You represent a poor investment of my time and energy.
— The Black Guardian begins to have doubts about Turlough's skills as an assassin.
The Doctor, Tegan, Nyssa, and Turlough visit the exact center of the universe. (How they measured this is anyone's guess, as it's like trying to find the center of a sphere's surface area; presumably Time Lords can see into one or more dimensions that make it possible, or maybe they were just using Apple Maps.) They find Terminus, a derelict old spaceship that's being used as a colony for the victims of the fatal Lazar's Disease. Which Nyssa has just been infected with.
She takes off her skirt (the script half-heartedly justifies it as "Nyssa feeling feverish", but even actor Sarah Sutton had it pegged as Fanservice
) and proceeds to be taken into the custody of Terminus' enslaved employees, the Vanir. They leave her with the other Lazars until it's her turn to be treated by the Garm, a monster that looks like some sort of bulky wolfman with shiny red eyes.
There's a couple of Space Pirates
aboard, too, and one of them has gigantic '80s Hair
that nearly completely fills her standard-issue bubble-shaped space helmet. They're just there to give the Doctor someone to talk to, because Tegan and Turlough spend the entire story being stuck crawling through ventilation shafts and avoiding the ship's sterilization procedures.
Oh, and the old space hulk was responsible for creating the universe (one of its fuel pods fell back in time and kicked off the Big Bang), and it's now in danger of destroying
it. Only by pulling a really heavy switch can the process be stopped. Nobody tell the Master about this thing, OK? The Garm ends up saving the day, and is set free, along with the rest of the enslaved crew.
For those keeping track, this is where Nyssa leaves. The good news is she survives the Decontamination Chamber
's radiation treatment and is cured of Lazar's disease, but since the treatment procedure is a hit-or-miss, she nobly elects to stay behind on Terminus so she might help it become a proper hospital. She tearfully bids farewell to her friends, with a kiss
on the cheek for the Doctor and a hug
And Turlough is still suspicious.
- Air-Vent Passageway: Tegan and Turlough spend an inordinate amount of time in them.
- Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?: she would prefer not to.
Turlough: If ever you had to kill someone, could you do it?
Tegan: No. Don't know. If it was important. Save a friend, defend my life.
Turlough: But cold-bloodedly?
Tegan: You're weird, Turlough.
- Anyone Can Die: Strangely enough, averted. despite the grim tone of the story and its themes of disease and death, it is the only story from season 20 in which no-one dies.
- Compliment Backfire: No version of "You're so sweet when you get angry" is likely to go over well, schoolboy.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Bor
- Darker and Edgier: A dark serial of the dreary and depressing kind.
- The Eighties: feast your eyes on those space pirates - the '80s Hair! The Shoulders of Doom!
- Everybody Lives: And that's probably the weirdest thing about this story.
- Fire Forged Grudging Mutual Toleration: Tegan and Turlough
- Gentle Giant: The Garm. He's a good dog.
- Getting Hot in Here: Supposedly the reason Nyssa takes her skirt off.
- Go Out with a Smile: Bor spends most of the serial dying, but seems cheerfully resigned to it
- No Indoor Voice: The Black Guardian, who apparently doesn't think making your mole conspicuous might in any way get in the way of success.
- One-Word Title
- Personal Effects Reveal: Apparently Adric was quite a magpie, as his old room is chock-full of Continuity Nods including his pirate outfit from "Black Orchid" and a double-helix necklace from "Kinda."
- Punch Clock Villain: the Vanir are all enslaved criminals who only are obstacles to the Doctor and Co. because they think they'll keep them from getting their supply of hydromel. When Nyssa says she can synthesize it, they gladly say they'll work for her.
- Reality Subtext: Sarah Sutton obviously left at the same time as Nyssa, and it was not her choice. Nyssa's tears when saying goodbye to Tegan are real.
- Sickly Green Glow: Hydromel
- Skeletons in the Coat Closet: The Vanir wear suits of armor resembling skeletons.
- Space Pirate: Kari and Olvir
- Theme Naming: Mostly from Norse mythology.
- Wardrobe Malfunction: According to lore, Tegan has a few problems like this. (She and Nyssa were both very obviously not wearing bras around this point.)
- Waif-Fu: Nyssa, who is one of the smallest Doctor Who companions, manages to overpower Valgard, who is wearing armor, by pushing his head, knocking him back onto some stairs.
- Withholding the Cure: Terminus Incorporated pays the Vanir in hydromel, which keeps them immune to Lazar's Disease and incidentally, bound to working on Terminus. After examining the stuff, Nyssa announces she can synthesize it, freeing the Vanir from the control of the company.