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Recap / Big Finish Doctor Who 200 The Secret History

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The Fifth Doctor finds himself in the TARDIS of his first incarnation, accompanied by Vicki and Steven and with no sign of his predecessor, just as they are about to arrive in the Italian city of Ravenna in 540. Forced to try and deal with the situation in the manner of his first incarnation, the Fifth Doctor finds himself caught up in local political turmoil, which swiftly becomes more dangerous when he realises that a dangerous plague has been unleashed, mythical alien healers have been awoken, and a particular old enemy is present…

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This marks the third audio in the “Locum Doctors” trilogy, which began with “The Defectors” (the Seventh Doctor taking the place of the Third) and “Last of the Cybermen” (the Sixth Doctor replacing the Second), and reveals that the events of this trilogy were caused by the Monk after his confrontation with the Eighth Doctor in “To the Death.

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  • Arc Welding: This serves as the conclusion to the “Locum Doctors” trilogy, and reveals that the Monk is behind these events as revenge against the Doctor for the death of Tamsin Drew in “To the Death”.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Episode 3 ends with the Monk successfully displacing the Doctor from history and taking his place in the universe.
  • Batman Gambit: It would appear that the “Locum Doctors” trilogy was essentially based on this; the Monk caused the Doctors to switch with their past selves in the hope that the displaced Doctors would make some mistake in handling the threat compared to how their past selves dealt with it, thus changing history and allowing him to take the Doctor’s place when the Doctor was taken out of Time by the Time Lords. This plan failed in “Defectors” and “Last of the Cybermen” because Jo and Zoe helped the Seventh and Sixth Doctors realize what his past selves would have done, but here the Monk escalates the situation so rapidly that the Fifth Doctor is powerless to prevent the Monk’s plan succeeding.
    • At the conclusion of the story, the Doctor does this himself, anticipating that the Monk will return to Constantinople and making arrangements to undermine the Monk’s plan so that he can force the Monk to reset history to what it was originally.
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  • Big Bad Wannabe: Essentially applies to the Monk; while he would argue that he just wants to be the hero and make things better, his former ally realises that his actions have created a darker future for the universe because he isn’t thinking things through.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: The Monk arguably uses this to win Sophia’s initial loyalty, convincing her that the Doctor is evil because of the historical disasters he allows to happen.
  • Call-Back: Steven and Vicki each remember the Monk from “The Time Meddler”, although his regeneration prevents them recognising him immediately.
  • Call-Forward: The Doctor muses that he expects he’ll see the Monk again.
  • Caught in the Ripple: Episode 4 opens with Steven and Vicki treating the Monk as the Doctor and seeing nothing wrong with changing history in Earth’s past.
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  • Chekhov's Gunman: The Antoene- the alien race pursuing Steven and Vicki into the TARDIS as the audio begins- initially seem like just another random threat, but they play a key role in the conclusion of the plot.
  • Close-Enough Timeline: In a sense; the original timeline is restored at the conclusion, and while Sophia muses that it still isn’t a perfect future, history is better with the Doctor as its guardian than it would be if the Monk was doing the job.
  • Closest Thing We Got: Steven is forced to become a charioteer for his new supervisor because all the regular charioteers are ill.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: An interesting variation of it; the Monk is willing to flee Earth as he has no means of stopping the Antoene, but after the Doctor blackmails him into restoring the original timeline, the Doctor reveals that he has developed a device that banishes the Antoene back to the sub-atomic realm they originally came from.
  • Dirty Coward: Despite the Monk’s plans to replace the Doctor, the moment things get out of his control he is prepared to run away and abandon fifth-century Constantinople to be destroyed by a ruthless alien race who are actively trying to kill him.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Sophia was genuinely close to the Monk, but in the end this works against him as the Monk’s failure to comprehend Sophia’s attachment towards him drove her to learn that his actions were making history worse, as well as leading Sophia to realise that she was manipulated into perceiving the Doctor as a villain when he’s the better of the two.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: The Monk’s plan fails because he didn’t anticipate that Sophia would want to confirm that he was all right after his plan succeeded, allowing her to look into the future, realise that he was making things worse, and bring the Doctor back to existence so that he could make things right.
  • Flying Face: The Ostardi manifest as giant floating heads before they possess hosts.
  • Foil: Once the Monk’s plan succeeds, it is intriguing to see the contrast between him and the Doctor, as the Monk travels specifically to interfere in events where the Doctor just enjoys the opportunity to see history unfold and only gets directly involved if he has to.
  • For the Evulz: While he may not see it that way, at one point the Monk offers a cure to the plague for a sick man but only if the Doctor administers it himself, wanting his enemy to compromise his principles as part of the Monk’s twisted attempt to make a point.
  • Grand Theft Me: Essentially applies to the Monk, as his plan involves basically taking the Doctor’s place in the timeline so that even Steven and Vicki believe he has always been the Doctor; earlier, the Ostardi manifest by possessing Justinian and Theodora, and the Doctor later convinces them to possess Steven and Vicki in the new timeline.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Sophia is part-Hetrodon, which gives her the ability to perceive the future and manipulate Time to a certain extent even before she is taught to refine her abilities.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: At first it seems as though the plot is a straightforward historical (barring the obvious question of what caused the Fifth Doctor to replace the First), but expectations shift drastically once it is confirmed that the Monk is present.
  • Have We Met Yet?: The First Doctor, Steven and Vicki have all met the Monk, but the companions are unaware of regeneration and the Fifth Doctor hasn’t met this incarnation of the Monk yet, so Steven in particular doesn’t recognise him at first.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Doctor forces the Monk to restore him to his rightful place in history by setting a trap with the aid of Sophia, the Monk’s former ally, and through the use of the Monk’s old TARDIS, which he left behind in Constantinople after he took the Doctor’s place.
  • Morton's Fork: The Monk’s plan succeeds because he puts the Doctor in a position where he can either allow a dangerous plague to spread across the country or let an advanced alien race heal this plague at the cost of making humanity immune to another plague that was meant to affect them the following year; either way, history will be changed and the Time Lords will become aware that the Doctor is involved.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Although she initially aided the Monk, Sophia helps the Doctor restore himself to history when she looks into the future and sees that it is worse with the Monk than it would be with the Doctor.
  • Never My Fault: The Monk blames the Doctor for the death of Tamsin- describing her as someone close to him- because he can’t accept the Doctor’s accusation that she only died because of the Monk’s own alliance with the Daleks.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Arguably applies to the Monk, as he attempts to take the Doctor’s role in history, but Sophia observes that history is far worse off with the Monk actively interfering however he wishes compared to the Doctor’s more discreet role in events.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: The Monk’s actions once he has succeeded in replacing the Doctor help Sophia realise that she was wrong, prompting her to rescue the Fifth Doctor and help him restore his timeline.
  • Not So Different: Considering that the Monk’s goal is to take the Doctor’s place and the Doctor basically defeats him by using the Monk’s discarded equipment, it’s hard to argue that this applies.
  • Plague Master: To a degree, as the villain's plan involves unleashing a dangerous plague a year or so before a historically recorded outbreak.
  • Reset Button: Hit multiple times; first the Fifth Doctor taking the First Doctor’s place means that the Fifth Doctor now has no memory of the events that are about to happen once he, Steven and Vicki leave the TARDIS, then the Monk is able to insert himself into the Doctor’s timeline and redoes at least this trip and possibly others, and then the Doctor forces the Monk to remove himself from the Doctor’s role in history so that the Doctor can take it back, which apparently erases these events from history so that the First Doctor, Steven and Vicki can do it all ‘again’ for the first time.
  • Ripple Effect-Proof Memory: After the Monk has taken the Doctor’s place, the Doctor, the Monk and Sophia still remember what originally happened (although it takes Sophia a while to remember the exact details), and the Monk’s original TARDIS is still in Constantinople after the Monk took the Doctor’s ship, even though there is no clear reason for a TARDIS to be there in the new timeline.
  • Sensor Character: As a Hetrodon hybrid, Sophia is sensitive to the flow of Time, to the point that even on her own she can perceive at least the broad strokes of future history.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: As the conclusion to the “Locum Doctors” trilogy, where future Doctors temporarily replaced their past incarnations, this trope obviously applies, particularly when it is revealed that the Monk is attacking the Doctors because of the consequences of his last encounter with the Eighth Doctor.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Arguably used against the Fifth Doctor by the Monk; where the First Doctor would have adhered strongly to the Laws of Time, the Fifth Doctor is more inclined to consider the human cost of his actions.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Not shown directly, but strongly implied for the Monk, who tells Sophia about the Doctor’s actions but presented in a manner that is intended to make her perceive the Doctor as a villain who lets people die to prove he’s right, rather than as a traveller who helps where he can but leaves history alone.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: The Monk convinced Sophia that he would bring about a perfect world once he replaced the Doctor, but she soon realises that his plans will fail, and his claims are undermined in his final confrontation with the Doctor when he starts ranting about how everything will die in the end anyway.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Monk tries to present himself as this by arguing that he will actively help others where the Doctor lets them suffer according to history, but his argument falls apart as it is soon made clear that he will run away the moment things turn against him.
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