|Air date||3 - 24 January 1981|
|Written by||Stephen Gallagher|
|Directed by||Paul Joyce Graeme Harper|
|State of Decay||The Keeper of Traken|
A Warrior’s Gait is the fifth story of the 18th Season of Doctor Who featuring Tom Baker, Sexy Romana and K-9. And oh goddamn it, A Dick's in it too - he was literally worse than Hitler. If Sylvester McCoy’s last story was furry lesbian porn, this would be furry gay male BDSM porn I guess. The title refers to how the lion-looking dudes in the story can “walk the time winds”. Time Lords can do this too, but have to use a TARDIS.
It’s a weird Doctor Who story like few others, The Mind Robber being a possible distant relative for being “experimental.” This is pretty unexpected because, although this was John-Nathan Turnip’s first season as showruiner, he hadn’t yet made everything suck and somehow managed to pinch out a couple of good Tom Baker stories before the show circled the drain. The production team made imaginative use of blue-screen technology with B&W photographs to stand-in for sets (cheaper that way!) which only added to the episode's strange atmosphere. This season also saw the show’s budget increase from nine pounds and six pence per episode to a whopping sixteen pounds, which remained the budget until cancellation, so the overall “look” of this season was better. This story’s director was said to have clashed with JNT during its production and this is no doubt why this story turned out interesting instead of the usual JNT suck-fest.
So the Doctor, The Sexy Romana, K-9 and Adric are flying around trapped in e-space, a sort of smaller pocket dimension to ours. Suddenly some lion-looking dude stutters inside, sets the TARDIS to go somewhere, tells them his name is Biro and leaves, breaking time-wind on K-9 and the Doctor's hand. K-9 is damaged and the TARDIS is stuck in a white zone of nothingness, it’s all just white, no horizon or anything, which is sort of like the opening bit of The Mind Robber, see?
The Doctor and crew do find a couple of other things in the white though: one is a slaver spaceship crewed by the kind of incompetent fuck-ups you’d find at any minimum-wage job and their incompetent captain who shouts at them a lot; they sort of remind me of the spaceship crew from ALIEN, except they don’t have a competent Ripley. And then there's also what looks like the ruins of a church’s door. The Doctor find a whole cobwebby banquet room inside and some broken, dusty robots, one of which starts working again and tries to bury an ax in the Doctor’s skull. The Doctor also finds some mirrors that turn out to be time-doors or something.
See, these slaver slack-asses capture those lion guys and sell them to psychically navigate spaceships, sort of like those big mutant spice guys from DUNE. Biro was their slave and sent their ship into the white zone then escaped, so the crew unfreeze a new lion dude and hook him up to their ship to fly it out. He ends up crispy-crittered because one does not simply fly out of the white zone. The crew grumbles about awakening another lion guy because the more they kill like that, the less money they’ll make if they get back. The stupid slavers capture Sexy Romana and want to hook her up to the Fries-A-Lion-O-matic navigation system when they discover her mild psychic abilities, but never get round to it. Meanwhile, Addric is useless as always, wasting time flipping a coin.
So the Doctor meets that Brio lion guy again, and he tells the Doctor about how his race once enslaved the e-space universe from this all-you-can-eat banquet room with their mirrors, because they could walk through the time winds inside without getting all old or something; anyone else who tried it got fucked up like K-9 did by the time winds. So years passed and Beero’s lion family all got lazy and mostly kilt when their slaves revolted by building those robots (called the Gundam) to survive the time winds and to break up their lion party. There's some interesting flashbacking-and-forwarding in time in front of one group or another and the Doctor says he’s sad when they run out of pickles. To keep this story from getting too slow, everyone find out that the white zone is shrinking and will soon vanish, taking them with it into... more nothingness I guess? Extra-extra nothingness. The foolish ship’s captain discovers the mirror things and tries to blast through them to escape, but they just reflect everything back because they’re, you know, goddamn mirrors. So ultimately he gets the bright idea to hit it with his ship's back-blast. The Doctor knows this too will reflect back and make the white zone shrink down to nothing; don’t ask me how that works, I’m not an astrophysicist, but this shit is legit science, yo - Stephen Hawking gets credit as ‘science adviser’ no less.
So somewhere back there, Biro had already told the Doctor to “do nothing”, and just now he realizes why - deus ex machina on the way! Everyone gets back into the TARDIS, Biro gets back into his mirror, and the ship blasts the mirror, which blows up a model of the ruined arches and then the fuck-ups’ spaceship, so those guys are all dead. All the lion dudes stutter away from the burning ship unhurt and Romana decides to stay behind to help Biro free his people, taking K-9 with her because he's falling apart unless he's on the other side of the mirror.
The Doctor mopes about because he's stuck all alone with Adric now, which convinced Tom Baker it was time to quit and marry the Sexy Romana.
After Adric dies, Romana returns from E-Space, and gets elected Lady President of Gallifrey. You go girl! Except that she almost loses the Time War and has to get replaced by a resurrected Rassilon. Also, she got Gallifrey destroyed in the other Time War in the novels, and destroyed 9 times over in the yet another Time War in the audios, so… at least Death Comes to Time isn't her fault, I think.