Spoilers for the episode
The giant footprint turns out to be a giant let down because it was made by a normal guy but we get excitement in the form of the TARDIS breaking down and they get saved by Marco Polo who has a secret agenda.
The next few episodes are all lost episodes so I only have sound to go on.
They’re still in the Himalayas and looking at the giant footprint. Ian thinks the footprint might be perfectly ordinary and not giant. So there ends the mystery of the giant footprint.
The doctor’s feeling grumpy and says he can’t look at it without his glasses. They’re several thousand feet above sea level and he doesn’t like this place. So he goes back inside.
Ian and Barbara speculate on if they are really on Earth or not and where they could be. It turns out they’re in the Himalayas.
The doctor comes out of the TARDIS which has broken not surprising considering last episode. The lights have all gone out and so has the heating.
Ian decides to go find fuel. I’m not sure what he thinks the TARDIS runs on. I guess he wants wood to build a fire or something but he makes it sound like it’s fuel for the TARDIS and I like picturing him trying to use wood to fuel it. Barbara goes with him so she cna get into trouble and he has some one to save.
Susan stays to help the doctor and he’s in a really bad mood.
They don’t get far before Barbara’s out of breath so has a little sit down while Ian carries on. This is so she can be put in danger. She sees an animal and Ian comes running. He’s skeptical but she points out all the footprints.
The Doctor has found the faulty piece of the TARDIS and says it’ll take a long time to fix. They’ve got to get down to a lower altitude so they don’t freeze. But surely it’s got to be a bit warmer in the TARDIS and it is shelter from wind and snow and everything else.
Barbara says there are strange animals on the mountain. The doctor gets impatient and asks what she saw. Ian says the footprints looked like from a fur boot.
Susan spots a man dressed in fur watching them. He runs and they try to follow to see if he’ll help them or lead them to shelter.
They find him and Ian says they’re travelers who are lost and asks if they can give them shelter.
One man decides they are evil spirits that have take human form and they should be destroyed. Ian tries to reason with them.
Another man, who turns out to be Marco Polo, says he won’t let anyone hurt them on the authority of the Kublai Khan. He tells them to come down the mountain to his caravan and reveals the Doctor has mountain sickness.
They get to the tents and Ping Cho serves them tea. Barbara gives some exposition. Marco Polo is European and the Kublai Khan is a Mongol leader.
Marco introduces them to the warlord Tegana who you can already tell will be the villain for this serial.
The doctor thanks Marco for saving their lives and asks when and where they are.
Marco wants to know how long they’ve been traveling if they don’t know that. The year is 1289 and they are on the roof of the world (Himalayas).
Later in Ping’s tent she asks Susan where she’s from but Susan doesn’t know how to describe it. Use describing words like shapes and colours. She’s not that stupid I’m sure she’ll get an idea. Susan probably can’t describe it because the writers haven’t come up with it yet. So she asks about Ping.
Ping’s going to Shang-tu to get married to an important 75 year old man. Ping’s sixteen which is the same age as Susan so she’s horrified.
In another tent Tegana tells Marco he should have killed the travelers because they’re different. They have a carriage that has no wheels and is not large enough to carry four people but he saw them exit it.
Marco Polo takes them back up the mountain to visit the TARDIS. Marco asks about how the TARDIS moves and Ian says it flies through the air.
Tegana takes this as a sign of their evilness but Marco says he’s seen Buddhists make things fly through the air and asks if they are Buddhists. He wants to see inside but only the Doctor has a key and Marco Didn’t let him come. Ian also says only the Doctor can fly it.
Marco makes a plan to use sleds to get it down the mountain.
Ping is making the Doctor food when they all come back. She explains that Tegana is an emissary for an Enemy of the Kublai Khan. They have decided to make peace.
The Doctor’s happy Marco is bringing the TARDIS down the mountain because then he can get to work fixing it as soon as possible. He doesn’t want to hold them up.
Marco says he can’t let them inside because it would upset the Mongols who still believe them to be evil spirits. And that the Doctor is a sorcerer who is harmless outside of the TARDIS.
The doctor has a reasonable moment and agrees that none of them will enter the TARDIS until Lop where the caravan will be stopping for a few days. They are in an area where they need to travel fast because it’s not safe.
Later Marco narrates over a map of their journey. He says his plan has worked and he wants to see their reaction to something he’s going to do.
They’re in Lop and filling up on supplies to travel across the Gobi dessert. Marco has a seal that gets him anything he wants from places that the Kublai Khan controls.
Ian comes in to tell the Doctor that the TARDIS is set up in the courtyard so the Doctor gets up to go do work but the guards stop him. The doctor’s not happy. Barbara says they should hear Marco out.
Marco starts talking about his life. He was young when he arrived at the Khan’s court. He’s traveled a lot but the Khan’s refused to let him go home. So he’s going to offer the TARDIS in exchange for his freedom.
This sets the doctor off. Marco says he’ll take care of them and get them back to Venice where the Doctor can build another TARDIS.
Ian tries to explain that Venice doesn’t have what they need. Marco then says they’ll see their home again it might just take a bit longer. They can go by sea instead of flying. But Marco wants to see his home again and that trumps anything else.
The Doctor says it’s not his problem and Marco says he’s making it his problem. In amongst all this Barbara says she can guarantee Marco he’ll see his home again so I’m assuming it’s historical record he does. I don’t know much about Marco Polo.
Ian says they won’t be able to use the TARDIS without the Doctor but Marco says the Buddhists will be able to figure it out. He has a lot of faith in the Buddhists. They must ahve really impressed him.
The Doctor starts laughing and keeps muttering ‘go by sea’. Susan asks what he’s going to do but the Doctor has no idea. I really like this scene because the Doctor is so up and down.
Somewhere outside Tegana has just brought poison and plans to put it in Marco’s water stores. The caravan will set out across the Gobi dessert and when they are all dead he’ll steal the thing of magic and it’ll take down the Kublai Khan.
This is quite a good starting episode. It sets up all the characters and the conflicts nicely. There’s enough here for a good few episodes but I have a feeling it’s all going to get stretched out until it becomes tedious like with the Daleks. I’m skeptical that they can keep it interesting for as many episodes as they have dedicated to it.
I like Marco Polo and that he doesn’t care that he’s screwing over other people. He’s presented as a nice guy and he saves them but then betrays them.
They’ve brought Barbara down to new levels of stupid. She thinks she’s seeing an animal standing on two feet when it’s just a man dressed in furs. She’s redeemed a bit by knowing about Marco Polo’s history but it’s not enough.
The Doctor was almost too annoying to be entertaining. He spends most of the episode being grumpy for no reason ( I guess he just doesn’t like mountains) and then all of a sudden being happy. It’s tough to keep up with his mood shifts.
I hope the momentum of this episode keeps up and everyone gets poisoned soon.
Previous Doctor Who: The Brink of Disaster Next Doctor Who: The Singing Sands
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