The elderly residents of Hulbrook sanatorium, an exclusive clinic for the rich and famous located on a mountainside in Switzerland, are competing against each other in a battle of wills. It’s a bit of a struggle for most of them as their minds not are as alert as they used to be. Only Mrs Kerniddle seems to have a handle on the game and she impresses the others by adding all seven of her tiles to some letters already on the board to make ’CHECKMATED’. She may not have spoken a word in eight years, but she’s undoubtedly the best Scrabble player in the group. Ludovic Comfort, the director of the sanatorium, congratulates her and challenges the next player, Harry Randall, to follow her example. Harry puts down the word ’TARDIS’, but the others challenge it as they’ve never heard of it. Harry insists that it’s something blue, it has two doors and you can climb inside it. He starts to babble about seeing it out of the corner of his eye, but it causes him pain and the others tell him to stop thinking about it and abide by the rules. One of the other players, Swapnil Khan, suggests they play a different game and Harry chooses Consequences…
The Doctor wakes up with a start and finds himself inside a moving cable car halfway up a snowy mountain. His companion, a woman called Mrs Queenie Glasscock, tells him they’re in Switzerland and heading for a sanatorium where her father is a resident. The Doctor seems disorientated and he can’t remember who he is or how he got here. Queenie tells him her father was the only one who suspected her fiancé was a blackguard and he was proved right when her husband, who she later discovered the man was married already, left her during their honeymoon in Hastings. She says that her father is feeling much better now, considering the fact that he’s quite mad.
The residents select a piece of paper, on which each of them has written a word or combination of words, and begin their game of Consequences. At the end, they congratulate each other - and particularly Mrs Kerniddle who managed to introduce the word ’bananas’ into the game - and are delighted that it’s kept them all alive for another half an hour.
In the cable car, the Doctor finds a piece of paper in his pocket which reveals that he’s a doctor, but little else. He decides to act as though he knows exactly why he’s heading for the sanatorium in the hope that his memories will eventually come flooding back. Queenie tells him Hulbrook is the finest and most famous recuperative centre in Davos. However, business has been poor recently after an incident which led to the unexplained death of the Medical Director Dr Black and the Doctor is pleased to have another mystery to solve. The cable car comes to a stop when they reach the sanatorium and they’re surprised to find there are no staff here to operate the machinery. They disembark and the cable car starts begins its descent. From this high up they can see right down to ground level and they notice all the other cars are empty.
The residents begin a game of Musical Chairs, with Ludo overseeing the music. The first player to be removed is Harry, who graciously acknowledges Mrs Kerniddle’s skilful technique of elbowing everyone else out of the way. They’re interrupted by a ring on the doorbell and Harry thinks it could be his brother Herbert, who promised to visit him this month, but when Ludo invites him to answer the door, he‘s reluctant to do so in case the handle is electrified. They hear a scream from the hallway, which seems to confirm Harry’s fears. The group agrees that their “friends” in the attic are probably responsible and Swapnil volunteers to go upstairs to tell them about the new arrivals. In the meantime, Ludo congratulates the winner of their game - Mrs Kerniddle again - and presents her with a prize of a tin of biscuits. She hands round the biscuits and then they decide to go and administer first aid to their guests.
Upstairs, Swapnil gently knocks on the attic door and tells the people inside there are visitors at the front door. He asks if they have any special instructions and immediately a piece of paper is slipped to him under the door giving a description of the Doctor. Swapnil realises their job is to play with him once again. The note also suggests which game they should play, but Swapnil is worried it’ll finish the Doctor off for good as he knows there’s no cure for electrocution.
Ludo and Harry open the front door and are greeted by an angry Queenie who insists they give medical help to her friend who is suffering from an electric shock. The Doctor is carried into the hall where he’s made comfortable. Ludo suggests there must have been a build up of static in the ether, but Queenie insists it’s a problem with the wiring and suspects it was done on purpose. The Doctor wakes up and declares that he’s feeling a lot better than he did before the shock. Queenie is delighted to see her father, Swapnil, and she quickly fills him in on her terrible experiences in Hastings. When she explains that the Doctor is also suffering from amnesia, Ludo introduces himself as the Deputy Medical Director and says he’s now in charge following the sad loss of Dr Black. Swapnil then introduces the Doctor to Harry Randall who once topped the bill at the Penge Empire (although that was before the war) and Mrs Elsa Kerniddle, the sanatorium‘s resident pianist. Ludo explains that she hasn‘t spoken a word since an undisclosed incident in a rowing boat on Lake Balaton in the summer of 1919.
Ludo tells the Doctor there are only two other patients but they’re both in the isolation ward after being brought here a month ago. As no one has seen them since they arrived, Swapnil believes they must have something contagious, but Ludo insists they simply need rest. The Doctor doesn’t seem surprised when he learns that the isolation ward is located in the attic. Ludo decides it’s time he looked in on them and leaves. The Doctor tells Queenie he believes he’s almost solved the case and says the two new patients hold the key to what’s happening here. Harry complains that he’s feeling odd and Swapnil tells him to sit down, but then he suddenly cries out in agony and collapses to the floor…
Ludo arrives at the attic and asks the occupants to open the door and when they refuse, he threatens to break the door down with an axe. Slowly the lock is released and the door swings open. He’s about to enter when he hears Swapnil’s voice on the staircase as he makes his way up. Keen to avoid anyone seeing the new patients, Ludo quickly closes the door again. Swapnil arrives and says there’s an emergency downstairs and that Harry needs his help. He becomes suspicious that Ludo had the door to the attic open, but Ludo denies this and tells him that would be an entirely illegal move!
The Doctor and the others are trying to make Harry comfortable when Ludo arrives with Swapnil and takes over. A squeaky old wheelchair is brought over and they gently lift him into it. Ludo explains that this happens about once or twice a week, although usually Harry waits until after dinner. Ludo asks Mrs Kerniddle to help him push the chair and tells the Doctor they’ll be back in about an hour or so. The Doctor asks if he can go with them, but Ludo has noticed more visitors are on their way in the cable car. The Doctor wonders what kind of treatment Harry is going to receive and Swapnil tells him it’ll be 300 or 400 volts. The Doctor is furious and storms off after the director…
In the treatment room, Ludo and Mrs Kerniddle place Harry on a table and tighten the straps. Harry tells Ludo it’s no good as he remembers the Doctor visiting them every day, even though the Doctor himself keeps forgetting. Ludo calmly prepares the equipment and stands back, but before he can flick the switch, the Doctor bursts in and demands they stop. Ludo ignores him and switches on the machinery, causing Harry to cry out in pain as electricity flows right through him. The Doctor angrily whips out his sonic screwdriver and, even though he has no idea what it does, he instinctively uses it to destroy the equipment. Ludo is devastated and accuses the Doctor of destroying their one hope of survival, but the Doctor is certain that saving people from electrocution is the right thing to do. He then insists on going up to the attic and is determined not to let anyone stop him. Once they’re alone, Ludo asks Mrs Kerniddle to go to the study and bring him a phial of number 78. Left behind on the table, Harry starts to babble incoherently, as if he still believes he’s performing on stage as the Penge Empire.
The cable car comes to a halt with two new arrivals inside. One of them, Lola Luna, is impressed by the view from the sanatorium, but the other, Harry Randall’s brother Herbert, is more interested in the sandwiches Lola provided for their journey. They’re already aware that the Doctor is inside and comment that he got here a little earlier today, which means he’ll probably have his fingers in everything. The last thing they need is a hero and Lola wonders how they can stop him this time. Every round seems to get trickier and she’s annoyed that the others love the Doctor so much.
Ludo and Swapnil rush up to the attic and try to stop the Doctor using his sonic screwdriver on the door. Ludo insists that the patients inside are contagious, but the Doctor is certain the answers he needs are here. Suddenly the door swings open, but it wasn’t the Doctor who opened the door - it was the two people inside. Ludo pleads with the Doctor not to enter for the sake of the mountain and everyone on it, but he refuses to heed the warning. He enters the room and finds it filled with clockwork devices, including a robot. The Doctor confronts the two people inside - who sound an awful lot like Ace and Hex putting on fake posh accents - but they claim to have no idea who he is!
The two patients tell him they’re here incognito and are both very sick, so the Doctor offers them a second opinion. Ludo enters with Mrs Kerniddle and introduces the couple as the Honourable Mr and Mrs Bunty and Bobo Stetterton, adding that they’re living in the attic so they can stay away from the prying eyes of the gossip magazines. The Doctor asks what the year is and learns that it’s 1926. He’s sure he’s heard their names before, just as he’s certain he’s seen their faces too…yet the two things don‘t go together. He can’t work out whether they’re not who they think they are or whether they’re not who they say they are, but before he can analyse the problem, he’s knocked out by Ludo using a handkerchief covered in chloroform. Ace and Hex are relieved they don’t have to put on their act any longer. They know they can’t keep doing this to the Doctor. Their plan simply isn’t working as the Doctor’s bio-chemistry is too different for it to have an effect. At least they only have to keep it up for one more day and by midnight tomorrow, they’ll all be back home in their own beds. They hear a ring on the front doorbell and realise Lola and Herbert have arrived.
The next morning, Lola and Herbert come downstairs for breakfast. Swapnil greets them warmly and they tell him they were looked after by a big-boned taciturn Hungarian woman with an eye-patch, who Swapnil says was Mrs Kerniddle. Swapnil recognises Herbert as Harry’s brother and knows they used to perform together as comic funambulists. Herbert introduces Lola as the doyen of the Weimark cabaret circuit and explains that she doesn’t sing as often nowadays due to the pneumo-thoracic tube poking out of her chest. Lola dismisses it as nothing and says that on a good day she can still whistle a tune through it. Then she tells Swapnil not to bother continuing with the pretence as he knows perfectly well who she really is and it’s only the Doctor who doesn’t know.
Queenie knocks on the door of the Doctor’s room and wakes him up. She admires his question mark pyjamas, but he says he’s never seen them before in his life. Queenie complains that she’s been kept up all night by a noise behind the walls which she suspects was rats. He tells her some of the cobwebs have been blown away from his mind - he keeps getting knocked down, but every time he gets up again he feels a little stronger and he knows a little more. Just then, Ludo arrives and tells the Doctor it’s time he got up. Queenie hides under the bed as the director enters the room and tells the Doctor breakfast finished hours ago and it’s time for his morning run around the mountain. He’s brought a pair of running shoes for the Doctor and another pair for Queenie, which he offers to slip under the bed for her.
Hex is frustrated that despite everything the Doctor still recognised them, but Ace isn’t so sure as he never gave off the signals he normally does when he’s onto something. Hex hates what they’re doing, but Ace tells him not to feel sorry for the Doctor as he’s lied and manipulated them enough himself. In any case, what they’re doing is necessary. The robot in the attic indicates that the Doctor and some of the others have gone outside. They watch as a screen lights up in the robot’s chest…
The Doctor, Lola, Queenie and Mrs Kerniddle jog across the Swiss mountainside at a competitive pace set by Lola. The Doctor is the only one lagging behind and eventually he invites Queenie to join him as he moves away from the others, down in the direction of the nearby town. The Doctor tells her he’s tired of just running around in meaningless circles and is beginning to feel like a rat in a cage - every time he comes within sniffing distance of a piece of cheese, someone knocks him out or electrifies him. He’s noticed it’s not happening to anyone else and wonders whether someone’s playing some sort of game with him. He says he’s usually very good at games, but when Queenie tells him he’s not as good as her father is, the Doctor decides it’s time they stopped running and visited him instead.
Ace and Hex watch as the Doctor chooses that precise moment to slip on something and comes crashing to the ground. Hex assumes it was a patch of ice, but Ace thinks it’s something else, something that was here before they arrived. At least if the Doctor’s got a smack on the head it might buy them some more time…
Queenie tells the Doctor he slipped on a glass square that had been placed into the ground. It has writing on it that reads: “YOU CAUSE AN AVALANCHE. MISS…” Suddenly the snow on the mountain above breaks free and an avalanche races towards them. The Doctor and Queenie race for their lives, and further along the track, Lola and Mrs Kerniddle do the same. It’s not long before the Doctor notices the avalanche only seems to be following him and he proves his point by moving away from Queenie. The torrent of snow changes direction too. He realises the rest of the writing must have said “MISS A TURN”. He’s playing an enormous game of Snakes and Ladders and is now paying the penalty for stepping on the wrong square. Queenie tells him he needs to find another square to land on. She sees one not far away, but when they reach it the Doctor thinks the instruction is ridiculous because nobody could possibly do what it’s asking of him. Just then, the avalanche reaches him and he completely disappears until the snow.
Hex is horrified and tells Ace the Doctor’s in trouble. She’s not too concerned and says the instructions on the square where the Doctor slipped didn’t sound very terminal. They fiddle with the knobs on the robot’s screen and watch as the Doctor emerges from the snow and literally slides down the mountain like a surfer.
Eventually the avalanche starts to subside and the Doctor crashes through the French windows of the sanatorium and comes to a halt in front of Swapnil and the Randall brothers. They help him to his feet and dust the snow off his jacket. The Doctor reveals that he discovered the ground beneath his feet was made of wood, so he unscrewed a plank and used it to snowboard to safety. He shows them the plank and they see writing on it that reads: “YOU ARRIVE DOWN THE MOUNTAIN ON A WAVE OF SNOW. MOVE ON TWO SPACES”. He’s ended up in what used to be the ballroom, but Swapnil has since redecorated it and it now resembles a gigantic chessboard. The Doctor asks Swapnil who he plays against, but he says he only plays against himself as the others here aren’t chess people. The chess pieces are huge and Swapnil admits that although he carved them himself, it was Mrs Kerniddle who dragged them all the way up the mountain. The Doctor looks at the positions of the pieces and declares the game will end in checkmate in two moves. Swapnil disagrees, so the Doctor shows him by moving the pieces - only to get a huge electric shock which knocks him unconscious again. Swapnil insists that he wasn’t responsible for this, but then Henry hears the strange sound behind the walls again. Reminded of his time in the trenches during the war, Henry decides to fetch his gun from his room.
When Queenie rushes back to the sanatorium to seek Ludo’s help, she finds him walking around the room with a scarf tied over his eyes. He concedes defeat and admits that you can’t play Blind Man’s Buff on your own after all, although it was an interesting experiment nonetheless. Swapnil joins them and assures Queenie that everything’s being taken care of and the Doctor is resting in the director’s study. Ludo offers to look in on him and once she‘s alone with her father, Queenie suggests they leave this terrible place and book in somewhere more comfortable back in Davos. Swapnil tells her they can’t do that, although he refuses to explain why. She sees something in the shadows and wonders what it is, but Swapnil is even more shocked than she is as he wasn’t expecting there to be two of them.
In the attic, Ace and Hex are watching the screen on the robot’s chest. They see someone behind the wall in the hallway and it looks like he’s trying to find a way out. They realise he can’t kick his way through the plaster, but he’s bound to show himself soon and everything’s going to go wrong if either the Doctor or any of the others see him! Hex suggests cutting off some of his escape routes so Ace sends the robot out to disable the cable car. Hex finds the whole experience strange and now he realises what it’s like being the Doctor - always knowing what’s going on but never knowing whether their master plan will work or simply destroy the Universe.
Lola suggests they all play a game of Happy Families and asks Mrs Kerniddle to set the cards up. Queenie can hear the noise again and realises something’s following them from room to room. Swapnil tells her he used to know the man behind the walls, but the electric shocks cured him of that. The man appears to be searching for a weak spot in the plaster. Swapnil admits that he, Ludo and all the others were responsible for bringing the man to Hulbrook and putting him inside the wall. Lola rebukes Swapnil and he realises that if he remember these things, it‘ll be checkmate. The Randall brothers join them and Harry raises his gun towards the group, demanding to know what they’re talking about. Queenie suspects it’s Dr Black that’s been hidden away and, ignoring her father’s pleads, starts calling out to him. The man behind the wall replies to her questions with a series of knocks. Harry insists that Queenie stop what she’s doing and when she refuses, he starts shooting…
The Doctor hears the gunshots and wakes up to find himself strapped to a couch in the director’s consulting room. Ludo assures the Doctor they’re not enemies and says he’s trying to make things better, but the Doctor certainly doesn’t feel better. Ludo asks him if he remembers coming here, but he can only remember waking up in the cable car. The Doctor remembers Ace and Hex and says they were both acting very strangely when he spoke to them last night. He realises everyone here is part of a conspiracy, but Ludo tells him that’s just textbook paranoia. The Doctor believes he’s been lured here as part of a trap and that Ludo is keeping him here with electric shocks and morphine…but he’s learning to resist. Ludo warns him that the more he remembers, the more he’s putting everyone here in danger, but the Doctor has had enough and demands to know what’s going on. Pushing Ludo aside, he crosses over to the medicine cupboard and opens it to reveal a small wooden man, like a ventriloquist’s doll. Suddenly a name comes into the Doctor’s head, as if someone had lifted a curtain. The Doctor asks the doll if he’s the Celestial Toymaker and the doll replies…in a staccato voice not unlike that of Swapnil Khan!
The Doctor wonders how the doll could be the Celestial Toymaker, given that it’s just made of wood and papier-mâché. Ludo is sure he’s heard that name before and the Doctor explains that he’s a spirit of mischief from the Old Times. The Doctor’s memories are starting to return, but he still doesn’t know what Ludo and the others are all doing here. Ludo is unable to answer the question, but is intrigued to learn from the Doctor that the Toymaker enjoys playing games so long as he wins. He’s like a child, although children tend not to kill their opponents when they get beaten. Ludo thinks he recognised the doll’s voice, but before he can say any more, they hear a loud scream from Queenie…
The game of Happy Families is not going well. The Randall brothers wonder whether they went too far with Queenie and ask Swapnil for his opinion as he was watching them while it happened. Swapnil admits that he lost control for a moment and said too much, but his daughter was asking too many questions and she would have endangered them all if someone hadn’t stopped her. The Doctor bursts into the room and demands to know where Queenie is. Lola explains that she fell out of the window while gazing out at the moonlight on the snow. The Doctor goes to the balcony and calls out Queenie’s name and she calls back to him, revealing that her fall had been cushioned by a snowdrift beneath the window. The Doctor rebukes Swapnil for sitting back while his daughter life was endangered, then he steps outside to rescue her. The others return to their card game.
Ludo rushes to the attic and brings Ace and Hex up to date. Not only has someone just pushed Queenie out of the window, the Doctor now remembers who Ace and Hex are and has discovered the Celestial Toymaker is behind everything. Things are going badly wrong and they fear someone’s going to get murdered before too long. Activating the screen on the robot, they tune in to Ludo’s consulting room, but discover the doll has gone, which means it could be anywhere in the sanatorium. Ace says they need to think of something quickly to keep the patients’ minds distracted and Ludo suggests a compulsory talent competition. It could include singing, dancing, dramatic recitations and even juggling. They’ll need a Master of Ceremonies to oversee it and Ludo proposes that Ace and Hex do that. Ace hates the idea, but Hex says the sudden reappearance of Bunty and Bobo Stetterton would be ideal for keeping everyone’s minds occupied and preventing them from thinking about the doll.
It’s pitch black on the mountainside, but the Doctor soon finds Queenie trapped up to her neck in the snow. He drags her free and checks that she’s unharmed. She tells him she was pushed from the window, but she’s not sure who by. She adds that Harry was taking shots at the plasterboard with his old service revolver, trying to hit whatever what hiding behind the wall. The odd thing is that when she fell, she hit a large sheet of canvas underneath the window. The Doctor decides it’s time he confronted Ace and Hex as they owe him an apology…
Ludo summons together the residents and tries to whip up some interest in tonight‘s cabaret, assuring them it’ll be entertaining and therapeutic. The Doctor and Queenie arrive and are surprised to learn they’re going to have a talent competition after everything that’s happened, but Ludo insists that‘s the point as it will help to calm everyone down. Swapnil asks the Doctor what his speciality is and he tells him it’s escapology. Lola starts getting excited and is looking forward to shaking the dust off her vocal chords.
Hex is relieved to be outside the attic after four long weeks. He and Ace start searching for the doll, but there’s no sign of it anywhere and Hex wonders if Ace’s axe is scaring it away. She hides it inside a nearby piano, which is the only personal belonging Swapnil kept after getting rid of everything else. Just as they’re admiring the huge chessboard on the floor, Swapnil arrives and they immediately revert back to their fake posh accents. They tell him they’ve come to ask him a favour - could he increase the voltage on the chessboard as they need a replacement for the electro-convulsive therapy equipment the Doctor destroyed. Swapnil agrees to spend an hour working on it, but adds that he’ll also need to devote some time to rehearsing for tonight’s competition. He and Queenie will be performing the Indian Rope Trick, followed by a spot of fire-eating. Queenie joins them, carrying a gallon of petrol, but she warns her father that she hasn’t forgiven him yet, so if he goes up in flames she won’t be rushing to put him out.
The Doctor finds Harry reading his newspaper and reveals that Bunty and Bobo Stetterton are actually his friends Ace and Hex. Harry says he sees their names mentioned every day in ‘The Tatler’, but he suspects the two people in the magazine must be impostors as their photograph looks nothing like the people staying at the sanatorium. The Doctor notices some doodles of the TARDIS in the margin of the page and realises the Toymaker must have stolen it, but the last time that happened it was in the Toymaker’s own realm, not here on Earth. The Toymaker is a hyper-dimensional being with an entire slither of reality all to himself. Although he sometimes slips out to kidnap new players, he can’t survive outside his domain for very long - so what’s he doing here in Switzerland? They hear a noise and the Doctor realises the Toymaker must be somewhere nearby. He spots the doll sitting in the armchair next to the billiard table and crosses over to greet him…
Elsewhere, preparations for the talent competition are underway. Some of the residents are busy building a stage at one end of the room, complete with a huge curtain, while the others carry on with their rehearsals. Mrs Kerniddle is practising on the piano, and although it sounds like the cold is affecting the strings, Lola assures her it’ll be fine. The Doctor arrives and drags a huge trunk over to the side of the stage. The only people missing now are the guests of honour, but Ludo says they’re waiting in the wings. He decides it’s time to begin proceedings and takes his place behind the microphone.
Ludo begins by introducing the ‘audience’ to the couple who will be acting as compères for the night - the Honourable Mr and Mrs Bunty and Bobo Stetterton. Ace and Hex take to the stage and say how great it is to be down here with the good people of Hulbrook at last. The Doctor calls out and asks if they’re completely cured, and when Hex assures him they are, the Doctor warns him that their opponent is more powerful than they think and he’s able to get inside people’s minds. He promises to set them free from their mind control. The first act of the night is the toast of the Weimar cabaret, Miss Lola Luna. The audience politely claps as Lola begins her performance, accompanied on the piano by Mrs Kerniddle.
While the others are distracted, Queenie uses the opportunity to collect a large carpet bag and slip away. Ace catches her and confronts her just as she reaches the front door. Queenie assures her she just needed a little air, but Ace insists that it’s cold outside and says she should return to the ballroom. Queenie reminds her that she’s a visitor here, not a patient here, and therefore there’s nothing she can do to stop her leaving. Defiantly, she opens the front door and steps out into the night.
Lola finishes her song and receives a brief, but polite, round of applause. Before she leaves the stage, she enthusiastically introduces the next act - Harry and Herbert Randall, the comic funambulists. The Doctor tries to whip up some encouragement from Swapnil, but the performance isn’t to his taste and he admits that he hasn‘t got the faintest idea what the two comedians are talking about. Others in the group clearly share this view and start to heckle them, but then the Randall brothers begin their acrobatics and people start to cheer and clap. Hex takes to the stage to introduce the next act - Mrs Queenie Glasscock, billed as the Female Prometheus - but it soon becomes apparent that she’s gone missing. The Doctor rushes onto the stage and, ignoring Hex’s protests, insists on entertaining the crowd in her place.
Ace runs outside and tries to stop Queenie climbing inside the cable car, but she’s too late and it starts to move away from the platform. Ace insanely jumps across the gap and manages to get inside too before the door slams shut. She’s surprised that the cable car is still working as she’d instructed the robot to put it out of action. Evidently it didn’t do what she requested. She insists on looking inside Queenie’s carpet bag and discovers it contains a Molotov cocktail. Queenie reveals that her plan is to burn down the sky…
The Doctor directs the attention of the audience to his trunk and opens the lid to reveal his old enemy. As soon as the group sees the ventriloquist’s dummy inside, their memories start to return and they all remember being brought here by the Celestial Toymaker. They remember being forced to play his games, but then they challenged him to play all the games simultaneously and together they succeeded in overpowering him. They remember the Toymaker throwing up his hands in horror and turning into the doll. Like the mandarin that he is, they divided him into segments and each of them ate one of the segments. They came to Hulbrook to recover, using electric shock therapy to keep the Toymaker confined within their unconscious minds. All the while they couldn’t remember he was there, he couldn’t escape. The Doctor finds it impossible to believe that a group of humans were able to beat the Toymaker and bring him back to Earth, but Ludo tells him they had help - from the Doctor and his two friends.
Hex is mortified - they only needed a couple more hours and the Toymaker would have withered away. It was the Doctor’s plan all along and he was the one who set it up. The Doctor doesn’t know what to do next as this is the first time he’s tried to manipulate himself. Using the voice of Swapnil, the ventriloquist’s doll announces that the Doctor has lost this time. He orders them all to look out of the window where they can see the cable car moving with Queenie and Ace inside. Hex is shocked as he and Ace had given orders for it to be shut down. The Toymaker wonders what would happen if somebody cut the strings…
Aboard the cable car, Ace tries to assure Queenie that burning things never achieved anything. All the firebomb is likely to do is melt some snow, which won’t help anyone. Suddenly the lights go out and Queenie goes to light her Molotov cocktail. The cable car starts to sway about precariously and Ace assumes the robot is finally following its instructions to disable it. Then the cable snaps completely and the car plummets into the darkness.
Watching from the ballroom, the Doctor and the others are shocked by what they’ve seen. The Toymaker assures the Doctor he wasn‘t responsible, but says it doesn’t matter anyway as it means Queenie and Ace are out of the game…permanently!
The shock sends Ludo over the edge. He complains that he’s been trapped in the Toymaker’s domain for ten years playing electric shock tiddlywinks and poison-tipped pin the tail on the donkey, and he can’t go through it again. He picks up the dummy and calls for Mrs Kerniddle to pass him the axe he saw hidden inside the piano. He takes a huge swing, but before he can bring it down he starts to choke. The Toymaker explains that a direct attack on another player is against the rules and he’s therefore forfeited his place in the game. As a penalty, he takes Ludo’s voice away from him and transforms him into a little wooden doll. The Toymaker reveals that as each of the group lose the games he‘s playing with them, he’ll take back from them the little pieces of his consciousness they stole.
Ace wakes up and finds the cable car has settled on the snow not far from where they were when the cable snapped. She remembers feeling it bounce and Queenie confirms that what they took to be the distant ground was actually a sheet of painted canvas just a few feet below them. They can even see the damage where Queenie’s Molotov cocktail is burning some of the canvas away.
The Toymaker says he knows everyone’s desires and is able to satisfy them. Lola Luna, for instance, wants to have her pneumo-thoracic tube removed so she can hit the high notes and sing again in her own club. He tells the group they must play against each other in games of his choosing and when they have just one triumphant player remaining, he’ll give them what they want. Lola selects Mrs Kerniddle as her first opponent and the Toymaker’s psycho-kinetic powers conjure up a game-show set from the ether. The Doctor and Hex use the opportunity to slip away and head for the attic, and although the Toymaker spots them, he’s not concerned as they weren’t due to play in this round anyway.
The Toymaker takes on the role of a TV host and says he’s going to ask each of the two contestants a question based on one of their surveys. He tells them they asked 100 teachers how many of them have ever been given an apple by a pupil. Lola guesses the answer is 24 and then the Toymaker asks Mrs Kerniddle if the true answer is higher or lower. She points to indicate higher, but the robot reveals the answer was actually just 15. Mrs Kerniddle receives the first electric shock of 200 volts, but she remains standing. The Toymaker then asks Lola whether the next electric shock will be higher or lower. Lola guesses it will be higher, and she’s right. Mrs Kerniddle then receives a shock of 500 volts, which nearly kills her. Lola guesses higher again and on the third shock, Mrs Kerniddle finally screams and is transformed into a little doll. The doll is placed in the toy-box and the Toymaker declares Lola the winner of the first round.
The Doctor questions Hex about what’s happened so far. Hex says the Toymaker had pulled the TARDIS into his world and forced the three of them to play his games, but they organised a revolution and when everyone united together against the Toymaker, he lost and was turned into a toy. The other players were all given new identities to stop them remembering too much, then the Toymaker was brought here in the hope that everyone would be kept in the dark long enough for his powers to fail. It was Ludo’s idea to use the clinic as a hiding place and it was he who brought them here by absorbing some of the Toymaker’s own powers. All the ‘patients’, including the Doctor, had a bit of the Toymaker’s mind lodged inside theirs, but Ace and Hex weren‘t affected so they were put in charge. It was their job to make sure everyone received regular electric shocks to prevent them remembering too much. The Doctor believes Queenie exists outside the plan as Hex doesn’t know anything about her. Suddenly the Doctor smells burning. They open the attic skylight to discover the entire sky is on fire!
In the ballroom, the patients can see the clouds peeling away to reveal that the sky is one huge cyclorama. They realise they’re not actually on a mountain at all and that their whole world is just a stage set. The Toymaker tells Lola that she’s inherited Mrs Kerniddle’s share of his power. He tells Harry and Herbert it’s their turn next and the game is to be ‘What’s My Punchline?’. Lola and the two brothers place their fingers on buzzers and have to guess the punchline to a joke that the Toymaker reads out. The brothers fail to get the answer right and the Toymaker turns to Lola and asks her if she knows the answer…
Hex is shocked when the Doctor reveals that the sky is actually made of canvas. Ludo’s attempt to move them all to the real clinic in Switzerland obviously failed and they’ve actually been stuck in the Toymaker’s domain all this time. This world is one of infinite possibilities, an empty dimension in which the Toymaker can fashion matter out of nothingness. The Doctor admits that his own subconscious must be responsible. This is one of his own traps, but unfortunately he doesn’t know how it works. Hex explains that once the trap was set, the Doctor and Queenie would arrive every day on the cable car, closely followed by Herbert and Lola, and then they’d try to solve the mystery of who killed Dr Black. What none of them realised was that the Doctor himself was Dr Black. Every day he would arrive, work out a bit of the mystery, and then have his memory blanked again by electric shock treatment. Then he would be placed back in the cable car and the routine would go round again. The Doctor spots Queenie and Ace outside in the snow, running away from the fire. They rush out to meet them, hoping they might have a Plan ‘B’ up their sleeve…
By the time the ‘What’s My Punchline?’ game concludes, Lola is way ahead of Harry and Herbert, despite the fact that the Toymaker had been reading out their own material. The Randall brothers realise they’ve been telling the same jokes so often, Lola has had a chance to memorise them all. Nevertheless, they congratulate her on her lovely timing. The interesting fact about old comics is that they never die, they just fade away - and that’s exactly what happens to Harry and Herbert. The moment the two men disappear, their place is taken by the TARDIS. The Toymaker is delighted. He knew the TARDIS had been locked away inside someone’s head, but until now he didn’t know in which one.
The Doctor and Hex race outside the clinic and meet up with Ace and Queenie. They’re impressed by the cyclorama which spreads right around the building, but they realise there won’t be much left of it soon as the flames are spreading rapidly. The Doctor reveals that what started out as a trap for the Toymaker has been turned into a trap for them instead. Hex is confused as he distinctly remembers seeing the Toymaker lose the game and break into pieces. Queenie thinks her father will know what’s going on, but the Doctor has a better idea. He’s worked out what Plan ’B’ is, but unfortunately it’s going to be terrible dangerous…
Lola puts the Randall dolls into the box with the other toy soldiers. The Toymaker tells her to cheer up and think about what she’ll be able to do once she’s won the game. The Doctor and Queenie enter the ballroom through the French windows and he’s relieved to see the TARDIS has returned at last. Queenie reveals to her father that she was the one who set fire to the sky and announces to everyone that they’re not in Switzerland at all. The Doctor demands his prize - the right to play the next game - but the Swapnil insists that because it was his daughter who worked it all out, the prize should be hers. The Toymaker tells Queenie she must play a round of ’Sudden Death’ against Lola. He orders them both to stand either side of his robot and they listen as the sound of their heart beats pump out from a tiny speaker. The winner will be the person with the slowest heart beat and all they have to do is relax. Before long, the Toymaker announces that Queenie is the winner, which means Lola must die. The Doctor insists the game isn’t fair as Lola has a lung condition, but the Toymaker ignores him and transforms Lola into a little doll. Queenie is now the current reigning champion and she notices how all her senses have suddenly become sharper. The Doctor pleads with Queenie to chose him as the next challenger, but instead she chooses her own father. Swapnil accepts and says the game should be chess. The robot sounds an alarm and the Toymaker realises someone is in the attic, attacking the robot’s power supply. The Doctor mocks him and says he can’t be in two places at once, but realising the attackers must be Ace and Hex, the Toymaker sends the robot itself to stop them.
In the attic, Hex is frantically pressing all the buttons he can find, but Ace thinks they need to break the machine up properly. Hex finds a nearby baseball bat, but Ace takes it from him when she realises it’s her own bat from her time at school. If the Doctor and Ludo created this world together, what’s it doing here? Hex has a terrible thought - what if they’re not outside the game at all and the Toymaker’s been inside their heads all this time? Ace thinks that if they helped to create this world, they might be able to play a little game of their own.
Swapnil sets up the huge carved chess pieces for the game with his daughter. Queenie isn’t sure they’re doing the right thing as she doesn’t want to be responsible for anything gruesome. The Toymaker takes position in an umpire’s chair and says that if Queenie wins the game, she’ll move up to a whole new level and she’ll take him with her. Swapnil begins with an opening move taken from a game in Nuremberg, 1906, which surprises the Toymaker as it immediately exposes his King. Queenie begins her counter move…
The robot arrives outside the attic and begins breaking down the door. Ace grabs some paper and pencils and starts drawing a grid so she and Hex can play Noughts and Crosses. The robots bursts in and strides towards them, but they try to ignore it and continue with their game. Suddenly Ace starts to feel really weird…
As they play, Swapnil and Queenie reminisce about their time in Nuremberg watching the chess tournament. Swapnil asks if the Doctor was there too and he says he was supposed to be, but the train was delayed by anarchists on the line. The Toymaker thinks he might have been gazing down from his own domain too, but he hasn‘t won that particular memory back yet. He reveals that he deliberately gave up all his powers because he wanted to know what it felt like to lose. But it feels ghastly and he’s keen to return things back to the way they were. Queenie remembers her father once telling her this game was a lesson in self-sacrifice. The Toymaker realises the game will end in one more move, so he orders Queenie away from the board and tells Swapnil to continue. He then steps over to take his place by the winner’s side so he can share in the victory and retrieve the last pieces of himself from their minds. They hear the sound of an explosion coming from upstairs and the Doctor realises Ace and Hex have dealt with the robot. The Doctor points out that the game isn’t over yet. The robot no longer controls this world and he thinks that if Swapnil and Queenie work together they can make a tiny, but important, change…such as flicking the switch that electrifies the chessboard. Now, both Swapnil and the Toymaker are trapped and if either one of them steps forward to move the final chess piece, they’ll burn.
Ace and Hex return to the Doctor and explain that they played a game of Noughts and Crosses. Ace won and inherited Hex’s piece of the Toymaker’s mind. They all watch as Swapnil and the Toymaker both vanish from the room. Queenie rushes over to where they were standing, but Hex grabs her before she steps on the electrified floor. The Doctor explains that the two chess players are still exactly where they were - it’s everyone else that’s moved. Swapnil had control of the power just for a moment and transported everyone except himself and the Toymaker to the real clinic in Switzerland. Hex looks out the window and sees proper snowy mountains outside. They feel ‘normal’ for the first time in ages and realise their segments of the Toymaker have gone from their minds.
The door opens and a sanatorium orderly enters to collect Queenie. He tells the Doctor, Ace and Hex that visiting time is over and asks them to take their large blue box with them when they leave. It starts snowing outside and the orderly reminds them how cut off they are from the rest of the world. The Doctor says Hulbrook is the ideal place for their friend to recover. They’ll be leaving on the morning train, but he asks if they can pop in to see Queenie once more before they go.
Everything is quiet in the Celestial Toyroom, and that’s how things will stay forever since Swapnil is refusing to play. Swapnil insists that his resolve will never break and wonders how long the floor will remain electrified, but the Toymaker says it could be two thousand billion years. Swapnil has most of the Toymaker’s powers and says he sent the Doctor and the others home, including the other patients from the toy-box. Who knows, they may even recover from their ordeal one day. Swapnil can see his daughter having a tea party with her friends in her room back at Hulbrook. Everyone is there, including Lola, the Randalls, Mrs Kerniddle and even Ludo…but they’re still trapped in the shape of toys.
Queenie wonders if her friends will ever change back, but the Doctor doesn’t know. Unfortunately her father is lost forever in a dream world far beyond this one, but in some ways it was his greatest victory. The Doctor prepares to leave and tells Queenie it’s time to put her dolls away.
|Source: Lee Rogers