The Doctor is trying to get Ian and Barbara back home, but he misses and the TARDIS ends up in France during the French Revolution. Of course they’re separated from the Doctor, almost immediately captured, and thrown in jail. (An aside- during this time, prisoners were kept in the Conciergerie before they were sent to the guillotine. It was an old castle that was repurposed as a jail. It’s now a museum. I’ve been there! It’s pretty cool, if gruesome.)
Anyway, Barbara is planning her and Susan’s escape as soon as they’re thrown into the cell. They start digging, and when they run into rats, Susan freaks out. Barbara has to promise that they won’t dig anymore. That’s right- Susan prefers certain death by beheading rather than seeing some rats in their escape tunnel. Susan is incredibly whiny in this episode. She is far worse than usual. I’m not going to miss her when she leaves soon. Susan does the same thing when they’re on the cart heading to the guillotine. Barbara has a plan for them to escape, but Susan starts whining about how she can’t do it, so Barbara stays with her instead of running. Really, Susan? You choose death again over not being whiny?
This is a pretty horrifying period in history, and the Doctor enjoys himself way too much. He wanders through the French countryside; he dresses up; he has fun- all while massive amounts of people are being murdered in cold blood. It struck me as incredibly odd when Susan said that this was the Doctor’s favorite period in Earth’s history. Barbara is the only one of the TARDIS crew in the episode that seems to take this time period seriously. She and Ian have a pretty intense fight about it after he is callous about someone being killed. To be honest, it surprised me that he was so cold about someone deserving to die. That seemed out of character.
Barbara is great in this episode, and not just because she has the advantage of being a history teacher. Oh, and one of the French dudes has the hots for her, but dudes always have the hots for Barbara, wherever she goes. Take note, Ian. You aren’t the only one. Barbara and the Doctor have an interesting exchange about changing history. Barbara says that she learned her lesson with the Aztecs, and the Doctor replies that history will happen as it was written.
So long, season one. Bring on season two!
Companions: Barbara, Ian, Susan
Episode: #8, “The Reign of Terror,” six parts- ‘A Land of Fear,’ ‘Guests of Madame Guillotine,’ ‘A Change of Identity,’ ‘The Tyrant of France,’ ‘A Bargain of Necessity,’ ‘Prisoners of Conciergerie’
Adversary: French revolutionaries
Classic Lines: Barbara, to Ian: “You check your history books, Ian, before you decide what people deserve.”
Tuck This Away to Impress Your Friends: Susan claims that The Reign of Terror is the Doctor’s favorite time period in Earth’s history.
Next Up: “Planet of Giants”