Doctor Who In Review: Pyramid of Mars Part IV



The Doctor has distracted Sutekh, and Sutekh’s lost the war rocket as a result, so it can’t destroy the force field on Mars holding Sutekh in Egypt. Sutekh’s justifiably angry, but has a bit of curiosity over this guy who has upset his plan, and we get one of the great Doctor/villain confrontations, as well as some bits of Doctor Who lore, as learn what constellation Gallifrey is located in (Kasterborous)

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….something brought up a few times in the new series as well, including of course this iconic scene from “Voyage of the Damned….”

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As well as it’s coordinates (Since “names mean nothing” to Sutekh). These would show up again in “Death in Heaven” when Missy states that Gallifrey had returned to it’s original place (which might not have been a total lie; Gallifrey did return to our universe, but only in the far future as “Hell bent” revealed; presumably the Doctor simply went to the ‘present’ location)

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Sutekh, by doing a quick search on his computer (which just blinks some random lights) has him figure out the Doctor’s a time lord of course, although of course the Doctor quickly says he’s simply a traveler.  Sutekh offers the Doctor rule over an empire (Which is kind of weird, since Sutekh pretty much wants to destroy everything, would he just leave the Doctor alone?) The Doctor of course refuses (and notes that Sutekh is also known as Satan, which as I mentioned in the earlier articles, is a role the actor would sort of later play in the new series), and tortures the Doctor for a minute until the ‘organ sound’ lets Sutekh know that Scarman is calling, revealing that Sarah has been caught and knocked it. The Doctor of course objects seconds before the Mummy hits, causing Sutekh to tell them to wait. A bit of a funny blooper here, although one easy to miss-the Mummy stops before Marcus puts his hand up to halt it (although maybe it was just following Sutekh’s orders directly).


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Curious why Sarah means so much to the Doctor, the Doctor tries to cover by saying the “All intelligent life is our kin”, but Sutekh figures out that they travel together, and somehow also finds out about the TARDIS (possibly by reading the Doctor’s mind). It’s not the only time the Doctor’s mostly foiled the villain’s plan, but then they seek to claim his own ship as a plan B. Oops. And if there isn’t enough devil analogies already, Sutekh pretty much quotes Milton’s Paradise lost after the Doctor calls him evil: “Your evil is my good”.

The Doctor then levitates the Doctor’s key through the portal to England, where Scarman picks it up. And it’s time for some more Doctor who lore-of sorts, with the Doctor saying that the TARDIS controls are isomorphic, and only respond to him….which, like the “State of grace” aspect (That weapons can’t be fired inside the TARDIS)-is ignored time and time again in the series, both old and new-and finally treated as a joke in “The Christmas Carol” special in 2010, where the Doctor says there’s “no such thing” when trying to activate a computer-only to find out the computer is, in fact, isomorphic. Oops.


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Anyway, Sutekh uses his mind control on the Doctor. Tom does pretty good with a sort of dead-eyed Doctor, who then sends the TARDIS to mars.

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Unlike some other Doctor Who serials, we never see the exterior of the Pyramid; although we do see it 35 years later in Sarah Jane’s own show, in the “Vault of secrets”, where Sarah messes up a Mars probe so NASA doesn’t get a look….


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….and this is far from the last time the Doctor would set foot on the red planet. He finally meets the Ice Warriors on their home planet in last season’s “Empress of Mars”…

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….and of course the penultimate story to David Tennant’s run) was Water of Mars.

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Of course all three DW stories use the “of mars”.

Once the TARDIS gets to Mars, the Mummies then choke the Doctor, although they just ignore Sarah pretty much.

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The Doctor then ‘dies’, and Sarah for a minute starts crying after checking his hearts-beat, but the Doctor gives her a tap on the head, letting her know he’s actually ok, and we get the first mention of the Doctor’s “respitory bypass system”, which comes up a few times in both series, apparently a way for the Doctor to store oxygen. It also helps the Doctor out of a tricky situation in next season’s “Robots of death”.

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The Pyramid’s defense systems are a series of deadly puzzles, which we see Marcus and later the Doctor navigate. The Doctor explains that, despite Horus, who imprisoned Sutekh-being a sort of ‘good guy’, he was still a cunning and clever Osirian. One of the puzzles involves pressing the right symbol on a board, and Sutekh is able to counter it by “cheating” using his computer, although the Doctor has to resort to using his scarf to measure the puzzle and it’s solution “key” to touch the right symbol.

Sarah says this particular puzzle is a bit like the City of the Exillons, which also had death trap puzzles in “Death to the Daleks”, a third Doctor/Sarah story from Pertwee’s final season. Of course, places lined with death traps would show up in later stories as well, including “The Five Doctors” anniversary special, where a guardian robot and later a “chess board” made a mess of a group of Cybermen.


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We also get some fun little comedy when the Doctor and Sarah enter the room a bit too soon.

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Sarah then gets trapped in a dusty-looking tube (A “Decadon crucible” whatever that means), with the Doctor puzzled on how to proceed for a minute, but then two mummy robots show up-these time wearing gold bands meaning they’re Horus’s, not Sutekh’s-and give the Doctor a riddle. Horus’s voice, I’m pretty sure, is also Gabriel Woolf’s, although with less of a sinister tone. Also like Sarah Jane’s “What me, worry?” shrug here when the Doctor dust-writes “Relax”. (and shielding his own reaction to her dilemma)

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Intruders, you face the twin guardians of Horus. One is programmed to deceive, the other points truly.
The two switches control your fate. Instant freedom or instant death. Before you choose, you can ask one guardian one question. This is the riddle of the Osirans. Which is the guardian of life?

The Doctor uses some reverse logic to figure out this puzzle and get Sarah out.

Which indeed. They’re both contra-programmed so that one will always give a false indication. One question. If I were to ask your fellow guardian the question, which switch would he indicate?

(Mummy points)

I see. So if you’re the true guardian, that must be the death switch. And if you’re the automatic liar, you’d be trying to mislead me, so that still must be the death switch. Therefore, this has to be the one we want.


However, Marcus has got to the Pyramid’s room holding the Eye of Horus holding Sutekh in his tomb on Earth. (I wonder how he got out of that puzzle? Did he even have to do it?The room has sort of an interesting CSO effect on the walls.

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While Horus’s mummies take on Sutekh’s by pretty much karate-chopping each other, Sutekh somehow makes Marcus’s head turn into a Jackal and destroy the eye.

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Sutekh says he’s “FREEEEE!” we also hear that from Marcus, although it’s a bit unclear if it’s Marcus saying he’s free from Sutekh’s influence, or he’s simply repeating Sutekh. Anyway, it’s not much help anyway since he then collapses and disintegrates.

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As Sarah says, Sutekh seems to have won, and can now get out of his chair and wreck havoc-although the moment is kind of overshadowed by somebody’s hand appearing on the chair when he gets up (presumably adjusting the pillow?)-one of the most legendary Doctor Who bloopers.

However, as the Pyramid’s doors all open leading to the TARDIS, the Doctor says, in a very dramatic way-“NO! THE TIME FACTOR!” and they quickly rush out. Sutekh, turns back into his true form-the jackel we saw earlier on Marcus’s head…

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(although not really as scary as his “mental projection” from part one, which appeared to have pupils and hair)

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The Doctor-holding the time control from the TARDIS-sort of ‘hacks’ into the sarcophagus portal, managing to trap Sutekh, and although there’s some technobabble here from the Doctor, he ‘kills’; Sutekh by making him live for seven millennia stuck in the time tunnel (I think). The portal than bursts into flame, with Sarah remembering that the priory did, in fact, burn to the ground, with UNIT HQ  replacing it at some point.

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The Doctor also notes he got blamed for the great fire of London in 1666, which he technically was, in part, responsible for….although from his POV, not until his next life, in 1981’s “The Visitation”

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As the priory burns and the Doctor and Sarah flee in the TARDIS There’s a weird moment before the Doctor gets into the TARDIS, with him doing a kick, not sure if it was meant to ward off the flames or just him kicking over one of the mummy cases. It’s a bit unclear.

“Pyramid of Mars” of course was a very popular serial, and of course has spawned a large number of sequels in audio (With Woolf reprising his role), comic, and novel form, such as the “Faction Paradox” spinoff which reveals a lot about the backstory behind Sutekh and his race….

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and also facing the Doctor again in his seventh incarnation…..

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The Doctor also had to deal with other Osirians, mainly Nepthys, in the novel “Sands of time”


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And Sutekh has a son who actually becomes the Doctor’s companion in the Tenth Doctor comics by Titan…

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And for those curious about how the Ice Warriors fit in with the whole Osirians building the Pyramid of Mars, “Godengine” by the late Craig Hinton offers an explanation.

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Doctor Who In Review: Pyramid of Mars Part III

Sarah manages to get the ring to ask the Mummy to “Return to control” which is probably the best thing Sarah’s ever done with a ring, given what happens the next few times she gets one: Possession and false/trap wedding!


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The Doctor is justifiably very, very angry at Lawrence for delaying Sarah’s activation of the Marconiscope. This is part of the reason I like this serial: It really allows Tom’s Doctor a lot of range, something later stories often didn’t. He once again tries to convince Lawrence his brother is gone, but Lawrence seems beside himself, and the Doctor and Sarah leave him behind.

The Doctor and Sarah then check out the war Rocket the possessed Marcus and the robots are building. It’s not really a complex construction, but it kind of looks interesting anyway without looking too cheap.

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Returning to Marcus, the Doctor tries to figure out how to get rid of the missile before it can head to Mars, destroy the Pyramid there holding Sutekh in Egypt. Lawrence tells them that they can destroy the rocket with some explosives the poacher had for fishing(!). Lawrence is still kind of upset and feels that he’ll let the Doctor down again, but the Doctor lets him know that he can still be a help by getting the wrappings off the robot mummy.

It’s time for some sonic screwdriver action, as the Doctor uses the Sonic screwdriver to temporarily lower the barrier (Which is powered by a canopic jar!). There’s some nice commentary on Doctor Who companions always screaming, as well.

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DOCTOR: Deactivating a generator loop without the correct key is like repairing a watch with a hammer and chisel. One false move and you’ll never know the time again.
SARAH: Any more comforting thoughts?
DOCTOR: Yes. Just let me know if it starts to get warm.
SARAH: Don’t worry. You’ll hear me breaking the sound barrier.

However, this act allows Sutekh to finally figure out that an “Extraterrestrial intelligence” is messing up his plans. We also get a bit of how nihilist he is:


SUTEKH:Once the missile is projected, you will seek out and destroy my enemies. The alien who dares to intrude, the humans, animals, birds, fish, reptiles. All life is my enemy! All life shall perish under the reign of Sutekh the Destroyer!


No wonder the Doctor is scared! He gives a bit more info on Sutekh to Sarah, saying that he was defeated by 740 of his own people, who went down in history-as Sarah notes-as 740 gods in Thutmoses III’s tomb. Thutmose III BTW was one of Egypt’s most accomplished pharaohs, and part of the same 18th dynasty which also had notable kings such as Hatsheput (his aunt) and later Akhentaten and Tutankhamen (“King Tut”)


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There’s also some funny light comedy in the poacher’s hut between Sarah and the Doctor-this is probably one of the best serials for the two’s chemistry.

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Back in the hut, Marcus finally finds, as he put it earlier, “The other Scarman”. Lawrence tries to convince his brother of his old human nature….and almost seems to break free…but then Sutekh’s control reasserts himself, and Marcus almost seems offended-and then uses his death touch from earlier on Lawrence, in a sad bit that somewhat recalls a similar scene in the Dalek mines from “The Dalek Invasion of Earth”.

Kind of weird that Marcus just leaves the unwrapped Mummy robot behind though. Oh well, it was kind of needed for the Doctor’s plan to work, so plot convenience 🙂


The Doctor and Sarah return to find Lawrence’s body, but Sarah is horrified that the Doctor is somewhat callous; but the Doctor kind of reminds her that he isn’t human-and more importantly-to look at the bigger picture.


DOCTOR: I told him not to be. I told him it was too late.
SARAH: Oh! Sometimes you don’t seem
DOCTOR: Human? Typical Osiran simplicity.
SARAH: A man has just been murdered!
DOCTOR: Four men, Sarah. Five, if you include Professor Scarman himself, and they’re merely the first of millions unless Sutekh is stopped. Know thine enemy. Admirable advice.

The Doctor’s count is a bit off though….There’s Namin, Warlock, the Poacher, Lawrence and the butler. Pretty sure that’s five. Six, if you include Professor Scarman himself.


As for callous Doctor moments…I’ll let the Seventh explain it…(and also serve as an example….)

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….and let’s not forget this guy, although it turned out he really didn’t do what the other Doctors thought he did.

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The Doctor disguises himself as one of the mummy robots. I’m guessing that’s not Tom Baker under there, and that the Doctor’s wearing the frame…and we get a bit of humor here as well.

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DOCTOR: Hurry up.
SARAH: I am hurrying.
DOCTOR: It doesn’t have to be perfect. I shall mingle with the mummies but I shan’t linger.
SARAH: Okay, that’ll have to do.
DOCTOR: How do I look?
SARAH: It must have been a nasty accident.
DOCTOR: Don’t provoke me. Come on. And don’t forget the rifle.

Sutekh’s prepping his missile, giving Scarman some special coordinates in a canister. The Doctor meanwhile places the explosives in the rocket in his mummy disguise, for Sarah to shoot, although he almost gets found out by Scarman (who just gives him the coordinates). It’s here we have one of the more iconic shots of the classic series-Sarah Jane Smith with a rifle. She seems kind of confident about it too: “Leave you time to get clear, and then POW.Don’t worry…I know what I’m doing.”

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And people thought Ace and Leela were the first tough girl companions….

Unfortunately it fails….sort of. Sutekh’s using his mental power to contain the explosion (via a cool use of reverse footage). The Doctor figures if he can distract Sutekh by using the dimensional portal to reach him personally, then the plan will work…and it does. The Doctor shows up in Sutekh’s tomb, causing him to notice the Doctor and the explosion from the rocket to spread outward before Marcus and the robots can get to it. Naturally, Sutekh isn’t too happy….and uses his green eye-beam of death on the Doctor….cliffhanger!

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Next: The final chapter, as the Doctor has a chat with Sutekh, we learn a bit more about where Gallifrey is, as well as one of the Doctor’s new abilities. Plus, Riddles, mars, death traps and the grandfather paradox!


Doctor who in Review: Pyramid of Mars Part II

Sutekh’s servant’s black outfit then dematerializes, revealing his true form, Marcus Scarman, much to his brother’s horror. Marcus is given a suitably pale complexion and dark eye shadow, somewhat complimenting the Doctor’s later description of him as basically, a walking corpse animated by Sutekh’s will.

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The Doctor, ducking out of the way of Scarman as he and the mummies set up a shield barrier, then gives Sarah, Lawrence, and the audience a bit of an info dump that Scarman and even Sarah are sort of confused by. He then identifies the Sarcophagus as not only the way to Sutekh, but what drew the TARDIS off course. There’s an honestly confusing sequence right here, as the Doctor activates it, seems alarmed for a second,then orders Sarah to stay back, and then seems to fling the TARDIS key at the door, causing it to cause a reaction that knocks him out. Sarah and Lawrence quickly put him in a “preist hole” nearby.

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We then get a mini subplot of sorts with a local hunter, who is trapped on the grounds due to the shield being set up. His trap has also temporarily confounded one of the mummy robots. His sort of B-plot is sort of mostly irrelevant to the story, apart from showing off some of the schemes and powers of Sutekh and his mummies, and a bit of a macguffin for the Doctor and Sarah in the next episode. Other than that, it’s kind of what a lot of Doctor Who fans considering “padding”-a superfluous plotline designed to increase the length of a story. Although there are far worse examples of this throughout Doctor Who’s history. This, at least, is a mild one.

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The mesmerized Scarman then stops by the injured Warlock, and there’s some great body language here by Archard, as he seems to slowly draw information from what’s left of his human memory, barely remembering Warlock and seeming cold to Warlock’s concerns. The mummies then quickly dispatch Warlock, disturbing the local poacher.

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The Doctor recovers in the priest hole, although he’s kind of wondering what one of them is doing in a Victorian Gothic folly. (Basically, a “folly” is a building that’s merely meant for a decorative purpose rather than a practical one, while a priest hole was presumed to hide a priest during the late middle ages).Image result for Priesthole Pyramid of mars

We get another infodump here, with the Doctor trying to figure out how to keep Sutekh stuck in Egypt by disrupting the mummies’s operations here-and comes up with using Namin’s ring.

They’re about to do so when Marcus shows up again, but this time the poacher shoots him in the back. We see him stagger slightly, but due to some admittingly clever use of reverse footage, the bullets have no effect on him (he’s pretty much dead anyway). The poacher is pretty much spooked when he discovers this guy who’s walking around with living mummies and killing people is in fact, Professor Scarman-and then we get a fantastic shot of Marcus looking out the window as he gives the kill order for the poacher.

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The Doctor, Sarah, and Lawrence slip away from the priest hole back into the mummy room which holds the TARDIS, as well as some new arrivals of equipment-equipment that the Doctor recognizes as components of a rocket that can be used to free Sutekh (Basically, Sutekh’s still suck in the tomb in Egypt by a force field being transmitted from another pyramid on Mars-hence the title-and if the rocket hits Mars, no more force field, and Sutekh is free). He also clarifies what the Mummies are-service robots.

Marcus once again shows up, and it’s back to hiding for our heroes-this time in the TARDIS, where we get one of the explanations for why the Doctor can’t just ‘leave’ a certain adventure and return to a relative point of safety….because doing so means grave consequences. We also get a “It’s bigger on the inside!” moment from Lawrence) In this brilliant sequence, the Doctor points this out by taking Sarah back to 1980 (once again, there’s that continuity problem with UNIT, but that’s a whole other thing/article/whatever)….which is a desolate wasteland.

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The Doctor basically explains that because they left without stopping Sutekh, this creates an alternate timeline or something, explaining in part I think why Sarah doesn’t blink out of existence when they land. Regardless of the temporal paradox, Sarah is adamant that they go back and fix this, with a great line reading and look by Elizabeth Sladen. “We’ve got to go back.” No wonder she returned a few times and got her own spin-off show twice.

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And now, instead of his intermediaries, we’re introduced to Sutekh himself via a kind of glowing effect on the Sarcophogaus, as well as a look inside the tomb, where he appears in an Egyptian-looking headdress, and sitting in a chair (although his outfit certainly looks a bit alien). He’s voiced by Gabriel Woolf, whose voice is calm yet commanding and with an undercurrent of anger at the same time.

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Woolf-in addition to bringing back Sutekh for a few audio dramas-would also provide the voice the beast/possessed Toby in “The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit”-another serial which featured a trapped evil alien “god” (A plot point that shows up a few other times in Doctor Who-most notably later on in “Curse of Fenric” as well)

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Meanwhile, the gang finds Warlock’s body, and Lawrence is horrified that Marcus did such a thing, but the Doctor doesn’t have much sympathy, as as far as he’s concerned, Marcus is already dead and just a puppet of Sutekh (The Doctor’s apathy on this will have a lot of payoff in the next episode).

The Doctor then proceeds with the plan that can jam Sutekh’s signals to Scarman and the mummies by using a combination of the Egyptian’s ring and Lawrence’s radio transmitter. However, they’re quickly distracted by the mummies, who’ve finally caught up to the poacher and kill them by crushing him with their chests. The Doctor decides it’s now or never….but as the mummies approach, Lawrence suddenly isn’t quite on board with it and grabs Sarah, because he’s afraid it will kill Marcus…again.

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Although Sarah manages to break free and power the device (causing Sutekh and Marcus to double up in pain), the mummies are still coming, the Doctor and Lawrence are temporarily knocked out….and one has Sarah by the throat. Cliffhanger time!


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Next: Moral relativity, Sarah’s got a gun, and the Doctor gets literally wrapped up.

Doctor Who History-First and Last?

When we last left the Doctor, he was once again refusing to regenerate after his encounter with the Masters and the Cybermen. He landed in the South Pole, 1986….where his first incarnation-who had also had his very first confrontation with the Cybermen-is pretty much doing the exact same thing, and encounters his future self.

The Twelfth of course realizes this, but the first Doctor just figures he’s another Time Lord, sent to recover the TARDIS and return it to Gallifrey.



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The two are then interrupted by a World War I captain, who has somehow been ejected from 1914 in the middle of a standoff with a German soldier, and is confused by his sudden transportation and the strange dimensions of the Doctor’s (present) TARDIS. The First Doctor-finally realizing that the Twelfth is his future self-is equally confused as to the state of the TARDIS, considerably dirtier and darker than his version.

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The TARDIS is then scooped up a massive spaceship,  The Testimony, in a mysterious “Chamber of the Dead” piloted by a mysterious glass woman.

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Bill Potts is also onboard, although the Twelfth Doctor is suspicious of her presence, considering the last thing he knew, she was turned into a Cyberman.

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The First Doctor is likewise also confused at the current Doctor’s use of sonic devices, and ask that he observes with his own eyes, rather than tools-that the glass woman’s face is asymmetrical-like a real person’s. The entity then says it will take the Captain’s life in exchange for returning Bill to the Doctor. The Captain agrees, but the Doctor isn’t having it.

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She also puts forward a little bubble clip show of the Doctor’s various lives, as well as nicknames, which horrifies the First Doctor quite a bit, although the Twelfth Doctor believes it’s been selectively edited: “They’ve cut out all the jokes!”

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Also Believing that the Testimony might have sinister intentions, the Doctors and Bill leave the spaceship, temporarily leaving the current TARDIS behind and taking refuge about the First Doctor’s. Bill finds herself a bit offended by the first Doctor’s misogynistic attitude.

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The Doctor decides he needs a sophisticated databank to learn more about the Testimony, but the databank in the First Doctor’s TARDIS is relatively empty at this point. After briefly considering Gallifrey’s matrix, he figures he needs another one-although it involves going into some dangerous territory-the planet Villengard, a place swarming with shell-less Dalek mutants. After one attacks the captain, the Doctors explore the city while Bill and the Captain wait in the TARDIS.

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The Doctor comes to a tower where he chats with Rusty, the “Good Dalek” from “Into the Dalek” who has been fighting off his brethren but is still connected to their hive mind, a computer. Meanwhile, Bill leaves the TARDIS and talks with the first Doctor about his reasons for leaving Gallifrey and his purpose in the future.

The  Doctor learns that “Testimony” is in fact an information archive using time travel to extract people moments before their death, and record their entire lives into a computer before returning them to their proper place with no knowledge of being taken out of time. That person can then also be resurrected into a glass copy. The Doctor figures that this isn’t evil, and it’s revealed that the Bill that’s been traveling with them is one such copy. However, when the Doctors met and each refused to regenerate, it caused a sort of paradox/”Timeline error” that wound up with the Captain popping into 1986.

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The Doctors return the Captain to 1914, but the Doctor decides to cheat a little bit and place him during the Christmas truce, allowing him to live more of a life than he did originally. His name: Archibald Hamish Lethbridge-Stewart-and he asks for the Doctor to check on his family-the first Doctor promises he will, and the Twelfth knows he’s good for it (For obvious reasons).

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Confident that his future is in safe hands, the first Doctor returns to his time and place in the snow, 1986, where he collapses and changes into his second self.

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Meanwhile, his future incarnation wonders if he should continue to resist regeneration, and just die in his present form to finally get some rest from his very long life(s).

He chats with the glass avatar of Bill, which also gives him a present-it turns into Clara, and his memories of her-which were self-erased as he kind of went a bit too overboard to save her (getting Gallifrey pretty angry at him again).

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A glass Nardole also shows up, saying it’s be kind of sad if the Doctor just died-The universe would suddenly go cold, as he puts it. After giving a goodbye hug to his companions (or rather their memories in glass bodies), he says he needs to make the final decision alone.

Figuring that the universe still needs saving, that they’ll get it wrong without him etc. the Doctor decides it’s time to once again regenerate. Before he regenerates, he gives some advice to his next incarnation.

You wait a moment, Doctor. Let’s get it right. I’ve got a few things to say to you. Basic stuff first.

Never be cruel, never be cowardly. And never ever eat pears! Remember – hate is always foolish…and love, is always wise.

Always try, to be nice and never fail to be kind. Oh, and….and you mustn’t tell anyone your name. No-one would understand it anyway. Except….

Except….children. Children can hear it. Sometimes – if their hearts are in the right place, and the stars are too. Children can hear your name.

But nobody else. Nobody else. Ever.


Laugh hard. Run fast. Be kind.


Doctor – I let you go.


And the process begins again. The usual fireworks, and the most damage he’s done to the console room since his tenth-to-eleventh change.


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However, this time the result is a bit different….


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The Doctor looks at HER reflection in the console room scanner. She is now a woman, appearence-wise in her mid thirties, and seems kind of excited at the prospect.

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However, her excitement is a bit short-lived, as the damage to the TARDIS causes the console room to explode when she hits a button, and the doors to open in midair. Unable to get a hold, she falls out, thousands of feet in the air.

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She’ll be back in October, though!

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Doctor Who In Review: Pyramid of Mars Part One

Thought I’d write up a bit on one of my favorite Tom Baker serials, “Pyramid of Mars”.

After making a strong impression in his first season (12)-although pretty much pitted toward familiar adversaries such as Sontarans, Daleks, and Cybermen (as well as two new threats in the form of the K-1 Robot and the Wiirn) Tom Baker’s second season-13-sort of had a classic horror film vibe (Britain in particular was doing well with it’s Hammer studios horror films), with the Doctor’s adventures often recalling those films, but with a bit of a more sci-fi, or uniquely Doctor Who-style twist.

To that end, there was Terror of the Zygons and Android Invasion, both of which played on themes of body replacement or stolen identity like in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (Although “Zygons” threw in the Loch Ness Monster as well) Planet of Evil was pretty much “Forbidden Planet” with a touch of Jekyll and Hyde thrown in (“Forbidden Planet” had a bit of Jekyll and Hyde to begin with as well). “Brain of Morbius” of course was Frankenstein, and perhaps is the best example of a story being given a Doctor Who embellishment, as Morbius-whose brain-detached from his original body, although kept alive (Kind of needs a full body to regenerate though!) needs to be transported into a new body-was a former Time Lord president, although a pretty bad one. The final story, Seeds of Doom, mixes the “Day of the Triffieds” with the “Thing from Another World” (Later of course, the inspiration for  it’s 1982 remake “The Thing”).

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Pyramid of Mars, the third story, is my favorite of the season, and perhaps one of my favorites of all time. Maybe because it deals with Egyptology a bit, which is sort of a side hobby of mine, or how it really sells the threat as one of the Doctor’s biggest challenges, one that he-and the universe-was literally seconds away from failing.

Pyramids begins with some stock footage of Saqurra and the step pyramid near there, before going to studio and video with a scientist-Marcus Scarman. I’m guessing the actor-Bernard Archard-was cast in part because he has a very Peter Cushing look to him (Archard had previously been in Troughton’s debut story, Power of the Daleks, but as a totally different character).

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Anyway, he enters an old-but well preserved-tomb, but discovers a strange glowing eye of Horus which glows red (and scares the local diggers) and then opens a door-and then Marcus finds himself falling over in agony from a green light.

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One TARDIS shot later, and we’re with the Doctor and Sarah in the console room, which, in this version, has some pretty large roundels (This is actually one of the first times the console set is seen, and for pretty much most of the series after this, they’d pretty much shrink to yellowish ones. Sarah’s trying on a new dress, but the Doctor is somewhat distracted, referring to her as “Vicky”, although rather than the usual times when he misnames a companion (after regeneration scrambles his brains a bit), he explains that it’s Victoria’s old dress. Which is a bit confusing because the Doctor had a companion named Vicky, and also later Victoria (Who the dress actually is supposed to belong too).

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I think it’s pretty obvious it’s the latter. Sure, “Vicky” wore dresses, but not like Victoria’s.

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Anyway, the Doctor’s a little worried that he’s becoming “middle aged” at 740 years (although from the perspective of the new series and like, 10 regenerations later and a thousand or so years later, he’s actually very young at this point!), and therefore needs to sort of detach himself from being UNIT’s scientific adviser, a role he’s had since season 7 and, since he’s recently become a new person (In “Planet of the Spiders”/Robot”) and even earlier regained his freedom with the TARDIS (“In the Three Doctors”) he’d rather resume his old travelling days.

However, suddenly the ship gets hit by something, causing the console to spark and the ship to tremble, with Sarah getting spooked by a bizarre looking Jackal head that suddenly pops up. The Doctor’s initially disbelieving of her claim, since “nothing can enter the TARDIS” unless it has some really strong mental projection…but she’s still spooked, especially when they land….and although they’ve landed at the right destination (UNIT HQ), they’ve landed in the wrong time (In the old mansion the base was built on)….and the Doctor suspects this isn’t just the TARDIS being finicky again, but there’s something very wrong and contrary to the laws of the universe. Now he’s spooked. It’s interesting how haunted the Doctor seems in these two scenes, first by the prospect of aging, and second by time being out of whack. Although Tom is often stated to be one of the “funnier” Doctors-something which is primarily based on his later stories, no doubt-he certainly captures the alien aspect here pretty well.

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Meanwhile, in the other part of the house, some really spooky organ music is playing very loudly by a man in a Fez (of course, Fez’s would become a bigger part of Doctor Who’s iconography later on, but that’s neither here nor there in this review 🙂 ), as he is confronted by the butler and Dr. Warlock (Interesting name) a colleague of Professor Scarman, who is wondering why Marcus Scarman’s brother, Lawrence, has been banned from the mansion they share. The main room here is actually a pretty decent set, in particular the sarcophagus itself.

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Meanwhile, the Doctor and Sarah try to get their way out of the room, with Marie Antoinette’s old pick-lock, and the Doctor cracking a joke or two to lighten the mood. Although the butler opens it for them from the outside. Speaking of which, looks like less effort was put into these particular sarcophagi by the art department, but then again they’re supposed to hold the big signature monsters from this story so their somewhat strange, large size does kind of make a bit of sense, although the paint job looks a bit high school art project.

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The butler just thinks that the Doctor and Sarah are buddies of Warlock’s, and he lets them on their way, and they decide to head outside…to of course, sneak in another way.

Warlock and Namin continue their debate, with Namin making veiled threats, but the screams of the butler alert them to the room with the sarcophagi. Turns out he’s dead-strangled, by something which quickly wiggles it’s way back into the coffin before it’s spotted. Namin of course goes into full nutjob here talking about ancient gods returning, although Warlock is adamant to call the police, and then Namin produces a gun. Maybe you should’ve just run when the thing started talking a bit nutty, Warlock.

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Warlock is badly winged, but saved due to SCARF ATTACK! from the Doctor who escapes with Warlock (although it’s directed a bit oddly). However, Namin decides to activate the main hench-monsters here-The Osirian war robots, which actually kind of look pretty imposing when standing still. But kind of goofy when they walk. They don’t walk in a Hollywood mummy way, but in a kind of “I’m wearing a really bulky suit and can barely move” kind of way.

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Next we have a bit of a cat and mouse between the characters, as the Doctor and Warlock hide in the woods from Nabim and the robot mummies, while Sarah also attempts to evade them and, on Warlock’s advice, seek Lawrence’s help.Image result for Pyramid of mars robot mummies

Eventually Nabim gets distracted, sensing something, and heads back to the main room, allowing Lawrence to tend to Dr. Warlock. The Doctor initially expresses disbelief about Sarah spotting the walking mummies, despite the fact that he was literally just hiding from one himself!

Allowing Warlock to recover, Lawrence is baffled by the new arrivals. The Doctor doesn’t want to call the police because they’d obviously confuse matters (and probably wouldn’t do well against alien robot mummies either, especially in the early twentieth century)…and of course doesn’t believe that Sarah is from 1980 (which is actually a whole other can of worms in Doctor Who’s sometimes tangled continuity….which I really won’t get into here, but it mainly deals in part with something brought up later on in a Peter Davison serial, “Mawdryn Undead” and where the “Modern day UNIT” stories were set…). Despite all this, Lawrence-amazed by the Doctor’s knowledge that his experimental “Marconiscope” is actually an early Radio telescope-sort of an anachronism (and one eventually explained by the outcome of this episode). Nevertheless, it’s receiving a transmission, from Mars.

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….and it’s a warning. “Beware Sutekh”….and once again we get haunted Doctor face. Without explaining much, he states “The Earth is facing the greatest peril in it’s history”, and even more omniously.. “The forces that are being summoned into corporeal existence in that house are more powerful and more dangerous than anything even I have ever encountered.” Daleks, Cybermen, the Master, Omega—they’ve got nothing on Sutekh. Despite telling Sarah and Lawrence to stay put, they follow him as he looks on to what’s transpiring.

The Doctor heads back to the mansion, where the organ music has become really swelled (It’s never really explained how the organ music is supposed to make the sarcophagus work, and it’s pretty much playing itself at this point (Although that might be just a bit of a flourish by composer Dudley Simpson) The sarcophagus suddenly becomes a funky looking multi-colored portal, an effect we see several times in this serial.

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Out emerges a creature possessing a helmet similar to the mummies (but without the wrappings and a black suit along with some equipment. However, as it tells Namin (Who as it turns out, is part of an ancient cult who kept an eye on Sutekh’s tomb) , it’s not Sutekh, just his servant, and that Sutekh doesn’t need another (Well, apart from those robot mummies). He does away with Namin by putting his smoking hands on his shoulders, and that he’s going to help bring Sutekh’s gift of death, to all humans. Cue cliffhanger!

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Next: The identity of the man in black is revealed, something Lawrence has some severe problems with, which could complicate the Doctor’s plans big time, and we get introduced more to Sutekh and the threat he poses.  We get a look into what happens when the Doctor *doesn’t* do anything with a present threat to a time period, and a local poacher adds some light comic relief and also slightly frustrates things for the Doctor and co.

Doctor Who History-The Night of the Master

The Doctor decides to test Missy’s redemption-by having her respond to a distress call, just like he would. The distress call ends up being on a ship trying to break away from a black hole, with a terrified pilot at the helm.  Missy’s style is a bit different, to say the least, and does little to calm the situation.


The pilot asks if any of them are human-Missy isn’t, of course, and Nardole is sort of a cyborg-but Bill is. In response, he shoots her in the chest, creating a hole.

She’s then taken by mysterious, white robed and masked individuals who state they can repair her.

The Doctor, Missy, and Nardole soon figure out that the ship is in a state of time dillation due to the Black hole-while only seconds pass for the Doctor and co. on the bridge, time moves much faster on the ship’s lower levels. A repair crew on the ship, sent down not too long ago, became a fully functioning city, although a polluted one, where various citizens are being ‘repaired’.

There, Bill befriends Mr. Razor, an employee at the hospital there, and the two observe via TV the Doctor’s extremely slow movements (from their POV) over the next decade. Bill also has machinery fixed to her chest to replace her destroyed organs. Eventually, Bill is betrayed by Razor into undergoing the next step of the procedure.

Eventually making their way to the bottom of the ship, The Doctor and Missy investigate the hospital, discovering that, in fact, the ship is from Mondas, the original Cybermen planet, and the patients are undergoing conversion to original Cybermen.

Missy, meanwhile, meets “Mr. Razor”, who is in fact, her earlier incarnation, the Master…and is very worried about his future.

The Doctor is then confronted by a Cyberman and both versions of the Master-and the Cybermen reveals that she is, in fact, Bill potts, and that she ‘waited’ for the Doctor.

The two quickly knock the Doctor out and tie him up, although Missy’s blow manages to have the Doctor’s hand land on a computer console….

As the two villains dance on the roof, the Doctor figures out what’s been going on, connecting the dots from the last time he faced this particular Master incarnation. After being sent back to Gallifrey’s “Time lock”, The Master’s degenerative illness-the one that made his skull translucent and made him shoot lightning bolts, as well as ravenously hungry-was ‘fixed’, and the Master fled Gallifrey, eventually ending up in the bottom of the ship here, where he turned it into yet another dystopia, but was thwarted by a rebellion, forcing him to take up his “razor” persona. The Master’s damage has already been done to this level of the ship, though, and therefore it’s citizens are being converted into Cybermen.


During his knock out though, the Doctor was able to reprogram the Cybermen, so that they would target time lord biology as well as human-which means now the Master, Missy, and the Doctor have no choice but to fight the Cybermen (Of course the Doctor would gladly do so anyway). They’re rescued by Nardole, and suprisingly, Bill, who hasn’t quite succumbed to the Cybermen side of her quite yet.

The group retreats to a higher level, a solar farm that is in better shape, but still being targeted for conversion by the Cybermen. The Doctor, Nardole, and Bill befriend the citizens, although they’re a bit off-put by Bill’s Cybermen exterior. They also try to work out a way to escape, especially with the time dilation allowing certain Cybermen to evolve into their current “Nightmare in Silver” looks.

The Doctor figures they can take a stand, to evacuate the citizens to a higher level where they will be safe for a time, guarded by Nardole, while the Doctor, Bill, and the Masters delay the Cybermen. However, the Master wants to just escape in his TARDIS, and Missy reluctantly goes along with the plan of her earlier self, despite the Doctor’s plea:

No! No! When I say no, you turn back around! Hey! I’m going to be dead in a few hours, so before I go, let’s have this out, you and me, once and for all. Winning? Is that what you think it’s about? I’m not trying to win. I’m not doing this because I want to beat someone, or because I hate someone, or because, because I want to blame someone. It’s not because it’s fun and God knows it’s not because it’s easy. It’s not even because it works, because it hardly ever does. I do what I do, because it’s right! Because it’s decent! And above all, it’s kind. It’s just that. Just kind. If I run away today, good people will die. If I stand and fight, some of them might live. Maybe not many, maybe not for long. Hey, you know, maybe there’s no point in any of this at all, but it’s the best I can do, so I’m going to do it. And I will stand here doing it till it kills me. You’re going to die too, some day. How will that be? Have you thought about it? What would you die for? Who I am is where I stand. Where I stand, is where I fall. Stand with me. These people are terrified. Maybe we can help, a little. Why not, just at the end, just be kind? 


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Missy however, does eventually change her mind, stabbing her former self, and perhaps triggering his regeneration into her.  In turn, the Master blasts her full blast with the laser screwdriver, possibly killing her, but maybe not. The wounded Master then heads toward his TARDIS. Missy…who knows?

The Doctor makes a brave final stand against the Cybermen, fighting them off by using his sonic to ignite several fuel pipes. He’s hit several times by the Cybermen, as well as the debris from the pipes. Boasting that he’s managed to defeat the Cybermen time and time again, the Doctor manages to draw them back, but he’s mortally wounded and in the early stages of regeneration.

Bill manages to recover the Doctor’s prone body, which at the moment is unconsciousness, although the process of regeneration has begun.

Fortunately, Bill’s water creature friend, Heather, from the season finale, manages to emerge from one of Bill’s tears, managing to undo her cyber-conversion and make her back into her normal self, but with powers similar to hers. The two place the Doctor’s body in the TARDIS, although Bill hopes she’ll see him again in some form-and then set off on their own journeys through space and time.


The Doctor manages to regain consciousness, but the regeneration is already proceeding. However, like his tenth self, he’d rather stay the way he is rather than change once again.

Parking the TARDIS in a snowy landscape, and the process still underway, the Doctor continues to fight off the change, but is surprised to see a familiar face approach him-and not just any familiar face, but his first face….and one that is also fighting off a change to come.


But first, he’s got one last adventure….

And then, it’s time for something completely different….


Doctor Who History:A time for Warriors

The Doctor, Bill, and Nardole decide to pay NASA a visit when they’re taking a look at the polar ice caps. There, they find an unexpected message written in rocks: “God Save the Queen”. The Doctor and his companions decide to pop back to figure out how that happened.


They arrive on the planet in 1881, and unfortunately, the TARDIS-with Nardole still onboard-decides to leave and return to Earth in the present. The Doctor and Bill quickly encounter one of the planet’s natives-an Ice Warrior-but it turns out he’s with unexpected company-a group of British soldiers from the Victorian era.

Turns out, the Ice Warrior-named “Friday” by the soldiers-crash-landed on Earth, and the British regiment helped him repair his ship. The British soldiers then accompanied him back to Mars, to mine it and claim it for the Queen. However, Friday is in fact using them as labor to help revive his fellow warriors, including his own Queen, Iraxxa-which the British soldiers soon do.

Although initially considering peace, the British soldiers then open fire, which causes a battle to break out between the soldiers. However, the battle is quickly ended when Friday aides the Doctor in trying to stop his queen, and the commander is replaced by another soldier, a former deserter whose life is forfeit on Earth, but who will pledge himself to the warriors.

The Doctor then contacts Alpha Centauri, setting up events that in a few hundred years time, will occur on the planet Peladon during the Third Doctor era. He also leaves the rocks on Mars that will be sighted by NASA.

His return back to Earth, and his reunion with the TARDIS-is a bit troubling though-Nardole let Missy out of the Vault, and had her pilot it back to Mars-something very troubling for the Doctor and Bill.


Next, The Doctor, Bill, and Nardole-with Missy also in the ship-travel to 2nd century Scotland to search for the fate of the Ninth Roman legion, a group of soldiers who disappeared. While Bill runs into the legion, the Doctor and Nardole encounter a Scottish clan who are guarding a mysterious portal, and defending themselves against the invading legion.

They’re also using a creature coming out of the portal-an “Eater of light” to help defeat the Romans. However, the Doctor realizes the creatures in the portal are a larger threat, and if more or released they’ll eat all the light in the universe. With the help of the TARDIS translation circuits, he’s able to get the Romans and Picts to work together, and enter the portal-in which time moves much slower-to fight off the creatures until the end of time. Although the Doctor initially wishes to enter the portal himself, as he’s got a long life span and regenerations to spare, the Pict leader and the legion enter instead. The act of sacrifice actually provokes an emotional reaction in Missy, and the Doctor concludes that maybe, maybe he can trust her this time…

MISSY: I don’t even know why I’m crying. Why? Why do I keep doing that now? 
DOCTOR: I don’t know. Maybe you’re trying to impress me. 
MISSY: Yes. Probably some devious plan. That sounds about right. 
DOCTOR: The alternative would be much worse. 
MISSY: Really? 

DOCTOR: The alternative is that this is for real, and it’s time for us to become friends again. 
MISSY: Do you think so? 

DOCTOR: I don’t know. That’s the trouble with hope. It’s hard to resist. 


However, the past is about to catch up with Missy….