Doctor Who #552: Warriors' Gate Part 3

"The weak enslave themselves, Doctor. You and I know that."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Jan.17 1981.

IN THIS ONE... The Doctor walks around black and white pictures and has dinner with the Tharils. Romana escapes the ship.

REVIEW: The pocket dimension is collapsing in on itself, possibly because the slavers' ship is so heavy (why it's so is a mystery), and there's an indication that the Tharils are both slaves and slavers themselves depending on which side of the mirror we're on. It seems less a question of past and present than one of of two overlaid realities, two sides of the same coin. One side might be E-Space and the other N-Space, as zero coordinates doesn't really make sense. The castle would be at 0.002 or something, wouldn't it? Oh, who knows? That's always been my problem with Warriors' Gate. It's dense and textured, but not in the way literature is. All its metaphors are steeped in the kind of math Bidmead loves.

Visually, I have more affection for the material. The lion make-up is quite nice and has a pretty female iteration. The transitions between the flourishing Tharil Empire dining room and the cobwebbed entropic version are gorgeous regardless of our understanding of the time tracks involved. The black and white garden the Doctor walks through, rounding back to the alt-castle gives the impression of an Empire frozen in time, perhaps only the image of what used to be. I don't know that I'm correct in my interpretation (yet), but I don't have a problem with the ambiguity so long as the truth isn't later revealed not to match any possible interpretation. Part 4 will be the clincher. As a whole story, Warriors' Gate may well prove a more satisfying story, but in installments, it does prove a little frustrating.

Of all the characters, Adric and K9 are sadly the most pathetic. Adric stages Romana's rescue and she immediately tells him she didn't want to be taken out of the ship (and is immediately recaptured), while K9 runs after any and all humanoids asking for commands. I haven't always been his biggest supporter, but it's a little like watching an old friend deteriorate before your very eyes. He's not exactly going out on a high, is he? Romana makes friends with the injured Tharil and walks the time winds to the Doctor's location, and while Tom Baker has some tedious moments walking around CSO backdrops, his challenge of the Tharil's slave ownership more than makes up for them. This is the kind of culture he routinely puts out to pasture, and here we thought Beric and his kind were the good guys. Seeing as the humans are slavers too, there may not be any goodies in this serial. At least Rosencrantz & Guildenstern offer a bit of comedy, and I like their assertion that it's impossible to get any alone time aboard ship, considering they're characters designed to always be with one another.

- It's up to Part 4 to explain what's going on adequately, because up to now, this is falling somewhere between zen riddle and fuzzy maths problem.


Peder said...

About five years ago I rediscovered my trove of VHS tapes with recorded Dr Who episodes galore. 'Warrior's Gate' was frustrating. There were pieces of the puzzle that I didn't get until the end. Very unusual for this era of Dr Who and I think it stand out for that reason.

Adh Seidh said...

I think its because the ship was made from Dwarf star alloy forged in the heart of a neutron star.

Siskoid said...

Yes, this was revealed in Part 4 (I take it one step at a time). It still doesn't make sense.


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