The Historian here, along with Ketina, Ronelyn, Schmallturm and Kroroboros, who seem to have become our regular crew! A lot happened in this episode, so let’s get to it!
Episode summary: First aired 14 March, 1964.
The Doctor, Susan and Ping Cho have gone to the Cave of 500 Eyes in search of Barbara, and they have found her kerchief in a passageway. Susan sees a pair of the eyes move and screams… Tegana enters the cave, asking why they are there and warns them of evil spirits.
Marco, furious that the three had left, takes Ian and goes to find them, after which Tegana leaves. Ian, believing Susan, looks at the wall and discovers a door set into it. He and Marco open it and overpower the guard who is about to kill Barbara!
Back at the camp, Tegana takes Marco aside and warns him not to trust the strange travelers–they will discredit anyone to get back their caravan. Thus, when Barbara reveals that she had followed Tegana to the cave and he claims never to have been there before coming upon the Doctor and company while looking for Barbara, she seems to have played right into Tegana’s hands. Suspicious, Marco orders Ping Cho and Susan separated.
The journey continues, and the Doctor uses his key to secretly enter the TARDIS each night to complete the circuit. Finally, the caravan arrives at a small town. Tegana goes to a local tea shop and meets his confederate, to whom he reveals his plans: the caravan will soon enter the Bamboo Jungle. On the second night, Tegana will kill the guard and he tells his underling to take his men, swoop down on the caravan and kill everyone!
Meanwhile, the Doctor tells his friends that the circuit is almost finished, but he worries that Ping Cho knows he has a key to the TARDIS. Shortly thereafter, Ping Cho tells Susan she knows they will be leaving soon and makes Susan promise to say goodbye before she goes. Tegana overhears the girls mention the key.
That night, the Doctor goes to finish the circuit as Barbara watches. She sees Tegana enter the courtyard and goes to get Ian and Susan. Ian decides to delay Marco while the women get the Doctor out of the ship. Ian attempts to defend the crew against Tegana’s accusations to no avail, when the man himself enters and swears he has seen the Doctor enter his caravan! Ian, who believes that the women have gotten the Doctor out safely, agrees to go with the two and see proof…but Tegana has had Barbara and Susan detained somehow (we think; it’s not totally clear) and the Doctor is caught leaving the ship!
Marco is now convinced of their perfidy and confines them to one tent as the group moves into the jungle. On the second night, the Doctor is desperate; the ship is fixed and they just need to get the key! Ian suggests simply taking Marco hostage, as there’s only one guard to overpower. He cuts a hole in the back of their tent and slips out to deal with the guard. But when he goes to knock the guard out, he finds that the poor man has already been killed….! Episode transcription
The clear highlight of this episode for me, and, I think, most of the others, was Tegana. His plan to divide and conquer by sowing distrust between the TARDIS crew and Marco is note perfect. It is, of course, dependant on his status as an honorable ambassador, as Marco points out to Ian, versus the others’ non-status as strangers. We, of course, know he’s not honorable at all, but he still maintains a perfect front for Polo. (Still, even Ping Cho suspects him by now; hopefully Marco will wake up soon.) It is Tegana who is the prime weaver of the “Wall of Lies” of the title, though the crew is also practising deception; they fully and joyfully plan to give Marco the slip. Well, Susan isn’t joyful; this was an episode where I really did believe in her friendship with Ping Cho. The actresses really sold it well.
Honestly, everyone was excellent throughout (and Barbara’s scream made sense, given she was about to get her throat cut when Marco burst in!); I only wish we could have seen their acting, rather than simply heard it, with stills, of course. I was also interested to see Hartnell’s Doctor regressing slightly; recently, he’s been warm, human, but here we had two instances of his, well, alienness, both born of his understandable dislike of Polo. (Who has, after all, stolen his ship!) We’ll see less and less of this side of the character from now on, but it’s worth noting that his ire is reserved for Marco, whereas Ian and Barbara have his every confidence. They’ve won him over completely, and vice versa; I really think this is the first story where we have a truly solidified team.
Undoubtedly, there’s more to say, but I’m at a bit of a loss, so I’ll turn things over to Ketina. Until next week, I remain
I don’t have too much to say this week. Let’s see…
The silly – less the episode than the viewers, but there were several “Marco!” “Polo!” jokes going around as we watched people shouting in the caves looking for each other. It couldn’t be helped, really. 🙂
Also the town looked exactly the same as the previous town, but we couldn’t tell if it really did, or if the re-constructionist just didn’t have that many pictures, so reused them.
I was amused by The Doctor’s “savage!” reaction to Marco Polo when the group was officially captured and put under guard, but it was pretty over the top.
The good – yes, Tegana does continue to be quite the villain. I agree with The Historian that is manipulation of Marco Polo is quite clever, although it is amusing to see plan after plan foiled by The Doctor and crew, either intentionally or not.
So, I wouldn’t describe this particular episode as outstanding, but it was still pretty good. Certainly entertaining and the story flows quite well.
Until next time,
NEXT WEEK: “RIDER FROM SHANG-TU”