The episode four cliffhanger was a good one. We see Chimalma poisoned with a dart blown by the hidden Chadac at exactly the same time that Nasca and Mahoutec enter the room. With the senseless Chimalma falling into Heumac’s arms, Nasca is quick to accuse him – although Heumac attempts to convince Mahoutec that if he dies then the chance to save Chimalma will be lost forever.
Heumac tells Mahoutec that Nasca is his enemy, not him. Troughton starts to ramp up the intensity once more as Nasca begins to see his position come under threat. At present, Mahoutec doesn’t believe Heumac’s claims of secret passages in the temples nor that Nasca murdered the Emperor, but maybe, at the very least, a seed of doubt has been sown.
Following the attack on Chimalma, Mahoutec is finally convinced that an attack on Heumac’s army is justifiable. Unsurprisingly for a studio-bound production it’s a case of tell, can’t show.
Like Tozo in the last episode, Chimalma is totally immobile and unable to speak, although she remains conscious and aware of her surroundings. Diane Keen has an easy time of it in the early part of the episode, having to do little else but lie down, but after Tozo finds the antidote, Chimalma is able to renter the narrative in a dramatic fashion.
Before that, there’s more examples of Nasca’s eloquent oratory as he urges Teshcata to “play the music of destruction for us now. Play it loud so it reaches the ears of our enemies. Let them hear the sound that destroyed the god they worship. Let the weapons fall from their hands and let them sway to the music and let their partners in the dance be death and despair.” During this scene there’s an overlay of flickering flames on Troughton as the camera slowly zooms in on him. This, together with an ominous drumbeat, helps to create a very effective sense of menace.
The return of Chimalma temporarily puts a dampener on Nasca’s dreams of conquest. Diane Keen shows Chimalma’s core of steel as she orders that Nasca and Chadac be arrested and Mahoutec banished. Unfortunately her guards don’t respond (watch the flicker of amusement that plays around Troughton’s face as Nasca realises that he still holds the upper hand). Has Nasca’s influence spread so far that it now infects the palace guard? Given that Chimalma rules by right of succession it does seem strange that she appears so powerless. There’s a bevy of important nobles milling about, but as they’re unspeaking extras it’s probably best not to expect a great deal of help from them (they can only manage some rhubarbing).
With Chimalma accused of being mad, she’s taken to spend the night in the Chamber of Screams ….