Actress Lalla Ward began her run on Doctor Who with this episode. She’d stick around for a while, possibly because she married (and later divorced) Tom Baker. But here’s her first appearance of many.
Oh, she’s also playing a different character than the one she’s best known for, but that’s neither here nor there.
Yes, it’s time to find the final piece of the Key of Time, and that leads the TARDIS to the planet Atrios. Atrios is in a perpetual war with its neighbor Zeos, and they keep chucking nukes at each other. Granted, the Doctor at first wants to see the best in people and doesn’t want to assume Atrios’ extreme heat is caused by nuclear radiation. It could be a big cook-out. Romana, more pessimistic, sees it otherwise, and the Doctor basically wants to always assume the best before he learns the worst.
But there are issues on Atrios. The Marshall in charge of the fighting wants to hit Zeos, but he can’t lock onto the world with his missiles for some reason. Meanwhile, Zeos keeps shooting back. Likewise, Princess Astra (Ward) wants to try peace, but the Marshall won’t hear of it. The Marshall does know the Princess is friends with a like-minded ally, Surgeon Merak, and he comes up with his own plan. He allows Astra to go see Merak at the local hospital with a guard. But the guard, under orders from the Marshall, has Astra sent to a very radioactive chamber later and locked inside to die. Then the Marshall kills the guard because…um…
Regardless, the Marshall also shoots a missile at the TARDIS as the Doctor hovers in space. Fortunately, K9 can zap the TARDIS directly to Atrios at the same moment the missile explodes, so the Marshall maybe thinks the TARDIS went ka-blooey.
Then again, the Marshall keeps poking his face and looking at himself in the mirror. He’s not human, is he?
Plus, you know, neither Atrios nor the TARDIS can find Zeos, so maybe they nuked the thing to oblivion and someone else is shooting back.
Considering the Marshall just lives to fight, he could be behind the bombing himself.
Never mind. He did kill that guard for reasons. Awfully convenient reasons when the Doctor and Romana show up. K9 does blast a hole through the door to confirm the Princess is in there, but then the Marshall shows up and arrests the Doctor and Romana for espionage and killing the guard.
Did the Marshall know the Doctor was coming? Not a bad trick.
By the by, I do like how Romana, after spending this much time with the Doctor, now plays along with his crazy stories to get out of trouble.
But then the real plan comes forward, Guards bring in Merak, and the Marshall can accuse Merak, the Doctor, and Romana of being Zeosian spies. That can means they can be executed, even if the only thing the Doctor had on him was a whistle, and that isn’t much of a weapon. Especially since it doesn’t seem to make any noise.
Oh, wait. That whistle calls K9. The dog can blow out the lights, and everyone can make a run for it back to the TARDIS.
Except the TARDIS isn’t there any more.
Oh, and some masked man stopped by to pick up the Princess.