Everything hits the fan as Ping-Cho runs away, armies amass against The Khan, The TARDIS is stolen, and Ian finds himself face to face with an openly hostile Tegana! Drama! Conflict!
“I come from another time. Our caravan not only covers distance, it can cross time!”
Many things happen quite quickly in this episode. Ping-Cho flees the caravan in shame and to avoid her arranged marriage. Ian offers to retrieve her. He finds her at a way station and finds that she was robbed and The TARDIS has been stolen. Tegana, convincing Polo that Ian cares nothing for Ping-Cho and has only left to find The TARDIS, is granted leave to find Ian and Ping-Cho. And finally, the caravan arrives at The Khan’s summer palace. We find that The Khan is really and old man who instantly takes to The Doctor. They both share the aches and pains of old age. Last, we learn that Nogai, the lord that Tegana serves, has massed his forces quite close to the summer palace. The Khan wishes Tegana to explain himself. Tegana is lucky to not be at the summer palace, but I don’t believe he intended to get there once he discovered The TARDIS.
I think the most interesting scene is where Ian tells Marco Polo that he is a traveler in time. Our characters are at a point of near desperation, and once The TARDIS arrives at The Khan’s Palace, they believe it will be lost forever. Ian finally tells Polo the truth, which is instantly rejected. Coming on the heels of Ian’s lie that he stole the key, a lie that Polo quickly discerns as a fiction, this story seems absurd.
It is good to see this tale drawing to a close. While it may be a bit too long, it really hasn’t felt boring or drawn out. Many of the scenes in this story progress at a break-neck pace, which is probably due to our characters separating. Especially as Tegana has victory within his grasp, we end this episode with a good amount of dread. Ian and Ping-Cho are alone, confronting the thief who took The TARDIS, and suddenly Tegana appears. This is a very sticky situation. Meanwhile, Polo feels betrayed by Tegana, a man he had defended from accusations for the previous five episodes. Tegana has been revealed for what he is: a liar and manipulator. I have nothing but sympathy for Polo, as his intentions are relatable and understandable. Unfortunately, he has been used and manipulated, at times by BOTH sides of the struggle for The TARDIS. One hopes that in the remaining moments of this story he is able to redeem himself.