The search for the final micro-key takes place over the course of the next episode and a half (this extra time allows for a slightly more involved plot). We’ve reached the city of Millenius and Ian finds himself accused both of murder and the theft of the micro-key. And here, the accused is guilty until found innocent.
Hartnell’s back from his holidays! It’s lovely to see the Doctor again and he turns up at just the right time since he’s the ideal person to speak for Ian at the tribunal. The Doctor’s in his element here. “My Lords, I cannot defend a man when I have not considered every aspect of the case. I must have time to examine witnesses, read statements and to prepare my case.” He just loves the whole court atmosphere, doesn’t he?
Things to love about this episode number one – the hats of the three judges. You don’t often see hats as impressive as this.
Things to love about this episode number two. Raf De La Torre is the senior judge and the only one to have a speaking role. The other two (played by Alan James and Peter Stenson, who doubled up with other roles as well, playing Voords, Ice Soldiers, etc) are noteworthy for several reasons. The first is their stick-on beards and the second is their excessive head movements when Raf De La Torre confers with them. Neither are allowed to speak, as they’re just lowly extras, so they indulge in manic head bobbing instead. It’s a lovely moment of unintentional comedy.
The Doctor’s pretty smug. He’s convinced he knows who committed the murder (it’s elementary, he says) but he has no evidence. Using Barbara and Susan he demonstrates exactly how the crime was committed – but the problem remains, how to prove it?
Things to love about this episode number three – a classic Billyfluff. “I can’t improve at this very moment. I can’t prove this very moment.”
There’s some familiar faces to spot. Fiona Walker, who returned to the series twenty four years later as Lady Peinforte in Silver Nemesis, is Kala. Donald Pickering, whose Doctor Who career culminated (if that’s quite the right word) with Time and the Rani is Eyesen. I love watching Pickering as he’s always a compelling screen presence. It’s not much of a role, but with a less skilled actor it wouldn’t have been half as interesting.
And what’s the Doctor’s plan to prove Ian’s innocence? He gets Sabetha to perjure herself by pretending that Aydan (Martin Cort) gave the key to her. Not quite the sort of thing that you’d expect to see at the Old Bailey. Aydan’s startled admission of guilt (and his murder immediately afterwards) moves the case on a little. But it doesn’t prove that Ian is innocent, so his execution will take place at the designated time. Ian looks at the Doctor, who can only shake his head sadly, which isn’t very encouraging.
And then Susan is kidnapped. Eek!