Weighing in at an impressive 800 episodes, Doctor Who has been entertaining audiences for the past 50 years. Yet, despite this vast backlog of content, I know next to nothing about the actual series. For that reason, I’ve decided to watch this unusual show from the beginning, to discover the source of its unique appeal. Come with me as I tackle this daunting sci-fi phenomena from the very beginning in The Complete Doctor Who.
Warning: the following contains spoilers.
Doctor Who: Serial 6 The Aztecs, Episode 3: The Bride of Sacrifice
Here’s the story so far: After landing in Mexico during the reign of the Aztecs, Barbara was mistaken for the goddess Yetaxa and decided to use this mistake to try purging the Aztecs of some of the more violent aspects of their culture. Instead, she drew the ire of High Priest of Sacrifice and all around scowl enthusiast Tlotoxl who at last episode’s end coaxed Ian into a battle to the death with the warrior Ixta.
We pick up mid-fight with Barbara looking on helplessly as Tlotoxl tells her to prove her divinity by saving Ian’s life.
It’s a hell of a sticky situation, saving her friend’s life without revealing herself as a total fraud. So, how does she get herself out of it? She holds a dagger up to Tlotoxl’s throat, then orders his crony Ixta to back off.
Ian saved. Godhood maintained. Tlotoxl scurries off, scowling all the way.
So, now that he’s succeeding in nearly killing Ian, Ixta decides it’s high time the two of them became friends, declaring,
“Now that I can defeat you openly, I have no need to destroy you in secret.” Which incidentally is exactly how I open each of my facebook friend requests.
Having failed yet again in his attempt to humiliate Barbara, Tlotoxl gets another one of his cronies to fix up a poison, reasoning that if Barbara is a true goddess feeding her poison will be prove it once and for all.
Unfortunately for him, Ian catches wind of this and heads off to Barbara’s chambers in order to warn her.
Meanwhile in the garden of peace, Cameca confesses to the high priest Ortlock that she has the hots for the Doctor and has purchased a bunch of cocoa beans for the occasion. It seems in Aztec society, making cocoa for someone is the equivalent of a marriage proposal.
Sadly, the Doctor seems to have slept through that particular lesson, because upon seeing her supply of cocoa beans, he insists they brew up a batch right away.
It’s about this time that Ian reaches Barbara’s boss throne room. He warns her of Tlotoxl’s plot, then lectures her on the finer points of playing god. First the Doctor now Ian, seems like everybody gets a chance to put Susan in her place.
Then Tlotoxl strolls in with a bowl of strange liquid and urges her to “drink this draft with us as a symbol of our friendship.” Quick tip ladies, if you ever find yourself getting an offer like that, you’re probably going to want to go ahead and run.
Sadly, Barbara is nowhere near this astute and hunkers over the bowl ready to drink. Luckily, Ian’s there to give her the high sign and she stops and demands that Tlotoxl drink it first. He refuses, failing in yet another attempt to disgrace her.
Barbara, having endured what must be his twelfth attempt at exposing her secret, finally just says to hell with it and tells Tlotoxl she’s not Yetaxa after all.
Tlotoxl breaks into one of his villainous grins until Barbara points out that even though he knows the truth, it’s unlikely that anyone will believe him. Then she shuts him down completely saying, “I warn you Tlotoxl, you say one word against me to the people and I’ll have them destroy you.”
It’s all pretty badass.
Back in the garden, the Doctor and Cameca are sipping cocoa and talking about their future.
Camecah casually reveals that they’re now engaged and the Doc busts out his best spit take.
This subplot really feels like it’s from a different episode entirely. Every other character is trapped in a cycle of death and danger, while the Doctor’s skipping through some mid-90s rom com.
So, seeing as how five minutes have passed, you might be wondering what Tlotoxl’s up to now? Well, having failed at his poison scheme, he’s already on to something else, this time turning his attentions to Susan.
I’ll say this for the guy. Brother sure is tenacious.
Now, last time we saw Susan, she had made her opposition to arranged marriage well-known by shouting it to anyone within earshot
Taking that as his inspiration, Tlotoxl strolls in with some creepy weirdo who immediately begins undressing Susan with his eyes. Then, just as he’s about to walk out, he casually adds, “I shall take her as my bride.”
Susan refuses, which, of course means that she needs to be punished.
And what is the punishment you might ask? Well, apparently she’s to be publicly scourged and ridiculed, then have her tongue and ears pierced with thorns. Okay, the thorns and scourging I totally get, but public ridicule? That seems a bit extreme.
Tlotoxl shares this with Barbara, failing to tell her that Susan is the one to be punished.
Now trapped in a very delicate position, Barbara once again reaches out to the other high priest Ortlock to back her play. One of the more interesting elements of this story arc is how Barbara claims she’s trying to do away with blind faith, but keeps exploiting it whenever it serves her purpose.
Meanwhile, Ian meets up with the Doctor in the garden. The Doc shows him something that proves the tomb can be opened, meaning they can get to the TARDIS and blast out of this craphole.
When Ian asks him where he got it, the Doctor responds, “My fiancee.”
Ian: “Your what?”
“Yes I made some cocoa and got engaged.”
Another moment of lighthearted comedy, moments after Susan is threatened with a forced marriage.
Cut to: later that night. Ian is sleeping next to Ixta on the ground for some reason??!! I guess they’re like roommates now?
Ian gets up and sneaks off to the garden with Ixta hot on his trail.
In the garden, Ian and the Doctor discover a hidden panel on the outside of the tomb and manage to pry it open. Ian goes inside as the Doc stands watch.
Then, Ixta shows up and the Doctor does a terrible job of playing dumb.
What’s that? Oh, nothing, just standing here. That hole? That’s probably nothing, no reason to put that back in place.
Ixta grabs the panel and uses it to reseal the passage, stranding Ian inside just at the passage starts filling with water.
Kind of strange episode this week. Barbara’s still trying to protect her secret, Susan’s being used as a pawn and the Doctor’s having a merry old time. Wonder how all this is going to play out? Catch us next time for episode 4: The Day of Darkness.