|Series:||Doctor Who - TV Stories|
|Season Number:||Season 6|
|Broadcast:||28th December 1968 - 18th January 1969|
|Format:||4 25-minute Episodes|
|Previous Story:||The Invasion|
|Following Story:||The Seeds of Death|
The TARDIS arrives on the unnamed planet of the Gonds, who are ruled and taught in a form of self-perpetuating slavery by the alien Krotons - crystalline beings whose ship, the Dynatrope, crash-landed there thousands of years ago after being damaged in a space battle.
The Krotons are at present in suspended animation, in a crystalline slurry form, awaiting a time when they can be reconstituted by absorption of mental energy. Periodically, the two most brilliant Gond students are received into the Dynatrope, apparently to become 'companions of the Krotons' but in truth to have their mental energy drained, after which they are killed.
When the Doctor and Zoe take the students' test, their mental power is sufficient to reanimate the Krotons. The Doctor discovers that their life system is based on tellurium and, with help from the Gond scientist Beta; he is then able to destroy them and their ship using an impure form of sulphuric acid.
On the planet of the Gonds, a ceremony is underway. The two brightest students, Abu and Vana, have been selected to become companions of their unseen masters, the Krotons. As Abu eagerly dons his selection robes and enters through a hatchway, Vana’s lover Thara desperately begs her not to go. Gond leader Selris, Thara's father, is resolute, stating that Kroton law dictates that she must.
The TARDIS lands in a desolate area nearby. Jamie immediately notes the strong odor of sulfur, and Zoë suggests that they depart, but the Doctor opts to explore. From a clifftop they see the Gond city below. They encounter a metallic crystalline structure with a hatchway similar to the one in the city. The Doctor is cautious, identifying the structure as a machine, and they hide as a dazed and weary Abu emerges from the hatchway. Before their horrified eyes, he is evaporated by blasts of energy.
As Thara and Selris argue over Vana’s selection, the Doctor, Jamie and Zoë enter the city. They are regarded with suspicion; the Gonds have never encountered strangers before, and the area where they landed, the Wasteland, is believed to be uninhabitable. As a particularly hotheaded young man fights with Jamie, Vana rushes into the Kroton machine. The Doctor’s description of the death of Abu sends shock waves through the crowd. The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe rush back to the Wasteland to rescue Vana, followed by Thara. They block the energy beams with rocks and pull her away as she stumbles from the machine. She is near-catatonic.
Back in the city, the Doctor tends to Vana as Selris attempts to make sense of what is happening. The Krotons, he says, have long been the Gonds’ benefactors, providing them with knowledge. The Kroton machine landed on the planet thousands of years earlier, and the ensuing war nearly annihilated the Gonds and ruined the landscape. Since then, the Krotons have never left their machine, but created the teaching machines to train the Gonds, and the laws that require their top students to become companions; the Doctor notes this to be a form of self-perpetuating slavery.
Thara and a band of students sneak into the Learning Hall and vandalize the Kroton teaching machines to force them to emerge. They are stopped by a bellowing mechanical voice ordering them to leave the hall. As the Doctor and Selris reason with the vandals, a portal opens and a metallic snakelike object emerges and homes in on the Doctor.
The device stops when the Doctor shields his face. Zoë notes that the device must utilize pattern recognition, which is confirmed when the Doctor inadvertently lowers his hands causing it to come back to life. A student attacks the device, which vaporizes him and then retracts back into the Kroton machine. The Doctor notes the apparently limited logic of the device's programming; it appeared to think it had completed its task of destroying him. The bellowing mechanical voice returns, ordering them to leave the hall. They obey.
The Doctor and Zoë note the large gaps in the Gonds' knowledge; the Krotons apparently are training the Gonds for a specific purpose. They leave Jamie to care for Vana and enter the Learning Hall to investigate the teaching machines for themselves. On the way, the Doctor investigates a closed-off chamber running under the Kroton machine, and that the machine's foundation resembles a root structure - could the Kroton machine be organic? When he returns, he is horrified to see Zoë operating a learning machine. She earns a score twice as high as any Gond, much to Selris's amazement, and is almost immediately summoned to be a Kroton companion. The Doctor takes the test himself; not scoring as high as Zoë but still respectable enough to be promptly selected.
They enter the Kroton machine and find the interior chamber empty, save for two chairs. They sit and are subjected to a force device which activates a pair of tanks filled with a crystalline slurry. Zoë notes that the device converts mental power into energy. They see the tanks and realize that whereas the Gonds' mental energy was insufficient, their mental energy triggered the tanks into operation. Two Krotons, crystalline bipeds, are formed out of the slurry and awaken.
The Doctor and Zoë escape from the Machine's rear exit, eluding the blasters, while Jamie breaks in through the front. The Krotons note that the Doctor and Zoë are not Gonds, and resolve to recapture them. Jamie, who the Krotons believe to be a Gond, is captured and subjected to the mental probe. They note that he is not a 'high-brain,' and that the power will thus destroy him.
One of the Krotons determines that Jamie may be able to provide information about the Doctor and Zoë, and ceases the mind probe. They track the Doctor and Zoë as they head toward the TARDIS, and interrogate Jamie as he awakens, learning that they are travelers in space and time.
A group of Gonds, led by Security chief Eelek, approaches scientist Beta about how to attack the Krotons, now that the Doctor and Zoë are presumed dead. Beta is reluctant, not out of fear as Eelek infers, but out of a lack of knowledge. The Krotons have only taught the Gonds what they intend for them to know, and Beta bemoans the inability of the Gonds to think for themselves. Eelek is impatient to act against the Krotons; additionally he covets Selris's position for himself.
A Kroton leaves the machine (which they call the Dynatrope) to destroy the TARDIS, intending to trap the Doctor and Zoë on the planet, while the other Kroton provides directional information to his otherwise blind companion.
Thara is also resentful at Selris's apparent inaction. Although Selris considers the Krotons to be enemies, he is more cautious about how to fight back than Eelek. He doubts Eelek's intentions, seeing his ambition as more of a power grab. At the council meeting, he is alarmed to discover than in his absence they voted to elect Eelek as leader. He reminds Eelek that they still have no more weapons to fight back with than they did when the Krotons first arrived, and the resulting wasteland is still desolate thousands of years later.
Meanwhile the Doctor and Zoë have retrieved some items from the TARDIS, and collect sulfurous rocks from the Wasteland. The Kroton captures them, but when Jamie attacks the other Kroton, it is disoriented and they escape. The other Kroton must ignore Jamie to provide directional data, and instructs the Kroton to destroy the TARDIS. The Kroton fires a dispersion jet; Zoë is horrified when the mist clears and the TARDIS is gone, but shortly after the Kroton returns to the Dynatrope the TARDIS re-materializes. The Doctor had turned on the HADS (Hostile Action Displacement System) before leaving, and they return to the Gond city.
Eelek and his men prepare to attack the Dynatrope directly, a plan Selris and Beta dismiss as suicide. Selris has his own plan, which he shares with Beta, to attack the support pillars under the Dynatrope (accessible via the closed chamber in the Learning Hall). He hopes the attack will force the Krotons to emerge so they can be attacked directly.
The Doctor and Zoë return to find Thara with the recovered Vana, preparing to leave the evacuated city. The Doctor is alarmed when Thara informs him of Selris's plan, and he hurries off to the learning hall, stopping off at Beta's lab to leave the sulfur and some instructions for him to follow. His alarm heightens when he realizes Jamie may still be in the Dynatrope. The Doctor enters the underchamber yelling for them to stop, as their efforts cause a massive rockfall.
The Doctor is shaken but otherwise unhurt, though several Gonds are injured, including Thara. The Krotons struggle to stabilize the Dynatrope, which is slightly damaged, while Jamie attempts to escape. Vana provides the Doctor with a small sample of Beta's sulfuric acid. The Doctor is horrified to learn that Jamie is indeed in the dynatrope, though he manages to escape due to his own ingenuity to the Doctor and Zoë's delight. Jamie assists Beta with creating the sulfuric acid.
While Eelek and Selris argue over leadership a Kroton emerges from the Dynatrope, demanding that the two high-brains (The Doctor and Zoë) be returned. Their minds are needed to produce the energy to repair the drive mechanism, and the Dynatrope is quickly running out of energy. The opportunistic Eelek realizes that if they are captured, the Krotons will leave, though Selris suspects that the Krotons will destroy the Gonds regardless. Eelek and his men capture the Doctor and Zoë and force them into the Dynatrope. Selris takes a bottle of Beta's acid and leaps through the closing hatchway, passing it to the Doctor before being blasted by a Kroton.
The Doctor realizes that if the Dynatrope's energy exhausts, the resulting explosion will destroy the city as well. While he stalls and distracts them, Zoë dumps the acid into the crystal slurry tank, poisoning the Krotons. Meanwhile, Beta and Jamie reach the clifftop and pour the vat of acid over the Dynatrope, causing it to dissolve. The Gonds rejoice at their freedom. Thara intends to fill his father's hereditary post as leader in place of the disgraced Eelek. As Beta looks forward to learning more from the Doctor, however, he finds that the travelers have gone.
|The Dominators • The Mind Robber • The Invasion • The Krotons • The Seeds of Death • The Space Pirates • The War Games|