"It is easy to help others when they are so willing to help you. Though we are beings of separate planets, you from the solar system and we from another space, our ways of thought, at times, do not seem all that different. It has been an honour to know you and serve you."
—The Rills say goodbye.
The TARDIS lands on a desert planet and the travellers find two crashed spaceships and their occupants; the hideous Rills (and their cute robots, nicknamed "Chumblies" by Vicki) and the beautiful female Drahvins. The two have had a space battle above the planet and crash-landed, but the planet is disintegrating.
The Rills turn out to be the good guys — innocent explorers who were attacked without reason by the warlike Drahvins, mindless clones led by a tyrannical matriarch.
With escape imperative and their own ship a complete write-off, the Drahvins try to force the Doctor, Vicki and Steven to help them capture the Rills' ship, but the Doctor instead powers up the Rills' ship from the TARDIS, allowing them to escape and then departs himself, leaving the Drahvins to their deaths.
In a classic example of Trailers Always Spoil
, the big twist (that the beautiful Drahvins were the villains of the piece) was given away in a BBC press release published by the Daily Mail
This story is thought to be one of the last to be wiped before the episode junkings were stopped in 1978, though there's some dispute about that. All four episodes were lost until 2011, when Episode 3 (Air Lock) was returned to the BBC.
can be watched here.
A slightly condensed official reconstruction consisting of all surviving footage with stills, new animations and the original soundtrack was released as an extra on the 2013 DVD release of "The Aztecs
- Absolute Xenophobe: Maaga and by implication all the other upper-caste Drahvins.
- Ace Custom: The Drahvins are so wedded to their caste system that they self-destructively only give their leader caste the good weapons.
- Bad Boss: Seems to be required by Drahvin law and/or custom.
- Beauty Equals Goodness: Defied.
- Bee People: The Drahvins are trying to make their society into this.
- Blondes are Evil
- Brainless Beauty: The barely sentient Drahvin clones.
- Continuous Decompression: Enforced by the need to patch damage sustained by the film print of Air Lock.
- Dark Is Not Evil: The Rill look pretty ugly (from the photo we have), but they're a Perfect Pacifist People who desperately want the Drahvins to stop shooting at them.
- Dumb Blonde: Most of the Drahvins, but justified (see above).
- Earth-Shattering Kaboom: The planet's fate.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: The Drahvins can't understand self-sacrifice.
- Exact Time to Failure
- Fantastic Caste System: The Drahvins have a caste system based on social insects, of female leaders, female workers, and a few males kept solely for the female leaders to sexually reproduce.
- Flashback: A Rill recounts the truth about the murdered Drahvin to Vicki. The events are shown in flashback from his point of view.
- The Great Repair: Both the Rills and the Drahvins must repair their spacecraft in order to escape before the planet explodes. The Drahvins are incapable of doing so, and plan to kill the Rills and take their craft. The Rills offer to peacefully take them back into space, but peaceful co-existence isn't an option for the belligerent and warlike Drahvins.
- Lady Land: On the planet Drahvin, women dominate the planet. A few men are kept, presumably for breeding, while the rest are killed. Oddly, Maaga doesn't immediately understand when Steven asks her if all the inhabitants of her planet are women, perhaps demonstrating how utterly insignificant and out of mind the men of Drahvin are.
- No Indoor Voice: The Rill always speaks in a deep, booming voice.
- Oh Crap
- Pig Man: Deliberately subverted: the Rills look porcine but are deeply cultured and refined.
- Space Battle: The incident that set off the events of the story is a standoff in space between the Rill and Drahvin spacecraft where each shot the other down. It isn't shown onscreen, and it happened before the Doctor, Steven and Vicki arrive. The fight between the Drahvin and Rill spacecraft is related first by Maaga to the Doctor, and then later on by the Rills, who set the record straight.
- Starfish Aliens: The Rills.
- Stupid Evil: The Drahvins are determined to steal the Rills' spacecraft and leave them to die despite the fact that the Rills have offered to take them with them.
- Surrounded by Idiots: Justified example as Maaga has a couple of speeches lamenting the fact that her superiors forced her to crew her ship with a bunch of unintelligent, unimaginative worker caste who she rightly considers too untalented for space exploration.
- Telepathic Spacemen: The Rills don't speak in the conventional sense. They communicate telepathically, relaying their thoughts as speech through the Chumblies.
- Trailers Always Spoil
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Maaga executes her own badly wounded soldier, then blames it on the Rills.