The Tardis finally lands at Heathrow airport, but it’s entirely by accident, as a timewarp from millions of years in the past has snagged a passing concorde, causing it to vanish. It isn’t long before the Doctor is involved in solving the mystery (with a nice reference to UNIT confirming his credentials), with a second concorde flight plotted along the same course sending them all back through time.
Intriguing as this setup is (and lovely as it is to see concorde in flight!), the plot takes a turn into the convoluted. Admittedly, I liked that they kept the identity of the Master a secret – Kalid is a strange and unusual villain, and his ‘death’ brilliantly grotesque – but for a lot of this story, I was was just left thinking… “what?”. Essentially, the Master is after another Great Power, needing to fix his Tardis and escape the past, but the details go by in a blur.
An ancient race fleeing their world, crashing on Earth and forming an amalgamous consciousness, is a big idea that needs a bit more time to settle in. But we don’t get that much time to dwell on it, because there’s also psychic hallucinations, creatures made from psychokinetic soapsuds, a dead man that comes back to life, a Tardis in a plane, a plane in a Tardis, and a power struggle between the Doctor and Master involving various bits of equipment that block this, inhibit that, redirect this, counteract that. Frankly, it’s a mess. They might as well have just said “a wizard did it”, stuff the dramatic tension.
Peter Davison has to carry all of this burden, and to his credit, he does so very entertainingly, even while the plot is whooshing past at the speed of light. The supporting cast of concorde crew and passengers are unfortunately quite poor. Even Tegan, who should be in her element here, is underwritten and blandly performed. I wasn’t surprised to see her left behind at the end, but if this is her actual departure, it’s incredibly low-key! Even that brat Adric can’t stay away for long, appearing briefly as a hallucination (along with some previous monsters). It all comes down to the Master and Doctor facing off, and this forms the only really solid bit of drama in the story. What a shame. There could have been something good here, but it didn’t work for me.