Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control.
WAR OF GOD
There’s been a certain amount of necessary recuperation after The Daleks’ Master Plan, for a variety of reasons. Now that the Kembel’s settled, it’s time to crack on with the, seemingly endless, third series.
Me: After the events of the last few weeks, I’m looking forward to something a bit more lightweight.
Me: Looks like Paris.
It’s Paris. In a yard surrounded by houses, a young boy is amusing himself. The TARDIS materialises with a wheezing, groaning sound that fair puts the wind up the young lad and he scarpers. The Doctor and Steven emerge and watch him flee. Using his deductive powers of reading, the Doctor announces that they’ve landed in France. He has to admit though, that he’s unsure as to the date.
Me: The Doctor’s not just checking his watch or licking things at this stage.
A man approaches and our heroes hide. The man knocks on the door of a nearby house, whilst the Doctor and Steven observe. The door is opened, the man goes in and the Doctor is delighted to announce, based solely on what he’s just watched, that they are, without the shadow of a doubt, in the 16th century. 19th August 1572, to be precise. This is quite exciting as there’s a chap knocking around at this time that the Doctor’s always wanted to meet. Pectin or Presley or Preslin or something.
Two men now emerge from the house, Nicholas and Gaston. They reveal that they aren’t Catholic, which is a shame as they’re in Paris, which is, for the most part. The Doctor declares that he and Steven should pop back into the TARDIS and change.
The Doctor: You’d be surprised at what I’ve got in my wardrobe…
Me: Cloaks mostly.
Him: He doesn’t get a cloak every episode.
In a nearby pub, full mugs are being drunk by the chaps we saw earlier (and some more of their Huguenot friends). Rather unwisely, going on what they said less than a minute ago, they seem quite keen to announce that they aren’t, in fact, Catholics.
Some of the historical background is filled in here. The Huguenots are toasting Prince Henry (who’s one of them) and then another chap (Simon) pops up and tries to include Henry’s Princess, who’s a Catholic (keep up, there’s a test) in the toast. Gaston takes this as an insult and is extremely rude, which doesn’t help the situation.
Simon talks to the landlord and offers him some coins in return for information on anything interesting that the Huguenots might say or do.
|The one that doesn't have Catherine de Medici in it.|
The Doctor and Steven arrive, all dressed up. They find a seat and wait patiently for the picture that accompanies every piece of writing on The Massacre (of St. Bartholomew’s Eve) to be taken.
The Doctor tells Steven to stay put (and not get into trouble) until the evening, while he visits Preslin for a chat on what the apothecary has been researching.
Before leaving, the Doctor gives Steven money to keep him going while sight-seeing.
Me: Like he does in The Long Game.
Him: Steven isn't in The Long Game.
As he exits the pub, the Doctor bumps into someone who seems to recognise him. This chap begins following the Doctor.
When paying for his grog, Steven gets into a row for offering far too much money. Stepping in to help Steven out, Nicholas pays for the drink. Steven then joins Nicholas and the rest of the Huguenots for an evening singing bawdy rugby songs or something.
The Doctor has found Preslin’s shop. It seems deserted and so, naturally, he lets himself in - he’s travelled a long way after all. Inside the shop, the Doctor is greeted by a suspicious gentleman who says that Preslin has left Paris. The Doctor appears to be disappointed by this news.
|“That’s a shame; I have this robot mouse with two tails for him”|
After a bit of clandestine to-ing and fro-ing – and a lot of flattery - the suspicious gentleman reveals, to no-one’s surprise, that he’s Preslin. Talk turns to germs, with the Doctor offering some hints to help in the gaps that Preslin’s encountered.
Me: Interfering again?
Back in Paris, Steven’s making friends.
Gaston: Now, tell us where you’ve been travelling.
Steven: Well, I’ve been… Um… I’ve been in Egypt…
Steven leaves the tavern to find the Doctor.
Elsewhere, a girl is being chased by guards - she hides.
Me: Strange scene.
Him: A bit odd.
Nicholas offers Steven directions and heads back into the pub, just missing the girl we last saw hiding colliding with Steven. She then rushes into the tavern, followed by the guards we also saw earlier.
Inside the tavern, the girl, a servant chosen for the Abbot of Amboise, has vanished. Gaston is rude to the guards, who aren’t happy, but leave.
The Doctor and Preslin are getting along like a burning jungle. They’ve moved on from germs to discussing the just mentioned Abbot. Turns out he’s a wrong ‘un, and no mistake.
Me: How much do you know about this?
Him: Not much.
Back in the pub, it’s time to find out about the girl. Why’s she afraid? The girl reveals that she overheard that Vassy might happen again. Seeing as Vassy was the site of a massive slaughter of Huguenots by Catholics, Steven’s new friends are, understandably, concerned by this news. The girl’s name is Anne.
Elsewhere, Simon and the gentleman who was so interested in the Doctor (Roger) are also discussing Vassy. And Anne…
Me: That’s the future Mr Leela there.
Him: ‘Mr Leela’? I don’t recall there being a Mr Leela.
Me: The Invasion of Time?
Him: Oh – that’s right.
Anne is sent to work for the Admiral de Coligny. Steven is confused. Gaston leaves and Nicholas explains. Henry, the Huguenot prince married Catherine, the aforementioned Catholic Princess yesterday. A marriage ostensibly arranged by the Queen Mother to improve relations between the two religious sides. It doesn’t seem to have worked, and therefore the situation is all a bit worrying.
Preslin is talking to the boy we saw earlier. The Doctor’s left and now Preslin prepares to do likewise.
In the pub, Steven waits for the Doctor. Simon enters and has a chat to the landlord who tells him everything that’s happened and promptly shops Steven. Simon talks to Steven, warning him of the imminent curfew.
Him: Well, we know what’s going to happen here…
Him: It’s weird it’s just the Doctor and Steven. I keep wondering where Vicki is.
The curfew bell rings. Nicholas tells Steven he must come with him to the Admiral’s house as it won’t be safe waiting now the curfew’s on. Steven leaves a message with the landlord.
Steven: He’s probably got sidetracked. He often does.
Him: That’s true.
Elsewhere, Roger is apologising to the Abbot of Amboise for misplacing Anne. The unseen Abbot bangs his fingers impatiently throughout the blustered apology. Simon enters. He greets the Abbot who looks powerful familiar.
Him: That’s right! William Hartnell plays the Abbot as well – like Salamander being played by Patrick Troughton.
THE SEA BEGGAR
Him: So, this is the one where Dodo comes in then?
Him: Because the next one’s The Ark.
Him: I always get confused about the companions at this point because I don’t know much about them.
Me: Well, you’ve been watching the stories in a random order up until now.
Him: Yeah – I just… Ben, Polly, Dodo, Jamie, Victoria, Zoe, Mel… I don’t know them very well.
Me: You can name them though – I’m impressed. We’ll sort you out some proper introductions over the next few months.
Over an image of Paris, the title appears.
Him: ‘The Sea Beggar’.
It’s the morning after the night before and Gaston and Nicholas are talking.
Me: Aye. Is there no recap?
The head Huguenots don’t believe the rumours and so the order has come down for Gaston and Nicholas to do nothing.
Back at the pub, Steven watches an old man shuffle past. The shuffler ignores Steven. The landlord opens up. He hasn’t seen the Doctor.
Gaston and Nicholas are going over and over the rumours. Their nerves aren’t benefiting as a result. Steven comes back, flustered and well in need of a glass of breakfast wine. Gaston notices that Roger’s on the way up the drive.
Roger is indeed looking for a missing servant. Gaston and Roger dance around the subject of Vassy and all’s going well until Anne enters. She looks around and then runs off, but it’s a bit late to tell Roger that she isn’t there. Roger identifies her as being Anne Chaplet, giving the surname a pronunciation that we won’t be hearing again in conjunction with Dodo. Gaston keeps denying everything until Roger leaves, not in the best of moods it has to be said.
It’s at this moment that the Abbot turns up. Steven thinks he’s the Doctor. The Abbot that is.
Steven: But… that’s the Doctor.
Him: Even Steven is confused.
Not as confused as Nicholas and Gaston are by this apparent turn of events. Perhaps Steven is an awful lot more Catholic than they’d been led to believe? Nicholas agrees to accompany Steven on his hunt for the Doctor.
Elsewhere, the marvellously fruity Marshal Tavannes (played by Sir Ian McKellan by the sounds of it)1 is being filled in by Simon. He’s not over-worried about Anne. There’s an assassination in the offing. Some chap called the Sea Beggar is mentioned admit all the politics, a chap identified as being Dutch by the Admiral de Coligny, who’s just wandered in on the tail-end of the scheming.
|You can't argue with a tall pointy hat.|
Steven bumps into an old lady who’ll be playing an old woman in the next episode. She tells him that Preslin was arrested two years ago, it’s all very strange. The upshot is that Nicholas doesn’t believe Steven isn’t a Catholic spy and so Steven does what any of us would do under the circumstances and runs off.
Roger and Simon are arguing about what to call the Sea Beggar’s assassin. There’s a lot of background being filled in. There’s an almost palpable air of thickening paranoia surrounding everyone.
Anne and Nicholas are chatting about that traitorous swine Steven. Anne thinks he’s lovely. Gaston arrives and Anne leaves.
Steven sneaks around, trying to get close to the Abbot’s residence. There’s a fair bit of guard dodging.
Me: It’s good, but it’s not Doctor Who.
Him: What do you mean? Is William Hartnell on holiday again?
Me: He is, but that’s not what I meant.
Roger, Simon and the Marshal are having a collective scheme that Steven eavesdrops upon. The Marshal orders that a message be delivered to the Abbot.
Gandalf: Tell him… the Sea Beggar dies tomorrow.
Marshal Tavannes leaves and Simon reveals to Roger, who’s a little bit slow on the uptake in general, that the order will have come from the Queen Mother.
Returning to warn the Huguenots, Steven is shown in to the Admiral’s house and waits. Gaston comes in and there’s a row followed by a remarkable sword-fight. It’s remarkable because it sounds real.2 Gaston, although furious, allows Steven to leave. Nicholas comes in and has an argument with Gaston. This is ace, but it’s also almost time for the curfew.
Me: Each episode ends with a curfew.
Him: It’s traditional.
It’s a day an episode more like. Anyway, Anne follows Steven as he slinks away. The music goes a bit Ummagumma, then the curfew bell rings and Steven grabs Anne.
Him: Is she the one related to Dodo?
Me: Um… yes. Yes, she is.
Him: So she’s going to die?
Me: One day.
Anne offers to help Steven and the two team up whilst the bell tolls on.
The Admiral chats to Nicholas. He’s managed to get the King to agree to join with the Dutch and go to war with Spain. As a result, the King has dubbed the Admiral, ’the Sea Beggar’.
NEXT: PRIEST OF DEATH
The credits roll.
Me: Oh. Bit different.
Him: Wow. Anne’s real name was Anne.
1. Alright, alright, it was really André Morell, but he doesn’t half sound like Gandalf. And Magneto come to think of it. Odd that.
2. You’ll have to trust me. This is another masterpiece, if I haven’t made that clear.
PRIEST OF DOOM
Me: No recap again.
|Another doomed lady companion from the past.|
It’s the morning after the night before and Steven and Anne wake in Preslin’s abandoned rat sanctuary. Steven decides that they aren’t going to leave Paris, despite Anne’s insistence. No, they’ll try the Abbot’s house again, surely someone there’ll know who the Sea Beggar is.
Steven: Perhaps if I disguise… I’ll see if I can find some other clothes… Ah, yes. This should do.
Me: Again with the cloaks.
Him: It’s become The Steven Show.
The Admiral is in a major fruit-off with the Marshal. It’s just lucky that no-one says ‘Macbeth’. Catherine de Medici whispers advice. Someone points out that if you’re flogging land to finance a war, you might not want to sell any with French bears on it.
|The one that does have Catherine de Medici in it.|
In a substantially muddier part of Paris, Steven and Anne are meandering in the general direction of the Abbot’s dwelling. Anne’s still not convinced this is a good idea. Steven helpfully points out that she’s got nowhere else to go.
The Admiral insults Catherine de Medici and she leaves. For his part, the King fancies a quick game of tennis.
Steven is introduced to the Abbot (Hartnell’s brilliant here – really scary) and wastes no time in giving Anne up.
At this moment the Marshal arrives and the Abbot gives away the identity of the Sea Beggar. Steven and Anne are told to wait outside. Steven, finally, wakes up and the two of them run off to warn Nicholas. Roger notices this and interrupts the Abbot’s meeting with the Marshal to update them.
Abbot: In any case, it is too late for him to warn the Admiral.
Gandalf: For your sake, it had better be.
Steven returns to the Huguenot headquarters and warns Nicholas.
An Admiral ambush is being laid. Assassins prepare.
The Admiral approaches and with a sudden BANG! history continues on its way.
The Abbot and Marshal wait to hear the news.
Me: The Abbot’s totally different to the Doctor.
Him: He looks very similar. There’s not much massacring going on yet.
Me: It’s not St. Bartholomew’s Eve yet. There’s another curfew to go.
Roger occurs. It turns out that the assassination has failed. The Marshal sends Roger out to pick up some thugs and then turns on the Abbot. Roger returns with the thugs.
Gandalf: This man is a traitor to the Queen. Kill him.
Catherine de Medici awaits the news. The King is brought in from his tennis and informed (after the Queen slides away) of the Admiral’s attempted assassination. The King’s so angry at this news that he kills his racquet. Trouble’s brewing alright.
Steven still thinks the Doctor is pretending, so hearing that the Abbot’s been murdered, the Huguenots blamed and that there’s a massacre about to kick off fair panics him.
In the Louvre, the King’s still annoyed and when Catherine de Medici arrives there’s a blazing row.
The King: Keep out of my sight unless you wish to end your days in a convent!
Catherine de Medici: I would wish you have the courage, my son.
|Steven's day was still better than the Abbot's.|
She then admits that it was her idea all along. She throws a list at him.
Outside the Abbot’s house, a crowd have gathered around his corpse. Steven arrives and examines the body, probably breaking out into a cold sweat as he does so. The mob take Steven’s mounting terror for guilt (with some prompting from Roger) and turn on him. Again, Steven runs.
Him: It’s the Abbot at the top of the credits now, because the Doctor’s not been in the episodes.
BELL OF DOOM
The morning after the night before and Anne’s hiding in Preslin’s abandoned rat sanctuary. There comes a knocking. It’s Steven. Anne lets him in. Steven’s convinced the Doctor’s dead. He’s in bits.
Steven: Heaven knows what I do now!
Me: And, in a brave and unexpected move, this is where Doctor Who stops being about time-travelling adventures, renames itself Steven Taylor and becomes a history of a man out of time trying not to be burned as a witch in 16th Century France. And we never see the TARDIS again.
Him: “Even a sponge has more life than I!”
Steven brings Anne up to speed. Desperately, he starts to hunt for the TARDIS key.
Skullduggery’s afoot in the Louvre. Simon and the Marshal scheme away. They really need to do away with Steven post haste. The Marshal points out the date. It turns out that tomorrow’s St. Bartholomew’s Day, which would make today… Oh. Oh dear.
Me: The countdown’s on.
Steven continues to search. Anne’s found the Doctor’s stick, but that’s not going to be of much use. And then, continuing a pattern begun in The Daleks’ Master Plan, the Doctor, having been missing for a chunk of the story, suddenly emerges from the shadows and takes charge of the situation.
The Him sips his apple and mango juice thoughtfully as it all begins to turn to slurry.3
Gaston is a bit worried that the Admiral has been put under a rather heavy Catholic protection. Armed protection on all the doors. The atmosphere thickens. Gaston opts to leave Paris.
In Preslin’s abandoned rat sanctuary the Doctor recaps on his adventures.
The Doctor: I was unavoidably delayed.
And that’s your lot. Unfortunately, Anne lets slip the date and the Doctor finally realises exactly when they are. The Doctor becomes subdued. He sends Anne away as it’s too dangerous to stay. Steven, reluctantly, says goodbye to Anne. The Doctor insists that they have got to leave Paris. Right now.
The Marshal studies a list provided by Catherine de Medici. She outlines her plan. It’s pretty basic.
Gandalf: But, Madame… If you rouse the mob, the innocent will perish with the guilty.
Catherine de Medici: Innocent? Heresy can have no innocents. France will breathe the pure air after tomorrow.
After Catherine de Medici leaves, the Marshal gives Simon his orders. He’s to protect Henry from the wholesale slaughter. It’s a punishment for being so bloodthirsty, and it goes some way to offering a scant redemption.
Gandalf: At dawn tomorrow this city will weep tears of blood.
Steven and the Doctor can’t get back to the TARDIS because of the guards around the Admiral’s house. The bell tolls. The guards leave and to the sound of the Admiral’s door being hammered upon the TARDIS dematerialises.
Still images of the Massacre, overlaid with screams, flash across the screen. This is pretty much as was shown to the best of my knowledge.
Him: What about Dodo?
More images. More screams.
Me: That’s hideous.
In the TARDIS, the Doctor insists that nothing could be done. The course of history is the course of history. Steven responds with a list of the dead. He starts calmly, but by the end he’s furious. The Doctor, again, denies any responsibility.
Steven demands to leave.
The TARDIS lands. Steven checks the scanner and console and then leaves.
The Doctor’s alone in the TARDIS and this happens:
|Iconic Moment #74|
The Doctor: Even after all this time, he cannot understand. I dare not change the course of history. Well, at least I taught him some precautions – he did remember to look at the scanner before he opened the doors. And now, they’re all gone. All gone. None of them… could understand. Not even… my little Susan. Or Vicki. And as for Barbara and Chatterton-
The Doctor: - Chesterton – they were all too impatient to get back to their own time. And now, Steven. Perhaps I should go home. Back to my own planet. But I can’t… I can’t…
Me: That’s an ace speech.
A girl is running from Wombles.4 The next thing you know she’s in the TARDIS and looking for a telephone box to inform the police that a little boy has been hurt. By Wombles.4 Steven rushes back into the TARDIS to warn the Doctor that policemen are approaching. In a rush, they leave. At this moment Steven spots the Doctor’s acquisition.
Me: Another kidnapping.
|Dodo "Wandering Accent" Chaplet|
The Doctor: And don’t you think she looks rather like my grand-daughter Susan?
Dodo reveals that her surname’s Chaplet.5 The Him says nothing.
Me: Barbara and Ian were supposed to be seen outside the TARDIS then, but it was never filmed.
Him: That would’ve been awesome. “Five fifteen”.
Him: I don’t have any. Not on the episode.
Me: Okay. Not too full-on, then?
Him: No. There was no massacring until the end.
Me: Well – it’s still a family show.
Him: With all the guys being hanged and the stabbing?
Me: And the defenestration.
Me: Yup. Never mind – maybe the next one’ll have The Beatles.
Him: The Ark? That plays about with cyclops slavery.
Me: So, not lightening the mood then?
3. I’d have said ‘As it all begins to turn to Sensorite’, but we don’t do that gag anymore.
4. It’s Wimbledon Common, what else could it be? Ice Warriors?
5. So that’s alright then, isn’t it? Tch.