Spoilers for the episode
The caravan travels through the desert but a sandstorm stops Tegana from escaping and soon the water supplies run low.
It’s been three days since Marco polo has taken charge of the TARDIS. He’s enduring the Doctor who’s doing his best to be difficult and rude but we don’t get to see any of that just hear about it in Marco’s voice over.
They’re crossing the Gobi desert and Ian asks Marco about the water. Marco says they have enough but lots of people die crossing the Gobi desert because of lack of water.
Ian and Marco then play chess and in the past they’d use a word instead of checkmate that means the king is dead.
Elsewhere Barbara reassures Susan that they’ll get the TARDIS back. Susan wants to be among the stars and worries that the Doctor’s sulking but Barbara says he’s feeling defenseless because someone he considers a primitive has taken his advanced tech.
They talk about the Doctor knowing everything and Barbara mentions that then he’d be able to take them home. Susan doesn’t want to say goodbye to them and hopes it won’t be soon.
In her tent with Ping Susan comments on how it’s peaceful in the desert and she’s never seen the moon rise. So Ping promises to call her when it does.
Back in the other tent Barbara says the desert is very beautiful but Marco tell her not to be fooled because it’s still very dangerous.
Ping wakes Susan up and they go outside to look at the sky. They see Tegana and Susan wants to follow him for some reason. I guess the plot is calling her.
At the stables Marco comments on the horses being restless because they can sense there’s a sandstorm on the way. There’s the reason for Susan following Tegana so they can all get stuck in the storm.
Somewhere out in the desert Susan’s had enough of following Tegana and wants to go back but Ping doesn’t and asks Susan who’s afraid now. That’s the reasoning Susan used to get Ping to go follow Tegana with her.
It gets hot and they decide to go back but not before they get caught in the sandstorm. They argue about if they should stay where they are or try to get back to the caravan.
Barbara wakes up and Ian tells her what’s happening with the sandstorm. It’s very loud and it kind of sounds like laughing. Apparently people hear voices in the storm and that’s why it’s called the singing sands.
They notice Tegana’s gone but decide they can’t help him. Then they discover the girls are gone and Barbara wants to go outside to look for them but Ian and Marco stop her.
I think they sound an alarm or something so the girls can hear them but it’s really poor audio and I’m struggling to hear anything.
The storm stops and Marco says they won’t leave until they find the girls. Then the girls turn up with Tegana and they say they went for a walk. Marco’s angry they didn’t ask first.
Tegana found them and he says he was also on a walk but he told the guards he was going. Marco gets annoyed and says that the guards are to inform him if anyone else tries to leave the camp. So there goes Tegana’s plans for escaping before the poisoned water is found.
The doctor is still asleep and has managed to sleep through everything happening.
The next day and Marco’s worried because they had to stop for the day due to the storm and so they’ve wasted one days worth of water which could be fatal in the desert.
Back to Marco’s voice over and progress is going well.
Susan doesn’t believe that Tegana went for a walk but Ping thinks he’s telling the truth. I guess she’s more trusting.
In another tent Tegana asks about Marco’s journal and he says he writes it because it interests him.
They find out the water is poisoned and Marco blames the water on bandits. He’s never had it happen to him but other caravans have. They get weak from lack of water and the bandits attack.
They look at their options and Marco decides they’re going to an oasis that’s not nearby but it’s closer than the end of the desert. He’s worried that if they go back to Lop the bandits that he thinks poisoned the water will attack.
Tegana refuses to go with them. He’s going to return to Lop but Marco says he’s coming with them because he’s responsible for Tegana.
Later in his voice over Marco has started to doubt his decision. They’ve been making less and less progress each day because of lack of water.
The caravan has stopped because the heat of the day is too much with no water. Marco says now that the worst of the sun is over they’re going to start traveling again soon.
The doctor complains about lack of water and this is the first we’ve seen him this episode. They now have no more until they reach the oasis.
Tegana says he will go to the oasis and bring back water. He tells them to wait for him where they are but Marco says they will continue to push on towards the oasis.
The doctor collapses in the heat and Barbara asks if they can put him in the TARDIS so he’ll be more comfortable. Marco says yes and Susan can go with the Doctor but Ian and Barbara will stay with him. They have no water left and they’re counting on Tegana.
Meanwhile Tegana is at the oasis with water and taunting Marco about his lack of water by pouring the water he has away.
This episode actually managed to keep up the momentum of the last episode and not drag things out with endless talking. I didn’t expect them to get to the problem of the poisoned water so quickly.
The Doctor is noticeably absent and I’m assuming that’s more to do with William Hartnell needing rest or something than a choice by the writers. He only turns up at the end and quickly faints. I like the idea of him taking every opportunity to insult Marco Polo though and slow him down. I just wish I got to see it.
I’m not clear on why Susan wanted to follow Tegana (there were parts I couldn’t hear very well) but it just seems like a way to get her stranded out in the storm.
I like the ending of Tegana being their only hope and he’s pouring their water away. It’s another very good cliffhanger.
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