An Unearthly Child
London. 1963. It is a foggy night and within the fog lies a mystery about to unfold. A policeman walks his beat late at night, shining a torch as he goes. Nearby, a clock chimes 3 am. He shines his torch on a wooden gate along one side of the street. It reads: "I.M. Foreman - Scrap Merchant - Totters Lane". The policeman pauses a moment, but quickly moves on, unaware of the anomaly which rests inside the yard. As he goes, the wooden gate creaks open. Standing in the midst of all the scrap metal, rubbish, and cast-offs is a tall blue metropolitan police box. It is out of place hidden back here, but that is not the most mysterious aspect of this particular police box. It is also ever so slightly humming - as if alive with power.
The next evening, at Coal Hill School, a bell rings and a group of students leaves their classrooms heading home. They are full of stories and high spirits as young people will be, but one of them is causing more than the usual headaches for her teachers. History teacher Barbara Wright leaves her classroom, calling back to a girl called Susan to wait for her. Barbara enters the adjacent classroom to find her colleague, science teacher Ian Chesterton, clearing up after his day. Barbara is clearly in a bad mood and Ian must tread carefully to get her to explain her problem.
She says her problem is Susan Foreman, a 15 year old girl. The girl waiting in Barbara's classroom next door. Ian laughs as he knows the complaint; he is convinced that Susan knows much more science than he does, yet she is apparently trying to hide what knowledge she does possess. Barbara has the same conviction, but it has gone further for her. She tells Ian that she has been encouraging Susan to specialise her study of history, which the girl seemed keen on until Barbara offered to tutor her at home. Suddenly she dropped the idea, saying that her grandfather - her guardian - doesn't like strangers. Ian has heard that the man is some kind of doctor and doesn't buy the excuse any more than Barbara did.
Barbara explains that she got even more concerned recently when Susan's homework began to suffer. So she got the girl's address from the school secretary - 76 Totters Lane - and went there to talk to Susan's grandfather. However, she found nothing at that address but a junkyard. She is certain the address is right and now doesn't know what to do. Ian gallantly offers to help her get to the bottom of the mystery. Barbara suggests going to the address tonight and waiting for Susan to arrive and see where she goes. Susan has not yet left for the day and is waiting next door for a book Barbara is to lend her on the French Revolution. Ian agrees to the plan, and Barbara is glad for her new ally.
In the next classroom, Susan Foreman waits. She looks like a normal 15-year-old girl, but possesses a strange unearthly quality in her coolness and dark-eyed gaze. She listens to a bright pop tune on her transistor radio, moving oddly to it with one hand and swaying slightly. The music seems to have transported her far away. Ian and Barbara enter and snap her from her trance. She carries on about the artists - John Smith and the Common Men. Susan gains a new appreciation of Mr. Chesterton when he knows all about "John Smith" and his musical career. She turns the radio off at Ian's request.
Susan takes the large book from Barbara, promising to return it tomorrow morning. She is sure she will have finished the entire thing by then. Ian suggests giving Susan a lift home as he is also taking Barbara, but Susan turns him down quickly. She likes walking home in the dark; she finds it mysterious. She even seems happy at the possibility of another foggy night. Ian and Barbara depart, leaving Susan on her own. The girl opens the book on the French Revolution, reads one piece of information, and seems to know immediately that it's not correct!
A short time later, Ian and Barbara have reverted to their original plan. Ian's car arrives at Totters Lane and he parks opposite the gate which leads to the junkyard. The same mysterious junkyard the policeman passed by the previous night. The place is truly out of the way. However, now that she's here, Barbara is having second thoughts about what they are doing. Is it legitimate concern or simply being busybodies? Ian doesn't seem to mind the idea of idle curiosity, but Barbara is adamant that there is a true mystery around Susan.
Barbara describes an incident not long ago where her class erupted in gales of laughter when Susan didn't know how many shillings were in a pound. She said in desperation that she thought England was on the decimal system! And when Barbara corrected her in exasperation, Susan stated with obvious conviction that England's decimal system hadn't yet started - as if she knew it soon would. Ian agrees that her actions don't make sense and adds his own incident: He recalls an experiment with litmus paper where Susan not only knew the answer before they started, but didn't seem interested in the experiment at all. Dealing with two inactive chemicals - the whole point of the exercise - was so simplistic to her that it was beneath her. Barbara agrees, a note of frustration entering her voice, saying that she often wants to deliberately trip her up. The gaps in the girl's otherwise brilliant intelligence are almost as puzzling as what she does know. But Ian adds that her knowledge itself often trips her up as well. He relates a three-dimensional problem Susan could not answer. She swore it was impossible to do the problem without using the dimensions of time and space as well.
Ian sums up the mystery: an otherwise normal-looking 15 year old girl who is exceptionally brilliant at some things and excruciatingly bad at others. He and Barbara are united in their desire to find an answer, just in time as Susan appears out of the gloom and enters the junkyard. She looks around furtively before going inside. Ian suggests one last possibility - Susan may be meeting a boy in there - and Barbara hopes this is true. It would be so normal. But it seems clear to her that there is more to the mystery than that. Barbara is even slightly worried about what they'll find - as if they are about to interfere in something best left alone.
Ian grabs a torch and the two teachers cautiously enter the yard. It is crammed with loads of junk and cast-offs. Old dressmaker's dummies loom out of the darkness, as if watching them. It is utterly quiet and there is no sign of Susan or anyone else. She must be hiding from them. Searching in a particularly dark corner, Ian trips over some old furniture and the torch flies from his hand. It hits the flagstones and turns itself off, skittering away into the darkness. His frustration grows as he cannot find it. He and Barbara then start calling out for Susan, but there is no answer.
They are certain that Susan couldn't have left the yard unseen, so they look for obvious hiding places. Barbara is the first to notice the police box sitting in the middle of the yard. It clearly doesn't belong there, but out on a street corner somewhere. Ian joins her to examine it and is taken aback when he touches it and feels a vibration. It is also humming quietly and he believes it is alive! Barbara is more practical, but thinks it a convenient hiding place. However, the door is locked and Ian walks all around it. It is not connected to anything else. Ian seems inordinately concerned about the police box, but Barbara has had enough and decides to go and fetch a policeman. They turn to go, but are stopped by the sounds of a distant cough and movement outside the gate. Someone is coming.
Ian and Barbara hide behind a bin, watching as an old man enters the yard, walking in as if he owns the place. His clothes are distinctly old-fashioned, topped by a striped scarf and an odd fur-trimmed hat. After a short coughing fit, he crosses directly to the police box, producing a key. He opens the door a crack and Susan's voice issues from it, calling to her grandfather. Barbara is so concerned she speaks out loud. The old man slams the door shut and looks around sharply for the source of the noise. First Ian is forced to stand up and address the man, and then Barbara. The old man is understandably suspicious and cranky. Ian states their business, mentioning that Susan is one of their pupils. The Doctor seems to have suspected they were connected with the police. But when Ian tells the man that he heard a girl's voice from inside the police box, the man becomes outright dismissive, calling his supposition unreasonable. When Ian asks to have the box opened, the old man instead goes off to investigate an old picture frame nearby, studying it intently.
Barbara tries a gentler tack, saying they're just worried about the girl, but the old man is even more dismissive. He suggests they leave at once. Ian grows angry, but the old man will not be bullied. He denounces their high-handed behaviour. Ian decides to go and fetch a policeman to force him to open the box, intending to bring the old man with him. Both Ian and Barbara know they cannot force him, even though it seems clear to them that he's got Susan locked up inside the police box. Ian tries to call to her through the door, but succeeds only in playing into the old man's hands. He again dismisses their wild suppositions and refuses to help. With nothing else for it, the two teachers decide to go for a policeman, a plan which the old man approves of for some reason.
However, before they can leave, Susan opens the police box door from inside and calls again to her grandfather. The Doctor shouts to her to close the door quickly and moves himself toward the box. Ian grabs him first and stops him. As the two struggle, Barbara hurries toward the door. She stumbles on her way and barrels through the police box door. But instead of a cramped dark cupboard, she finds herself on the threshold of a large, futuristic, gleaming-white room. She is stunned.
Ian follows Barbara inside. The old man enters too. He is Susan's grandfather, the Doctor, and this strange place is his domain. He orders Susan to close the doors, fully in control here. Susan does so by activating a switch on the hexagonal control console in the centre of the room. The Doctor is angry at the intrusion of the two schoolteachers, blaming their interference on the fact that he and Susan have "stayed in one place too long". Poor Ian is dumbfounded, staring in awe at his surroundings - all this inside an ordinary police box. But Barbara is still focused on her concern for Susan and peppers her with questions.
Ian's protestations of the absurdity of the giant room inside the tiny box finally set the Doctor off. He dismissively explains the different dimensions inside and out by the analogy of television. And when Ian doesn't understand, the Doctor laughs him off condescendingly. But beneath that is a real concern - that these intruders will tell everyone about the ship. Susan explains that they are inside a ship called the TARDIS - Time and Relative Dimension in Space - which can go anywhere in time and space. Neither Ian nor Barbara can believe such a fantastic story, even though Susan swears it is all true. The Doctor tells Susan they cannot be expected to understand something so far beyond them, likening their disbelief to that of the Indians seeing their first steam train. The insult is clear. The Doctor tells them that he and Susan are wanderers in the fourth dimension, cut off from their own planet and time. He vows that they shall go back one day.
Susan cuts through her grandfather's reverie, knowing what he is really thinking. She urges him to let the humans go. They don't understand any of this and can't really do any harm even if they do talk to someone. The Doctor flatly refuses to let them go. Barbara tries to appeal to Susan, their only ally here, but she slips into a slightly condescending teacher-student mode. She tries to make the girl see that her story is an illusion or a game. Growing more desperate, Susan tells them that she is from another planet and time. She and her grandfather have just been visiting here for the past 5 months, but she has truly loved England in the 20th century. She doesn't want to leave, but their interference seems to have made that impossible.
Ian gives up trying to reason with her and goes toward the large double doors which lead out. They are firmly closed. Ian then heads for the console, trying to remember where the door controls were, but the banks of controls are numerous and complex. The Doctor laughs at him mockingly. When Susan will not go against her grandfather and open the doors, Ian decides to chance it himself and activate a switch randomly. However, the Doctor has secretly electrified the panel. Ian is given a nasty shock which throws him to the floor. The Doctor still gloats over his superiority.
Barbara shouts angrily at the Doctor as she helps the shaken Ian. Susan joins in, begging her grandfather to let them go. But he will not, certain that they will tell someone about the ship and all they've seen. How can they not? If Ian and Barbara are set free, he and Susan must go too. Susan is visibly upset about this - she truly wants to stay here. She goes so far as to threaten to leave him and stay here on her own if he insists on going. She says this with great conviction and the Doctor appears to believe her, even though he thinks she is being childish. He finally agrees to let her go with Ian and Barbara.
However, he was simply playing along with her. As soon as Susan's back is turned, he activates several switches that are definitely not the door controls. The ship gives a lurch and the lights dim. The clear glass rotor in the middle of the console lights up and begins to rise and fall. Susan tries to pull her grandfather away from the console, but he is determined to complete his task. He activates more buttons and switches and a raucous grinding engine sound rises and falls through the ship. They are now in flight, leaving London far behind.
The journey is too much for Ian and Barbara to bear. Barbara collapses onto a chair and Ian lies unconscious on the floor. Shortly, the journey is over and the noise, light, and movements settle into stillness.
Outside, the police box shell of the TARDIS no longer sits in an English junkyard. Instead, it is a barren landscape of sandy ground and scrubby trees. A cool wind blows. Suddenly, a large humanoid shadow falls across the TARDIS...
The Cave of Skulls
The shadow across the TARDIS does belong to a human. But this is no modern man. He is a primitive cave dweller, wild-looking and wearing animal skins for clothing. He watches the TARDIS intently.
In a small encampment not far away, more of the primitive humans are gathered. They are encircling one man, called Za, watching intently as he concentrates over a pile of old ash and new sticks in front of him. He is trying to make fire, but is using nothing more than concentration, grunts, and the remnants of a long-dead fire. Beside him a young woman called Hur encourages him. But another woman, known as Old Mother, mocks his efforts. She does not want to see fire made again, believing it leads only to ruin. Za's own father was killed because he could make fire. But Za is determined to do it, knowing it will cement his position as leader of the tribe. He curses the Old Mother for her mockery.
Za throws himself into his efforts, Hur at his side. However, Hur whispers urgently to him that much is at stake if he should fail. The stranger who has recently joined the tribe, Kal, has been making inroads with the elders by providing them meat every day. Za only sits day after day, failing to make fire. There is talk that Kal should be leader and that Hur should be given to him. Fearing the implications of all this, Za redoubles his efforts, growing increasingly angry when the fire will not ignite.
Inside the TARDIS, Ian and Barbara come to. They are disoriented but otherwise unharmed. They watch for a moment as the Doctor and Susan go through some instrument checks. Above them, a television screen shows a picture of a barren landscape. The Doctor seems concerned that an instrument called a "yearometer" is not calculating properly. He soon notices Ian and Barbara awake. She is the first to speak, seeming to believe that they have indeed travelled through space and time. The image on the scanner seems to convince her, but Ian does not believe that is really the view outside the ship. He wants concrete proof.
Susan again tries to convince Ian that her grandfather is telling the truth, but Ian refuses to do so, ordering "Doctor Foreman" to open the doors and prove what he is saying. It is clear that this is not the Doctor's name and the old man becomes even more disdainful of Ian's close-mindedness. He returns to his instruments, finding the atmosphere suitable and the radiation level normal. He is now prepared to open the doors. He knows they have gone backward in time from 1963, but without fully functional instruments, he will need to take samples of plants and rocks in order to make a proper estimate.
Ian, however, still refuses to believe his story of time travel. His tone grows even more incredulous as he tries to make the others realize that time doesn't go round in circles, allowing people to get on and off. The Doctor laughs off Ian's naivete and turns to Barbara. She cannot explain why, but she just believes the Doctor and Susan. She seems excited by the prospect of time travel. With that, the Doctor touches a control and the doors glide open - he will now give Ian the proof that he wants. Through the doors, the same bare landscape is visible as on the scanner screen. Ian cannot even believe his own eyes. The Doctor, tired of dealing with the young man's disbelief, picks up some equipment and leaves the ship to begin his investigations. Barbara and Susan lead a disbelieving Ian out after him.
The Doctor emerges into the weak sunshine and looks around. To him, this new place is a mystery waiting to be explored. He seems concerned that the TARDIS still looks like a police box on the outside, but gives it little thought before moving off from the others. None of them notice the primitive man watching them.
Barbara has wasted no time in exploring her new surroundings. She has found an animal skull half-buried in the sand. She tries to engage Ian's attention, but he is still reeling from the reality of time travel, proven before his eyes. The skull could be anything - any kind of creature in all of time and space. Susan notices the police box shell of the TARDIS for the first time, and she too is concerned. She explains that it can change its appearance to disguise itself wherever it goes. It has been an Ionic column and a sedan chair among other things. But this time, it hasn't happened. It appears to be stuck as it is. But Susan too is more interested in this new place and is soon off to find her grandfather, thinking the skull might be useful to him in his investigation.
Noticing her colleague's lost expression, Barbara tries to draw him out. Ian is facing the shock of knowing that he was wrong, about time travel and probably a great many other things. He is very much at sea. Barbara believes they should just accept what they can clearly see to be true, but Ian still has one or two questions for the Doctor. He realises suddenly that they don't even know anything about this Doctor, not even his name. Susan returns momentarily, slightly panicked that she cannot locate her grandfather. She also feels as if they are being watched.
The Doctor has wandered off, and now sits on the ground in an area nearly surrounded by high rocks. He is hidden from the others. His equipment is all round him. He stops his investigations for a moment, igniting a match to light a pipe. Suddenly, the primitive emerges from his hiding place and leaps on the Doctor, who cries out in surprise.
Ian, Barbara, and Susan hear the cry and run toward it. When they reach the rocky enclosure, there is no one there. However, the Doctor's equipment is still scattered about, including his Geiger counter, which is smashed. Susan starts to get hysterical, fearing for his life. Barbara thinks he may have just wandered off a little way to investigate something else, but Ian knows it is also likely he may have been taken by someone or something. Susan has gone to look over the little hill of rocks, but has seen no sign of her grandfather. When she finds his precious notebook abandoned on the ground, she is certain that something terrible has happened. Ian calms her down, assuring her they will find him. Susan tells him of a tree line she saw in the distance, with a gap in the middle that might be a path. He thinks that the best place to begin looking. Before leaving, Ian puts the broken Geiger counter back down on the ground, his hand coming in contact with the sand for the first time. He notices with some concern that despite the unbroken sunshine, the sand is freezing cold.
In the tribal camp, Za has been unsuccessful in making fire as he has promised. He confers with an ally - Hur's father Horg - in the tribe's cave. But even Horg now speaks favourably of the stranger Kal. Kal has been hinting that he may know how to make fire, but Za discounts this. In the last cold, all of Kal's tribe died - Kal did not save them by making fire. He only survived because he found this tribe, who took him in. Za is certain that Orb, the great sun god, will show him how to make fire, as it was with his father. But Za might just have to spill some blood to maintain his leadership until that time.
Za's reverie is interrupted by the sounds of a commotion outside the cave. It is Kal, the stranger, returning to the camp with a prize: the unconscious Doctor! Kal dumps the Doctor onto a stone and taunts Za, who has clearly failed again to make fire. He then announces that he has brought this "strange creature" - the Doctor - to make fire for them. He explains that he saw a "new tree" appear and that this creature came from inside it. He saw the creature make fire come from his fingers and smoke come from his mouth, describing the TARDIS, the match, and the pipe as best his primitive mind can do. Za denounces this as a series of lies, going so far as to grab Kal threateningly, but Kal's bravado cannot be matched at this moment. He speaks out against Za's continual inability to make fire - his broken promises - and the gathered tribespeople listen to him closely. Za's anger grows.
The Doctor begins to stir and Kal presses his advantage. He promises to make this creature make fire for the tribe, to fend off both the cold and the marauding tiger. And if he does so, Kal insists on being made leader. The tribe is torn over this; most of them want fire, but Za points out that this miraculous "creature" is just an old man in strange skins. It seems unlikely that fire could live inside him as Kal says. Hur proposes the eminently sensible solution of forcing the creature to make the fire as Kal claims. But this suggestion only sets Kal and Za at each others' throats again. The Doctor is now fully alert and aware of the situation. He leaps to his feet. He is somewhat frightened by the unstable situation and his part in it, but he tries to take control, telling them all that he will make all the fire they want if they'll just let him go.
Again Kal and Za spar over who can claim the right to this creature and the fire that he makes. They are slow to realize that something is wrong. The Doctor searches his pockets for his matches, then realizes with mounting horror that he dropped them in his struggle with Kal. He tries to tell the cave dwellers that he will make fire for them if they take him back to his ship, but the communication takes a moment to sink in. Soon enough Za realizes what is happening - Kal has lied. The creature cannot make fire as he said. The crowd's anger rises to fever pitch, not just against Kal but against the Doctor as well. Za stirs them up further with a speech denouncing Kal's own broken promises and soon the tribe is united against the two strangers.
Kal becomes increasingly desperate and grabs the Doctor violently, trying to force him to make fire. The Doctor is helpless. Za continues to exhort the crowd and to taunt Kal. Suddenly, Kal grabs the knife-sharp stone implement from his belt and brandishes it at the Doctor, demanding he make fire now! When he does not, Kal raises the knife, intending to kill him.
All at once, pandemonium breaks out as Susan, Ian, and Barbara burst into the encampment. There is a mighty struggle and much shouting. Ian grapples with Kal and Za produces a stone axe with which to attack Ian. The Doctor sees this and stays him by denying them fire if Ian is killed. This seems to register and the fight is soon over. Calm returns, but Kal and the suspicious Old Mother urge the tribe to kill all of the strangers. But Za has the most power at the moment and his word is law. In the morning, when Orb the sun god returns, the four strangers will be sacrificed. Then, he is sure that Orb will relent and give him the secret of fire. The strangers are taken away to the Cave of Skulls.
Horg tries to keep his daughter away from Za as the tribe begins to disperse for the night - he is disturbed by all that has happened here and questions Za's ability to lead. However, Za reminds Horg that his days as a mighty leader are well past. Hur adds to this, saying that if he relents and gives her to Za, when he is fully in control, he will show favouritism to the ageing Horg. Horg does relent, but this argument does not sway the Old Mother. She still fears fire, saying it will kill them all in the end. Za does wrong by pursuing the secret of fire by keeping the 4 strangers alive. But Za has spoken and they will be kept alive until their sacrifice at dawn.
Inside the cave, the four travellers are bound hand and foot with tough strips of animal hide. All 4 struggle against their bonds as soon as they are left alone. Barbara is frightened and Ian tries to comfort her. The Doctor blames himself for their predicament and appeals to Ian to free them.
Taking in their surroundings, the Doctor notices a foul stench in the cave, and then something even more gruesome. They all turn to see the large pile of human skulls - all split wide open...
The Forest of Fear
Later that night, the tribe sleeps communally in the main part of their cave. However, there is one member of the tribe who does not rest - the Old Mother. Checking to make sure that everyone else is asleep, she gets up and approaches Za quietly. She takes his knife from where it lies beside him, her look one of undisguised malice.
Meanwhile, Ian, Barbara, Susan, and the Doctor are all very much awake and trying desperately to saw through their bonds with broken shards of rock. But it is not going well - the rocks are too soft and crumble with use. The Doctor seems to be on the edge of despair, nothing that even if they can get free, they'll never be able to move the giant stone which now blocks the entrance to the cave. But Ian insists there's air coming in from somewhere. He knows it's a thin hope, but still bristles when the Doctor tries to shoot it down. The situation is wearing on them and trust among them all is clearly at a minimum. Ian angrily tosses away another stone when it disintegrates in his hand. Barbara begs him not to give up. The Doctor suggests using some of the bones piled nearby as they may be sharper and firmer. It is his attempt at conciliation. He also suggests that Ian's bonds should be cut first. Ian is the strongest, the Doctor reasons pragmatically, and he may be called upon to defend the whole group.
In the main cave, the Old Mother clutches the stolen knife and heads out, unaware that Hur is now awake and watching her. The Old Mother leaves the main cave and walks straight past the sealed entrance to the Cave of Skulls. She goes instead to the scrubby bushes beside the cave and pushes through them, another destination in mind.
The Doctor has worked at sawing Ian's bonds but has only made a little progress. He hands the jagged bone to Susan to have a go while he rests his hands. He exhorts them all to think positively, advising the nervous Barbara to concentrate on remembering the route back to the TARDIS. She is touched that he is trying to help her occupy her mind and fight her fear. Fear, he says, makes companions of them all. He admits that fear is with them all, but tells her that hope is stronger than fear.
Hur has now awakened Za and manages to keep him quiet. She points out the Old Mother's absence as well as the absence of his knife. A look of anger creases Za's face as he grabs a stone axe nearby and leaves the cave silently, Hur on his heels.
It is now Barbara's turn to saw at Ian's bonds. Susan, relaxing her wrists, hears a noise above and behind her. Turning, she sees a screen of branches pushed away to reveal an opening to the outside. But she screams when she sees the Old Mother climbing in, knife in hand. She enters the cave, brandishing the sharp stone, and tells them in no uncertain terms that they will not make fire.
Now outside the main cave, Hur tells Za what happened. He believes Hur should have tried to stop the Old Mother, but Hur has another plan. She is certain the old woman has gone to kill the strangers, to stop fire being made. If Za stops her - proving an alert leader, even while others sleep - he will gain favour in the tribe and perhaps gain the gratitude of the fire-making strangers. This makes sense to Za, but when he sees the great stone is still in place over the cave entrance, he accuses Hur of lying to him. He shoves her down in disgust, but she gets right back up and goes to the cave entrance, listening at the gap in the opening. She hears the old woman talking.
The Old Mother does not wish to kill the strangers, only to set them free so that they cannot make the fire that she is certain will bring trouble and death to the tribe. The travellers agree not to make fire. The Old Mother seems pleased, but she is startled when she hears the scraping of stone on stone. Someone is trying to move the boulder.
Outside, Za and Hur put all their weight against the stone. Hur thinks it impossible to move, but Za is grimly determined to open the cave and stop the Old Mother. He must.
She has quickly untied the strangers and now directs them out of the cave via the entrance she used. They must flee into the forest. Susan, Barbara, the Doctor, and finally Ian all climb through the opening to freedom. The Old Mother tries to climb after them, but is too late. The boulder rolls free and Za and Hur enter the cave. Za grabs the Old Mother, realising quickly what she has done. He shoves her away and heads for the secret exit, but the old woman is surprisingly spry for her age. She jumps on him and wraps both arms around him to hold him back. But she is no match for Za and he tosses her violently to the ground, knocking her out. The delay has been enough to give Za pause. The strangers have gone off into the night, where the wild beasts rule. He fears for his life if he follows. But Hur will not have her man give up leadership and fire so easily. She retrieves the axe and puts it into his hands. She tells him he is as strong as the wild beasts and will be stronger still with the secret of fire. Stronger than Kal. This apparently is all he needs to hear and he climbs to the exit and goes after the strangers. Hur follows.
Susan and Barbara lead the way through the moonlit forest, keeping a brisk pace. Ian follows them, but must keep one eye out for the Doctor behind him. Breathing heavily, the Doctor is finally forced to stop, leaning against a tree for support. He wants to rest a moment and catch his breath, but Ian returns to him, urging him to go on. He is worried that they're not far enough away from the encampment yet. He even goes so far as to suggest carrying the Doctor, but the Doctor insists he just needs to catch his breath. He's old, not helpless. Susan and Barbara join them, also worried. Susan takes her grandfather's hand and they set out again at a walk. Ian asks Barbara if she is sure this is the right way. She thinks it is, but isn't certain and this frightens her. Ian comforts her, reminding her that at least they are free and that's a start. They hurry off after the others. Somewhere in the forest, an animal roars.
A little further on, Susan and the Doctor enter a clearing. Susan is excited because she recognizes it. Barbara and Ian join them and confirm this. They are not far from the TARDIS now. Ian inquires after the Doctor and receives a snappish reply. They are not truly companions yet. Before they can move off, Barbara is startled by movement in the bushes around the clearing; but when the Doctor dismisses it as nonsense, her nerve seems to break and she despairs that they'll never get out of this terrible place alive.
Ian must again comfort and reassure her and he is not helped by the Doctor's condescending, contrary tone. Ian decides they will rest here for a moment until they're all ready to go. He draws the Doctor aside and tells him that when they resume they should change their order Susan and the Doctor in the lead, himself and Barbara bringing up the rear. The Doctor bristles again at Ian's assumption of leadership, saying bluntly that he will not blindly follow orders. When Ian reiterates his plan, explaining that he believes Barbara did see something in the bushes, the Doctor dismisses it as imagination and the entire group descends into a chilly silence.
Za and Hur, following the strangers' trail, have made good progress. They stop near the tree where the Doctor paused to rest, noting the profusion of footprints there, as well as a broken branch. Za is perplexed over the "skins" they wear over their feet, but the tracks are clear and easy to follow. As they start to head off again, they are stopped by an animal growl nearby. Za is again fearful, certain they were wrong to venture out into the night. Hur tells him they cannot turn back now, but when they go forward, it is with much more caution and with their axe at the ready.
Ian, too, is ready to go again and he asks the Doctor to lead. However, Barbara trips as she stands and falls to the ground. She is near to the bushes and comes face to face with the bloody carcass of a freshly killed animal. She screams in terror, a sound which carries throughout the forest. Barbara rushes to Ian for protection whilst the Doctor examines the carcass. The animal has been killed in a fight with another animal larger and more fierce. But a more pressing problem is the crashing sounds coming from behind them. It is not an animal, but a human - the tribespeople have followed them! Ian urges the group into hiding on the other side of the clearing.
Za & Hur enter the clearing expecting to see the strangers, but it is empty. Hur scans the bushes carefully and notices movement on one side. Za holds her back and goes to investigate himself. He reaches the bushes, again certain he will find the strangers there, but he is stopped in his tracks by the sound of an animal growl right in front of him. There is a split second of horrified realisation before a mighty roar fills the forest and the animal leaps from the undergrowth directly onto Za. He raises his axe as he goes down. Hur's screams of horror mix with the sounds of the struggle.
From their hiding place, the travellers have seen all of this. Ian knows this is their chance to escape and urges everyone to run for it. However, Barbara holds them all back, insisting that they must help the man. No matter who he is, they cannot leave him to die if they can help. She listens to Hur's anguished cries and knows these two pose no immediate danger. She runs out from hiding, followed by Susan who must break free from the Doctor's grasp to do so. The Doctor knows their only chance to escape has been lost.
Ian also goes into the clearing, approaching Hur with Barbara and Susan. Hur is crying and trying to figure out what to do to help her mate. She regains herself as Ian addresses her, wary of the strangers. Ian tries to explain that he is a friend, but Hur is slow to understand. He asks for water and Hur points off in one direction. She does not want to leave Za, but Barbara intervenes and offers to go with her. She takes Ian's handkerchief and the two women go off. Susan watches them go, her eyes catching the Doctor's in passing. He lowers his eyes, an unreadable expression on his face.
Susan returns her attention to Za. Ian's quick examination shows that he is still alive and likely in better shape than first thought. He must have managed to get his axe into the animal's skull and drive it off fairly quickly. Barbara and Hur return and Ian uses the water to clean the blood off Za - it appears to be more the animal's blood than his. His only obvious would is a gash on the side of his head. As Ian and Barbara work to clean the man up, Ian laments the loss of their chance to escape and jokes grimly that Barbara must be a magnet for stray animals. She does not appreciate the joke, noting that this is a human being, not an animal. Ian is properly chastised.
The Doctor joins them finally, anger in his voice as he inquires what they think they are doing. But he knows he has lost this battle. Even Susan sides with Barbara, believing that by making friends with these "primitives", they will be safe. Ian asks the Doctor to help them, but he grumpily announces he's not a doctor of medicine.
Barbara lashes out against the Doctor's superiority and seeming callowness, but he retorts that he is thinking of their safety over the lives of these primitives, for which he will not be faulted. He asks if she's realised that the whole tribe could be descending upon them at any moment, ending all hope of survival. Hur jumps in, announcing that the tribe is asleep, but the Doctor explains angrily that the Old Mother could easily have woken all the others while they have been gone. There is a moment of silence as this sinks in for all of them. Ian is quickly in action, setting Barbara and Susan the task of fashioning a crude stretcher from their coats and some long branches. The Doctor realises what he is thinking and refuses to allow Ian to bring the primitive into his ship, but Ian ignores the protests. Barbara suggests that the old woman won't give them away because she wanted them to escape in the first place. But the Doctor rounds on her, noting that these are primitive people with primitive minds which change as rapidly as night and day. They are not guided by logic but by expediency; he believes the old woman is telling the whole tribe at this very moment.
In fact, the Old Mother has already been discovered, by Kal. He is standing over her as she regains her senses from Za's blow, his eyes ablaze with anger at the absence of the strangers. The Old Mother confirms that the strangers have gone, with Za and Hur in pursuit. Kal is further angered by this revelation, believing that Za will gain the secret of fire by finding the strangers first. It is also clear to him that the Old Mother was responsible for their escape and he decides to take care of her before anything else. He raises his knife as she cowers helplessly on the ground.
While Ian tries to complete the stretcher, Barbara and Susan try to stabilise Za. But Hur is confused by their actions. Why, she asks, do they help gently instead of killing? Barbara tries to explain compassion and friendship, but must resort to utilitarian terms to make her understand: they will make Za well and show him the secret of fire in exchange for safe passage to their own "cave". Za has regained consciousness and has overheard their conversation. Grateful for their help, he tells his mate to listen to them. It is just the breakthrough Barbara was hoping for.
Susan helps Ian refashion the stretcher while Hur goes for more water. Ian tries to get the Doctor to help as well, but he turns his back petulantly. Susan says it is his typical behaviour when he doesn't get his own way. Barbara joins them and completes the work. However, when Za is unattended, the Doctor sneaks over to him, picking up a large pointed rock on the way. Ian sees this and grabs the Doctor's wrist, thinking he meant to do Za harm. The Doctor says he was only going to get Za to draw their path back to the TARDIS. It is unclear whether Ian believes him or not, but he is now ready to go. They have been out in the open too long. He asks the Doctor to carry one end of the stretcher, which he at first refuses to do. But when Ian proposes that the women do his part, the Doctor relents. They all set about putting Za on the stretcher.
Meanwhile, Kal has brought Horg and others to the Cave of Skulls. He says that the Old Mother will explain what has happened, but they find her dead on the floor. Kal doesn't even bother to feign surprise. Instead, he repeats a story he's concocted about Za and Hur freeing the strangers to get fire. Za then killed the Old Mother when she discovered them. Lacking Kal's imagination, Horg agrees with this, speaking for the whole tribe. The devious Kal presses his advantage. Za has gone away with the strangers, taking the secret of fire with him. Who knows if he will ever return. Now Kal is the leader, and he will take care of everything.
The travellers were right about their path and have found the TARDIS as they emerge from the forest. They have only a short patch of open ground between them and the police box. But the group does not get two steps before a group of primitives rise from hiding between them and the ship. They are armed with clubs, spears, and axes.
Ian tries to turn the others around to retreat, but find Kal and some other tribesmen waiting behind. Kal knew the strangers would try to reach their "strange blue tree" and he got there ahead of them. The travellers are surrounded.
The tribesmen return their captives to the encampment. Za, still on his stretcher, is borne along. Kal is proud of himself for having stopped their escape and the tribe seems to be behind him once again. The winds of favour have shifted. Hur tries to explain to the rest of the tribe how the strangers saved Za, but Horg, speaking for all of them, is unconvinced. When Kal accuses Hur and Za of freeing the strangers, Hur tries to refute his story. She learns that the Old Mother is dead, unable to help her, and Kal accuses Za of the crime.
The tribe is horrified at this and Kal senses he has the advantage again. He produces Za's knife from the man's belt, showing the tribe "the knife that killed the old woman". The Doctor sees at once the way out of this. He points out that the supposed murder weapon has no blood on it. It takes a moment for this to sink in to Kal's simple brain. He suddenly drops the stone knife and declares it "bad", saying it does not show the things it does. The Doctor then continues with his plan, declaring Za's knife a good one - the finest he has ever seen. He continues to taunt Kal until the prideful man produces his own knife to silence the stranger. Kal's knife, as the Doctor suspected, is covered in the old woman's blood.
The Doctor then shows the bloody knife all around as the tribe gasps. The Doctor presses his own advantage, approaching Za. Za swears he did not kill the old woman. The Doctor then turns on Kal and states unequivocally that he is the murderer. The tribe is beginning to see the light of truth and Kal drops the pretense, admitting his lie and his crime. The old woman freed the strangers and for this he killed her. The Doctor addresses the tribe, urging them to reject Kal as a possible leader. This man who would murder an old and defenseless woman will eventually kill them all. He then picks up a small rock, urging Ian in a whisper to follow his lead. He tells the tribe they must drive Kal out, throwing his rock. Ian follows suit, realising what the Doctor is up to.
Kal reacts angrily to this and lunges at the gathered tribe. Urged on by Ian and the Doctor, the tribe push Kal away and pelt him with rocks to drive him off. He is unharmed, but stung by the defeat. He disappears into the forest. The tribe is pleased at their success. Za is now on his feet, fully the leader of the tribe. Ian draws him aside and spells out what the Doctor was trying to show him: "Kal is not stronger than the whole tribe." Za sees the wisdom in this and vows that should Kal return, the whole tribe will fight him and drive him out again.
Za then orders the strangers taken back to the Cave of Skulls and the secret exit guarded. This is not the reaction Ian expected, having done so much to help him. He protests, promising to make fire in exchange for their release. But Za has decided. The Doctor orders Ian not to resist as the four travellers are manhandled away. Za tells the guard that if any of them try to escape, they should be killed.
A pair of eyes watch from concealment as the strangers are placed in the cave. It is Kal, his eyes full of anger and his expression set. He is planning revenge for his expulsion, and soon.
At least this time the travellers are not bound as they are sealed in the cave. But all of them are tired, hungry, and demoralised by their experiences. They find that the Old Mother's body has not been removed from the cave, lying in a pool of blood. Susan is horrified and cannot look. Barbara comforts her as best she can. The Doctor pronounces the place evil. Ian confirms this by finding the secret exit now blocked from outside. They are trapped.
Za and Hur talk privately, away from the rest of the tribe. He is still trying to decide what to do about the strangers and asks her what happened after he was attacked by the animal in the forest. Hur explains how the strangers helped and revived him. She cannot understand why they did it, especially the young man. He was gentle and did not kill, even when he had the chance. She even learned the young man's name: "Friend". Za is convinced that these strangers are members of a new tribe from far away. They are not like this tribe, nor like Kal's people. They possess much wisdom - valuable knowledge that he wants. He has been thinking of what "Friend" said about the strength of the tribe and has realised the implication. The whole tribe together can gather more food than one. The whole tribe could kill a large beast while a single person would be killed. The strangers also know other things, including how to make fire, and Za wishes to learn all he can. That is the mark of a true leader. But he is under pressure from Horg and the others to kill the strangers. Za is determined to learn the wise things the strangers know. He will try to do this by friendship, but if they will not tell him, he will kill them all.
Inside the cave, Ian has taken the initiative to try and make fire, hoping this "gift" will convince the tribe to let them all go. He has used his shoelace and some sticks to create a bow with another stick attached. Inside a hole in the ground, he has placed a stone around which Barbara packs dry grass and twigs. He starts working with the bow, sticks, and stone, trying to build enough friction to ignite the grass. He only hopes the primitive contraption works.
Outside, Za orders the guard on the rear entrance to the Cave of Skulls to let him inside. He does so, returning to his post unaware that he is being watched intently by Kal, hiding nearby.
Ian and the others are encouraged by a faint burning smell, although Ian cautions that they are still far from success. Za enters quietly, startling the group when he demands to know what they are doing. He seems uninterested when the Doctor tells him, probably because he's never seen fire made this way before. He addresses Ian, calling him "Friend" as Hur did. He assumes Ian is the leader of his "tribe" as he is the firemaker, but Ian says the Doctor is their leader. Za tells him that the tribe believe the strangers are from Orb, the sun god, and must be sacrificed in order to restore fire. But Za believes they are ordinary men and women from an unknown tribe. He says he will release them to go home as soon as they show him how to make fire.
During this exchange, Ian has continued working, and he thinks he is nearly there. Za realises what is happening and watches intently. Ian tells him that the whole tribe should be watching and learning what to do. But Za is not able to make this leap, noting that only one person can be leader. Ian says that in their "tribe", the firemaker is the least important member. He is attempting to show the "wisdom" of their "tribe", but Za is confused and cannot grasp it. The Doctor adds that every member of their "tribe" is able to make fire, rendering the skill much less important. However, the discussion ends - unsuccessfully - when a wisp of smoke emerges from Ian's fire pit. He orders Susan and Barbara to blow gently on the smouldering twigs and grass. When they do so, a small flame bursts forth, then a second. Ian stops working and adds more twigs as the blaze grows. He has done it. Za is mesmerized by the sight of the long lost flames.
The process, however, has taken quite some time. It is now dawn and the rest of the tribe is awake, gathered in the main cave. Horg speaks for the rest of the tribe, angrily denouncing Za for leaving them with no food for the day. He does not believe his own daughter when she tells him Za is getting the secret of fire from the strangers now. He believes that Za will let the strangers go, just as the Old Mother did, instead of sacrificing them like he should. Hur silences him for the moment by telling him that there is still a guard outside the entrance to the Cave of Skulls.
Unbeknownst to her, Kal has slipped up quietly behind the tribesman standing guard. He puts his hand around the man's throat and strangles him. The main goes limp after a moment, and Kal enters the cave, bloodlust in his eyes.
Za wastes no time in facing Kal when he enters. The Doctor, Barbara, Susan, and Ian retreat to one corner of the cave, looking on in horrified fascination as the two men face each other around the now-blazing fire. The flickering light casts wild shadows over the cave walls. Kal and Za circle each other warily for a moment before the combat begins. They fight ferociously, like animals. Za tries to use his knife, but Kal disarms him and they must fight hand to hand. It takes a while, but Za manages to gain the upper hand. Soon after that, Kal lies helpless on the ground, worn out and defeated. Enraged and determined to rid the tribe of this upstart intruder once and for all, Za kills him, crushing the man's skull with a rock. The travellers are sickened by this brutal act.
As the fight ends, all become aware of shouting coming from outside the cave. It is the tribe, urged on by Horg. They are tired of waiting and tired of Za's empty promises of fire. A man holds Hur securely against her struggles. The rest of the tribe surge out of the main cave, determined to bring Za and the strangers out of the Cave of Skulls.
Ian quickly creates a torch and gives it to Za to show the tribe. He is their only hope here and they must secure his position as leader if they want to ever leave here. Ian wants to leave the cave with him, but Za turns on him and orders them all to stay here. Ian is certain it is a mistake to stay, but the Doctor holds him back, believing that once Za has solidified his leadership on his own, he will release them.
The sight of the flaming torch has the intended effect on the tribe. All words of protest are silenced and they are in awe of the flame and the man carrying it. Za announces that Kal is dead and that he is leader. Horg agrees, crowding near to the warming flame. The tribe cheers in support of Za. Za wishes food and water brought to the strangers, but he is reminded that no one has gathered any food for the day. Za himself decides he will go and get meat, making sure someone stays on guard over the prisoners.
Some time later, Ian laments the failure of their plan. Despite the "gift" they gave Za, they are still prisoners in the cave and have heard nothing from him all day. Shortly, Hur enters the cave to bring them some berries. She tells them that there will be more food - including meat - when Za returns from his hunt. She refuses to listen when Susan and Barbara beg to be released and simply agrees with Ian when he reminds her who gave Za fire. Clearly, they are to receive no special treatment. Ian is angry with himself for giving Za the secret of fire so easily, without a promise of release, but Barbara for one is glad he did. They would all be dead now if he hadn't.
Evening comes and Za returns, providing meat for the whole tribe. They all enjoy the cooked food and the light the fire provides in the gathering darkness. Some meat has also been given to the travellers, along with some water. They are safe for the moment, but very angry that they are still being held. When Za finally enters the cave to check on them, all 4 ignore his questions. The Doctor finally demands to know when they are to be released. Za now understands their anger and announces his decision to keep them here permanently. Their two "tribes" will join together. When he sees that they will not agree to this, he orders them not to attempt escape and then leaves the cave.
The Doctor wonders if there is a way to take the fire away from them - to scare them somehow. Susan, without realising it, provides the answer. She has put one of the discarded skulls on top of a torch and created a grotesque fiery puppet. Ian thinks it looks like a person burning to death and realises they can fake their own deaths this way. Perhaps this will be all the distraction they need to escape.
A short time later, the travellers crouch in one corner of the cave as Hur enters to check on them. She is horrified to see four skulls staring at her, flames bursting from their eyes. Other tribe members coming in behind her see the same grisly sight and all of them fall to their knees, moaning in fright. The travellers waste no time in making good their escape, sneaking round behind the prostrate tribespeople. All four race for the forest.
Za is among the crowd that has gathered at the cave, cowering with the others until one of the skull-topped torches burns up and falls over. Seeing no other bones, Za realises this is a trick and that the strangers have escaped. He is angry and wishes to chase after them. With fire now in his possession, "night is day" and he is no longer fearful of the dark forest. The tribe begin to light torches and move off into the forest.
The Doctor, Ian, Barbara, and Susan do not hesitate in their flight toward the TARDIS this time and there is no talk of stopping to rest. So fast do they run that Barbara loses her footing and falls. Ian helps her up without a word and they continue running at top speed. With their numerous torches, the tribe is easy to spot and they are close behind.
But with enough of a lead, the travellers reach the TARDIS well ahead of the tribe. The police box still stands incongruously on the sandy ground and they all pile inside. All of them hurry to the central console and Ian shouts at the Doctor to get them off quickly. The Doctor's hands work the controls and the ship's flight begins.
Za and his tribe reach the open plain and spot the "blue tree" that Kal described. They chuck spears and axes at it, but they bounce harmlessly off. With a loud grinding noise, the strange object disappears before their eyes. They stare at the now-empty plain, dumbfounded.
Shortly, the Doctor announces that they are beginning to land. Ian and Barbara simply assume they are being returned to their own time and place and are angered to learn that that is "not possible" according to the Doctor. He tells them that without precise details of the time and place that they left, he is unable to set a pre-determined landing point. He cannot return them home. It is clear to Ian and Barbara that the Doctor has very little idea of how the TARDIS really works. They must travel on with him, whether they like it or not.
The ship's movement stops and the Doctor activates the scanner. Outside is a surreal scene full of leafless, ashy-looking trees. A forest of some type, but definitely not one on Earth. The Doctor is keen to go outside and investigate, but suggests they should all clean up first. He asks Susan to check the radiation meter; it reads normal.
However, as the group leaves the console room, going deeper into the TARDIS to clean up, the radiation meter begins to register. Its needle climbs quickly into the danger zone and a red light begins to flash urgently...
|Source: Jeff Murray
The Doctor's reasons for departing from his home planet are revealed in Lungbarrow
It was during this story that the First Doctor was visited by his eighth incarnation, during The Eight Doctors
Although it is never revealed in the series who Susan's parents, or indeed her grandmother, are, in Lungbarrow
it is revealed that Susan actually comes from Gallifrey's distant past, and was the granddaughter of the Gallifreyian pioneer known as the Other, who sacrificed himself to let Gallifrey continue (And appears to have been resurrected as the Doctor).