Thursday, May 26, 2016

Recap: Doctor Who: "Shada" Episode 5

Ladies and gentlemen, I can confirm the appearance of the eponymous Shada in this episode! And can promise you that it will meet all* of your high expectations as to what we've been promised!

The episode begins at the last cliffhanger, with the glowing Krarg lumbering slowly toward the Doctor. The Doctor responds by circling around, trying to save the brainless scientists, while the Krarg attacks the device in the center of the room, causing it to threaten to explode, as the room fills with smoke.

K-9: "Danger, Doctor, danger!"

"That's my shtick, metal mutt."
Though it's hard to tell in all the smoke, Parsons drags the Doctor out of the room as he fails to save the mindless scientists.

At least, I think that's what's happening.
Like with the initial brain drain, the extras all decide to react completely differently to the Krarg's attack. Some are playing dead, others are just kind of cowering, and the extra in the bottom left seems to die twice before continuing to twitch.

The Doctor and Parsons discover that the door to the ship is jammed, so the Doctor whips out the standard Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card known as the sonic screwdriver, which does the trick. They all escape in Skagra's ship, leaving the Krarg to explode in the space station behind them.

Tom Baker: "I was determined to find out where Skagra had gone, though the ship resisted telling me. So I asked to be taken to Skagra's home. The ship complied. Clever, eh?"

Back in Chronotis's TARDIS, he and Clare are attempting to fix the controls. Clare is sporting a different hairstyle, despite this scene having been filmed on the same day as earlier scenes. The TARDIS barely managed to get moving in the first place, and if they want to get anywhere, they need to fix it soon. Even though only one of them knows what they're doing.

Clare decides to pass the time by asking who that Salyavin person is, and Chronotis explains that Salyavin was just a young punk with a "peculiar talent." He then explains that in order to repair the necessary TARDIS components, they would need another person doing exactly the right thing at exactly the right time. With no other option, Chronotis gets very serious.

Professor Chronotis: "Listen to me. Listen to me very carefully. What I am about to do, you are never to speak of, and this is the only time I will ever do it."
Clare: "What are you talking about?"
Professor Chronotis: "Do I have your promise?"

She reluctantly gives her word, and Chronotis's eyes begin to glow with yellow energy, hypnotizing Clare. When she comes to, she's able to identify the TARDIS component as a "conceptual geometer relay." Apparently, some Time Lord trickery is afoot...

She should be glad the Prof didn't use a psychic headbutt.
But either way, this certainly wouldn't be the last time that Time Lord knowledge was directly imparted to a mere human.
Though let's hope that Clare fares better than Donna.
Although it doesn't look like Clare gained too much from the Professor's mind. After all, she doesn't feel a sudden urge to make ungodly amounts of tea.

Tom Baker: "K-9, Chris, and I emerged into the carrier ship and came face to face with Skagra, Romana, and a multitude of Krargs. With the aid of a sphere, Skagra intended to make the whole of creation merge into one single mind, one godlike entity. The universe would be Skagra."

Sounds like a pretty boring existence.

Tom Baker: "As the Krargs prepared to lock up the prisoners, K-9, Chris and I made a break for it. Romana was dragged into the TARDIS by Skagra and a detachment of Krargs while the remainder of the creatures pursued my group. Suddenly, I spotted a door and decided to take cover."

To the Doctor's surprise, the door leads to Chronotis's TARDIS, in an amazing coincidence. Perhaps Clare turned on the Infinite Improbability Drive when she first fiddled with the controls.

Doctor: "Keightly!"
Clare: "Chris?"
Professor Chronotis: "Cup of tea?"

There it is; I knew we couldn't go through an entire episode without a mention of tea.

Tom Baker: "The Krargs attempted to break into the Professor's room."

But in the meantime, the Time Lords talk tech.

Professor Chronotis: "Doctor, how do you like my TARDIS?"
Doctor: "Oh, ace. Ace."

Professor Chronotis: "It's strictly unofficial. I'm not really allowed to have one."
Doctor: "Yes, and what better way to hide it than by living in it, you old slyboots."

Clare and Parsons attempt to compare notes, but they're both pretty much stumped. The Doctor, meanwhile, explains to Chronotis that Skagra has basically everything he wants. Chronotis tells the Doctor that this means Skagra can get to Shada, the Time Lord prison planet that everybody forgot about for some reason. Conveniently, it all floods back into the Doctor's mind; Salyavin was imprisoned on Shada, which is why Skagra is so keen to go there.

Doctor: "He had the capacity to project his mind into other minds."

And Skagra needs Salyavin's mind in his sphere in order to put his mind into the minds of others.

Tom Baker: "In the TARDIS, Skagra turned the pages of the precious book, activating the central column of the spacecraft by doing so. While Romana watched impassively, the craft proceeded to Shada."

Over in Chronotis's TARDIS... Oh, looks like I spoke too soon earlier.

Clare is pouring tea. Looks like she got a bit more than TARDIS schematics in that mind meld.
As tea happens, the Doctor reiterates that with Salyavin's mind, Skagra will be omnipotent. Though it might take the better part of forever, every single person in the universe would simply be Salyavin.

Doctor: "His mind would be immortal. It would spread like a disease."

An idea so cool that Warren Ellis ended up using something similar in Planetary.

Parsons is intrigued by the idea, but the Doctor is disgusted by the mind in question. Chronotis says that they need to follow Skagra, and suggests that they do that by directly following the space-time trail left by the Doctor's TARDIS.

It's at this point that we actually get to see the exterior of Shada in all its glory.

Crystal space poop! Was it worth the wait?
Tom Baker: "Taking Romana and the Krargs with him, Skagra searched the records of Shada to discover the whereabouts of Salyavin. Success! They set off in pursuit of Cabinet 9, Chamber T, leaving Krarg guards at the records center."

Chronotis's TARDIS arrives at Shada, and the Doctor quickly tells the humans to stay behind while he, K-9, and Chronotis take a look around.

There it is! Our one glimpse of the inside of Shada!
Tom Baker: "The Professor seemed in some way able to know what Skagra was thinking and insisted they head in a particular direction. Skagra, meanwhile, revitalized the prisoners' cabinets. They began to stir."

Parsons takes a moment to think about today's weirdness. Time travel, monsters, mind melds, et cetera. He completely ignores Clare as she tries to talk about what Chronotis did earlier to her mind.

Tom Baker: "The prisoners were reviving from their sleep. Skagra approached Cabinet 9 and activated the revival as I and my group burst into the chamber. Skagra warned us to keep back. He reached into the cabinet and pulled out a pathetic dummy-like substitute."

Oh, come on, Tom, the special effects in the 70's weren't that bad.

Tom Baker: "Skagra's anger mounted and then Professor Chronotis explained that, in fact, he was Salyavin."

So... Skagra has had exactly what he wanted since the second part of this six-part story?
At the same time, Clare and Parsons figure out that since Chronotis used an ability that was said to be unique to Salyavin, then he must be Salyavin, and they follow after the others into Shada in an attempt to be relevant to the plot.

Tom Baker: "Skagra ordered the sphere to drain Salyavin's mind..."

You mean the mind that it already drained three episodes ago? Just because the Professor is now a living paradox doesn't mean that the brain drain never happened.

Tom Baker: "...but K-9 blasted it into pieces. Each fragment reformed into another, smaller sphere, one of which settled on the old man. Skagra was exuberant. 'You shall see the beginning of the universal mind,' he cried, as the spheres came together, discharging vast amounts of energy. And then each of them attached itself to one of the prisoners, who turned towards me. Chris and Clare entered the chamber, and the young man rushed forward to try to help. A sphere absorbed Chris's mind in an instant."

Well, looks like he just unlearned all that stuff about quantum mechanics like you wanted, Doctor.

Tom Baker: "The prisoners, including Chris, advanced menacingly towards me."

Coming up in Part 6! Tea.

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