Follow TV Tropes


Recap / Doctor Who S21 E6 "The Caves of Androzani"

Go To
And I... will always love you...note 

The Doctor: Androzani Major was becoming quite developed last time I passed this way.
Peri: When was that?
The Doctor: ...I don't remember. I'm pretty sure it wasn't the future.
The Fifth Doctor, reminiscing on how hard it is to try and keep his travels straight.

Production code: 6R

The one where the Doctor fondles a bat, and gets replaced with the guy who previously shot him.

Ladies and gentlemen, get ready, because you will see a show this time: Peter Davison's final story, ending his tenure at an even twenty. Robert Holmes returns for the first time since Season 16. And Graeme Harper directs his first, ambitiously opting to abandon generic stage direction that felt static and stilted, get direct with the actors and aim for a bolder, more dynamic filming style. The result? What to this day remains one of the best Doctor Who serials ever made. It's also a colossal bloodbath.note 

This four-episode serial first aired from March 8—16, 1984.

Landing on the planet of Androzani Minor, the Doctor and newnote  companion Peri go out of the TARDIS to wander around a very, very exotic alien planet. They quickly (and more or less in this order) find themselves under attack from random people, contract a nasty rash by stepping into a cobweb, get captured, jailed, and then shot. note 

Luckily, as it turns out, the Doctor and Peri that were shot were actually android duplicates rather than the real thing. The real Doctor and Peri, on the other hand, now find themselves the eternal "guests" of the mysterious Sharaz Jek, who hangs out in the lower caverns wearing a black-and-white jumpsuit and a trippy The Phantom of the Opera-style mask and totally isn't an obvious stand-in for David Bowie (who was originally picked for the role but ultimately dropped out due to scheduling issues). Jek has rather... unsavoury intentions for Peri. Also, there's a dragon-like thing roaming about, but that's neither here nor there.

Peri and the Doctor compare their rashes and increasing dizziness; a more senior "guest" of Jek's sees this, and smugly tells them that the cobweb they fell into was spectrox, a highly toxic silk that's also the chief ingredient for a valuable anti-aging drug, and that they are now suffering a slow and painful death at the hands of "spectrox toxaemia". Before a cure can be found, the Doctor and Peri are separated — with the Doctor being shot at (and getting a head wound) and kidnapped by Stotz and his gang (for interrogation at Androzani Major). He's blindfolded and handcuffed to a wall, but manages to escape by burning his handcuffs off (and burning himself a bit, too), takes over the space ship and tries to manually crash land it while snarking at his captors. He's also still dying. The gang literally lasers a hole through the cockpit door, and the Doctor scrambles out of the ship, barely able to stand anymore but running with all his might.

Meanwhile, the story takes an unexpected nose dive into Psychological Horror and political intrigue. Jek falls madly in love with an increasingly unconscious Peri, but she's terrified when she sees his burned face underneath the mask, and he goes into a Villainous BSoD. The local president, who's 85 but looks 50 thanks to refined spectrox, is caught up in an arms race conflict full of corruption. He's deposed by his lackey by creative use of an elevator shaft, and the lackey is quickly deposed by his smug secretary lady using the regular legal system. It all results in death. Lots and lots of death.

The Doctor returns to Jek's place and (using his respiratory bypass system) goes off into deep, nearly airless caves to retrieve the cure for his and Peri's condition: the milk from a space bat, the natural source of spectrox. Sadly, we don't get to see Peter Davison milking a bat. Luckily, he manages to carry her out in time for redeemed-villain Jek to die a Heroic Sacrifice. The Doctor carries an unconscious Peri along the alien landscape until he trips just before reaching the TARDIS — dropping Peri and one of the two doses of antidote. He crawls in, locks the door, drags himself to the console and gets the TARDIS to vworp away half a second before the ground underneath her explodes.

The Doctor gives Peri the remaining antidote — actually worried that he might die permanently rather than regenerate. As we all know, though, this is not the case, and as visions of his companions and the Master surround him, he turns into the Sixth Doctor. This new chap, with curly blond hair atop his head, gives his sardonic wit a whirl and insults Peri with a condescending remark. Six believes this regeneration is for the better and gives the camera a big, confident, full of himself smile.


  • And Another Thing...: Used for a Kick the Dog moment; after pushing the President into an empty elevator shaft, Morgus tells Krau Timmin that he's flying to Androzani Minor on a peace mission to end this horrible carnage. Oh, and he wants the lift maintenance engineer shot. (Given the next time we see Timmin she has betrayed Morgus to the Praesidium, who have charged him with the President's murder, it is likely that the engineer survived.)
  • Anti-Villain: Sharaz Jek is an admitted mad terrorist who only wants to see Morgus dead, but compared to the other villains in his story he's almost a saint.
  • Any Last Words?: The firing squad:
    General Chellak: Do you have any last declaration?
    Doctor: Nothing special. We're innocent, we've had no trial, we've had no opportunity to defend ourselves; in short, this is a mockery of justice.
    General Chellak: Do you have any last declaration?
  • Aside Comment:
    • Morgus addresses the camera directly on occasion. This was a result of the actor misinterpreting the stage directions, but it recalls the Jacobean theatrical tradition of the Aside Comment, and so gives the character an air of Shakespearean villainy.
    • Also the Sixth Doctor for his "Change my dear, and it seems not a moment too soon."
  • As You Know: Chellak says this to the android duplicate of Salateen while sending it on a bogus mission.
    Now, as you know, we've had a satellite monitoring radio signals here for some time. We've now located a transmitter, must belong to the rebels, just here. Make a note of the coordinates.
  • Auteur License: Eric Saward respected Robert Holmes enough to give complete free rein on the script, so long as the Doctor died at the end. Saward's only contributions were the celery explanation and the Sixth Doctor's scene.
  • Back for the Finale: All of the Fifth Doctor's former companions appear as hallucinations.
  • Badass Bandolier: The gunrunners wear bandoliers of gas grenades.
  • Badass Boast:
    • "I'm not going to let you stop me now!" Doubly badass, as the scene subtly implies the Doctor is saying it to both Stotz (who's trying to retake control of the shuttle from him) and himself, as his regeneration process seemingly begins.
    • "Do you think bullets can stop me? Morgus, you stinking offal, LOOK AT ME!!"
  • Badass in Distress: Like his Third and Fourth incarnations, the Fifth Doctor gets kidnapped in this story, and chained and blindfolded. Also like them, he manages to break free and single-handedly rescue his companion from certain death, unintentionally ending a brutal war in the process.
  • Bad Boss: Stotz is awful to his gunrunner underlings, holding a knife to Krelper's throat and then trying to force-feed him a suicide pill. Later he kills them after they refuse to go along with his scheme (which he was planning to do anyway).
  • Bastardly Speech: Corrupt Corporate Executive Morgus uses Patriotic Fervour slogans while plotting treason and preaches high-minded virtue while Kicking The Dog.
  • Bastard Understudy: Morgus is overthrown by his secretary! Particularly ironic because Morgus suspects everyone but her of plotting against him, even when they're not.
  • BBC Quarry: The surface of Androzani Minor.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: The Doctor gets a full outfit of Clothing Damage and covered in filth and blood, in addition to becoming progressively sicker and sicker from poisoning, ruining his skin tone and leaving dark circles around his eyes. Peri also gets poisoned and dragged through most of the same stuff he does, but all that happens to her is her skin and lips becoming romantically pale.
  • Beneath the Earth: The eponymous caves where most of the action takes place.
  • Between My Legs: Krelper stands menacingly over a resting Stotz to intimidate him. He's not impressed, and quickly turns the tables on him physically and psychologically.
  • Big Bad: Morgus is arguably the story's most irredeemable and prominent villain, but notably he never actually meets the Doctor face-to-face.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Almost every single person who appears in the serial dies for small, petty reasons, and the Doctor is forced to crawl across a burning landscape in order to save a companion he's only known for two episodes. He regenerates, but only just. This is made even worse if one realises that the Fifth Doctor has managed to lose every other companion up until then due to his own ineffectualness. However, the spectrox is still there, as it was only Jek's androids who were preventing access to it. And it's only Morgus who has collapsed, as the Presidium will presumably just elect a new President, while Morgus' (only slightly less evil) secretary Timmin has control of his industrial empire (the more things change, etc). Nonetheless, a pointless war has ended and some villains received their comeuppance, so it's not a total loss.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: The story is noted for being almost entirely bereft of likable characters other than the Doctor and Peri; the most sympathetic is Jek, and he's a psychopath.
  • The Blank: Jek uses faceless warrior androids as grunts.
  • Blatant Lies: The Doctor looks through the bars of their detention cell and sees the firing squad assembling outside.
    Peri: Anything interesting?
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Justified — Jek desires the Doctor's intellectual stimulation as well as Peri's beauty, but makes it clear that he will kill the Doctor if he can't bend him to his will.
  • Book Ends: The Fifth Doctor's regeneration sees him comforted by visions of his past companions and taunted by a vision of the Master, paralleling the leadup to his predecessor's regeneration in "Logopolis" (albeit in the opposite order). What's more, Peter Davison gets second billing in the final episodes of both stories.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • Morgus repeatedly turns to the camera and gives expository soliloquies. Word of Godinvoked says that this wasn't intended — the actor had misunderstood the stage directions in the script, but the director liked the effect it gave and told the actor to keep doing it, as it made the story similar to a classical theatre piece and played on the similarity of the plot to early-modern revenge tragedies.
    • At the end of the story after the Doctor regenerates, this new incarnation of the Doctor speaks to the camera when he says the last half of the line "Change my dear, and it seems not a moment too soon."
  • Bridal Carry: A dying Peri is carried by first Jek (in a Villainous Breakdown) and then the Doctor (back to the TARDIS).
  • Call-Back:
  • Chair Reveal: We don't see Morgus until he turns to break the fourth wall.
    Morgus: The spineless cretins!
  • Chewing the Scenery: By the time Sharaz Jek is through, the entire set is covered with toothmarks!
  • The Chew Toy: Surprisingly, the Doctor. He gets poisoned, almost shot in the head by an android, nearly gets his arms pulled off, handcuffed, blindfolded, singed a bit, slapped by Sharaz Jek among other things, and then dies.
  • Cliffhanger: The endings of Part One and Part Three are considered among the best in the show's history.
  • Cliffhanger Copout: The first episode ends with the Doctor and Peri getting shot, execution-style, and falling down dead. The following episode resolves the conflict ten seconds in, when it is revealed that the executed parties were actually robot look-a-likes.
  • Coming in Hot:
    Doctor: Stotz, we'll be touching down in a couple of minutes, or more likely crashing down. (buckling up) You see I'm a bit out of practise with manual landings so if I were you, I'd find something firm to hang on to!
  • Continuity Cavalcade: When the Fifth Doctor dies, he hallucinates all his companions (of that incarnation) gathering around encouraging him to regenerate. (And the Master encouraging him to give up and die.)
  • Convection, Schmonvection: Averted; Jek's terrible injuries were caused by his taking shelter from a mud burst in a baking chamber. Stotz cuts a hole in the cockpit door to stop the Doctor, but the edges of the hole are too hot for him to reach through and open it.
  • Conveniently Placed Sharp Thing: The Doctor is chained to the wall in the spaceship control cabin. He's able to break free of the wall, and finds a vertical glowing energy thingy he can use to cut the chain, through trying to do so while standing with your back to it is rather painful.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Morgus is shown deliberately manipulating the supply of product to increase profits, and won't stop at sabotage or even murder to get his way. And that's just in the ordinary course of business, before getting to what he's up to on Androzani Minor.
    Timmin: The world will be forever in your debt, Trau Morgus!
    Morgus: Yes....quite so.
    • What he's getting up to involves shutting down factories on one side of Androzani Major, arresting the people made jobless and homeless by this and having them moved to labour camps on the other that he just happens to own.
  • Corrupt Politician: The President of the (equally corrupt) Presidium.
  • Cow Tools: Discussed in the DVD commentary when Morgus gets his head shoved in between two parts of a futuristic machine thing which immediately starts glowing. Graeme Harper notes that "we don't know what it does, but it's killing him".
  • Crapsack World: This story consists entirely of insane and/or absolutely horrible people fighting each other to the death for entirely selfish reasons, with the Doctor and Peri helplessly caught in the crossfire and the Doctor dying as a result.
  • Creepy Monotone: Morgus constantly speaks in a hushed, sullen tone that hardly ever fluctuates.
  • Crisis Catch And Carry: The Fifth Doctor carries Peri in his arms to escape to the TARDIS when the caves of Androzani are about to blow up.
  • Cyanide Pill: Mercenary gunrunner Stotz is confronted by one of his men, Krelper, demanding payment. Stotz forces him to the ground at knifepoint and takes out a pill.
    Stotz: The boss gave me one of these. Ten seconds he said. Let's see if it works. (shoves it in Krelper's mouth, who tries to swallow it whole but Stotz jams a fist over his throat) COME ON, YOU SLAT! BITE! BITE! BITE! (lets him go) Next time, it'll be for real.
  • Cyber Cyclops: Sharaz Jek's androids.
  • Darker and Edgier: This story wouldn't have been out of place in Philip Hinchcliffe's tenure. Robert Holmes felt that the Fifth Doctor's adventures had been too easy, so for his final story, he decided to put him through hell.
  • Deadly Gas: Stotz is providing Sharaz Jek with gas weapons, among other things, which prove to be a major advantage over the army. Androids aren't affected by gas and the army's gas-suits are inefficient.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Morgus' secretary gets a hell of a zinger in on Morgus when she turns on him..
    Morgus: I don't care for your tone.
    Krau Timmin: Wish that was all I could say about you.
  • Death by Materialism: Stotz and his gang follow Jek through the caves while he's apparently fetching spectrox for them, hoping to find where the spectrox is stored and raid it. However, Jek expected this and led them to where the monster was. Two soldiers were killed.
    Krelper: You tricked us into that!
    Jek: No, you were led by your own cupidity. Greed, heedless of caution, lures many a man to his death.
    • This proves Morgus' final downfall, when he tries to steal Jek's entire supply of Spectrox (admittedly Morgus hadn't got much choice by that point, having lost all his power and money). He fails to realise that Jek hates him so much he'd give his own life to kill Morgus.
  • Death World: Androzani Minor features regular semi-volcanic mud bursts, is inhabited by a (admittedly rather unconvincing) carnivorous creature and is the native environment of a mineral which, in its raw state, will kill you within a few days if you so much as touch it. Not to mention you can get shot for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, as there's a rather brutal war going on.
  • Deathly Unmasking: In the finale, Sharaz Jek finds himself face-to-face with his old enemy Morgus at long last. Eager to finally take his revenge, Jek tears his distinctive black-and-white mask off to reveal the burns he suffered when Morgus first betrayed him, then attacks head-on; in the process, he's shot in the back several times by Stotz, but Jek is still able to kill Morgus with his bare hands before finally succumbing to his wounds. He dies unmasked in the arms of the Salateen android moments later.
  • Decapitation Presentation: Sharaz Jek wants only one thing to call off his war, the head of Morgus brought to him.
  • Declaration of Protection: This is essentially the Doctor's key motivation for the bulk of the story — he's not interested in the civil war or the smuggling or whatever, he just wants to get Peri cured, out of Sharaz Jek's hands and off the planet ASAP. Given the utter bloodbath this episode ends up being, it's a wise philosophy to have. By all technicalities, he succeeds.
  • Deconstruction: Can arguably be seen as one for the standard Doctor Who story formula, especially during the Fifth Doctor's era. The story starts off unassumingly with the Doctor believing this to just be another harmless adventure. As the story unfolds the Doctor tries all of his usual motions to get a foothold (smooth talking, appealing to better nature, trying to reason a compromise), only to have them all thrown back into his face. In the end, nobody wins, everyone dies (including the Doctor) except Peri and Timmin, and he succeeds in appealing to nobody's "better nature." Nobody gets what they want except Jek, who is a deranged psychopath and dies in the process.
  • The Determinator:
    • The Doctor breaks free of metal restraints, steals a spaceship, outruns armed and angry mercenaries, climbs deep into caves with no oxygen and back, and carries Peri to the TARDIS while in the paralysis stage of his disease. And all of this while (apparently) holding back the regeneration process.
    • Also Sharaz Jek during the final confrontation.
      "Morgus! You think bullets could stop me now?!" (They don't)
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Sharaz Jek dies in the arms of one of his androids; The Doctor dies in Peri's arms.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: The Doctor snarks every powerful, gun-toting and/or homicidal character he comes across, but Sharez Jek makes it clear he doesn't appreciate this.
    "Your sense of humour will be the death of you, Doctor. Probably quite soon."
  • Downer Ending: Despite the story having a Bittersweet Ending, Peter Davison (for whose Doctor this serial served as a Grand Finale) is fond of joking just how much of a downer ending the story has: after you've been poisoned, yelled at by megalomaniacs, chased by drug smugglers/gunrunners, dodged cave monsters, crash-landed spaceships, and tried to escape the planet quaking beneath your feet... you turn into Colin Baker!
  • Dramatic Unmask: Sharaz Jek unmasks himself during the final confrontation with Morgus, to show Morgus (and the audience) the extent of his injuries.
  • Drone of Dread: The rippling effect for the Doctor's regeneration is accompanied by a loud electronic buzz, highlighting his uncertainty regarding whether or not he'll be Killed Off for Real this time around.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome:
    • This whole story is one for the Fifth Doctor. He's fatally poisoned within minutes of leaving the TARDIS, and manages to beat immeasurable odds to save Peri from soldiers, gun runners, and a terrifying maniac.
    • Sharaz Jek gets one when he ignores a barrage of bullets to get his long-awaited revenge on the vile Morgus.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Just how did Sharaz Jek furnish his place, anyway?
  • Elevator Failure: Morgus shoves the President down the empty elevator shaft of his private lift.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The Sixth Doctor's first actions upon coming into existence are snarking at Peri's confusion over what's happened before proudly proclaiming that his regeneration has come "not a moment too soon," immediately laying the groundwork for the haughtiness that would define his personality.
    The Sixth Doctor: That's three I's in one breath; makes you sound a rather egotistical young lady.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • The corrupt President is becoming disenchanted with Morgus and makes little effort to hide it, leaving Morgus to believe (incorrectly) that the President is moving against him.
    • Jek acts rather guilty when Peri asks where the Doctor has got to, having let Stotz take him away (he quickly reverts to blaming it all on Morgus though). And when he realises Peri is dying, he makes every effort to assist the Doctor to save her life.
  • "Everybody Dies" Ending: With the exception of Peri and Krau Timmin (who only observes the action from Morgus' office and never goes to Androzani Minor), every named character in the story dies, including the Doctor himself.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Sharaz Jek and Morgus are almost Shakespearean in their furious ranting and scheming asides, respectively.
  • Evil Laugh: Sharaz Jek and the Master naturally, but the imprisoned Salateen gives a disturbing laugh when informing the Doctor and Peri that they're dying of spetrox poisoning.
    Salateen: Oh I'm sorry, you probably can't see the funny side of it.
  • Evil Versus Evil: The only relatively sane and decent character is Chellak, and even he's willing to send one of his own men to certain death just to cover up an embarrassment.
  • Face Death with Dignity: The Doctor has absolutely no hesitation in sacrificing himself for Peri. He's not entirely certain if he's going to be able to regenerate this time, but manages to say goodbye and pass away with little fuss.
  • Fate Worse than Death:
    • Sharaz Jek plans to keep Peri with him forever, and thanks to his unlimited supply of a life-extending drug that's Not Hyperbole.
    • According to actor Peter Davison, death would be preferable to turning into Colin Baker. We assume he's joking, given the two actors are friends.
  • Finale Credits: Peter Davison's face in the closing sequence is replaced with Colin Baker's from the last shot of the episode, and Baker also receives top billing over Davison, the first and (to date) only time this would happen for a regeneration episode (Patrick Troughton and Tom Baker were both uncredited, and Davison himself was credited second after T. Baker).
  • Find the Cure!: The Doctor's half of the plot, from the point when he discovers that he and Peri are dying of spectrox poisoning. Fortunately, there is a cure, it's just very hard to get at.
  • Firing in the Air a Lot: The soldiers who hear their colleague scream as the magma beast kills him run back shooting their guns in the air. Given that it's difficult to kill, they may have been hoping to scare it off.
  • Floating Advice Reminder: As the Doctor lies dying, his companions' heads float around encouraging him to regenerate... and then the Master's head shows up and tells him to give up and die:
    Tegan: What was it you always told me Doctor? "Brave heart?"
    Turlough: You must survive. Too many of your enemies would delight in your death, Doctor.
    Kamelion: Turlough speaks the truth, Doctor.
    Nyssa: You're needed. You mustn't die, Doctor.
    Adric: You know that, Doctor!
    The Doctor: Adric?
    The Master: No, my dear Doctor, you must die! Die, Doctor! DIE, DOCTOR!
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Right before the Doctor and Peri are taken out and shot by the firing squad, we get a lingering shot of the two of them facing each other in their cell, standing completely still and with neutral expressions. Next episode, it turns out these were robot duplicates.
    • The effect used for the Doctor's distorted vision near the end of Part Three is the same effect used for his regeneration at the end of the serial, which Graeme Harper included to indicate the onset of the Doctor's regeneration, meaning that the Doctor is holding off his regeneration for the entirety of Part Four.
    • Shortly before he regenerates, the Doctor notes that it "feels different this time." Perhaps a warning of a regeneration about to go awry and foist upon us the horrors of Six's characterization?
  • Future Imperfect:
    Morgus: As they used to say on Earth, every cloud has a strontium lining.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: For once, the Doctor's not the only one — Sharaz Jek has his android creations.
  • Genre Deconstruction: Of the Space Opera stories that the show flirted with on many occasions. Drawing strong influence from Dune, it sees the Doctor caught up in a drug war between rival factions on two sister planets. However, not only is the conflict portrayed as an ignobly brutal case of Black-and-Gray Morality, but the Doctor also tries to stay out of the main conflict to little avail, with his usual tricks falling flat and his main goal instead being rescuing Peri after he and she accidentally contract a painful and lethal poisoning.
  • Get It Over With: Peri is asked if she has any last words before being executed. She resignedly replies, "Just get on with it".
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Sharaz Jek wears a mask and leather suit to hide massive scarring all over his body.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Averted; all the soldiers wear mining helmets.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The Doctor stumbles and spills half of the antidote as he's about to enter the TARDIS, so he gives it to Peri.
  • Holographic Terminal: The communicator in Morgus' office, in a creative variation on the usual Video Phone.
  • Homage: The whole story is one to Dune (apart from that Jek, who's got an obvious Phantom of the Opera thing going on). Androzani Minor (read: Arrakis) is a hostile desert planet that serves as an export platform for a valuable drug (i.e. spice) produced by the local oversized wildlife (i.e. sandworms). Said drug is currently being feuded over by the head of the mining conglomerate (i.e. Baron Harkkonen) and President (i.e. Padishah Emperor). The colour-coded Army uniforms seem to be inspired by Star Trek.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: Jek gives a long rant on the subject, and after Morgus loses all his power and assets Stotz makes a point of reminding him that he's just a man with a gun now.
  • Human Aliens: Averted with the people of the Androzani system, who are descendants of human colonists. However, utilised in-story with the Doctor's presence, as his different biology is enough to fool the guard androids to hesitate attacking him (as they're programmed to guard against humans).
  • Human Shield: Salateen uses Peri as one while shooting at an android, because she's wearing one of the belt buckles that send a signal cancelling the android's kill command.
  • Humiliation Conga: Morgus loses all his wealth and power during the final episode, in quick succession.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Subverted with General Chellak's aide Salateen — the reason he's so efficient and cold-blooded is because he's one of Sharaz Jek's androids. That said, the real Salateen is still a very savvy lieutenant.
  • Hypocritical Humour:
    • The Doctor complains of Jek being a raving egotist, because he claimed the Doctor's mind was almost equal to his own.
    • And then the same thing happens with the next Doctor snarking about Peri's egotism.
  • I Am the Noun: Morgus, toward Stolz, but it doesn't work since his name doesn't mean much by that point.
    Morgus: I am Morgus, one of the descendants of the first colonists.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Peter Davison had previously co-starred with Robert Glenister (Salateen) in the sitcom Sink Or Swim.
  • Iconic Item: We finally get an explanation for why the Doctor wears a stick of celery: it's a powerful restorative for Gallifreyans that also doubles as a natural detector for gasses that the Doctor is allergic to.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Sharaz Jek's intentions towards Peri are... not benign. And, although it's not explicitly stated, this does not go unnoticed by either Peri or the Doctor; in every scene the three characters are in together, the Doctor makes a point of putting himself between Peri and Jek.
  • I Reject Your Reality: Morgus is irrevocably convinced that the Doctor and Peri are government agents trying to topple his schemes. Granted, there is little evidence to the contrary and the Doctor is most definitely a spanner in his works, but this incorrect assumption ultimately leads to his downfall.
  • I'll Kill You!: The Doctor isn't impressed — as he points out to Stotz, he's dying anyway.
  • Immune to Bullets: The Magma Creature isn't fazed by bullets when it attacks the soldiers and the gunrunners, although it's dead by the time the Doctor comes across it again.
  • Improperly Placed Firearms: Ingrams IN SPACE!!
  • Incoming Ham: The Sixth Doctor introduces himself to the world with some good old-fashioned snark!
    Peri: ...Doctor?
    Sixth Doctor: You were expecting someone else?
  • Infrared X-Ray Camera:
    • Salateen hides Peri in the general's private quarters while the general talks to his android replicant. Unfortunately the android can see through walls.
    • This is what saves the Doctor during his incredibly risky escape gambit (see It's the Only Way). Despite his human appearance, the android scans him and detects his two hearts.
  • Instant Death Bullet:
    • Mostly played straight but averted by Sharaz Jek, who survives on determination long enough to settle Morgus before succumbing to his injures.
    • Also averted by Jek's androids: they're not Immune to Bullets but it takes a lot to destroy them.
  • Instant Sedation: Used by Sharaz Jek when he abducts Peri from Chellak's quarters.
  • In the Back: Salateen's android duplicate gets Stolz via ambush, then shoots him as he tries turning around.
  • In the Hood: The Doctor and Peri have their faces covered by the Red Cloth before execution. As a result, only one man realises they've just shot two android replicants, and he's quickly reassigned to a dangerous mission by the General to cover for this cock-up.
  • Irony: In its raw form, spectrox is a substance of pure death, acting as a lethal (and painful) neurotoxin. In its refined form, however, spectrox is a Spice of Life, being able to dramatically slow down the aging process to the extent where it makes its users practically immortal.
  • It's the Only Way: The Doctor has an idea that Jek's android guards won't kill anything that's not human. He tests this theory by opening the door and waiting to see if they shoot him.
  • I Was Never Here: Morgus has to make personal contact with the smugglers who until now have been working through his cut-out man, Stotz. They're naturally surprised to see the most wealthy and powerful man in the Androzani system is their boss.
    Morgus: Why are you staring at me? Perhaps you think you recognise me?
    Krelper: No, sir.
    Stotz: Even if he does, Krelper won't say anything.
    Morgus: It wouldn't be wise.
  • I Was Quite the Looker: Played for Drama with Jek, who goes into various How the Mighty Have Fallen rants.
  • I Will Tear Your Arms Off: Sharaz Jek threatens to have the Doctor's arms slowly ripped out by androids if he doesn't tell him what he wants to know. Unusually for this trope, the androids start making good on this threat before the Doctor gives in.
  • Kangaroo Court: The Doctor and Peri don't even get that. Once Morgus confirms the 'captured gunrunners' are not Stotz and his gang, he orders them shot. When General Chellak protests that they could provide valuable information, Morgus overrules him.
  • Knight in Sour Armour: From the moment he gets embroiled in the whole spectrox situation, the Doctor just seems so done with everything and he starts acting far more sarcastic, impatient and weary as soon as he realises that nobody on Androzani Minor is willing to act rationally or listen to his pleas of innocence. It seems to act as an early indication of the Sixth Doctor's abrasive personality.
  • Lack of Empathy: Morgus leaves his business partner for dead, deliberately causes "accidents" that kill his workers and personally murders his superior, all for the pursuit of profit. It is implied that he only saw Sharaz Jek as an obstacle and didn't quite understand just how much Jek hates him. He believed that Jek would back down from a gun pointed at him, or that a bullet would slow him down. He was very wrong.
  • Large Ham: Sharaz Jek is one of the largest hams in Doctor Who history, and is all the more memorable for it.
  • Lethal Klutz: Peri prat-falling off the ledge. Landing right on a nice batch of fungus that gives her and The Doctor a case of spectrox toxaemia. She survives, The Doctor doesn't.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: It takes the Doctor a while to accept that these people simply cannot be reasoned with. Once that happens, he thrusts himself into action and nothing can stand in his way.
  • Lured into a Trap: Jek isn't bothered when Salateen escapes with the device that tells the androids not to fire on him, as he simply programs his remaining devices to work on a different frequency. Unfortunately Salateen also knows the location of his base, and the army overwhelms his androids by sheer force of numbers.
  • The Mad Hatter:
    Sharaz Jek: Do you think I'm mad?!
    Peri: N-n-no.
    Sharaz Jek: (quietly) I am mad.
  • Mad Scientist: Jek. Even his enemies acknowledge the brilliance of his androids, and even he acknowledges his own insanity.
  • Magic Antidote: Peri goes from death's door to practically back to normal within seconds of being given the antidote.
  • Malevolent Masked Man: Sharaz Jek wears a head-covering mask to conceal his disfigurement from the mud geyser.
  • Male Gaze: The Doctor's moving death scene is somewhat undermined by the excellent view the audience have of Peri's cleavage. Peter Davison once remarked that it it's all he can remember about filming the scene.
  • Miscarriage of Justice: The Doctor and Peri are found standing among a stash of weaponry being smuggled to Sharaz Jek, so are hastily sentenced to death by firing squad. Chellak acknowledges they may be innocent, but has to carry out his orders.
  • Mistaken for Spies: The Doctor's unexplained presence on Androzani Minor leads everyone to assume he's an agent for their enemies, leading to several fatal mistakes on the supporting cast's part.
  • Mood Whiplash: Five's regeneration into Six, going from his hallucinatory death scene right to Six snarking at Peri.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Sharaz Jek becomes remorseful when all of his androids are destroyed in the final skirmish and he learns that Peri is dying of Spectrox Toxaemia, as he could have sent an android into the dangerous caves to find the antidote.
  • My Greatest Second Chance: The Doctor and his companion, Peri, contract spectrox toxaemia early on in the story, and the Doctor spends the rest of it giving his all to save Peri. Having been unable to save Adric back in "Earthshock", he felt even his own life was not worth sacrificing Peri's, and after spending four episodes looking for the antidote and escaping more imminent death, he gave the only dose that survived to his companion despite his uncertainty over being able to regenerate this time. Even his last thought, "Adric?", indicates he felt this was a "second chance" of sorts.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Morgus.
  • Never My Fault: Sharaz Jek blames Morgus for everything bad that happens to him. Admittedly, Morgus did leave him for dead, but everything Jek did after that was by his own accord to gain his own revenge.
  • Noble Demon: Sharaz Jek treats his prisoners like guests and doesn't do harm to people who haven't wronged him first.
  • Non-Indicative Title: Despite the title, the Doctor notes that the caves are in fact blowholes.
  • Noodle Incident: For the entirety of his tenure, the Fifth Doctor wears a stalk of celery on his left lapel, pinning it on in "Castrovalva". In his final serial, we learn this incarnation suffers allergies from Praxis gasses in star systems. If he comes in range of these gases, the celery turns purple and he eats it: "If nothing else, I'm sure it's good for my teeth." (It may act as an immunity booster to the allergens, or just a signal to get away.) However, we never see this happen on screen, because this was a last minute explanation written in to justify his habit of pinning the celery to his clothing.
  • No Blood for Phlebotinum: The conflict over spectrox, "the most valuable substance in the universe".
  • No Seat Belts: Averted with the Doctor's crash-landing, enabling him to recover and flee before Stotz and his men can get to their feet.
  • Not Hyperbole:
    • When Jek says he wants Morgus' head "congealed in its own vile juice," that's not a metaphor.
    • Sharaz Jek plans to keep Peri with him forever. The Doctor assumes this means it will seem like forever, but Jek means it literally, thanks to his control of the only source of spectrox.
  • Not Quite Dead: The Doctor and Peri are initially believed to be executed at the end of Part One, only for Chellak to discover that they were android duplicates.
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: Averted. Sharaz used to be a doctor, before everything that happened to him.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: YMMV, but Sharaz Jek's scarred face is significantly more horrifying when we only see people's reaction to it. Unfortunately we do get a direct look in the end.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX: The electronic device that Morgus uses in his office during his first scene in part one is obviously a TV/teletext remote control, with John Normington's thumb conveniently placed to hide the manufacturer's logo.
  • Older Than They Look: The President is 80, but thanks to the spectrox, he doesn't look a day over 50.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: The Fifth Doctor indulges in some Fourth Doctor-style banter with his captors. The key difference here is that, unlike Four, Five isn't in total control — he's sweating under the collar and playing a brinkmanship game, desperate not to get everyone killed.
  • One-Man Army: In a sense. Jek is only one man, but his android army is sufficient enough to shunt his drug war into a stalemate. He calculates it will take five years for Chellak's vastly superior force to seriously threaten him, by which time the demand for spectrox will make the Presidium willing to accept any terms.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: In the first episode, Nicola Bryant accidentally lets slip her natural English accent, particularly when she says the word 'glass'.
  • Our Graphics Will Suck in the Future: The graphics for Sharaz Jek's computer are generated by a BBC Micro.
  • Papa Wolf: The Doctor will save Peri, no matter what.
  • People in Rubber Suits: The ridiculously fake magma beast, which as usual is overlit instead of being kept in shadowinvoked.
  • Pinball Protagonist: Even by his typical standards, the Fifth Doctor hits the rock bottom with this trope (and the worst, precisely in his last story). He fails to convince a single person that he and Peri are not any kind of threat to them, even when he makes the typical jokes, threats or proposals that would have made the previous four Doctors get away with easily. That said, the serial appears to be a subversion of the typical Eric Saward-era formula: instead of the Doctor being effectively locked out of the story while the villains and the "Saward 80s badass" character resolve the plot, the Doctor is the catalyst that breaks the stalemate each time he escapes the frying pan into another fire. The only thing he actually does in the story is convince Salateen to act, but the focus is on the Doctor as a Spanner in the Works rather than being sidelined.
  • The Power of Hate: When Sharaz Jek finally comes face-to-face with Morgus again, his hatred is so immense that he walks through a hail of bullets to kill him with his bare hands.
  • Properly Paranoid: Yes, there was indeed a government agent trying to expose Morgus. It just wasn't the Doctor, or anyone else he suspected for that matter.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Sharaz Jek is Red to Morgus' Blue. Jek is prone to violent raving, Morgus has a Lack of Empathy.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Sharaz Jek starts showing a better side to his nature when Peri enters the final stage of her illness, nursing her and offering the Doctor as much help as he can to obtain the cure. He's dead by the end of the episode.
  • Red Shirt: The army troopers. Their uniforms are even coloured like Star Trek — Yellow for the General, blue for his aide, red for the enlisted men.
  • Reveling in the New Form: He doesn't get to fully express it until the next serial, but the Sixth Doctor immediately takes a liking to his new body as soon as he comes into existence, ending this story with a smug grin and the words "change, my dear, and it seems not a moment too soon."
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: Jek's robotic doubles are amazingly articulate when it comes to expressing emotions. The only real give away is that they don't blink as much as a human would.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Yes, Morgus is a diabolical bastard who must be brought down. Jek's only motivation for wanting to kill him is for the sake of his own selfish revenge. And Timmin, who does bring him down, does so to pursue her own ambitions.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Sharaz Jek has started the whole war simply to get revenge on Morgus.
  • Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies: A massive series of mud bursts kills everyone in the caves who isn't already dead, including the entire army.
  • Secret Underground Passage: Jek has secret passages to the cells where Chellak is holding Peri and the Doctor. Justified as he used to own the place (it's a former spectrox refinery which the army took on their first assault; presumably Jek installed the hidden cameras and tunnels in advance so he'd know everything the army was up to).
  • Security Cling: Peri throws herself into the Doctor's arms with a terrified squeal in response to Jek Suddenly Shouting.
  • Self-Plagiarism: Robert Holmes reused the gun-running plot from "The Power of Kroll" and the fighting over a valuable substance plot from "The Space Pirates".
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Even though Morgus constantly talks in a sullen tone, he has a very good vocabulary and knows exactly how to use it.
  • Sherlock Scan: The Doctor analyses the markings on the planet's surface and concludes that an interplanetary spacecraft landed to unload some cargo.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: While the Doctor manages to save Peri, the rest of Androzani Major and Minor go completely to hell because of a chain of events that was started by the Doctor simply being there and ended with every main character dying pointlessly. The entirety of these places were so riddled with corruption that it just took one thing to make everything collapse. Particular examples of this hopelessness include Stotz killing the rest of his crew and Sharaz Jek, moments after getting the revenge that he'd started the whole war that the plot centred around over, getting shot in the back.
  • Shot at Dawn: Death under the Red Cloth (not that they bother waiting til dawn, being underground). This is the Cliffhanger of Part One.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sighted Guns Are Low-Tech / Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Lots of shooting modified Ingrams and Sten guns from the hip.
  • Sinister Surveillance: Jek first spies Peri via the cameras he's got hidden in General Chellak's headquarters.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Apart from Peri, the only female character is Timmin. They're the only characters who survive.
  • Solid Gold Poop: The highly valuable life-extending drug spectrox is made from something produced by the bats dwelling in the titular caves. The exact nature of the substance is never explained; the Expanded Universe would eventually clarify that it's a silk that the bats produce to create cocoons for hibernation. Antidote to spectrox toxaemia, meanwhile, is the milk of the queen bat, which the Doctor uses to save Peri's life at the cost of his own. His Heroic Sacrifice takes on a bit of fridge hilarity when you realise that the Fifth Doctor's last act was to milk a bat.
  • Spanner in the Works: The Doctor's role in the story is limited to attempting to get him and Peri out alive. His mere presence, however, inadvertently causes the entire messed-up Androzani society to implode. The Doctor brings down a corrupt government and ends a bloody civil war by accident and while just trying to save Peri and get the hell off the planet as quick as possible.
  • Spice of Life: While lethally toxic in its raw form, spectrox can be refined into a ridiculously effective anti-aging drug. This, combined with the rarity of the substance (being produced only by the cave bats in Androzani Minor), results in the stuff becoming the most valuable material in the universe.
  • Staggered Zoom: When the Doctor decides to confront one of Jek's androids to see if it'll differentiate between human and Time Lord physiology, the shot transitions to the android's point of view via a staggered zoom into the giant lens on its face.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Sharaz Jek quite clearly has the creepy kind of hots for Peri, doing things like chloroforming her, stroking her face while she's unconscious, and carrying her around in his arms (again, unconscious) while whispering "so beautiful...". The fact that he also dresses entirely in black leather really doesn't help.
  • The Starscream: Timmin, who is the only person Morgus seems to trust until she gleefully deposes him and takes his place. There's no reason to think that things will be better with her in charge.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: The Doctor ends up in a situation where he's hopelessly out of his depth. Turns out his general attitude does him no favours when he's caught in the middle of a warzone fought by awful people for selfish reasons.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: In episode 3, Salateen is leading an expedition to Jek's base. An android appears and opens fire, killing him instantly. This is much more effective than if he had been given a dramatic death scene.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • The Doctor assumes that the weird white webbing he and Peri touched at the start of the story is probably quite harmless. He couldn't be more wrong.
    • The real Salateen reassures the other troops that they've rendered Jek's androids harmless, and is Instantly Proven Wrong when an android blows him to pieces, thanks to Jek having turned their gambit back on them.
  • Tragic Villain: Sharaz Jek is a cruel, possessive terrorist with a grip on a major drug cartel, but only because of Morgus' betrayal. He goes into a lengthy villain monologue to Peri over how he used to be an optimist, but the trauma from the incident caused him to see the ugliness in everyone. He wants to keep Peri for himself because she's the only light in the darkness for him.
  • Unexpectedly Dark Episode: The serial stands out for being incredibly grim, even for the era. The Doctor's mere presence in the story makes an already bad mess of political skullduggery and industrial corruption irreparably worse, resulting in nearly everyone involved brutally dying (even the Doctor is forced to regenerate at the end), and the government of Androzani Major gets thrown completely out of whack by the whole affair. Analysts often speculate that the story was a invokedWriter Revolt from Robert Holmes in response to script editor Eric Saward's push to make Doctor Who Darker and Edgier.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: The events leading up to Five's regeneration all start with Peri falling down a hole.
  • Uriah Gambit: Ensign Cas is sent on a deep penetration mission as the only witness to Chellak cocking up the execution of the Doctor and Peri. "Very few return."
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Morgus.
  • War for Fun and Profit: The war keeps the price of spectrox up, and Morgus can access the only source by secretly selling guns to Sharez Jek, who is unaware of his participation.
  • War Is Hell: Arguably, one of the best anti-war serials in the Whoniverse because it shows how wretchedly pointless everything is. There are no spectacular battlesinvoked, quite a few people die in random, unsatisfying ways, nobody is particularly righteous, everyone gets killed except Peri, and in the end, nobody is any better off except one person.
  • Wham Line: "Ah, Timmin. I would like you to— Why are you sitting at my desk?"
  • Wham Shot: The Doctor accidentally dropping the vials of antidote as he pries the TARDIS doors open, only scooping up enough for Peri and sealing poor Fivey's fate.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The Doctor and Sharaz Jek both qualify.
  • World of Jerkass: Everyone in the supporting cast is motivated by self-interest. It says a lot that Sharez Jek has the most sympathetic backstory and he's one of the villains.
  • The X of Y
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Morgus tried to kill Sharez Jek by sabotaging his mud burst detectors rather than share the profits with him. He plans to steal the spectrox supply with the help of Stotz, who says his mooks will also expect a cut. Morgus acknowledges that the mooks can carry more out, leaving more to be split "between us". Stotz adds, "You"
    • When those mooks refuse to join the raid on Jek's headquarters, Stotz comes back and kills them. He then points out to Morgus why it would be stupid to try the same thing with him.
  • You Rebel Scum!:
    • Morgus orders the Doctor and Peri executed without trial or interrogation, justifying it with a self righteous speech about how they are obviously the very dregs of society. "One only has to look at them to realise the extent of their depravity."
    • Jek goes on a How the Mighty Have Fallen rant about how he's forced to associate with "base perverted scum" like Stotz.
    • Even the President has a Kick the Dog moment when he expresses distaste for the military execution the Doctor and Peri are being granted. "In my day we had filthy little swine like that shot In the Back!"
  • Zerg Rush: Even though he leads the army into a trap, Sharaz Jek's android army is overwhelmed by sheer weight of numbers.

"I might regenerate.... I don't know.... Feels different this time...."

Peri: What's happened?
The Sixth Doctor: Change, my dear. (Aside Glance) And it seems, not a moment too soon.


Video Example(s):


Five Ends, Six Begins

The final part of "The Caves of Androzani", and by extension the final episode of the Peter Davison era, ends with the regeneration of the Fifth Doctor and the introduction of the Sixth. Fitting this, the closing credits paste Colin Baker's face (a recreation of the episode's final shot) atop Davison's.

How well does it match the trope?

4.9 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / FinaleCredits

Media sources: