Tlotoxl raises the stakes and The Doctor gets engaged.
“Tlotoxl‘s evil and he‘ll make everyone else the same!”
“They are the same, Barbara! That’s the whole point!”
I love how Barbara rises to Tlotoxl’s challenge in the opening moments of the episode. The fight between Ixta and Ian should end in death, Tlotoxl tells Barbara that her command cannot stop the duel and if she wishes Ian to live, she must save him. So, Barbara puts a knife to Tlotoxl’s throat and says that if Ian dies, so does Tlotoxl. As Barbara says, “Why should use a divine miracle when human ability will suffice?”
The next catastrophe, which will be addressed in the next episode, is an eclipse of the sun. The plan is for Tlotoxl to sacrifice the Perfect Victim to have the sun returned. Barbara pleads with Autloc to trust in her, to join her against Tlotoxl. The sun will return, she insists. What is interesting is that from this scene it would seem that while Autloc does believe the sun will return, he also has provisions within his worldview that if the gods disfavor The Aztecs, they will not return the sun. To know something to be true, yet still make allowances for it to NOT be true is very human. It ranges from superstition to outright religious faith. Once again, the duality between Barbara’s knowledge of history and reason and the religious beliefs of The Aztecs butt heads. And now that Tlotoxl has been publicly humiliated, the situation is growing more dangerous.
The Doctor and Tlotoxl have a brief confrontation, one which left me wanting more. The Doctor’s method of dealing with Tlotoxl is to not give him anything, to not even verbally spar with him. As the servant of a god, that is his right. Barbara as Yetaxa claims to be a benevolent god and thus owes some explanation. The Doctor insists that if Tlotoxl delivers the plans for the tomb, then Tlotoxl will find the truth about Yetaxa. What beautiful irony that both sides ultimately want the same thing. The Time Travelers want to leave and Tlotoxl wants the false goddess to be gone. Sadly, we learn that the plans do not exist. Ixta lied about them.
Ian and Barbara share a moment where he convinces her of the futility of her struggle. Having been among the people, Ian has learned that Tlotoxl isn’t the exception, he is the rule. The Aztec society share’s Tlotoxl’s belief in sacrifices. Autloc is the odd man out. Barbara cannot change an entire society using one man. Rather, she cannot change it overnight. Barbara, in a moment of frustration, confesses to Tlotoxl that she is not Yetaxa, but she also threatens to destroy him if he tells anyone. The situation is growing more dire. But we are in the penultimate episode. That’s just drama.
Just as things were really going well, we have a scene with Susan. Okay, perhaps this is an unfair way of phrasing things since it was a rather short scene. Tlotoxl and Tonila have plotted together to have The Perfect Victim meet Susan and choose her for his bride. As The Perfect Victim cannot be denied any request, Susan’s refusal completely violates Aztec law. She must be executed. We’re meant to believe this is a bad thing.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the funniest moment in this episode. The Doctor accidentally gets engaged as he makes cocoa for Cameca. A more modern incarnation would have been more proactive about this.