Saturday, June 5, 2010

The War Games

30/5/10 “The War Games
It is a fact, Jamie, that I tend to get involved. –The Doctor

A ten-part extravaganza in black and white that nevertheless stands the test of time as one of the strongest, most vivid Doctor Who stories ever made, full of adventure and a bravado performance from Patrick Troughton, and a complex meeting of minds between the historical and sci fi. The wheeze is superb, but it’s a tribute to the writers and to the commitment of the production team that, like so many multi-part stories, it doesn’t retread the same ground over and over.

The first part is one of the purest examples of Doctor Who done well and possibly the strongest episode in the bunch (you do have to hit the viewers with a good opener, a lesson well-taught in “The War Games”). The last story to be filmed in black and white, it’s atmospheric, especially for this episode, though it does cause some problems later on! It has a striking title sequence, not repeated (though it’s sort of similar to the one for “Inferno”). The wilderness upon which the Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe land could be anywhere, but the Doctor thinks it might be Earth. It’s nice to see that the companions are warmly and competently dressed—it would be hard to imagine Zoe going around in a mini-skirt through all the enemy lines. The Doctor has to explain what barbed wire is to Jamie, naturally enough; with a huge burst of explosions, the Doctor begins to fear “we’re in the middle of one of the most terrible times on the planet Earth.” During their wanderings, they are met by a woman ambulance driver, who’s later introduced to them as Lady Jennifer Buckingham. “I shouldn’t stay around here if I were you,” she says, though enemy fire eventually forces the Doctor and the companions to seek refuge in the ambulance, which is then commandeered by German soldiers. It is quickly recovered by Lieutenant Carstairs, and the whole group heads toward the British army base. (I wonder if modern viewers would have to be spoon-fed the background here, or whether Jennifer’s remark “I was heading for Ypres” and the uniforms would be enough.) There are some great specimens of vintage cars to round out the realism. But few are better equipped to play out WWI than the BBC.

As explosions rack the British army base, the Doctor has to explain to Jamie about “trench warfare.” “What are they fighting for?” Jamie very sensibly asks (it’s interesting that WWII was not chosen to be shown on screen; just over twenty years old, it was probably still too sensitive a setting). Of course, in such a situation the Doctor and Zoe are accused of being spies and Jamie, because of his “regimental uniform,” of being a deserter. When Zoe is told of the impropriety of “a young woman” being on the front lines, she points out that Jennifer is there—she, however, is “on duty.” As the Doctor and companions are sent to the chateau outpost to see General Smythe, Jennifer says, “They didn’t look like spies.” “They seldom do,” says Lieutenant Carstairs. “Memory’s a funny thing out here.” Neither of them can remember when they came to war and neither of them can remember what the date is. As to why they haven’t mentioned this “shell shock” or “amnesia,” “Haven’t liked to—one feels so stupid.” They speculate, naturally enough, that “could it be some kind of new gas?”

At the chateau, the Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe are subjected to a kangaroo court under General Smythe. “The whole area is under martial law,” but the trial they receive is hardly fair. However, no one seems to be able to resist Smythe’s Jedi mind trick (aka the specs of doom)—inspiration for the Master’s prevalent hypnotism, not even the basically decent Jennifer and Carstairs. The Doctor gets more frustrated, Jamie more flustered, and Zoe more dumbfounded. “If you’re not going to allow them to answer, what’s the use?” “There is no right of appeal!” It is decided Jamie will be put in military prison until his regiment can reclaim him, Zoe faces a prison sentence, and the Doctor is to be executed at dawn. Smythe also has a filing cabinet/TARDIS in his room. Jennifer kindly asks for Zoe to stay with her in the chateau and be looked after instead of being put in a prison cell, which is eventually agreed to. Daring Zoe uses this as an opportunity to try to rescue her friends; at night she sneaks out into General Smythe’s office and discovers his video screen. She finds the keys to the cell, though, and is just about to break the Doctor out when Captain Ransom returns. The Doctor is about to go to the firing squad, and there’s nothing Zoe can do about it! The first cliffhanger is a doozy, a perfect inspiration for the one in “Caves of Androzani,” no doubt about it.

I really like the music for “The War Games”—there’s a familiar, semi-orchestral theme for the alien warmongers themselves, while the rest of the score is for the most part unobtrusive and not overly sci-fi. The Doctor doesn’t get shot in episode two (obviously) because the firing squad has to retreat. In the confusion, Zoe and the Doctor escape. They try to set Jamie free, but before they can get to him, a Red Coat is thrown into the cell with him. There’s a wonderful conversation between the two. “What year to you think it is?” Apparently the Red Coat is from the same time as Jamie, and improbably, the two unite against a common enemy to escape. The Doctor and Zoe end up in the military prison just as Jamie and the Red Coat are escaping, and it’s wonderful to see the Doctor (almost successfully) bluff his way through. “How dare you TREAT ME LIKE THIS?!!” he blusters at the prison official. “I’m the examiner from the War Office!” When the warden asks to see his credentials, the pre-psychic paper Doctor bristles, “You add insult to injury!!” I really like this, because, the Doctor, seeing that his first approach to keep quiet and stay unobtrusive, and his second approach, to simply tell the truth, didn’t work, has taken a different tack. You should never underestimate the Doctor.

Finally, with the unfortunate Red Coat shot and Jamie recaptured, the Doctor demands to speak to “the prisoner.” He wonderfully covers for Jamie’s well-meaning dullness. “Doctor--?” “We’ll get you a doctor if you need one!” Just as the warden begins to get suspicious, Zoe once again comes to the rescue by hitting him on the head with a potted plant! “I’m sorry, but there didn’t seem to be any other way!” They make their way back to the chateau, where Carstairs and Jennifer are still ruminating on their trial. “He made up his mind they were guilty.” “The General wanted that man to be shot—why?” Hanging around, they want to know from Ransom where the General has gone. We know that Smythe has hypnotized Ransom to say that the General has been called away. “Does he often disappear like this?” The Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe forge useful alliances with Carstairs and Jennifer as they return to the chateau—Carstairs makes a big leap of faith to trust the Doctor. They are both swayed when they follow Zoe into the General’s room and, after breaking through the “perception filter” (more or less), the two are able to see the alien view screen. However, they have to turn it off quickly, because if they can see into it, someone can see them.

Jennifer, like Zoe, scores a brilliant move while she distracts Ransom; poor man just wants someone to listen to how difficult his bureaucratic job is. However, when she misleads him into leaving for another post because, she says, General Smythe is there, she damages her credibility, so she and Carstairs must join the Doctor and the companions in the ambulance as they make a run for it. Smythe is onto them and wants to blow them up before they reach No Man’s Land; Ransom has a quick twinge of conscience—“use artillery on an ambulance?”—before his conditioning takes over. There’s some wonderful location work as the ambulance “disappears” into the fog as it crosses from one war zone into the next. This is another cracking cliffhanger. Some tense and well-edited footage of Romans racing a chariot into battle is intercut with the ambulance stalling, and without much in the way of weapons, it looks like the TARDIS crew aren’t going to stand a chance . . .

Carstairs and Jennifer are flabbergasted when, as they back the ambulance up, they disappear into the fog and arrive back in 1917. “Lots of impossible things happen when you pass through time.” Without much recourse, they head back to the chateau, tie up Ransom, and try to get to the bottom of things. They are curious about the safe in Smythe’s room. “The only way to get in that is to blow it up!” “Oh, really? That’s a good idea,” says the Doctor. Carstairs finds an incendiary but the Doctor seems remarkably cavalier about employing it, much to Jamie and Carstairs’ dismay. Inside they find the map of the time zones which corroborates the Doctor’s theory and shows us we’re in for a merry ride. They have to escape the chateau, though, and end up on the run before being captured by Germans. (Why are the Germans speaking German? The TARDIS seems to translate other things, though not the French of another character later on. Surely the SIDRATs would do the same, too?) The Germans are all rather pantomime, though it’s very interesting when the Doctor tries to persuade one of them, Lucke, with his sonic screwdriver. As Jamie B pointed out, it’s one of the few times the screwdriver has actually screwed and unscrewed, in this case, the screws on a pistol! It nearly works, but then Lucke’s superior brainwashes him. “We’ve got lots of tricks like that!” says the Doctor, before they leg it!

Elsewhere, where the likes of Smythe are running this show, we get to meet the War Chief, who is a Ras al Ghul wannabe for no apparent reason. As we go on, the sets and design of the base from which the Aliens work becomes one of the weakest points of the whole story. As someone recently said in relation to Blake’s 7, making things futuristic is surely the best way to date them: we are set firmly within the time this serial was made, and the influence of all things Bond shows. The psychadelia reaches a peak with the interrogation (?) room with its Prisoner/ “Tomb of the Cybermen” décor. Nevertheless, that isn’t reason to doubt or dislike Edward Brayshaw’s performance. His nemesis is the Security Chief, played in true Nyder-before-Nyder style by James Bree. “They’re very loyal to each other in times of stress” is one of the plus points of humans, according to the Aliens.

In the “American Civil War Zone” 1862, the ambulance runs out of petrol, and the companions make their way on foot to a barn. I have to personally say I love that “The War Games” tries to give us the Civil War; few subsequent stories have ever done anything American, and there’s so much in our history that would be great to explore (I’m sure it’s mostly down to cost). Even if the accents are a bit dodgy and it becomes difficult to tell Johnny Rebs from Yanks because of the black and white, they do a very good job, overall. The barn is a hotbed of activity; the companions see a SIDRAT dematerialize and out come Southern troops. The Doctor goes inside the machine to investigate, Zoe following, and as soldiers return to the barn, they disappear, leaving a worried Carstairs, Jennifer, and Jamie. That’s a good enough cliffhanger for me!

In episode four, we follow the Doctor and Zoe arriving on the Aliens’ base. The Doctor’s knowledge of the machine piques Zoe’s interest; “there is an answer to that, but I hope . . .” The Doctor trails off, not wanting to implicate himself. Wandering around, the Doctor and Zoe put on ridiculous disguises and try to join in “the university.” Vernon Dobtcheff, a multi-lingual actor with an amazingly diverse CV, and a wonderfully distinctive voice, gives some grounding to all this hou-hah as the Scientist who lectures the class on how to condition the humans. “We only have 5% non-success rates with the conversions.” There’s something incredibly sinister about classes being taught and attended with the purpose of brainwashing “lesser” species into killing each other in experimental wars (without yet knowing the end goal of all this). I think these days we’d get hit over the head with all the amoral subtextuality, but because the action is quick and this bit is disguised exposition, it works really well on multiple levels. Plus, the Scientist, as we see during his interactions with the Doctor, is almost likeable. He’s trying to do his job.

Meanwhile, Jennifer and Jamie are bounced back and forth between Confederate and Union soldiers as to which side they’re on. Tied up and left in the barn by the Northern soldiers, a group of Rebs come along and free them. “Just like those Yankees to tie up a lady.” However, because of the intervention of the Alien commanders, the Confederates quickly turn against Jamie and Jennifer. They are rescued once again by a character I thought was from the Northern black volunteer regiment of the Civil War, but could really be from any of the time zones (and as Jamie B pointed out, the accent was all over the place!). There’s a wonderful moment when the Alien tries his Jedi mind tricks on Harper, and he replies, “Sorry, Captain, that stuff doesn’t work on us.” Harper’s group of resistance fighters causes a mêlée, and different characters get scattered. Poor Carstairs gets captured. Jamie, impressively, unhorses a Union office and takes his horse. There is a variety of Civil War skirmishes that are quite effective if a bit confusing!

Carstairs is brought into the classroom where the Doctor and Zoe are hiding. The Scientist asks him what he sees—“a room filled with a lot of scientific mumbo jumbo.” When the guards are brought in, I feel that 1960s Bond hang up washing over me: they’re the kind of S&M minions that would fill Captain Jack with mirth. Demonstrating a new reconditioning machine, the Scientist brainwashes Carstairs. “Objects that are beyond their comprehension they will not see.” The Doctor barges in and starts asking questions, being both a meddlesome student and a show-off. “Will you leave the apparatus alone?” In the end, the Scientist is grateful to “one of the students who was extremely helpful to me.” The Doctor has been absorbing information and sabotaging the machine at the same time, though he and Zoe have to slip away when the reconditioned Carstairs points them out as spies. Zoe gets separated from the Doctor and ends up in the landing bay, Carstairs pointing a revolver at her. Will he fight against his brainwashing? . . .

There’s a rather stilted fight between the resistance group and the brainwashed; Russell, one of the leaders of the group and who is a younger version of my character Shrike, comes to the rescue. Jennifer and Jamie have a time convincing the resistance leaders about the SIDRATs and the base where they came from, but eventually they realize all the resistance groups must band together. Jennifer stays behind to go nurse somewhere (such a shame, she was a good character), and Jamie, Russell, and the others mount an attack via SIDRAT.

We’re roaring through these episodes, as Zoe and the Doctor get away from Carstairs and are reunited. They’re separated eventually, again, though the Doctor ends up with the Scientist and with a bit of buttering up, they seem quite pally. “I would consider it a great honor if I could just stand and watch [you work].” Zoe has been subjected by the Security Chief to something like the mind probe, though her answers intrigue him and stimulate his worst suspicions. She repeats over and over again that she is from the 21st century, not one of the times on the planet. The Doctor eventually gets the upper hand and has the Scientist put in the machine. “Hoist by his own petard!” Mercifully, the Doctor uses the machine to un-recondition (!) Carstairs’ memory, and he quickly turns to the side of right. (How does this work? The mind isn’t a blank VHS you can record over again and again—how does the Doctor, or the scientists, for that matter, achieve such precision? Are there maybe side effects, mental breakdowns, that no one knows about? It seems a very complicated business that the Aliens’ technology, presumably, has made very easy to implement in such a careless manner.)

The antagonism between the War Chief and the Security Chief is palpable. The Security Chief is suspicious of the War Chief, who is a Time Lord and not of his race. “We have given you every facility . . . the War Chief is the only one who understands [space time technology]—who else could know? One of his own people . . .” Thus is the Doctor outed, at least in the Security Chief’s suspicions, as a Time Lord. Meanwhile, Jamie et al are walking straight into a trap. When they emerge in the landing bay, they are quickly shot down by the S&M guards, apparently dead.

They aren’t dead, only stunned; they need to be interrogated and re-processed. More than that, the Security Chief wants to question them to see who is authentic and to try to implicate his rival, the War Chief. The War Chief cautions him not to denounce to the War Lord the Doctor of being a Time Lord accomplice with “no proof.” The Doctor hides in some wardrobes; Carstairs demonstrates his good marksmanship. Characters are running all over the Alien base as security erodes. “They’ve possibly discovered he’s [Jamie] never been processed.” Once the Doctor meets up with the resistance leaders, he tries to talk them out of a sudden attack. “They have rather sophisticated weapons—you wouldn’t stand a chance.” Back in the barn, (!) the Alien taken prisoner by the resistance fighters uses the monocle of doom on David Troughton. Carstairs, Jamie, and the Doctor hide out in one of the SIDRATS—“these things are impregnable against outside attacks”—but the War Chief has a cunning way to get them out. “Activate the dimensional control.” They are 30 seconds away from being crushed!

This is a really good cliffhanger because it seems a really impossible situation, and there isn’t a deus ex machina to get them out of it! Interestingly, the teaser at the beginning has been re-shot from the one that was used at the episode ending. The Doctor comes out of the SIDRAT, surrendering to the War Chief: “I won’t have my friends ill-treated!” The Doctor stalls for time as the War Chief demands Carstairs and Jamie exit the SIDRAT—in the end, he wonderfully outwits them by throwing a smoke bomb. They all escape, hooray! Both the Security Chief and the War Chief are a bit embarrassed and angry at this point, and it sucketh for them as the War Lord has arrived from the Home Planet. As the Doctor and companions steal a SIDRAT, the Doctor says, “I confused the controls.” “Just like the TARDIS, eh?” says Jamie.

Unfortunately they dematerialize in the Roman zone again, and those Romans apparently have nothing better to do than wait all day for someone to arrive so they can charge at them. This is a real pity, as when the Romans appeared in episode two, I thought we were going to get a really interesting historical encounter. However, I can understand in practical terms why they remained ideas rather than speaking characters. But I was teased with their presence not once, but twice!

The War Lord, played very un-Welsh by Philip Madoc, who is quite cold and calculating, as you would expect of the person responsible for this intergalactic rumpus. He is annoyed by the petty bickering between the War Chief and the Security Chief: “You have a choice: cooperate or be replaced.” He is mindful of the War Chief’s position: “You have shown us how to operate these machines but not how to construct them.” The Doctor is then brought in as a prisoner. “You’ve caused me a great deal of trouble.” “Good!!” snaps the Doctor. “You’re simply being malicious!” When he manages to get away to the 1917 chateau, along with a stolen processing machine, Zoe once again has presence of mind to cover the com link. With the use of the processing machine, the Doctor can slowly convert all the prisoners the resistance takes to their side.

“Use the conventional forces,” the War Chief advises rather than the Security Chief’s plan to blow everything up. In the chateau, the resistance forces, at the Doctor’s behest, hold off the brainwashed troops, long enough for the Doctor to “I’ve set a time zone barrier around the chateau,” meaning the brainwashed masses won’t be able to get through—only the resistance fighters who can come and go as they please. It’s a masterstroke on the Doctor’s part, and all of this is fired with enthusiasm and excitement, leading up to another good cliffhanger. Mounting a raid on the chateau via SIDRAT, the Security Chief supervises the kidnapping of the Doctor and the removal of the processing machine. Though, as both Jamie B and the online continuity guide pointed out, why wouldn’t they take the opportunity, when they’re in a strong position, to destroy the time zone barrier as well? The resistance leaders were pretty powerless against the S&M guards, so it would have been the time to strike. The only explanation I can come up with, and it’s a weak one, is that the incompetent Security Chief, rattled by his ineptitude so far in front of the War Lord, prefers the safest route rather than the best.

Episode eight sees the Doctor magnificently and calmly fighting the Security Chief’s interrogation with a Zen-like quality that foresees the Third Doctor’s. The War Chief arrives, angrily berating the Security Chief’s use of force: “Are you trying to kill him?” The War Chief finagles an interrogation session alone, where we learn more about the Doctor’s past than we have in the past six years of the show. “I have nothing to say to you,” he says to his fellow Time Lord renegade. It is fascinating to me that the first members of the Doctor’s race who we see onscreen before 1971 are both renegades and defectors like the Doctor, who are always drawing parallels between themselves and him, which he is very insistent to brush off. He is not like them; methinks the Doctor doth protest too much? Certainly it puts one in mind of the Dream Lord in “Amy’s Choice”—deep down, the Doctor must be aware of the similarities, at least superficially, and I’m sure it causes him angst. “I had every right to leave [Gallifrey] . . . I had reasons of my own” (what they were have, mercifully, remained clouded in mystery every since). “We are two of a kind.” “No objective can justify such slaughter!” When questioned why they have used humans in their experiments, the War Chief’s response rings true to the self-critical attitude seen in Series 1/5/31: “Man is the most vicious species of all.” “That’s not true!” For his part, the War Chief sees his motives as “purely peace.” The idea is to learn from the experiment of the humans in their destruction of the many and toughening of the few to put together a blueprint for universal domination, on the macro level. (It brought to mind “Warriors of Kudlak.”)

A distraught and worried Jamie, Zoe, Carstairs, and Russell fall into exhausted slumber, but it’s quickly shattered by the arrival of Pancho Villa (I’m not joking) played with a panto Italian accent! Are we meant, then, to ascribe Villa’s guerrilla warfare in the Mexican Revolution to his experience in the War Games? Villa is the most irascible of all the resistance leaders, unimpressed by Zoe’s take-charge attitude (“for such a little woman your mouth is too big!”). Eventually, aided by Jamie, she convinced Villa to cooperate and they spread the word amongst the resistance leaders in all the different time zones (though Jamie B pointed out, how are the Romans able to phone them?). Carstairs is manning the telephone, this time, along with Russell (he cottons on to telephone operation quite quickly considering he probably has not seen one before).

The Security Chief is suspicious of the War Chief: “we cannot trust him.” The War Chief wants the Doctor, as one of his race, to ally with him against the Aliens; once the Aliens think they have won, the War Chief wants to double-cross them. It’s interesting that, with all the fighting between different national/ideological groups amongst the humans, it’s still species distrust that fuels the enmity between the Aliens and the Time Lords. In order to prove his loyalty, the War Lord wants the Doctor to deliver his friends into a trap. “A nice neat package for us to dispose of.” This the Doctor does, to Zoe and Jamie’s utter despair and horror when they are lured into an ambush in the landing area. This makes another good cliffhanger.

The Doctor’s captured friends taken away, he confronts the War Chief for putting him into this position. “We need each other,” says the War Chief. The Doctor is very canny and asks the War Chief how he managed to get around the decay rate of such-constructed TARDISes. “That particular thing is impossible to solve.” “It’s my TARDIS you’re after!!” cries the Doctor. (If the Doctor hadn’t shown up on the planet, how would the War Chief have solved his particular difficulty? Did he really have a hand in bringing the Doctor into the War Games?) Unimpressed by the Doctor, the War Lord orders, “you will adjust the machine and process your friends.”

While poor Jamie and Zoe have been pleading with the resistance leaders—“the Doctor wouldn’t betray us”—their friends are baying for the Doctor’s blood. The Doctor nearly gets killed when the Security Chief leaves him (because the petty-minded man wants the Doctor dead in a way that causes him the least amount of effort) with the bloodthirsty and betrayed resistance leaders. He is just able to prevent his murder and try to explain himself. “I had to! They were going to drop the neutron bomb!” Patrick Troughton is truly versatile, going from jovial and friendly to towering rage to keening despair in a matter of seconds. The Doctor pretends to process his friends, which works up to a point. However, the paranoid Security Chief has recorded the Doctor and the War Chief’s conversation and uses it to implicate the War Chief. Anarchy breaks loose as the resistance fighters fight back. “Did you really think I’d take place in this disgusting travesty?” asks the Doctor as the Aliens’ forces scatter. The War Chief gets to shoot the Security Chief—“it was a personal debt I had to settle.” He makes a brief alliance with the resistance while trying to convince the Doctor to join him. When this fails, he escapes, only to be killed by the War Lord.

The Doctor has made a decision: he can’t deal with this gigantic mess without help. “What’s that, Doctor?” “It’s a box, Jamie.” “I know that, Doctor!” The Doctor uses his trippy box to contact the Time Lords about the situation. “We’ll leave the Time Lords to deal with him [the War Lord].” But the Doctor prefers to make like a tree and leaf before the Time Lords show up. He tries to get Jamie and Zoe to follow him into the TARDIS. “For once, Jamie, do as you’re told!!!” They aren’t able to make it in time, though, because the Time Lords have already arrived . . .

Episode ten is the only one I thought that could have benefited from being shorter. I think it would have been better to cut ten altogether and streamline the sequence with the Time Lords so that it fit into the end of episode nine. It all seems like too much anti-climax after the end of the triumphant episode nine. The Doctor, Zoe, and Jamie try to fend off the influence of the Time Lords, but still end up on the Doctor’s “planet” (not called Gallifrey yet). When questioned why he stole the TARDIS, the Doctor says miserably, “I was bored. We hardly ever use our great power.” When he tells them he’s going to be punished, Zoe cries, “But you helped people!” Trying one more escape attempt, the Doctor is stopped by the Time Lords and told, “Your travels are over, Doctor.”

In the Time Lord court, the Doctor is prepared to give evidence against the War Lord. “Their [the humans] lives were squandered.” When asked to defend himself, the War Lord firstly is silent, but when goaded to speak—“is your plea that the ends justify the means?” The Doctor can, at least, feel as though he has been instrumental in putting a stop to the situation. The War Lord makes one last desperate break for it in the Doctor’s TARDIS—“I don’t even know where your home planet is!”—but the War Lord is recaptured. The sentence is grim indeed: “it will be as though you never existed.” Does this go for the War Lord’s planet as well? That’s (presumably) an entire race wiped out? Is the solution worse than the problem?? In any case, it’s all very reminiscent of season 1/5/31 and its effacing of memory.

The Doctor is as frustrated as me by the Time Lords’ attitude; “you’re above criticism, aren’t you?” Jamie and Zoe wish to say goodbye to the Doctor. “You’ve become attached to him?” The goodbyes are quite quick by today’s standards, perfunctory even, but I don’t know that Jamie and Zoe understand exactly what’s going to happen to them. I still think it’s incredibly sad, though! “They’ll forget me, won’t they?” The Doctor watches as Zoe returns to the Wheel in Space and Jamie returns to 1745 Culloden. I didn’t realize before that the memory of the Doctor hasn’t been wiped from Zoe’s (and presumably Jamie’s) mind entirely—she will remember the adventure of “The Wheel in Space” but all the time-traveling with the Doctor after that is gone. “I thought I’d forgotten something important . . .” Zoe murmurs. This is slightly less traumatic in light of The Glorious Revolution where Jamie is forced by the Time Lords to remember his time with the Doctor in order to fix a time paradox, and at the end refuses to take back his stolen memories.

The Doctor next is forced to regenerate and will be exiled to Earth. The sequence with him refusing different visages is funny—“you can’t just change my appearance without consulting me!” but goes on too long and the end is very weak. I suppose there wasn’t much more they could give us than the Doctor spinning off into space gurning, but it does feel very vague, especially at the end of such a strongly plotted and dynamic story as “The War Games.”

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