom (she's not impressed with the idea).
  • Failed a Spot Check: The physician does not notice Susan's Bizarre Alien Biology.
  • Faking the Dead: The Doctor reports Lemaître, aka Stirling, shot.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: Robespierre gets shot in the jaw, and spends the next few scenes being dragged around by his soldiers in absolute agony with one hand covering his face.
  • Genre Savvy: Stirling, as regards Napoleon.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: After the companions have been captured, one guard basically offers Barbara freedom in exchange for sex. For his troubles, he gets a slap to the face.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Robespierre is shot in the jaw offscreen (in mid-sentence, even), and is seen clutching his jaw with his hand covered in blood for the next few scenes as he is dragged off by the mob who came to arrest him.
  • Historical-Domain Character: Robespierre, Napoleon Bonaparte.
  • Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: Not said by name of course, but the four speculate what would have happened if they had tried to warn Napoleon about the future.
    Doctor: Well, I can assure you, my dear Barbara, Napoleon would never have believed you.
    Ian: Yes, Doctor, but supposing we had written Napoleon a letter, telling him, you know, some of the things that were going to happen to him.
    Susan: It wouldn't have made any difference, Ian. He'd have forgotten it, or lost it, or thought it was written by a maniac.
    Barbara: I suppose if we'd tried to kill him with a gun, the bullet would have missed him.
  • Ignored Epiphany: Robespierre has one in Episode 4.
  • The Mole:
    • M. Colbert
    • The physician, too.
  • Nice Hat: The Doctor has one. Susan keeps it in the end.
  • Reign of Terror
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Naturally given the time period.
  • Reverse Mole: Stirling.
  • Sarcastic Confession:
    Ian: I flew here with three friends in a small box. When I left England it was 1963.
  • Rotoscoping: Used in some scenes of the animated episodes 4 and 5 on the DVD release.
  • Smug Snake: The jailer, the road construction overseer...
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: One of the men come to arrest Robespierre shoots Robespierre in the jaw when he tries a Breaking Speech.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: The soldiers who pursue Rouvray and D'Argenson are little more than murderous thugs.
  • Sound-Only Death: D'Argenson is shot off-screen after he tried to run and the mob of soldiers surrounded him. This trope is averted with Rouvray.
  • Stock Episode Titles: 10 uses. Justified, in that this episode is about, well, the Reign of Terror.
  • Stunt Double: William Hartnell was busy with rehearsals, so a double played the Doctor in long-shot for the series' first ever location filming, which showed the Doctor walking to Paris to rescue his friends. According to Carole Ann Ford, Hartnell became quite irritated with the actor shadowing him in the studio so he could imitate Hartnell's walk.
  • Talking Your Way Out: The Doctor, posing as a regional official from a southern province, is taken to meet Robespierre. Robespierre asks him for a report on his region, but the Doctor turns the question aside by offering his thoughts on the situation in Paris first. Time for the meeting runs out before the conversation can come back to the original subject.
  • Title Drop: When Barbara and Ian realize they're in the middle of The French Revolution.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Robespierre.
  • The X of Y

Doctor Who S1 E7 'The Sensorites"Recap/Doctor WhoDoctor Who S2 E1 'Planet of Giants"

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