Recap: Doctor Who S6 E7 "The War Games"

"All these evils I have fought, while you have done nothing but observe! True, I am guilty of interference. Just as you are guilty of failing to use your great powers to help those in need!"
The Doctor defends himself before the Time Lords.

The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe land in the middle of no-man's land during World War I - or so it seems. They're taken prisoner and tried as spies, with the Doctor sentenced to execution.

Once they manage to escape, (and get captured again, and escape again, and...) they find out a couple of things are out of place: the soldiers don't seem to remember how they got to the front lines, there's a futuristic communications device in the General's quarters, and a redcoat of all people is thrown into a cell with Jamie - one who thinks he's still fighting the highlanders.

It turns out that a race known only as "The Aliens" have kidnapped a number of soldiers from Earth's history, brainwashed them and set them to fighting replicas of their own wars. The survivors will be made into an army capable of conquering the galaxy. They are aided by the War Chief, whom the Doctor recognises as being one of his own race, and who has provided the Aliens with Sidrats for transport purposes. However, the War Chief plans to double-cross the Aliens and seize power himself.

The Doctor and friends manage to gather a band of human resistance fighters (who were able to shake off the control of the Aliens and were wreaking havoc) to stop the wargames. The War Chief tries to get the Doctor to help him, but fails, and is shot by the Aliens' commander as repayment for his treachery.

However, the Doctor can't return all the surviving soldiers to their right places, so he calls on his own people, the Time Lords, for help.

They arrive and the Doctor is instantly put on trial for violating one of the Time Lords' prime directives - noninterference in other races' history. The Doctor argues that he has always done good, but to no avail. He is sentenced to exile on Earth, while Jamie and Zoe are returned to their own times, just before they met the Doctor, with their memories wiped. The Doctor is additionally informed that he must change his appearance again... and once the rules of regeneration were later established, these events can be construed as the Doctor's summary execution.

Yay.


The final episode of this adventure is quite significant. As well as ushering in a new Doctor, and a new era in the show with budget-dictated Earthbound exile, this was the first time that the Doctor's race had been named, and that the reason for the Doctor's fugitive status had been explored. This is also the only time during the show's initial run that the Doctor and all of his companions changed at the same time. It wouldn't happen again for another forty years.note 

Immediately after this episode aired, a series of official comics was released in TV Comic, exploring the idea of the Second Doctor spending a while longer with Jamie before regenerating. This series saw him living on Earth as well as running errands for the Time Lords with a fully functional TARDIS, before eventually being forced to regenerate. Although the canonicity of these comics (as well as later Doctor Who Expanded Universe material based on the same idea) is still debatable, the official BBC policy nowadays holds that "The Three Doctors", "The Five Doctors" and "The Two Doctors" would most logically take place in this "Season 6B" from Two's perspective.

With 10 parts totaling about 4 hours run time, this is the second longest serial (third if you count Season 23 as one whole) behind The Daleks' Master Plan.

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