Doctor Who #253: The War Games Part 8

"Traps are for animals to fall into."TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Jun.7 1969.

IN THIS ONE... The resistance makes its move on the aliens, but the Doctor seems to have betrayed them.

REVIEW: Things are truly coming to a head. Inside the Time Zones, the resistance has a plan to flush out the control center's guards in every zone before making a stand at that old barn, but first, they must unite the various cells. That Jamie gets to be point man in this is a sign that he's growing up, but though he's trusted with more responsibility, it's still up to Zoe to do most of the convincing. Jamie adopting a grenade bandolier and a swagger is comical, but doesn't really inspire confidence. So he'll just stand there as a figurehead while Zoe does all the talking, and bandito leader Arture Villar will listen despite his overbearing, sexist attitudes. It's a fun reversal of Jamie's own sexism (and gentle rivalry with Zoe) in the previous scene.

Meanwhile, the War Chief takes control of the Doctor's interrogation and uses it to seduce/threaten him into cooperation. It's a fascinating conversation for Whovians trying to figure out the Doctor's back story, and we're told here, for the first time, that the Doctor stole the TARDIS. It's not clear how well they know each other, though the Doctor did seem to recognize his counterpart earlier, and the War Chief says the Doctor changed his appearance since the TARDIS theft, so he at least knows OF him, and would have left Gallifrey later (see Theories). What we can ascertain is that the War Chief is after ultimate power and that his plan is to betray the aliens once they conquer the universe using Earth's best warriors, all in the name of "peace". The Doctor neither agrees with the agenda, nor the War Chief's evaluation of humanity as somehow the universe's most bloodthirsty species. It would seem that the Doctor is the true Time Lord aberration here. Corrupted he may be, but the War Chief's "big picture thinking" and justification of means to get at his ends are more in line with the kind of Time Lord philosophy the Doctor's running away from.

In the end, the Doctor is cornered into helping the aliens capture the resistance, but not before they reduce the number of guards available to them. And of course, he's acting to save their lives from more draconian (no relation) measures, like the Security Chief's neutron bomb. He's got a plan... right?

THEORIES: Who is the War Chief? There's a school of thought among fans that would have him be the Master in a previous regeneration. He's got the beard and style. He knows the Doctor. He's after power and allies himself with nasty aliens to get it. "The War Chief" is surely a title given him by the aliens, not his own chosen monicker. And there's nothing in the Master's first appearance that actually contradicts this idea. However, the War Chief doesn't survive this story, nor does he own a proper TARDIS. Did he regenerate and escape? Extracanonical sources haven't been kind to this idea, and though he survived his execution, novels and comics have consistently denied his being the Master. The books call him Magnus, a colleague of the Doctor's at the Academy, and deformed in his next regeneration which faced the 7th Doctor and worked with Hitler. The only published source that made him the Master is FASA's role-playing game, which in fact claimed that the Meddling was also this same character. The truth is that the War Chief is a template for the Master, but not the same character.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - The confrontation between the Doctor and the War Chief is great, but the episode doesn't sideline Zoe and Jamie either. Hold on, because it's about to get even bigger.


Anonymous said...

The name "Magnus" comes from the same root Latin word as for "Magister". And who was it who used the alias "Reverend Magister"?

There are also references to the Doctor and the Master being the only two renegade Time Lords at the time, in the Target novels of Terror of the Autons, The Sea Devils, and Colony in Space(two of those three actually mention the events of The War Games in the history of the Doctor/Master relationship...), Malcolm Hulke stated in an interview that the Master and the Doctor were the only two renegade Time Lords at that time, and the Target book of The War Games makes it clear that the Doctor and the War Chief are the only two renegade Time Lords at that time.


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