With no Doctor Who on television from Christmas day last year until Christmas day this year, 2016 was going to be my “Year of the Eighth Doctor.” But I finished The Eighth Doctor Adventures quite some time ago, and after that I took a nearly six month hiatus from Doctor Who and Big Finish. Now I’m back with Dark Eyes, the next big Eighth Doctor storyline following The Eighth Doctor Adventures. Here’s a look at what’s coming in the days ahead.
1.1 The Great War - p1
1.2 Fugitives - p1
1.3 Tangled Web - p1
1.4 X and the Daleks - p1
2.1 The Traitor - p2
2.2 The White Room - p2
2.3 Time’s Horizon - p2
2.4 Eyes of the Master - p3
3.1 The Death of Hope - p3
3.2 The Reviled - p3
3.3 Masterplan - p3
3.4 Rule of the Eminence - p4
4.1 A Life in the Day - p4
4.2 The Monster of Monmarte - p4
4.3 Master of the Daleks - p4
4.4 Eye of Darkness - p4
Who's his companion in this one?
Molly O'Sullivan, a WWI-era VAD (Volunary Aid Detachment) nursing assistant.
THE GREAT WAR:
Despondent after his Pyrrhic victory in “To the Death,” the Doctor sets course for “the edge of existence.” [Cue theme music.]
“Meanwhile,” the supercilious Timelord Traxis (who has regenerated since we saw him last) has an audience with the Lord President of the Council. Straxus has proposed some sort of a scheme involving the Doctor, to which the Lord President gave tacit approval by turning a blind eye.
The in the vortex, the TARDIS suddenly comes to an abrupt stop. As the Doctor begins to examine his equipment, Straxus appears. If the Doctor wasn’t in a bad mood already, he certainly is when he learns that the Timelords are interfering with his life again. The Doctor explains to Straxus that he’s heading for the end of the universe (forbidden by the Timelords) seeking perspective. Specifically, he is looking for hope, that somehow looking back from the end of time will prove that all his efforts have been worth it. “Hope,” in fact (or the lack of it), is the overriding theme of this arc.
After his confrontation with Straxus, the Doctor emerges from the TARDIS in the middle of the “no man’s land” of a World War I battlefield. He immediately succumbs to a chlorine gas attack.
Cut to Molly O’Sullivan, a Voluntary Aid Detachment assistant, writing home to her mother. The VAD was largely an organization of aristocratic women doing their part in the war effort. But Molly is no aristocrat. As we later learn, she is the chambermaid of Kitty Donaldson, and they signed up at the same time. Unfortunately, Kitty picked up an infection and is in a bad way. Molly has taken under her wing a still wet-behind-the-ears VAD named Isabel Stanford. All of the VADs report to the Matron, who is very strict about not allowing the soldiers to refer to the VADs as “nurse” or “sister.” Despite the heat, the Matron insists the VADs wear their full uniform at all times, not even allowing them to unfasten the top button. All the Matron thinks the VADs are suited for are fetching and cleaning up. Most of the nurses, however, appreciate the VADs.
The Doctor is picked up with the other wounded and gas victims. His hair and clothes are so caked with mud no one at first realizes he isn’t wearing a uniform. He has inhaled enough mustard gas to perhaps prove fatal even to a Gallifryan. The Matron finds a “penny whistle” in his jacket and takes it from him. While the Doctor is recuperating, he overhears rumors of a new kind of gas which glows and seems to move as if it has a mind of its own.
The wounded soldiers are being moved from the front by train, when their progress is stopped by apparently shell-damaged tracks. With no uninjured ranking officer aboard, the Matron is in charge. Her idea is for the “walking wounded” (i.e., ambulatory patients) to begin walking down the tracks to the field hospital to send back ambulances, but it’s getting dark and the hospital is too far away. The Doctor says he can fix the damage, but he will need his “penny whistle” to do so. The Matron gives it to him and he suggests using the able soldiers, instead, to fill the hole beneath the broken tracks. She agrees. He fixes the tracks but ascertains the damage was not caused by an exploding shell, but rather an energy weapon.
As the train gets moving, someone spots a cloud of gas way off in the distance. It is glowing, and appears to be following them. On the way to the field hospital, the Doctor suffers a serious relapse. The hospital consists of a chateau (which is used for surgeries), and perhaps 100 tents for the wounded. One of the tents is specifically for terminal patients. That is where Molly’s friend Kitty has been consigned. Molly has recently befriended another VAD, Isabel Stanford, an aristocrat but some years younger than Molly. Isabel is very emotional regarding the wounded, but Molly displays clinical detachment. She’s somewhat distrustful of the Doctor at this point, and refers to as “The Doctor” (as in, “Well, ‘The Doctor,’ what do you need with that penny whistle?”).
Dr. Sturgis is an American. America is not yet involved in the war, but some Americans have volunteered to help with the fight nonetheless. Isabel and Molly detect something unusual in the Doctor’s heartbeat, but they’re not doctors, or even nurses, so they summon Dr. Sturgis. In his delirium, the Doctor has murmured women’s names (such as “Susan” and “Lucie”), leading Molly to believe he is not to be trusted alone with Isabel.
Isobel questions why Molly has not been to visit Kitty. Molly flies into a rage, and protests that she has been praying with her every day, she just hasn’t been since they returned from the front. Isabel offers to accompany her, but Molly wants to go by herself. Isobel spots something shiny and metallic moving between the tents. Kitty later dies.
Dr. Sturgis wants to give the Doctor a blood transfusion, a procedure the Doctor is convinced would be fatal. In a moment of lucidity, he convinces Isabel to give him his penny whistle, but when she tries, Dr. Sturgis objects. He recognizes it as a “sonic device,” which clues the Doctor in that Sturgis is not what he appears to be. The Doctor instinctively knows he is being poisoned by something from the Vortex, probably something that has a human focus.
The Doctor is tied securely, too securely for a mere transfusion. He convinces Isobel that Sturgis means to do him harm, but when she tries to give the Doctor his sonic screwdriver, Sturgis kills her. Just then, Molly enters. Sturgis claims the Doctor is an escaped lunatic and killed Isobel before He himself was able to tied him down. The Doctor suddenly realizes that Molly herself is the one who has some sort of tie to the Vortex which is making him sick.
Just then… the Daleks arrive!
The year is 1970. London. Dr. Sally Armstrong is busy programming an early voice synthesized computer, teaching it to speak. Suddenly, in a scene highly reminiscent of one from Arthur Clarke’s 2010, it reports it is receiving a message. The message is instructions how to build a particular device (highly reminiscent of Carl Sagan’s Contact). “Who is sending this message?” asks Dr. Armstrong. The computer replies, “The Doctor.” [Cue theme music.]
After the intro, the story shifts back to the previous episode’s cliffhanger. I forgot to mention that the Doctor has a slight advantage because the Dalek’s want Molly taken alive. (Dr. Sturgis referred to her as “a value,” but we have no idea what that means.) The Doctor and Molly escape on horseback. They make their way to the airfield where, with Molly’s help, the Doctor gets a plane started and they take off. (Some research went into this scene, as the Doctor mutters to himself the procedure for starting a prop-driven plane of this era.) The Doctor’s destination is the battlefield where he left the TARDIS. The Daleks fly after him in pursuit and shoot him down. They crash land near the TARDIS but are unhurt. Upon entering the TARDIS, Molly is dumbfounded.
“Yes, but we’ve no time for that now.”
Molly tells him that what she was going to say is that it’s familiar: “I’ve been here before.”
Another TARDIS materializes on a preindustrial planet. Straxus emerges and is greeted by a native who sounds exactly like Bela Lugosi as Igor. Straxus asks the man to kill him, but the man refuses. Straxus then throws himself off a cliff.
Back in the Doctor’s “tardy-box” (Molly’s name for it), the Doctor searches his data banks for all references to “Molly” or “O’Sullivan.” The results are comical if not helpful, but he does find that an obscure meaning for O’Sullivan is “Dark Eyes.” Molly does have dark eyes, so that’s what the Doctor decides to call her.
The tardy-box materializes in the midst of the Battle of Dunkirk, May 30, 1940. After a brief adventure there (introducing Molly to the concept of time travel), the Doctor tries to find out more about Molly. During the course of their discussion, the Doctor (via a flashback) reveals a few details about his mission for the Timelords. Straxus convinced him that “helping a girl” would lead the Doctor to rediscover the hope he has lost. But why didn’t Straxus warn him about the Daleks? What’s Molly got to do with it? And why does Molly think she’s been in the TARDIS before? The Doctor sets course for Gallifrey in order to learn the answers, but the TARDIS is diverted.
It lands in one of his own houses, 107 Baker St. in London, 1972. (Don’t ask me.) But he is surprised to find someone from the Ides Scientific Institute already there. We quickly learn that this is Dr. Sally Armstrong’s group, and the it was the Doctor himself who told her to meet him there at this particular time. He also told her that, when she meets him, he wouldn’t have any memory about this arrangement because it hasn’t happened to him yet. Sally tells the Doctor that she built the device to his specifications. The Doctor is skeptical, but before he can take action, the device turns itself on and the Daleks arrive.
That’s where I left off, in the middle of this episode. I had the details fresh in my mind this morning, but was too busy this morning to write up this summary until lunchtime. I’m sure I’ve forgotten something important or got some details out of order, but that’s pretty much what has happened so far. I won’t have the opportunity to post more until tomorrow.
With the first objective of his mission reached, almost nothing is going to plan for the Doctor. He finds he cannot contact or return to the Time Lord’s home planet, Gallifrey. And just when Molly O’Sullivan thinks she’s escaped one conflict, she finds herself in the thick of another one. What is it that connects the Doctor, the Daleks and the mysterious Ides Scientific Institute?
To the utter shock of both the Doctor and Molly, the Daleks recognize Molly and call her by name. The Doctor questions how this can be and how they are tracking them, and demands, “Either answer my question or kill me now!” There is a sound effect, and after that all is silence. [If I had listened to just one more minute yesterday morning after parking my car, this natural break point is where I would have left off. Oh, well.]
The Doctor awakens in the TARDIS to find Molly frantically operating the controls. He assures her they are safe within the TARDIS and she calms down a little. Because he had been behaving so recklessly in front of the Daleks, she punched him knocking him out cold and dragged him into the TARDIS. [She pronounces “Daleks” the way a Ferengi would pronounce “human.”] Once she is sure they’re safe, she warms to the idea of time travel and starts playfully manipulating the controls. The Doctor admonishes her.
The Doctor has questions for the Timelords, but the TARDIS is somehow being prevented from setting a course to Gallifrey. Molly suggests, that if they can’t go to “Galilee” they should go someplace fun, reasoning that if the Timelords want to find the Doctor, they will. Having little choice, the Doctor sets course for the planet Halalka where there is a giant anti-gravity water park. When they arrive, Molly is impressed that the Doctor can speak the local language. Curiously, the TARDIS is not translating for her.
I should mention at this point how successfully the sound effects and music and dialogue all combine to create a mental image of the Doctor, Molly and other tourists cavorting in the water with the dolphin-like “local aquatic animals.”
Cut to the sound of a spy making a call to someone alerting him that the Doctor and Molly are there. The “someone” we soon learn is Kotris, played Toby Jones (who previously played the Dream Lord in the Eleventh Doctor story, “Amy’s Choice” (or David Pilcher in Wayward Pines, or Dobby the house elf in Harry Potter, or Claudius Templesmith in Hunger Games, or Arnim Zola in Captain America).
Suddenly, one of the dolphins attacks the Doctor and Molly. They defeat it, but the doctor notices a metal implant used to control its actions implanted in its skull. Just then, the Daleks arrive and attack them. They retreat to the TARDIS and, in her fright, Molly pilots the TARDIS away.
After they have escaped, Kotris, the Daleks anf the spy confer, reviewing recorded footage of the Doctor and Molly taken at the water park. Kotris is pleased to see that they are bonding. Everything is going according to plan. “He is running directly into our trap and doesn’t even know it.”
So… Molly recognizes the interior of the TARDIS although she’s never been in it before, she can pilot the TARDIS, yet the TARDIS does not translate alien languages for her. Curiouser and curiouser. I must admit I am intrigued.
The year is 1893. Ireland. The occasion is Molly O’Sullivan’s second birthday. Her parents are frantic because she has wandered off and disappeared at the height of a storm. The entire village has searched for her in vain. [Cue theme music.]
The Doctor is determined to discover how it is Molly was able to fly the TARDIS. The operation of the TARDIS requires many precise mental calculations which are different every time. It’s a billion to one shot that she could have accidently operated the controls in the proper sequence. The Doctor runs a few diagnostics and determines, not only that it wasn’t an accident of random choice, but also that she engaged a number of safety protocols that dispensed with centuries ago.
Molly suggests letting her pilot the TARDIS and see where she takes them. The Doctor refuses because everywhere they have gone so far, the Daleks have followed. Molly is offended that the Doctor seems to think she’s the reason the Daleks are after them, and turns the tables, suggesting the possibility it might be he himself. The Doctor asks her permission to hypnotize her.
Meanwhile, Kotris confers with the Daleks. We learn that he is a renegade Timelord, and that he has been tracking not only the Doctor’s recent movements, but Straxus’ as well. Just then, the Doctor’s TARDIS deviates from its path through the space/time vortex. Impossible!
Back on Gallifrey, the Lord President receives a communication from Straxus. They are aware that Kotris has been monitoring Straxis. All is going according to plan.
Moly awakens as if from a dream. “Where are we?” They are in Ireland in the year 1893. Under hypnosis, Molly has piloted the TARDIS to the day she disappeared. She suddenly remembers her parents telling her stories of her disappearing in a storm on her second birthday, but she hadn’t remembered those stories until just now. The Doctor renders the TARDIS invisible, and they follow Molly’s younger self as she approaches a horse and carriage. The carriage is actually Kotris’ TARDIS, and he takes her inside.
I should mention at this point the story cuts back and forth among scenes featuring the doctor and Molly, The Lord President and Straxus, and Kotris and the Daleks. The scenes are excellently directed and not difficult to follow at all, but like I said yesterday, I can’t take notes when I’m driving and am likely forgetting a lot of details. For example, I hadn’t realized that Dr. Sally Armstrong was killed during the skirmish with the Daleks in London, 1972.
Back in 1893, Kotris, pretending to be a stranger passing through on his way to Dublin, returns Molly to her parents. She is sleeping, but otherwise unharmed. He tells them that she was able to find shelter and that he found her wandering around after the storm. The thank him and he goes on his way. She remains unconscious for two days, but awakens none the worse for wear.
The Doctor and Molly discuss what they have observed. It is the memory of Kotris’ TARDIS that Molly had mistaken the interior of the Doctor’s TARDIS for. Molly seems to have some sort of subliminal desire to operate the TARDIS. As she and the Doctor are talking, she randomly pushes buttons and flips switches. When he points this out to her, she denies it. The attempt to leave, but the TARDIS unexpectedly stops dead. The Doctor determines that they are caught in a “time clamp.” [One of the cross-cut scenes reveals that the time clamp is not of the Timelords’ doing.] Just then, the Doctor again suffers a relapse from his exposure to the Daleks’ glowing gas in episode one. These attacks take the form of a debilitating, high frequency sound.
Thinking they are still in 19th century Ireland, Molly opens the TARDIS door and drags the Doctor outside. They are on a planet with orange trees and metallic-looking birds. They are apparently on Skarro as presently a group of Daleks arrives on the scene. The Doctor and Molly flee to the TARDIS, but although she left the door open, they find it closed and locked. The Doctor’s key doesn’t work, so they seek shelter in a nearby cave.
The Daleks find them almost immediately, but they are too big to fit through the cave’s small opening. “We are sorry to have frightened you,” the lead Dalek says. “Won’t you come out, please?” A Dalek saying “sorry” and “please”? The Doctor is, of course, skeptical, but Molly hopefully believes in their change (theme of “hope” again). The Dalek explains that they have “seen the error of their ways,” and escorts them to their redesigned city. The city looks much as the Doctor expected, but the buildings are festooned with flowers. There are also small sections of parkland filled with children (Thal children?) playing.
What’s going on here?
“Something happened when Molly O’Sullivan was just two years old, and the Doctor thinks it’s high time they found out exactly what it was. Meanwhile, the Daleks are fully activating their Temporal Chamber. And while the Doctor and Molly get closer and closer to the terrible truth, the nature of reality itself seems to be in question.”
Before continuing, a confession: I may not be up to doing this project justice. There are so many twists and turns, I’m not sure I’m dutifully recording them all. And I’ve made at least one mistake. That Timelord that walked off a cliff a couple of posts back? That wasn’t Straxis. I’m not sure it was Kotris, either. I’m not sure who it was at this point. I’m so confused.
Anyway, after another attack, the Doctor is taken to Thelis, a kind of soft-spoken squid-like creature. Thelis tries to help the Doctor, but he/she/it also plants the idea in Molly’s mind that a lot of what the Doctor told her may be delusional. When the Doctor awakens, he’s apparently alone with Molly, but there’s also a Dalek casing in the room. The top of the casing opens, and Thelis emerges.
Thelis and Molly tells the Doctor of a great war between the Daleks and the Timelords, in which all of the Timelords were killed, and few Daleks survived. It was at this point that the Daleks realized the futility of their pursuit and changed their ways. They embarked on a course of genetic engineering, a sort of reverse evolution. The planet they are on is Skarro, after 1000 years of peace. Thelis represents one stage in the reverse evolution, and the children they saw playing in the park are the next.
The Doctor is, of course, unaware of the Time War at this point, but of course the listening audience knows about it. Just when the listeners are no doubt wonder whether or not this is, in fact, the Skarro of 1000 years in the future, the Doctor suffers another one of his attacks. He fights it off this time, and realizes that whenever he questions what he sees in front of, whenever he is most himself, that’s when the attacks occurs.
He gets the idea that he is being manipulated by some outside agency, and pulls at electrodes he now feels attached to his head. He comes to himself in a glass-walled room. Molly is there, too, also with electrodes attached to her head. The Doctor awakens her, too, but is not at first convinced whether she is real, or also a part of this elaborate fantasy. The experiment is being conducted by a race the Doctor has never encountered before. Their look is left pretty much up to the listener’s imagination. “They look like…,” Molly begins to say, “I’m not sure what they look like. How many eyes do they have?”
Kotris and the Daleks may or may not have been behind this charade, but they are observing it. Kortis decides to “activate the mental link.” Just then, Molly’s entire demeanor changes. She turns to the Doctor and, in a very calm but threatening tone, says, :I am going to be the death of you and all the timelords.” The Daleks object to Kortis showing their hand, but he assures them all is going according to plan.
I’m trying to avoid the overuse of the word “suddenly” in these synopses, but that’s the way thing happen. “Suddenly” the sound of a TARDIS fills the air. It’s not the exact sound of the Doctor’s TARDIS, but it is very similar. A TARDIS materializes around the Doctor and Molly, and they find themselves being whisked away. It is Straxis. Molly now believes the Doctor’s story. Because the part of it about Straxis was true, she believes the whole thing.
The Doctor asks why Straxis didn’t tell him the Daleks were involved. Straxis says they weren’t certain. The Doctor asks why his TARDIS has been unable to return to Gallifrey. That, he admits, was the Timelords doing (the Lord President wanting to keep the matter top secret). He asks him about the man who took Molly when she was two years old. Straxis doesn’t know his name, but the Timelords refer to him as “X”. They don’t know exactly who he is, but they know he was a Timelord who was genetically manipulated by the Daleks.
“Suddenly” (there’s that word again), Straxis’ TARDIS experiences a “time crash”, which is essentially two time vortices colliding. Straxis has the Doctor’s TARDIS aboard, and orders the Doctor to depart, leaving Molly with him. The Doctor refuses, and furthermore, suggests that Straxis and his assistant join him and Molly, as Straxis’ TARDIS is about to shake itself apart.
NEXT: “‘X’ AND THE DALEKS”
'X' AND THE DALEKS:
“With Straxus and his TARDIS destroyed, the Doctor and Molly have tracked the mysterious ‘X’ to the planet Srangor. It is here that the truth of the threat to the universe will finally be revealed. What is the Dalek Time Controller’s ultimate plan? What exactly is the space-time projector? Who will survive this epic battle for survival?”
The Doctor and Molly escape, leaving Straxus and his companion behind to perish. The TARDIS materializes on the planet Srangor (which is the name of “Bela Lugosi’s” planet from a previous episode). The TARDIS had been pre-programmed to arrive on that planet, but the Doctor tinkered with the controls so it will arrive in the past, equivalent to Earth year 1893. They meet the same native the previous Timelord met. At this point, he’s not surprised to hear the sound of an to see another TARDIS materialize. He tells the Doctor the other guy jumped off the cliff twice.
Just then there is a sound of another materialization. It is Straxus’ assistant, who used a time ring to lock on to the Doctor’s TARDIS. He is badly injured and dies, but does not regenerate. The Doctor concludes that there is something about this planet that inhibits regeneration. I should mention that Molly can understand the alien’s language, so the TARDIS is translating for her on this planet, at this time. We also find out that Straxus’ death was a ruse, and his assistant sacrificed his life for Straxus’ plot (whatever it is).
The Doctor is tracking “X” in the past. Although the Doctor knows the X of the present has them under constant observation, the X from the past should be unaware of their presence. Molly has no memory of threatening the Doctor and the other Timelords. Climbing along a slippery cliff face, she falls, apparently (for the Doctor’s point of view) to her death, but we later see her rescued by X (Kotris). The doctor is surprised when she turns up alive later. He is even more surprised to discover another TARDIS (in the form of a police box) inside his TARDIS.
He soon discovers that the TARDIS he thought was his is another old, decommissioned Type 40, but not tricked out with all the enhancements he’s added over the years, and the other TARDIS is his. Then the Daleks attack. We also learn that Molly’s eyes aren’t just dark, they are unnaturally dark. She’s been teased about them her whole life and she hates it when the Doctor calls her “Dark Eyes.” Oh, and I forgot to mention Srangor is under the control of the Daleks. Man, I’m doing a crap job of summarizing this. It’s one of those stories which you pick up more details from the second time through. I’ll leave it like this for now.
Let’s see if I can wrap this up…
THE PLAN: Kotris bombarded Molly with “retrogenitor particles” when she was born. (That’s the source of her unusually dark eyes.) He returned when she was two in order to confirm the process had taken. His plan was to convince the Timelords that the Doctor needed to protect Molly O’Sullivan. Her proximity to the Doctor would target Timelord DNA. Her movement within the vortex would, when triggered, send the retrogenitor particles throughout time, wiping out all Timelords.
THE COUNTER-PLAN: The Timelords knew of this plan, and Straxus re-jiggered the retrogenitor particles so they would seek out and destroy Dalek DNA. The one thing necessary for both of these plans to work is the Death of Molly O’Sullivan.
THE TWIST: It turns out that Kotris is Straxus, his next regeneration. The High Council broke one of the laws of time by revealing to Straxus who and what his next incarnation would be. They ordered him to rectify the situation by sending him to Srangor, so saturated with retrogenitor particles the regeneration is impossible. Straxus, though, rather than taking the honorable way out to prevent Kotris from coming into being, concocts this elaborate plot which, through the death of Molly, would allow Kotris to be killed. Kotris himself is so repulsed by the memory of his former self that he has set out to kill all the Timelords.
THE END: I’m not going to give away everything, but the Doctor finds a way to get rid of Straxus so that not only Kotris, but most of the events so far never happened. The Doctor and Molly remember them, though. And, unbeknownst to them, so does the Dalek Time Controller. Also, Molly’s eyes are no longer dark, but she still likes fiddling with the TARDIS’ controls.
The Doctor needs to fetch a piece of equipment to fix the TARDIS after all its been through. He offers to give Molly a tour, but she declines at this time in order to finish writing the letter to her mother she’s been working on since episode one. After that, though, she’ll need a lift to somewhere (and somewhen) she can post it. The Doctor agrees, but he returns to the control room to find her gone. She has piloted the TARDIS herself back to WWI. Now that all of Kotris’ manipulations have been undone, she realizes her friend Kitty will still be alive.
She has abandoned the Doctor to be with her friend.