Hello Dwellers and Welcome To The Basement…
Way back on December 12, 2015, I posted the first episode of Tales From The TARDIS… and now we have reached the final episode of the true first season of Doctor Who with part six of The Reign of Terror, ‘Prisoners of Conciergerie’
And let me state this right off the bat here… The Reign of Terror is now officially my favorite Doctor Who story from the first season. Yes The Daleks and The Aztecs gets all the love, and despite Susan having very little to do, The Reign of Terror had near perfect pacing, got the elements of this being a historical story down without getting to bogged down by real history. It is the best story of the 1963-64 season.
So lets get to it, the episode opens with LeMaitre revealing to Jules that he has been the arranging the releases and recapturing of Ian, Susan and Barbara… and that he is in fact James Sterling, a British Spy… and this is actually more of a pun, because of there being a thing called a ‘sterling bond’, so James Bond, James Sterling. Basically he was placed deep undercover and was supposed to get with Webster but was too late, Ian gives him the message to return to England, but he can’t, he has to follow Paul Barras, and Ian recalls things Webster was muttering, including the name of an Inn where Barras is going to be meeting with someone. Jules, Ian and Barbara head off to get the info that Sterling needs.
They take over the inn with Ian and Barbara posing as the landlord and maid as Barrass arrives and he’s meeting with… Napoleon Bonaparte! Barras is plotting to have Robespierre arrested and executed, and having the general who is considered a hero by the people on board would help a new government get settled in more quickly.
However Napoleon is rather ambitious, and this terrifies Sterling who along with Ian head to stop Robespierre’s arrest, but they are too late, Robespierre is captured and depending on which version of events you believe, either shot his own jaw off in an attempt to kill himself or was shot by one of those who captured him.
At the same time, The Doctor is out witting the jailer, implying he was part of the coup to overthrow Robespierre and the the jailer was in league with LeMaitre who has been caught as a traitor, thus the jailer starts sucking up to the Doctor, and finally Susan is freed, and we get a happy reunion. They leave as Robespierre is brought in to be thrown into a cell before being introduced to madam guillotine.
And the episode ends with our heroes departing from Sterling and Jules, heading back to the TARDIS, where they actually discuss stopping Napoleon from coming to power or just telling him of things to come, but how Time will march on it’s destined path because it can’t be rewritten. An earlier scene has Barbara saying she learned that lesson with the Aztecs and that was a great call back to that story.
But the final line of the episode and the first season… an exchange between The Doctor and Ian
‘Our lives are important, at least to us, as we see so we learn’
“And what are we going to see and learn next Doctor?”
“Well unlike the that old adage my boy, our destiny is in the stars, lets go and search for them”
This episode in and of itself is a great closing chapter, it wraps everything up nice and neat, and flows perfectly with with the first five chapters. You get the taste of history with Napoleon to show what France will end up going with in the following years, and unlike with Marco Polo, our heroes are associated with a side tale that plays very little with actual historic events, and this is a formula that would be adapted for future stories in historical settings, setting the story around major events but not having direct involvement.
And with that… next week, we’ll be starting season two…. With The Planet of Giants!