Written by David Whitaker
Directed by Douglas Camfield
Barbara goes in to hiding at the home of Haroun ed Diin and his daughter Safiya. The Doctor becomes embroiled in court intrigue and debate.
“I admire bravery and loyalty, sir, and you have both of these things. But you haven’t any brains at all! I hate fools!”
There are some standout moments in this episode that really can be held up as examples that classic Who really could achieve great drama and acting. First, we have the desperation of Haroun ed Diin, a man who saw his daughter taken by El Akir because he took a fancy to her. Haroun was not terribly pleased with this, and his wife was killed as an example. He has nursed vengeance ever since, and if not for a second daughter, Safiya, he may have pursued this vengeance with more abandon. Now Haroun, once a wealthy merchant, lives in poverty. He takes Barbara in due to their common enemy. As he leaves to lead away the guards, he gives Barbara a knife, urging her to kill both Safiya and herself rather than be captured if he fails. These are grim times indeed.
For whatever reason, The Doctor has seen fit to masquerade Vicki as a boy. This is a perfectly daft deception because it is quite apparent that Vicki is not a boy despite putting a hat on her. Regardless, everyone goes along with this until Princess Joanna calls the bluff. Thankfully, she takes a liking to Vicki and takes her as a personal companion. This works in The Doctor’s favor because he is itching to become embroiled in court intrigue. And here we have a second standout moment where Hartnell puts naysayers to rest as he and The Lord of Leicester have at it over the proposed arranged marriage of Joanna and Saphadin. Tempers flare and both actors shine. What particularly striking is how different Hartnell appears in this scene compared to an earlier scene with Vicki. Here he is fire and firm. He has his view and holds to it in the face of all opposition. He is quite similar to portrayals of The Doctor we will see in the future. With Vicki, he is affection and gentleness. A case could truly be made that shackling The Doctor with a granddaughter-figure holds him back. While he is responsible for a minor, he must be mindful of his actions. When traveling with adults, apparently the rules are different and they can take care of themselves. We have to keep in mind that The Doctor hasn’t always chosen his companions as he does in the BBC Wales series. Ian and Barbara were accidental companions, who were then kidnapped, finally growing to enjoy the travels. Vicki, while invited, needed to be rescued from Dido. The upcoming companion Steven was a stowaway. Many of Tom Baker’s companions merely followed him into the TARDIS (if not placed there by The Time Lords). Now, companion status is by invitation only. It seems The Doctor has become more selective in his old age.
The final standout performance is between Jean Marsh and Julian Glover. Princess Joanna finds out her brother’s plans and is furious. When he will not relent, she threatens to go to the one authority higher than the King of England: The Pope. The argument is well played, but even more stunning is the controlled rage from King Richard. As this argument has happened in public, and he almost struck his sister, he has been publicly humiliated and chastised. He regains composure and accuses The Doctor of giving away the plan. We know it had to be The Lord of Leicester because he is the only other person Joanna spoke with before confronting the King. It should be interesting to see how all this plays out. The Doctor has been rejected by The King, Ian has been assaulted by bandits while looking for Barbara, and Barbara has been captured once more and delivered to El Akir.
And no, she didn’t kill Safiya.