Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Leisure Hive

This was actually a very interesting episode.  The titular Hive's purpose was probably set up very well in the first episode, and maybe I should watch it again, but as it develops, this episode is about a struggle for the Hive between two races, the native Argolin, with their asparagus-like heads and the discussed but seldom seen Foamasi.  These two races went to war for a whopping 20 minutes, 40 years ago, resulting in the surface of Argolis being irradiated and the surviving Argolins being sterile.  The Foamasi want to purchase the entire planet as they are the only ones who can survive outside of the Hive and the Argolins are, obviously, loathe to sell their homeworld to the creatures that effectively destroyed it.  However, the Argolins are going broke...

Lots of technobabble about tachyons ensues, which for those of you who don't speak Sci-Fi is usually shorthand for something to do with time travel.  Enter The Doctor and the (really quite hot) Romana II. See, the Argolins also have a problem where, once they hit a certain point in their lifespans, they start to age rapidly, so the episode becomes a race where the Argolin's new leader Mena is aging rapidly while the earthling scientist Hardin tries to finish his experiments with the Recreation Generator (here's where the tachyons come in) to reverse aging via a sort of time-stasis field.  Technobabble.  Meanwhile, Mena's son Pangol is ready and eager to take over.  Pangol is a xenophobe and warmonger of the worst type, and also looks surprisingly young considering no Argolin has had a child for 40 years....

Without getting into spoilers, Romana II, a Time Lady and hence someone who is knowledgeable about these sorts of things, helps Hardin with his tests, things go wrong and are set right just in time for the climax.  Tom Baker gets some surprisingly decent (for 1980) old man makeup and while the end feels like it invokes a somewhat familiar trope, it was an effective episode.  Watching Mena age and become more and more feeble while Pangol becomes more and more despotic gives the proceedings a sense of urgency that continues right up to the end.  Part of the resolution involves the Doctor giving the Argolins his Randomizer.  If you missed it, the Randomizer basically sends the TARDIS places at, well, random which was very important when he was being purused by the Black Guardian.  Who is the Black Guardian?   Look it up on wiki - I'm not watching all these episodes again when I have so many unwatched!  The Doctor dismisses the notion that he could still be in danger from the Black Guardian so I'm curious if/when/how this comes into play later.  Overall, a really good episode.

Eventually I'll figure out a rating system.  I might even come back and rate this one.  Who knows?