OK, the new status quo is all set up. I said hardly anything about the villains for this serial, but they were almost beside the point.
Still, this is the last part of the story, so something should be said.
They’re the Nestene Consciousness. They colonize worlds throughout the universe by sending meteors full of what is basically living plastic and gradually take over. They don’t really have a physical form so much as they are a mental hive mind. Besides the Autons, the killer manikins, they create a “perfect” body to house the main consciousness and transport the materials in the aforementioned meteors that call to each other.
The Doctor and Liz manage to figure most of that out with the one meteor UNIT has. And since they know from the guy who got vaporized what factory is connected to the killer manikins, UNIT can go investigate it.
But then the Brigadier gets told by one of his superiors not to go. Why would the general do that?
Oh yeah, it’s the guy who got replaced by an Auton. I will say, the make-up on that actor looks good. He really doesn’t look quite flesh-and-blood.
But the Brigadier remembers the general visited the factory to pose for a sculpture. That strikes the Doctor’s interest, since it sounds like the factory is using its new miracle plastic to make a plastic version of a wax museum, and so when he and Liz go, what jumps out most is many of the figures present are statesmen, not movie stars and the like. And then the Doctor finds one of the general and it’s wearing a wristwatch…one that’s been kept wound.
Yeah, the Doctor realizes the general in the display is the real guy and the one ordering the Brigadier not to do anything is a fake.
Fortunately, he and Liz built a sonic weapon that can take out the Autons.
Unfortunately, the representative of the Nestene sends the killer manikins out of every shop window in whatever town that is, and those things start killing every person in sight.
But UNIT gets its act together and gets to the factory, disables the fake general (waking up the real one), and gets into a losing firefight with the plastic people who can’t be killed with bullets. But Liz and the Doctor get inside and meet the sneaky guy who wakes up the body the Nestenes have building for their Supreme Intelligence. And it’s some rubber thing with tentacles in a tank. The Doctor fights it, Liz kills it with the machine they built, and all of the Autons fall over, including the sneaky guy.
Once back at UNIT HQ, the Doctor agrees to work as an adviser for UNIT. He’s not interested in money, but he will take a lab, and he wants Liz as an assistant, access to the TARDIS, and maybe some other things in the future.
So, that’s the introduction to the Third Doctor. He’s a much more action-oriented, serious character than either of his predecessors, and its a different show as a result. Let’s see how it goes from here.