"Warm. Not cold. My body is warm. Wonderful. Legs. Toes. Toes wiggling. Trunk. A neck. Strong. A head free of pain. Eyesight. Colours. Warm blood inside. Oh, I like this. Now, I am she, alive within this oh so wonderful, wonderful frame, not that cold-blooded reptile thing. It must, must die."
IN THIS ONE... The Doctor is called to Gallifrey before he can save Peri from being lobotomized.
REVIEW: Peri, surely the most mistreated companion in Doctor Who history, becomes the second official companion to lose her life, and in a most disturbing way. She's shaved and lobotomized and the Mentor Kiv's mind is transferred into her empty brain. Played as demonic possession, the new Kiv doesn't last long before the Time Lords apparently engineer the room's destruction at the hands of Yrcanos. It's a fate worse than death, so terrible the show eventually had to go back on it, replacing it with an absurd fate instead. But what's really bad is how Peri's fate is tied into the Trial. What ARE the charges? If the Doctor is accused of putting his companions in danger, then having the Time Lords kidnap him from the moment just before he's meant to save Peri is ridiculous. If he's accused of meddling, then how do the Time Lords justify sending an assassin to kill Crozier and his lab? So messy.
The episode features the fourth version of Yrcanos in as many episodes. We've had sleeping Yrcanos, Shakespearean Yrcanos and (ugh) shouting Yrcanos. Here, he's the much better quiet Yrcanos, smiling at insults and threats, discussing love and the after life with Peri and in every way enjoying his Viking life. For about half the episode. Then he goes back to shouting (ugh). Of the other guest characters, only the Mentor with the sensitive ears (Frax) is at all interesting, though I do wonder why Sil is his species' only grotesque. I mean, did no one take Nabil Shaban's performance as a cue for what Mentors are like? Frax comes across as welcome comic relief amid all the death and destruction that follow Yrcanos' escape. Crozier is serious to the point of lacking a personality. Dorf is about as pathetic as he was in the past three episodes. Kiv's new fisherman shtick is dull and bad science to boot. And Sil remains a powerless dud.
Bottom line, the Time Lords' interference makes it seem like the production is resolving the story by wiping out all the characters and dilemmas, along with Peri's mind. The companion doesn't need an end scene, the villains don't need to be defeated, the Doctor doesn't need to get involved. In a story where he mostly acted as a villain, he gets zero chance to show he was only faking, no chance at redemption. It's awful. And of he had ACTUALLY failed, that would be a story. But he doesn't. He's prevented from acting by the Time Lords' bad timing. Gah.
VERSIONS: The Target novelization reveals, ahead of The Ultimate Foe, that Peri actually wound up with Yrcanos, and adds that he became a wrestler with her as manager.
REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - It's a companion's last story, and she goes out on such a horrible note, it's a rare case of that element not improving an episode's rewatchability. Better forgotten. Let her live on in your mind.
STORY REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - I can hardly believe this was written and directed by the same folks who gave us Vengeance on Varos. A terrible goodbye to a companion preceded by a complete mess.