When Steven is brought into Vicki’s presence it spells trouble for both of them. How can Vicki know Steven (alias Diomede) if he’s a Greek warrior? Cassandra’s convinced that she’s a spy and orders her immediate execution, but the order is countermanded by Paris. “I will not tolerate interference from a fortune-teller of notorious unreliability.”
Barrie Ingham continues to be the recipient of some first-class lines – Paris then tells his sister to “get back to your temple before you give us all galloping religious mania.”
Priam’s in a quandary. He likes Vicki, but can’t ignore the fact that she could, as Cassandra says, be a spy. So he gives her an ultimatum. “Now if you are what you really say you are, as a pledge of good faith to us, you must either give me information that will lead to our speedy victory, or use your supernatural powers to turn the tide of battle in our favour.”
For all the humour we’ve seen (or rather heard) so far, this is the point in the story where the approaching darkness begins to take hold. Steven and Vicki are prisoners in the city – locked in the dungeons – with Vicki only given a day to produce a miracle which will bring an end to the ten-year war. Meanwhile the Doctor, outside the city walls with the Greeks, has been forced to provide a similar solution for them.
Whilst Vicki still has an air of unflappability, Steven can see how perilous their current situation is. He’s been a member of the TARDIS crew long enough to know that if the Doctor comes up with a successful plan it’ll mean the death of everybody inside the city.
Hartnell’s more centre-stage in this episode, as the Doctor outlines several schemes to Agamemnon. The first – gliders launched with catapults – is completely ridiculous, but Agamemnon appears to consider it. He takes the wind out of the Doctor’s sails when he tells him that he (the Doctor) will be the first test pilot! This is another moment where it’s a pity that Hartnell’s reaction is lost to us.
In desperation the Doctor turns to the wooden horse. Earlier he’d declared that the horse was a myth (another inspiration for the story title?) invented by Homer, but with time running out he casually mentions to Agamemnon that a hollow wooden horse filled with Greek soldiers should do the trick.
Agamemnon agrees and very quickly it’s built. Indeed, considering it’s size, it does seem remarkable that it was constructed in a matter of hours. The Greeks were clearly fast builders.
Apart from the war preparations, another key part of this episode is the relationship between Trolius and Vicki. As Trolius, James Lynn had a fairly thankless role. Most of the guest cast were gifted sparkling bon mots, but Trolius was written as young, earnest and a little dull. However it’s made clear right from the start that he and Vicki are kindred spirits.
VICKI: Well, you’re not in the war, are you? You’re far too young.
TROILUS: I’m seventeen next birthday!
VICKI: That’s hardly any older than me. You shouldn’t be killing people at your age.
TROILUS: Well, between you and me, I don’t honestly enjoy killing at all. But I love adventure.
VICKI: Yes. I know what you mean.
Since all the Greek soldiers appear to have left the plains, Priam is delighted and orders Vicki’s release. She’s nonplussed, but when Paris pops up to tell them that he’s found the Great Horse of Asia outside, all becomes clear. Cassandra’s still (correctly) forecasting their doom, which gives Paris my favourite line in the story (the final one below).
CASSANDRA: Yes, ask her! Go on, ask her! She knows what it is. It’s our doom! It’s the death of Troy, brought upon us by that cursed witch!
PARIS: Now understand me, Cassandra. I will not have one word said against that horse.
TROILUS: And neither will I against Cressida.
CASSANDRA: Will you not? Then woe to the House of Priam. Woe to the Trojans.
PARIS: I’m afraid you’re a bit late to say ‘whoa’ to the horse. I’ve just given instructions to have it brought into the city.
One thought on “Doctor Who – The Myth Makers. Part Three – Death of a Spy”
I do wish they’d kept the original title for the episode: “Is there a Doctor in the horse?”
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