I see. So all we've got to deal with is something which is either too small to see or thirty feet tall, can incinerate you or freeze you to death, turn stone images into homicidal monsters and looks like the devil.
— Captain Yates sums up UNIT's job.
The Doctor tries to explain to Jo that there's no such thing as magic while he rigs a remote control gadget for Bessie. He suddenly becomes uncharacteristically alarmed by a planned archaeological dig on a barrow in the village of Devil's End. He races there with Jo in tow, where he discovers that The Vicar
, Mr. Magister, is really the Master in a pair of fake glasses (no way!) who is using what looks like black magic rituals to raise the Devil.
In fact, the "devil" is a Sufficiently Advanced Alien
called Azal, who actually inspired most of the classic appearance tropes of the Devil — horns, hoofs — and claims to have set the Earth in motion as an experiment. UNIT (reluctantly) teams up with a local white witch, the Master brabbles incantations while hanging out with monks and lighting black candles, and the archaeological dig unleashes a cold field. The Doctor almost dies, but is able to use his Bizarre Alien Biology
to withstand extreme cold. His rescuers are rather confused by his two hearts.
The Doctor confers with UNIT by drawing equations on his motor bike's wind shield, and makes it back to the village in Bessie, where he's immediately tied to the maypole by the local Morris dancers. They want to burn him at the stake for being a witch. The local actual witch and UNIT help him out using parlor tricks, and he's able to impress the villagers with Bessie's remote control.
With the Doctor and Jo in the village, and UNIT troops cut off outside by a heat barrier, Azal appears and says that he will either pass on his powers or destroy the Earth as a failed experiment. The Master is hoping to be the recipient of the powers. The Doctor insists that it's not magic, but alien science, and explains to the local witch that even her magic is just invisible science powered by her mind
. Azal is swayed by the Doctor's eloquent defence of Earth and offers him the powers instead. The Doctor of course refuses, and Azal angrily decides to kill him. Jo offers herself in the Doctor's place and Azal, unable to comprehend self-sacrifice, suffers a Critical Existence Failure
Meanwhile, UNIT troops have got past the heat barrier by reversing the polarity
of the neutron flow, the Brigadier has ordered Five Rounds Rapid
at animated gargoyle Bok, and they arrive just in time to apprehend the Master and take him away to await trial for crimes against humanity: attempts to conquer the world, subjugation of the people of Devil's End, and infliction of Morris dancers on an unsuspecting public
.Dance Party Ending
Trope Namer for Five Rounds Rapid
, and the source of the famous "reverse the polarity
An excellent documentary, "Return to Devil's End", was made in 1996 by Nicholas Briggs
and stars most of the original cast.
- Ancient Astronauts
- Ash Face: Rare live-action example, when the anti-heat-barrier machine blows up in Osgood's face.
- Bad Habits: The Master poses as a priest.
- Bilingual Bonus: The Doctor at one point is dubbed "The Great Wizard Qui-Quae-Quod". In Latin, qui, quae and quod are respectively the masculine, feminine and neuter forms of the pronoun "who".
- Burn the Witch!: The locals try to do this to the Doctor. Ironically the local witch intervenes to stop them (with the help of Jo and Benton).
- Chekhov's Remote: Chekhov's Boomerang even: used to convince the townsfolk that the Doctor is a wizard and to recapture the Master.
- Closed Circle: Somewhat literally until UNIT breaks through.
- Dance Party Ending.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: This spells the end for Azal.
- Evil Laugh: The Master really hams it up here with aplomb.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Azal.
- Failed a Spot Check: Jo hides behind the spokes of a wooden wheel while the Master does his thing. No one sees her.
- A Fête Worse than Death: Not a regular thing but due to the Master's influence over the village, but the attempted burning of the Doctor as the centerpiece of May Day probably counts.
- Five Rounds Rapid: Trope Namer.
- Geometric Magic: A painted tile in the cave knocks out Jo and tears a book to pieces when they touch it.
- God Guise: Kind of a given for Sufficiently Advanced Aliens. Azal and other Daemons were the inspiration for many horned pagan gods and Satan. (Fridge Brilliance- the depiction of the devil with horns and hooves is believed to be based on horned pagan gods).
- Godwin's Law: When the Master pleads for Azal's power so that he may bring order to the world, the Doctor compares him to Adolf Hitler and Genghis Khan.
- Hollywood Silencer: Benton uses one... but to be fair, maybe UNIT has developed one to work like that.
- Hellish Copter
- Human Sacrifice
- Hypocrite: The Brigadier says he's planning to blast his way through a forcefield. Jo criticizes him for always thinking of blowing things up. The Doctor then berates Jo for not showing the Brigadier due respect - even though he's always saying the exact same thing.
- Hypocritical Humour: Probably intended when the Doctor upbraids Jo for mocking the Brigadier in the way that he constantly does, but it's played sufficiently seriously to appear genuinely unpleasant and bullying to many fans.
- I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: Devil's End
- Insistent Terminology: The Doctor insist what The Master is doing is "the secret science of the Daemons" and NOT MAGIC. Everybody else calls it magic because The Doctor fails to clarify why it isn't since there is no difference between the two going by the descriptions in the episode and freely admits that the rituals, spells, etc are what make up the secret science having a purpose and are not window dressing.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Benton sure is a crack shot!
- Jerkass Ball: The Third Doctor spends much of this story being really quite nasty to people who are trying to help him, especially Jo and Osgood. It may be due to the level of the threat posed by Azal, but the story is still often used as Exhibit A by fans who dislike him.
- Magic from Technology: The Daemons powers are handwaved as highly-advanced science.
- Magic Versus Science: A theme throughout the story is whether magic is real. The Doctor insist it isn't and claims there is a rational explanation behind everything. Yet he admits the incantations, rituals, symbols are not for show and all have power and purpose matching the definition of magic given by the local white witch and most real-world definitions. Neither The Doctor or The Master fully understand how it works. Yet The Doctor insist it is the "secret science of the Daemons" never citing a real difference. In the end, both views/terms come out as being correct with Daemon science portrayed as a type of Rules Magic and The Doctor coming across as a close-minded, pompous jerk. Looking at the other tropes in this episode reinforces this idea.
- The Master: Duh.
- Minion with an F in Evil: The cultist who gets upset when the Master decides to sacrifice Jo.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Azal, Reverend Magister, Devil's End.
- Ominous Latin Chanting: During the 'totally not magic'' ceremonies.
- Our Gargoyles Rock: Bok.
- Recycled IN SPACE!: Quatermass And The Pit IN WILTSHIRE INSTEAD OF KNIGHTSBRIDGE!
- Reverse the Polarity: The first ever instance.
- Road Sign Reversal
- Satan: Well, sorta.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Azal was imprisoned inside the Devil's Hump until Professor Horner's excavation unleashed him.
- Sinister Minister: It's the Master, after all.
- Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: The Daemons, apparently responsible for many eras of human advancement.
- This Is My Name on Foreign: The Great Wizard Qui-Quae-Quod and the Rev. Magister.
- Villainous Breakdown: A very limited amount of disagreement from the villagers when the Master tries to talk to them into helping him rapidly results in screaming demands for obedience and comparisons of them to dust beneath his feet.