Written by Donald Cotton
Directed by Michael Leeston-Smith
The Horse of Destruction has arrived in Troy, and with it, Odysseus and his men. What will become of Steven and Vicki? Can they escape the ensuing carnage?
In a word, yes. In two words: well, sorta. Steven gets injured and his wounds are seem severe from the way they are treated in the audio. Vicki is left in Troy, presumably she orchestrated this, but it is hard to tell from the audio. There is never an exchange between her and The Doctor, it seems that he just leaves her. We see later that Vicki is searching for Troilus, and she seems to indicate this is what she wanted. Still, it’s handled better than Dodo. More on that later.
So, are we to take it that Vicki is one of the founding citizens of Rome? Roman mythology claims that they were founded by survivors of Troy. If there is any truth in this, we can assume that this is where Vicki and Troilus end up. A rather nice book-end to the character as her first adventure as a companion took her to Rome. I wonder if Donald Cotton planned that, or if it was just an interesting coincidence.
Replacing Vicki is Katarina (that’s kat-uh-REEN-uh, not Katharine or Katrina). She is introduced in this episode as one of Cassandra’s handmaidens. She is assigned to watch Cressida. Katarina seems a bit dim, or perhaps it is worshipful awe of being in Cassandra’s presence so much of the time. Regardless, her character is not memorable and she is underdeveloped. This is a shame since her inclusion in the crew has interesting story-telling possibilities. She wasn’t invited, she just helps The Doctor carry Steven into the TARDIS and The Doctor dematerializes to get away from Odysseus, who now wants the TARDIS. Katarina believes she is dead and has entered the void on her way to the afterlife. There is something appealing to me about a companion who does not understand what is happening and approaches the entire circumstance as nothing more than the afterlife. Very matter of fact, and virtually fearless. If she is already dead, why would she need to worry about death? On top of that, everything in The TARDIS and everything she would encounter would be the equivalent of magic. The show will revisit this in a decade or so with the character of Leela, but she is established as more intelligent and capable of understanding that magic may not be real. Katarina has no understanding of this.
For the most part, the companions of the classic era fall in line pretty quick. They grasp what traveling in the TARDIS entails and adhere to rules fairly quick. But what I love about the old show is that companions may not be contemporary. Susan was from The Doctor’s race (presumably). Vicki and Steven are from the future. Katarina is from Troy in Earth’s past. We are not bound to someone from present day Earth to identify with. I like this and think the new show would truly push the bounds of its current format to include someone from another time (or race!) that would have a different ethic and view of the world. I would hope the writers wouldn’t use this as a way to “correct” past ideologies, but instead to learn from them and help us understand who we were in comparison to who we are now. Unfortunately, that seems to come too close to the original remit of Doctor Who as an educational show. We have left that far behind. Now the show is about time travel as a plot device and scaring children. Not necessarily bad, but not necessarily broad either.
How awesome is the name “Horse of Destruction”? It is utterly daft, and I love it!