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Recap / Doctor Who S20 E6 "The King's Demons"

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The King's Demons
Neither the Doctor or the Master seem willing to bother with Kamelion. Maybe they know about his curse?note 
Written by Terence Dudley
Directed by Tony Virgo
Production code: 6J
Air dates: 15 - 16 March 1983
Number of episodes: 2

The Master: Oh my dear Doctor, you have been naive.
The Doctor: Not at all. You may disguise your features, but you can never disguise your intent.

The One With… the cursed prop.

The second of the Fifth Doctor's two-part adventures, this adventure was also penned by Terence Dudley — author of "Four to Doomsday" and "Black Orchid".

Our story opens up in 1215 AD on Earth, where King John is being an incredible dick to everyone around him, including his host Sir Ranulf Fitzwilliam. Such a dick, in fact, that Sir Ranulf's son, Hugh, takes a duelling challenge to defend his father's honour from the King. He must fight the King's French champion: Sir Gilles Estram. As the pair start their jousting match, the TARDIS randomly lands on the field and interrupts everything. Thinking this might be some sort of trick from the Black Guardian (villain of the three previous serials), the Doctor and companions waltz right out into the open, and scare the crap out of the locals.

...except King John, who proudly proclaims the Doctor, Tegan and Turlough to be his demons and happily invites them to enjoy the food and entertainment at Sir Ranulf's castle.

The Doctor accepts — explaining to Tegan and Turlough that this is only a day before the King, in London, took a vow to join in the Crusades — and that he can't possibly be in two places at once. As the day goes on, Turlough is randomly thrown into the dungeon and the Doctor suspects that the King is not who he claims to be. This results in a swordfight with the king's champion. Through a lengthy fight, the Doctor disarms his opponent — who then immediately whips out a tissue-compression eliminator. That's right! For all three of you, the Doctor included, who didn't work out the plainly obviously anagram — Sir Gilles Estram is really the Master!

Let's be fair, though: they really didn't entirely try to hide this fact. The anagram under which Anthony Ainley went was a good one — as was the anagram of the character's name. However, this is all given away by the fact that you can plainly hear Anthony Ainley's distinct voice about halfway into the first episode as he speaks his lines. Great try, though — there's bits of rubber hiding his face and he's covered by a bushy ginger beard, and they didn't even need to disguise him as a random Alien-Asian mystic or a really elderly man this time around!

Anyway, the Doctor and Master have a quick stare-down before the Master is quickly dragged into an iron maiden by King John's men, kicking and screaming. The Doctor hesitates about this, having to make a choice between condemning the Master or an innocent messenger sent from London by the real king, before letting the Master get thrown inside. Of course, this iron maiden instantly turns out to be the Master's TARDIS. Why the Doctor never figured out this out, we will never know. As the Doctor stares at the now-empty space dumbfounded, the Master goes down to the dungeon and frees the previously-imprisoned lady of the castle — now earning trust with the locals while proclaiming the Doctor to be an evil demon.

Meanwhile, Fake King John knights the Doctor as his champion — and the Doctor's first action is to send Tegan back to the TARDIS. His second action is to go down to the dungeon, where he finds Turlough (who's spending the day snarking at the script and lampshading its issues)... but no Master. For slightly obscure reasons, the Doctor shoves the Master's tissue compression eliminator into the Master's TARDIS.

Bumbling around the castle, the Doctor hears not-King-John singing and wanders in to find... a robot! A really, really crappy-looking robot! It's trying to hold an instrument and "sing" along to the "music" that it creates. This, as the Master conveniently pops in to tell us, is Kamelion. Found after the Master's last encounter with the Doctor, Kamelion can turn into anything with a human shape, powered by psychic energy from its controllers. The Doctor and the Master have a bit of fun turning Kamelion into each other, then remember there's a plot going on outside.

Finally, the Master decides to reveal his master plan. As it turns out, the Master now plans to use Kamelion's weak will and shape-changing to go throughout the universe and undermine reality as we know it. The Master is using 1215 AD as a trial-run to see if he can get the Magna Carta to not longer exist by making King John an even bigger Jerkass than before. (Really, considering how he's been treated by the media these days, would anyone notice?)

In quick succession, everyone else in the story runs in to see the Doctor, Master and Kamelion battling it out by... glaring at one another. Turlough grabs a sword and threatens the Master as the Doctor makes Kamelion turn into Tegan — who is then dragged into the TARDIS. The Master continues glaring at the vanishing TARDIS, then makes his exit as his plan is foiled without the fake king. Who knows where he'll end up, though — the Doctor set the Tissue Compression Eliminator to wreak havoc on his TARDIS's navigation systems.

Inside the TARDIS, Tegan is creeped the hell out when Kamelion shows up in her form. Turlough makes some rather disturbing comments that can be taken either way, and the Doctor threatens to take Tegan home if she won't shut up. Kamelion ignores all of this and says he's going to be a great companion for a good, long time. Tegan says she'll shut up, and the Doctor announces that they're going to go to the Eye of Orion, where a nice, relaxing vacation will be had by all. Seriously. We swear.


  • Agent Scully: Turlough mocks the notion he can summon Hell.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: The Doctor thwarted the Master's attempt to replace King John (whom the Doctor declared was a fairly decent king, as far as the Dark Ages went) with an android in order to prevent the signing of the Magna Carta.
  • Big Bad: The Master.
  • Call-Back: This isn't the first time the Doctor and the Master had a sword fight.
  • Duel to the Death: Between Hugh and the champion.
  • Evil Redhead: The king's champion.
  • Exact Words: Turlough, asked whether he can call on Hell, says that of course he can, and so can Hugh, and Hugh's more likely to get a response.
  • Fake King
  • Finish Him!: The king's order to the Doctor
  • Flynning: The Doctor and Sir Gilles are basically doing pirate halves while moving around the set.
  • Get It Over With: Hugh tries this — after it's already been determined he will be spared.
  • Glove Slap: How the champion does his challenges.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Hugh has this—a young knight valiant in his defence of his father. He is something of a Jerkass though.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: This time, with swords.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Hugh insists on taking up the king's champion's gauntlet, to protect his father from having to fight the duel. (He is quite offended when the Doctor intervenes to save his life after he fails.)
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Averted with King John as the Doctor explains to Tegan (whose knowledge on the subject is limited to what she was taught in school) that he was actually a much better ruler than the average human believes him to have been.
  • Honor Before Reason: Hugh would rather have been killed than bear the shame of losing trial by combat.
  • Iron Maiden: The Master's TARDIS takes on the form of an (anachronistic) iron maiden in thirteenth-century England.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Yes, Tegan is not shy about very loudly voicing her grievances, but she can hardly be blamed for not immediately trusting Kamelion just because the Doctor tells her to with no real explanation. The Doctor comes off as a little unfair for threatening to dump her back on Earth for complaining about this, behaving as though she was being somehow unreasonable and this was the final straw.
  • Large Ham: Gerald Flood as "King John" makes Ainley's Master look underplayed.
  • The Master: Returns to annoy the Doctor again.
  • Meaningful Name: Sir Gilles Estram was credited in the Radio Times for the first episode of this serial as being played by 'James Stoker', which is an anagram for 'Master's Joke.' Also, of course, the character of Sir Gilles Estram is another anagram of Master (though only the last name).
  • Noodle Incident: The Master’s escape from Xeriphas after the events of Time Flight. All we learn is that Kamelion was instrumental in the escape.
  • Obvious Second Choice: It was rumoured that the Master's role in the story was meant for the Monk. This would have made a lot more sense, given that character's habit of screwing around with history.
  • Only Sane Man: Sir Geoffrey is the only one to believe that there is a fake king.
    • Turlough gets annoyed with everyone’s irrational hatred of him.
    Turlough: You’re always threatening me, and without the slightest justification!
  • Pride: Hugh's anger over the way the Doctor saved his life in the duel is inspired by this, as his parents observe.
  • The Reveal: Sir Gilles Estram is the Master. At least, it was intended to be a surprise reveal.
  • Robot Buddy: Kamelion, who is a buddy of both the Master and Doctor for this tale.
  • Sword Fight: Go Doctor go!
  • Textile Work Is Feminine: The lady does embroidery while discussing Hugh's anger with her husband.
  • Thicker Than Water: Sir Ranulf's cousin Geoffrey at one point goes with the Doctor because Ranulf had asked him — "For your sake, cousin."
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Not only does Sir Gilles Estram's accent sound absolutely nothing like a real French person, for some bizarre reason Anthony Ainley throws in some Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable as well. The end result comes across as somewhat akin to GLaDOS doing an impression of the French Taunter.