The Three Doctors, Part 4

At the end of Part 3, Doctors 2 and 3 willed their way out of their cell in Omega’s glittering cave hideaway and snuck back into the chamber where he harnesses the power of a singularity, in hopes of destroying it.

Omega catches them at it and subjects Dr 3 to the power of the Dark Side and a wrestling match with another creature of his making.

After a few flips, the creature gets Dr 3 into a strangle hold; it looks like he’s about to lose, and Omega gloats until Dr 2 warns him: “Destroy him and you destroy your only chance to live.”

Omega relents, and suddenly Dr 3 is back in the singularity chamber with Dr 2 and Omega, lying on the floor and gasping for breath. Dr 2 helps him up, but it’s Omega he thanks.

Driving BessieMeanwhile, the group of Doctors’ companions and friends also escaped from Omega’s cave base are running across the desolate landscape with  Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and Mr. Ollis the groundskeeper until they find Bessie where Dr 3 left her parked. They all pile in and the Brigadier announces that they’re going to UNIT HQ. “It’s nearer than you think.”

Back with Omega, Dr 2 is doing his best to play the fool. He natters on about Omega’s power to will objects into existence, and asks if Omega couldn’t  will him up a recorder to replace the one he’s lost. “It’s not much to ask, a small recorder.”

Omega wonders how the two Doctors can have the same intelligence, and Dr. 3 says, “Ignore him. He’s incorrigibly frivolous.”

“Just because you’re not musical!” Dr 2 objects petulantly.

Two Doctors

Dr 3 has to take his previous self aside and ask him what the hell he thinks he’s doing.

What Dr 2 is doing is testing the limits of Omega’s self control. “Not very good. are they?”

In fact, Omega is having another one of his stormy hissy fits, which gives the two Doctors time to consult. Omega’s temper is his only weakness, but they’re taking a great risk if they push him too far.

When Omega calms down, he explains to them that he can’t leave this place because his will needs to be here to create and hold the things he creates in a state of matter. If he leaves, he has to let go of that control; the matter all disappears and he has no means to escape. He needs them to take control and hold the matter for him while he makes his exit.

They have no choice but to consent.

The first step is to remove his mask. Omega tells them that they’ll need to make and wear ones like it, since “the light stream has a slow, corrosive effect.”

The Doctors help Omega to raise the mask, which flips up on a hinge to the top of his head. When they see what’s behind the mask, they recoil in horror.

Omega demands to know whats wrong, and the Doctors gently try to break it to him about the very, very, long-term effects of exposure to that corrosive energy.

Nothing leftThey can’t remove the mask. There’s nothing left underneath it.

Omega goes to the mirror and lifts off the entire helmet to confirm that this is true–and it’s probably the best special effect in the whole story. It’s certainly my favorite.

Dr 3 continues to explain that Omega only exists now because his will insists that he does. Otherwise, there’s nothing left of him. Nothing that can leave this place, anyway. He can only exist here.

Omega cries out in anguish and refuses to believe it. Then he decides that if he can use his will to create, he can also use it to destroy things. All things.

The camera shot starts to tip from side to side and goes all blurry and wobbly as Omega begins to tear his creation apart. The Doctors do what all Doctors from first to last do: They run.

“I told you he’d got no self control,” Dr 2 quips as they make their way hastily to the front door and out.

Bessie and her passengers reach the transported UNIT HQ and get inside just as the Doctors reach the spot where Dr 3 left Bessie parked. The glittering gummi-bauble encrusted creatures start shooting at the Doctors, and they take off running again. Dr 2 knows where the HQ is, and they follow Bessie’s tire tracks.

It can’t be that far to the HQ either driving or running, since the people who have just gone inside hear the shooting and the Doctors come in almost immediately after them.

Everybody into the Tardis! Its forcefield will protect them.

The gummi monsters enter the HQ lab and find everyone gone. Omega vows that he will destroy their whole universe.

The Tardis is now besieged: the creatures can’t get in, but the people inside can’t get out, and Omega’s power prevents the Tardis from going anywhere to escape.

“If only I could find my recorder,” Dr 2 laments. “I might play something to pass the time.”

The Brigadier responds: “We must be thankful for small mercies.”

Doctor 1Near the end of the last episode, the High Council on Gallifrey had been talking to Dr 1  about sending him through the black hole too. We haven’t seen or heard another thing about it up until now, when he appears on the Tardis viewscreen to help Drs 2 and 3 out of this predicament.

All three Doctors hold a mind-meld conference to come up with a solution. They don’t tell us or the companions what it is they plan to do, but it involves taking apart the Tardis forcefield. Dr 1 signs off, and Dr’s 2 and 3 get to work.

The Brigadier asks Jo about “that old chap” on the viewscreen, and has to come to terms with the idea that there are not just two Doctors, but three of them. “I didn’t know when I was well off.”

What the Doctors intend to do is offer Omega the forcefield generator. While crawling around under the central console, Dr 2 is delighted to find his missing recorder at last. It’s fallen down inside the console and has wedged itself in the generator.

Dr 2 wants to pull it out, but Dr 3 stops him and tells him to leave it as it is. “It’s exactly what we want,” he explains. “Far better than the forcefield generator…”

Dr 2 brightens as if he understands this, but nevertheless is disappointed about having to sacrifice his recorder.

“I’ll get you another one,” Dr 3 promises. “I’ll get you a hundred. I’ll get you a thousand of them.” It seems that the forcefield generator is not just a generator, and the recorder is more than simply a musical instrument.

Recorder in the generatorThey extract the generator with the recorder intact, contact Omega over the viewscreen and offer it to him. They tell him it’s a way for him to escape, and make a bargain with him to release the Tardis so they can jump it over to the throne room.

Once there, they try another exchange: if Omega will let the others go free, they’ll both stay behind and help to free him as well.

Omega doesn’t believe it, but he agrees that if they’ll stay and share his exile, he’ll release the others and spare their universe.

Jo protests about leaving Dr 3 behind, but the Doctors send her and all their other companions one by one through a column of smoke in a doorway. This takes them home.

After the last, the Brigadier, has gone through, the Doctors offer Omega the generator and, through it, his freedom. “The only freedom you can have.”

Omega laughs at the rather silly-looking contraption Dr 2 is holding out to him.

“Take it,” Dr 3 orders, and that sets Omega off again. Nobody gives him orders! He knocks the generator out of Dr 2’s hands and onto the floor.

But that’s exactly what the Doctors wanted him to do.  The recorder, having fallen into the forcefield generator before the Tardis entered the antimatter universe, remained protected by it and stayed unconverted matter. As the generator hits the floor, the recorder falls loose–and when matter meets antimatter: Boom!

The Doctors dash back to the Tardis to get out of there as the black hole explodes and provides Gallifrey with a renewed energy source. The lights come back on at the Time Lords’ command center and they know that the Doctors have succeeded in their mission.

Everyone who stepped through the smoke in the doorway (apart from Mr. Ollis) appears abruptly in the UNIT HQ lab. The building and all the stuff in it that was zapped out is now back where it should be. Bessie is outside. Mr. Ollis is back home at the wildlife sanctuary in time for supper… but whatever will he tell the missus about where he’s been all day?

And what about the Doctors? Jo worries.

The Brigadier seems to think they’ve sacrificed themselves to save everyone else. “Wonderful chap,” he muses sentimentally, in a line that will be echoed and expanded upon in The Five Doctors. “Both of him.”

Confronting Omega

Just then, the Tardis appears back in the corner of the lab. Yay! They’re all right. As the Doctors step out, you can hear Dr 3 saying “I told you he had no self control.”

They have one last chat over the viewscreen with Dr 1, who says that the “Party’s over now.” A pity; it’s been fun. I always like it when Doctors meet Doctors, and this was the first very special occasion.

Dr 2 also makes his farewells. “It’s been so nice to meet me.”

Dr 3 responds kindly, but adds “I hope I won’t meet me again.” Well, you will one day, Doc, and you’ll be old friends then.

After Dr 2 goes back to his own timeline and the others exit the Tardis to go about their business, Dr 3 receives a reward from the Time Lords: A new dematerialization circuit so he can use the Tardis properly and head off to a broader range of new adventures in the coming series.

The 2-disk Special Edition DVD for The Three Doctors has a lot of nice features, including:

  • Commentary by producer Barry Letts, Nicholas Courtney, and Katy Manning–highly entertaining, but after I’ve developed a fondness for Jo I do wish Katy wouldn’t speak so often in that high-pitched babydoll voice.
  • An informative documentary about the development and making of this episode and how they managed William Hartnell’s contribution and publicity appearances.
  • Another documentary titled “Was Doctor Who Rubbish?” No, it wasn’t. They may have spent a lot of time wandering around quarries and being chased by ridiculous looking monsters, but that was part of the early show’s charm. As long as the writing and performances are good and the story is interesting–as they are in this case–I might smile but I’m not going to quibble over a wobbly wall or dubious special effect.
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Author: Kathryn L Ramage

Kathryn L. Ramage has a B.A. and M.A. in English lit and has been writing for as long as she can remember. She lives in Maryland with three calico cats named after the Brontë sisters. In addition to being the author of numerous short stories, reviews, essays, and period mystery novellas, she is also the author of a series of fantasy novels set in a dukedom called the Northlands on an alternate Earth whose history has diverged from ours somewhere during the medieval period.