Episode 080 – “A Battle of Wits”

See the dramatic escape from a cell! Marvel at the healing powers of penicillin!  Witness the evil schemes of the viking invaders! Read the Monk’s plan for dicking around with history!

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So when last we saw our heroes, the Doctor had escape to a vacation somewhere, while Steven and Vicki went on a mission to rescue him.

I do rather love the conceit that a cell someone is supposed to be locked securely inside of would have a secret exit. Very true to the overall theme of the series, if perhaps not the most rational thing in a real-world setting.

When the Monk finds the Doctor’s cell is open, he think’s he’s going to be clever and catch the Doctor out before he can mount an ambush. This fails, since the Doctor isn’t there, but I just realized that this is kind of the theme of this story. The Monk constantly think’s he’s more clever than he is, Vicki and Steven think the same about themselves, too. in fact, the only one who constantly is every bit as clever as he imagines is the Doctor himself. Kind of amusing.

Here now the series gets into a bit of history, talking about the viking invasion that Harold Godwinson is about to repel, which costs him greatly later at Hastings when William the Conqueror arrives to earn his nickname. It’s kind of a nice touch for those who aren’t really up on their 11th century British history.

Credit to the Monk; he does actually do what he can to treat the injured Saxon. One can imagine that he’s probably doing it out of fear, but this character is a bit more complicated than that. He’s not a truly evil man; he just likes to mess with things for the lolz. I like that about this character. Not evil, just really irresponsible.

The scene where he complains about visitors and says, “It’s getting to where you can’t call a monastery your own!” amuses me greatly. Peter Butterworth, who plays the Monk, really is quite good in this role, and his chemistry with Hartnell is great.

The vikings show up and capture the Doctor. They then lock him up in the same cell he’d already escape from once, so that’s convenient for him. Of course, he doesn’t do the obvious thing. He just hides, lures the viking guard inside, and bonks him on the head. So par for the course on the cleverness thing.

Vicki and Steven make their way into the monastery and find a power cable. We then get what has to be one of the most impressive early scenes in the entire series as they make their way inside a small box to find that within is…a TARDIS!

Next time: “Checkmate”

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