Thursday, January 16, 2014

Doctor Who-The Deadly Assassin

                       Upon being summoned to his home world of Gallifrey,the doctor is overcome by a vision of the President elect of the Time Lords being assassinated in the center of the Panopticon-the presidential  
chamber of the Time Lords capital citadel. Upon arrival the doctor notices he is being pursued by Time Lords carrying degenerative rifles called stasers. The doctor escapes the TARDIS as the guards,answering to a Castellan Spendrell,who observe that the TARDIS (or TT capsule as the Time Lords refer to it) is a highly antiquated Type 40 model. Chancellor Goth requests that the Castellan have the TARDIS moved to the citadel for further inspection. Another Time Lord named Engrin,as well as one of the doctors old instructors named Borusa,additionally observe that the doctor had previously been exiled to Earth for interfering in the laws of time and,while pardoned by them might prove a danger to the upcoming election of the new Lord President of Gallifrey.

                      Continually overwhelmed by his visions of the Lord Presidents  assassination,the doctor borrows the robes of one of the Time Lords and enters into the Panopticon just as the president is about to be inducted. As a media reporter for the citadel (and the doctors former schoolmate) Runcible reports on the affair,the doctor attempts to warn the president of his inevitable peril. One of the delegates among them ascends to a camera with a sniper rifle and proceeds to shoot the Lord President Elect with it-as the crowd witness what appears to be the doctor on the upper level firing said sniper rifle. Despite Castellan Spendrell and Chancellor 
Goth's insistence of the doctors guilt,the doctor claims innocence and that his premonition was actually motivating him to try to save the presidents life. At the doctors suggestion,Runcible investigates the camera above the Panopticon where he finds a Time Lord shrunken in size by matter compression,and is himself stabbed in the back while trying to look further.

                        After observing Engrin explaining the operation of the Time Lord Matrix,the doctor realize since this matrix contains the sum of all Time Lords' minds,used an interface device to enter the matrix in hopes of discovering the true nature of the assassin-who is at least known to be inside the citadel. Once in the matrix the doctor finds himself in a virtual reality-in a Safari like setting with a bounty hunter figure who tries to run over him with a train,throw him down a hill and than attempted to drown him. Though  the doctor was able to overcome the hunter using his own inventiveness, the doctor reveals his opponent to actually be Goth himself. Yet he knows from the use of Matter compression that it is actually his nemesis the Master that they are facing. Upon nearly dying while connected to the Matrix,and aware that The Master's identity is not included in the matrix,the doctor now leads the Castellan and Borusa to where he believes the Master has been.

                         While dying inside a mental transference chamber the Master had used to have Goth interface with the matrix,Goth reveals before his death-following the last of his regeneration's that the Master had bribed Goth to assist him by the promise of becoming Lord President-something the doctor had used to his favor during his earlier trial in order to investigate the matter and prove his innocence. The doctor surmises (with Engrin's help from the Matrix library)  that the Master,too nearing the end of his cycle of 12 regeneration's is planning to use The Sash Of The Great Key Of Rassilon to open the eye of harmony-a obelisk shaped power source from a black hole,as it turns out, from which all the original Time Lord's energy derived from. After facing down the Master in the citadels morgue,the Master returns to the Panopticon and gains access to the Eye Of Harmony obelisk-whose activated energy caused a massive quake in the citadel which ends after the doctor,while fighting with the master,knocks the Master into a chasm. Spendrell,Borusa and Engrin,after offering the doctor a pardon on Gallifrey,find the doctor rejecting their offer yet warning them that the Master had absorbed enough energy from the Eye Of Harmony to survive.

                             One of the qualities that makes gives this story its cohesion is the intensely complicated nature of the plot. A wordly political thriller,this is one of the earliest Doctor Who stories to have generated a high level of controversy from BBC censor Mary Whitehouse-who objected to episode 3 of this serial's cliffhanger which showcased the doctor being drowned by Goth while inside the matrix. This of course went against the BBC's still ongoing perception of Doctor Who as a children's program-mainly due to its time slot. That that is the core of this story in a way. The first real glimpse in the series of what the doctors home planet is like,we find an overly civilized society where even the doctors old instructor Borusa is perfectly willing to bend the truth to protect the Time Lord's insulation from the outside universe. The Master,depicted here as an insanely angry character burnt beyond recognition,is the complete opposite of Roger Delgado's characterization of the character. And this story showcases the Time Lord's inability to cope with his tyranny against them. Personally for me this story does seriously call Doctor Who's reputation in England as a children's show strongly into question-as much of the story contains more verbally weighty dialog and political intrigue than action and/or alien menaces. So this story is probably one of the original run Doctor Who stories that had a stronger appeal to the adult audiences of the show.

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