I don’t think I’ve ever been quite so confused watching Doctor Who before. After three parts, I still had no idea what was actually going on. Lion-faced people, a magic mirror, fragments of a castle in a contracting universe, robotic suits of armour, something about “time winds”, a crew of layabouts in a ship made from something that seems like it should be important but on top of everything else the story is throwing at me, just washes over me in a haze of “buh?”
It’s only in part four that things start to make sense. The lion-faced people are time-sensitive beings who are abused by traders as slaves to pilot their ships through the time streams. They live in the space between dimensions, a sort of no-man’s land. They were apparently a bit nasty in the past, keeping human slaves themselves. The stuff with the mirror? No idea. The best I can say is that it looked pretty cool. Some of the direction is very nicely staged, particularly the slow tracking shot through the ship at the start (someone was a fan of Alien, I take it?). There’s an otherworldly vibe about the whole thing, eerie sounds, a sense of mystery, and the story at least tries to be a bit cerebral, teasing you with time effects. Unfortunately, I don’t think it makes any sense. What was the bit with the coin toss all about? Something about 50/50 chances? What does it even mean? What? WHAT?!!
Admittedly, it probably is a story that benefits from repeat viewings, but that is beyond the scope of this project; each episode gets one chance, and with Warriors’ Gate, that chance was spent with me scratching my head and failing to follow what was happening. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to watch it in four weekly instalments back in 1980. Baffling, I’d guess. For me, it was just boring.
So, Romana is staying behind with K-9. Given she didn’t want to return to Gallifrey, that’s understandable, but the nature of her departure is very spur-of-the-moment and strange. No stranger than anything else that happens, mind you. I suppose I grew to like Romana, but I maintain she has been a non-entity, little more than a mirror for the Doctor, or a mentor for K-9, with little character development of her own. She could have been a role model for Adric, but now that’s not going to happen. And K-9? Well, if he doesn’t come back as another incarnation (Mk.3, anyone?) then I will miss that little metal dog. As for E-Space? I’m glad to see the back of it.