In which Tegana attempts, quite successfully, to make Marco Polo distrust The Doctor and his companions.
“Does a magician need a key to open a door?”
Tegana’s tenacity must be admired. Not only do Ian and Marco Polo find Barbara at the mercy of a Mongul, but Tegana manages to weasel his way out of Polo’s suspicions. But Tegana realizes one thing for certain. He is now known to be a villain by The Doctor and his companions. He begins to sow doubt into Polo’s mind and that doubt soon blossoms into full suspicion. The matter isn’t helped when Tegana discovers The Doctor has another key to The TARDIS and has been working on it at night. Tegana outs The Doctor and Polo officially seizes The TARDIS in the name of the Khan. From here out, any attempt to reclaim The TARDIS is punishable by death. The Doctor and his companions are also separated from regular sleeping quarters. The are now prisoners. Having removed this threat, Tegana makes plans with one of his agents to disable the caravan guards and attack the travelers. The attack begins on the very same night that Ian and The Doctor plan their escape. Very bad timing.
While this episode was a bit slow in the middle as Ian, Barbara, and Ping-Cho attempt to make charges against Tegana, the climax is quite fast-paced and the episode seems to end much too quickly. Being the fourth episode, the constant attempts at deception and rebuffs are starting to wear thin. Again, I admire Tegana’s resolve, but how much longer can he continue to plot and keep Polo from being suspicious. This latest plan, however, places him into more danger as he attempts to steal the TARDIS. There is a chance that his inevitable failure (and let’s face it, we know he will fail) will finally reveal his true intent to Marco Polo.
Polo’s conflict in this episode makes me feel more sympathy for him. He wants to believe the best in Ian, Barbara, and Susan, but their disregard for following orders and their fierce independence are a constant source of frustration. Polo yells quite a bit in this episode, but can you blame him? This simple caravan, which started as an escort of two important guests (Tegana and Ping-Cho), has turned into a trip laden with dangers and frustration. Tegana’s constant manipulation isn’t helping.