Continuing the Doctor’s and Romana’s somewhat spooky adventures in contemporary Cornwall as they search for the third Key to Time.
At the end of Part 1, Romana was lured away from the stone circle by a voice that sounded like the Doctor’s calling to her, and luring her off a cliff. Part 2 begins with a literal cliff-hanger.
Romana is clinging to the edge of the cliff over the ocean and shouting for help. It’s a good thing she’s barefoot; her toes can find tiny footholds in the rock face and help to keep her from falling to her death and turning into Lalla Ward a few months early.
When we last saw the Doctor, he’d been conked on the head by a couple of Druids. They’ve since conveyed him to the stone circle and called an emergency meeting for their grove (which is the proper name for a group of Druids). He now lies trussed up on the flattish stone in the middle of the circle as the Druids prepare him for a human (or, in this case, Gallifreyan) sacrifice.
The Druid leader’s best friend Martha doesn’t like the idea. Cutting an animal’s throat to get some blood for their ceremonies is okay with her–but this is murder!
“It is the will of the Cailleach,” says the leader, DeVreis, as he draws a big, curving knife from its decorative scabbard. They can’t question the will of the goddess, and the Cailleach demands blood.
DeVreis and Martha argue about it for a bit, until the Doctor regains consciousness and asks if that knife is properly sterilized.
The question of whether or not he would have talked them out of sacrificing him remains answered. They all hear the sound of the Doctor’s rescue arriving in the form of an elderly archeology professor on a bicycle.
The Doctor shouts for help and the Druids scarper–most of them never to be seen or heard of again in this story. They leave him tied up on the sacrificial stone, which is where Professor Rumford finds him.
As she unties him, she explain that she came back to the stone circle to bring Romana some tea; she thought his assistant would still be sitting here waiting for him to return. The Doctor replies that he thought Romana was with Professor Rumford. So where is she?
They find Romana’s impractical high-heeled shoes, but no sign of her. They shout her name, but receive no answer.
The professor says that there’s nothing more they can do tonight, and they’ll have to assemble a search party to go and look for her in the morning. If only they had a dog…
The Doctor remembers that he does have a dog. He blows a supersonic whistle to summon K9, who’s back at the Tardis.
It’s pitch black at the stone circle, which was recreated in the studio for the night scenes. But in all the scenes that were really filmed outdoors, it’s still light out. It’s twilight over at the cliff where Romana is hanging on, and in the meadow where the Doctor and K9 meet up to have the following conversation:
“K9, you’ve always wanted to be a bloodhound.”
“Yes, you have.”
The Doctor sends K9 off in search of Romana. With the help of a dolly track hidden in the tall grass and some fishing line, K9 really scoots at an amazing speed across the meadow once he picks up Romana’s trail.
Romana is delighted to hear K9 approach, but not so happy to have the Doctor’s help, since she believes he’s the one who got her into this predicament. Not that she has much choice but to let him pull her up via the scarf.
Once she’s safely up on solid ground, she has to be convinced that he is the real Doctor; we didn’t see it, but she says that someone who looked just like him pushed her–a solid person, and not a projection.
Being Time Lords, they speculate on who would have access to that kind of technology before they head back to the Tardis. Romana changes out of her now-grubby pants suit and into the scarlet skirt and sweater (jumper in the UK) that she’ll wear for the rest of the story. And she puts on some boots.
That’s three costume changes in one story. I love most of Romana’s outfits, but they always make me think of poor Tegan and Nyssa (and Adric too), stuck wearing the same clothes for months on end.
Romana continues to ponder the question of the fake Doctor who lured her into danger, and the inconsistent number of standing stones in the ring known as the Nine Travelers. Surely, the two are connected.
“How can a thing be in a place but not in that place?” she wonders. The question confounds K9.
The professor and her friend Vivian at at the stone circle when the Doctor, Romana, and K9 return to it. Professor Rumford is happy to see that Romana is all right, and amazed at K9. A mechanical dog!
“They’re all the rage in Trenton, New Jersey,” the Doctor assures her.
We’ll be seeing Professor Rumford interact more with K9 in the later episodes, and they are one of the things I enjoy about this story. According to an extra feature on the DVD, the reason Beatrix Lehmann took this role is that she was fascinated by K9 and wanted to see how the robot-dog really worked. She also struck up a friendship with John Leeson while they were filming the story.
Romana finally gets a scan of the stones and establishes that the Key is definitely there in the circle. Since there are other people around, she doesn’t go around tapping the stones immediately to try and turn one of them into a crystal. Also, it would make the story shorter.
Instead, the Doctor pursues his growing interest in the phenomena related to the Nine Travelers. He asks if Professor Rumford will show Romana her notes about the stone circle. The professor agrees, but her notes are back at Vivian’s cottage. And Romana never did get that tea.
While the woman go to the cottage, the Doctor says that he’s going back to the Hall to see DeVreis.
“After what he did to you?” the professor exclaims.
“Because of what he did,” the Doctor answers. DeVries is a worried man, and therefore likely to spill information.
Not that he’ll get the chance.
Back at his home, DeVreis has noticed that the raven that usually sits on its perch in his study has gone. He knows that it’s carrying tales to the Cailleach about his failure to sacrifice the Doctor as instructed.
He prays desperately for mercy but–Too late! All he gets from his goddess is a giant, glowing standing stone just outside the French windows. He tells Martha to run for it, but she won’t leave him. The stones go around the house to break in at the front door and get them both.
The Doctor and K9 are just approaching the Hall when K9 senses danger and announces the presence of unidentified aliens. They then hear screams from inside the house and rush inside to find the door broken in, the front hall in ruins, and two with people with crushed skulls.
While the Doctor is examining the dead bodies, K9 detects traces of silicon. There is a trail of it left by whatever killed the humans.
They go into the study. One of the glowing stones bursts in through the French windows and knocks the Doctor down.
It’s better that we don’t get too good a look at these things in motion. They were kind of scary when first glimpsed as pulsing red objects looming outside the windows, but less impressive as Styrofoam blocks obviously moved about by men inside them.
K9, intrepid little mecha-doggie that he is, stands his ground and zaps the glowing stone monster until it retreats, then he goes out the broken window after it. We and the Doctor hear more zaps and a monsterish growling sound outside.
Meanwhile, at Vivian’s cottage, there’s a quieter scene going on that I really like. Not only is it cozy, with people having tea and sandwiches around a fire, but it’s full of information pertaining to the plot, conveyed by three female characters in a Bechdel-test-passing conversation. This last is especially noteworthy since, during the ’70s, there were lots of Doctor Who episodes where the companion was often the only female character in sight. Efforts were occasionally made to add another woman in here and there, but many of these were minor roles, and Jo, Sarah Jane, or Leela hardly ever had long conversations with them without the Doctor present.
The Nine Travelers, we learn here, are said to be one of three Augury sites in Great Britain. Stonehenge and a circle in Wales are the other two. Romana wonders why this stone circle in particular should become a place of Augury; there are dozens of circles like it in Cornwall and hundreds of standing stones all over the country.
Professor Rumford doesn’t know.
Romana also observes that, prior to Mr. DeVreis, the land the stone circle is on always seems to have been owned by women–for example, the three ladies whose portraits are missing from the Hall. Before that, the land belonged to a convent under a Mother Superior.
“What are you suggesting?” Vivian laughs at this observation. “Some sort of Sisterhood going back to the 12th century?” And what about Mr. DeVreis?
“Maybe he’s not really the head of the Druids,” Romana muses, and wonders if the convent still exists.
No, the professor answers. “It was a man who saw to that. Henry VIII.” The convent was among the church properties broken up and given to Henry’s supporters during the Dissolution.
What about the convent records? The professor thinks that they might still be at the Hall, which was built in the mid-1500s on the convent’s foundations.
She and Romana go off to see, leaving Vivian behind. They arrive at the ruined Hall to find the Doctor attempting to repair K9, who was badly damaged by his fight with the silicon monster. K9 appears to be filled with plastic packing straw.
Alas, poor K9’s circuits are all burnt out. K9 himself suggests cannibalization of his usable parts before he shuts down.
Unwilling to do this, Romana takes him back to the Tardis to connect him up and try to restore him.
The Doctor wants to search for the bodies of DeVreis and Martha… which seem to have disappeared while he was knocked out. The Doctor repeats K9’s analysis that the dead humans were globulin deficient. Globulin, he explains to Professor Rumford, is a protein found in blood plasma. The creature lives on blood.
At the stone circle, someone has put on that feathered cloak costume and bird mask. The bodies of Martha and DeVries are lying beside the sacrificial stone.
We’ve just been told that they were drained of blood, but there must have been a little bit left, since the costumed woman also has a small bowl full of blood. She pours this blood on the stones, which begin to pulse and glow.
“Augry, do my bidding,” she commands them.
The Doctor and professor, meanwhile, are searching around the ruined house for information. Professor Rumford, I assume, is looking for those convent records. The Doctor is looking for information about the Cailleach, a Celtic deity whom Rumford describes as the “Witch-hag of ancient legend.”
The professor doesn’t believe in it, but the Doctor is convinced that this creature is real, and lies at the heart of the mystery concerning the Nine Travelers. She’s been here for 4000 years. He observes that, even though DeVries worshipped the Cailleach, there are no sculptures nor pictures of it around the Hall.
Then he remembers the missing paintings in the front hall. Why have they been hidden?
What DeVreis said to him in Part 1 about the raven and the crow being the the Cailleach’s servants gives the Doctor a clue to open a secret panel next to the fireplace. Rumford calls it a priest’s hole, which would be appropriate to the period, but it leads down a flight of stone steps into a secret room in the cellar.
There, they find the three paintings. I had thought that DeVries hid them so that Professor Rumford wouldn’t see them, but they’ve got a lot of thick cobwebs on them so they must have been tucked away some time ago. Perhaps when Vivian first moved in?
For, in spite of 100 years or more between them, the three women in the portraits all look exactly alike. And they all look like Vivian.
Romana has made her repairs to K9 and has left the Tardis. She’s presumably walking back to the Hall, when she notices that there’s a strange reddish glow at the center of the stone circle.
As she stands there staring, Vivian appears behind her. If we didn’t guess by now who that woman in the feathered cloak was, we can observe here that Vivian is still wearing it–but not the bird mask.
With a fiercely aggressive smile, she suggests that they go investigate what’s happening at the circle. When they reach it, she shoves Romana into the pool of light at the center of the circle, picks up a long spear-like wand, and points it at Romana.
This transports Romana off to somewhere else.