Doctor Who #586: Time-Flight Part 2

"I've never heard such an extravagant explanation."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Mar.23 1982.

IN THIS ONE... Kalid the conjurer fights to keep control of the Concord people, the Plasmatons, and the situation. Turns out he was the Master all along.

REVIEW: Now hold on a minute... Kalid the Arabian Nights-ish alien conjurer was the Master all this time? Granted, he's a bit nuts, but I can't wait to hear why this was at all necessary. After all, there's nothing he does as Kalid that couldn't have been done without the ugly make-up or funny accent. He even gets his hands on the Doctor's TARDIS before the Doctor ever comes in his presence. The Master must be a method actor too, because he keeps the pretense up even when he's alone. In other words, the trick is on us, the audience, not on the Doctor himself. The disguise even goes so far as to provide a gory death for the wizard, green slime oozing out of his nose in the most disgusting way before the Master finally throws off the mask and robe. But maybe it's all very reasonable, two episodes to go to justify it properly. (Yeah, right.) It's too bad too because Kalid is a funky character with amusing tics and a fun spin on the whole mind control thing. Did we really need him to be an assumed identity?

At least it's coherent with the theme of illusion present everywhere in the serial. The ones we can't see are best handled - the Concord crew and passengers doing Kalid's bidding even as they talk about their every day lives. Adric gets one last little scene, and the girls kill him again for good measure (not really, but he does scream in agony when they "disbelieve" him... it's like one of Adric's nightmares made real). The more illusions Kalid throws at Tegan and Nyssa, the less real they seem - the Melkur, the Terileptil - and a generous soul might claim it was all done on purpose. But generally, the illusions meant for us are pretty badly manufactured, not to use the word "terrible". The muppet snakes are about as good as it gets. The crap soap suds otherwise dominating. One character, Professor Hayter, disbelieves all illusions however, even those that are meant to be "objective reality". Except he really doesn't. He's only replaced one illusion with another, playing the role of the skeptic so that he can't even believe in the Doctor and his explanations. For him, the Jurassic has got to be Siberia, and the mind control the work of the Communists. A skeptic in a world of fancy like the Whoniverse is bound to get a rude awakening.

Speaking of awakenings, Nyssa spends most of the episode asleep or under the timid control of the Plasmatons. It's infuriating that she's laid up and Tegan decides to stay behind to take care of her, leaving the companion duties to Captain Stapley. I mean, Richard Easton is a forceful and sympathetic presence (especially in his lack of patience with Hayter), but why have regulars if you're not going to use them? Eventually, the girls head to the citadel, led there by Plasmaton-induced intuition, which Nyssa the well-behaved robot girl seems ill-suited to. Whatever, at least they're part of the plot and not sitting things out in the TARDIS.

I'll always applaud thematic coherence in a story as it makes things richer, even if I have a feeling the plot will only grow less and less coherent.


snell said...

I might also suggest a season-long thematic coherence, as we began the tear with a disguised Master in a realm of illusion...

Siskoid said...

And since we began with recursion, going back to the beginning here at the end also taps into that as well.

Illusions... Four to Doomsday and its fake people, Kinda and Tegan's dream sequences, Black Orchid and the double Nyssas, The Visitation's android masquerading as Death, the way people seem to think Eartshock was good... yep, illusions all season long!

Zundian said...

Speaking of recursion, is it just me or is the Kalid make-up/outfit a reference to Mr. Sin?*

*Not within the story, mind you, but a meta-reference

Siskoid said...

I wouldn't call it a reference so much as copying an old design sitting around the make-up rooms. It's probably just a coincidence. At least, I hope it is.


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