Written by Dennis Spooner
Directed by Douglas Camfield
Vicki and Steven search for The Doctor, who is now imprisoned by The Monk. Meanwhile, Vikings have arrived on English shores, scouting and doing dastardly Viking things.
“I don’t think we’ve been as clever as we think we are.”
Despite the monk having mysterious, possibly ill, motives, he isn’t completely evil and heartless. He makes a rather nice breakfast for his prisoner, The Doctor. Sadly, William Hartnell is on holiday for this episode, so he doesn’t get to partake.
There are two things that really strike me about this episode. First, there is a distinct Troughton vibe to The Monk. Or perhaps, Troughton’s Doctor has a distinct Monk vibe. There is a theory about The Doctor’s regeneration process which claims that the personality or form that Doctor takes after regeneration is related in some way to a companion with which he traveled or a person he met. Therefore, the mischief-making Monk was the mold for The Second Doctor. The Eighth Doctor traveled with Lucy Miller, who had a distinct northern accent, and the Ninth Doctor had a northern accent. The Ninth Doctor traveled with Rose, a companion that was extremely important to him overcoming survivor’s guilt. Thus, The Tenth Doctor was more human than any previous incarnation. And so it goes. Fan retcon at its finest.
The second thing that struck me about this episode is that we have an implied rape. This is possibly the most disturbing moment since The Snows of Terror, where the trapper was about to try to rape Barbara. The act really didn’t get started back then, but the implications were clear. This time, Edith in the Saxon village is raped by a Viking scout party. The orders for the scouting party were to get the lay of the land, placement of villages and potential resistance. They were to keep as low a profile as possible so the king could have the element of surprise when the invasion began. The leader of the scouting party, however, was an idiot, and they attacked the village, which did not have men in it at the time (still in the fields, perhaps?). We see Edith attacked and carried away. The scene cuts to Vicki and Steven at the monastery. When we see the village again, the men have returned home and Edith is lying in bed, staring into nothing, almost comatose. This seems an extreme reaction if she was just roughed up a bit. The words are never used, so younger viewers can just get by being told she was merely hurt, but the implication is clear and extremely dark. I wonder if the BBC equivalent of standards and practices came down on Verity Lambert for allowing this.
The identity of The Monk has not yet been revealed. We know he has a toaster and electric skillet. We know that the wrist-watch Steven is now wearing belonged to him. We know he is alone in the monastery. He has been waiting for The Vikings and is happy they have arrived. He has imprisoned The Doctor, and plans to do the same to Vicki and Steven. He puts the phonograph in a cell and plays it just as he did with The Doctor. However, his plan is altered when injured men from the village arrive. They went after The Vikings that attacked Edith. The Monk must let them in to maintain his illusion. Vicki and Steven discover the trap The Monk set for them and avoid it. They also find The Doctor’s cell. It is empty. Perhaps The Doctor really did go on holiday.
Spooner has crafted a nice little, albeit dark, mystery here. It is truly a highlight of the era, and quite the intriguing one.
Just a note before I close today. This will be the last Saturday post. Due to increased demands at work, and increased demands from other writing projects, I was forced to cut one day from the schedule. The plan is to still update Monday thru Friday. I can’t stand the thought of updating less than that since there are so many episodes left to get through. I haven’t even hit 100 yet. However, having made it this far, I have no intention of quitting anytime soon.