Savor the Sting of Madame Guillotine
I will readily admit that most of my knowledge about the French Revolution comes from The Scarlet Pimpernel. I would have said Les Miserables, but I am at least geeky enough to know that is set during the June Rebellion several decades after the Revolution. Given how much I have enjoyed the First Doctor's historical episodes so far, I was quite looking forward to beginning The Reign of Terror this morning. Happily, I was not disappointed.
Let's talk about that.
A Land of Fear
Right at the end of the last episode, Ian made a sarcastic remark about the reliability of the TARDIS. The Doctor, being a waspish prick, immediately launched into a tirade about how, given that Ian had made his feelings clear, at the very next stop the Doctor was putting Ian and Barbara out wherever they landed and leaving them behind. At the start of today''s episode the Doctor has not softened at all. Upon landing and seeing generally-European looking foliage outside, Susan gives a tearful goodbye as the Doctor straight-up ignores Ian and Barbara while waiting for them to just get off his ship. Personally, I would have shanked him for being such an arrogant jerk. Ian, having much more sense than I, went about sweet-talking the Doctor and convincing him that, after all of their travels together, they should all at least sit down and have a drink together before the Doctor and Susan depart again. Playing to his ego works like a charm, and the Doctor agrees that they should all go for a bit of a stroll.
Of course, they turn out not to be in modern England, but rather in eighteenth-century France right in the middle of the revolution. They first encounter a young boy, who knocks Ian down and runs away terrified. Shortly thereafter they find an apparently-abandoned farm house. Conveniently, it is a waypoint for escaping refugees and there is a large trunk filled with period-appropriate clothing for everyone to change into. They also encounter two men hiding out, on the run from a pursuing army squadron. In the end, both men are shot dead by the patrol; Barbara, Susan, and Ian are taken prisoner; and the Doctor is left for dead inside the farmhouse, which has now been set aflame.
Guests of Madame Guillotine
With the group split, there are three parallel storylines happening.
1. The Doctor is rescued from the fire by the same waif who knocked over Ian in the last episode. Learning that the other three are destined for the Guillotine, the Doctor begins walking the roughly 12 kilometers to Paris. Along the way he encounters a conscripted work crew, being tormented by a bully of a boss. The Doctor, being a waspish prick, very haughtily advises the boss that more work would get done if the boss pitched in and helped instead of just yelling at the workers. This advice is accepted with the grace you would expect (I.E. - none), and the Doctor is conscripted to join the crew as well. He later escapes by helping the crew devise a plan to outwit the boss, and then continues his walk to Paris.
2. Barbara and Susan are placed into a cell together, after Barbara slaps the face of the jailer for suggesting she would be released if she was "affectionate" enough with him. I very very nearly titled this post "Barbara Rejects a Little Sumpin' Sumpin'". In any case, the two ladies spend some amount of time trying to escape their cell until they are scared by rats. In the morning they are lead off with a group of prisoners all bound for a date with Madame Guillotine.
3. Ian is placed into a different cell, with a dying prisoner. Said prisoner befriends Ian, and then tells him about an English spy who has information about France's intention to turn its attention across the channel once the Revolution is over. In his dying moments, he entreats Ian to find this spy and help him to escape back to England. Ian agrees. In the morning, through the window of his cell, he sees Barbara and Susan being led off to their execution.
Dun dun DUN!
With all of this talk of the Guillotine, it seems like a good time to mention that I actually have a signed, numbered, and framed Guillotine model kit hanging on my wall. It is a reproduction of the original Aurora Chamber of Horrors kit from the 60's, which was pulled from the market when parents objected. The reissue was done by Polar Lights about fifteen years ago, and mine is one of the very first to come off the production line. How cool is that?
Can you believe some people think I'm weird?
Companion(s): Ian Chesterton, Susan Foreman, Barbara Wright
Episode(s): A Land of Fear, Guests of Madame Guillotine
Obvious Pratfalls: 1 - Ian gets knocked over by a French waif 1/3 his size
Steps Walked: 6,592 today, 133,189 total
Distance Walked: 3.05 miles today, 58.98 miles total
Weight: 299.06 lbs (five day moving average), net change -8.24 lbs