Empire of Death

Roots: The story of real life medium Robert James Lees. There are references to Charles Darwin and Robert Boyle.

Dialogue Disasters: 'Why did you kill all those babies?'

Dialogue Triumphs: 'It's one of the joys of being a Time Lord somehow people never seem to question what I'm wearing. Carry yourself with the right degree of authority and I find you can talk yourself out of any difficulty.'

Continuity: The aliens from the dimension on the other side of the rift are telepathic and can change shape, although they can only mimic human form, not the Doctor or Nyssa [suggesting that their shape-shifting is a deep-seated physiological change based on the original template]. Linear time was alien to their universe, until an aborted foetus thrown into the Clyde breached the rift, which introduced linear time and therefore death to them, robbing them of immortality. In their true form, they appear as flailing masses of flesh mottled blue and grey in colour. The Doctor manages to impose a permanent dimensional buffer over the rift, closing it for good and repairing the weakness in the space-time continuum.

The Doctor makes another attempt to visit the Great Exhibition of 1851 before the TARDIS is dragged off course by the aliens. He once more adopts the alias Dr John Smith. He likes kippers and porridge. He hypnotizes the alien posing as James Lees. Queen Victoria appoints him as her Scientific Advisor. He mentions his spectacles, but has left them in the TARDIS. The Doctor gets a nosebleed when recovered from the reservoir, although it isn't clear whether this is due to the change in pressure due to surfacing or an effect of passing through the rift.

Nyssa has started writing a journal entitled Observations and Analysis, A Journal to record her time on board the TARDIS. She has a birthday during this story. Whilst deciding on suitable garb for the period, she tries on several floor-length dresses before settling on an all-encompassing gown of dark cloth. She later changes into her favourite crimson tunic and trousers. It is implied that telepathic contact with the Xeraphin awoke a long-dormant psychic ability possessed by her people (see Primeval). The Doctor hypothesizes that she is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of Adric's death followed quickly by Tegan's departure. The first time Nyssa ever traveled in a lift was with Tegan at Heathrow Airport (Time-Flight). The people of Traken consider patience, tolerance, inquisitiveness, and a wish for harmony and tranquility are considered to be the best qualities of people. According to Traken rituals of death, the soul and body are interdependent; as a result, Nyssa believes that her father can never truly rest whilst the Master uses his body (The Keeper of Traken). Adult women on Traken traditionally wear long gowns and dresses. Nyssa's mother was called Lucina and died in childbirth. Nyssa believes that this was because of her own psychic abilities, since psychic foetuses on Traken were routinely aborted to protect the mother, but Nyssa was not. Fruits native to Traken included feijoa and tamarillo.

The TARDIS contains various portable life-sign monitors, electrographic pulse counters and energy-monitoring systems. The Doctor uses the TARDIS to impose a dimensional buffer onto the rift, redirecting the artron energy by dematerializing the TARDIS; this causes widespread damage to the TARDIS, disabling its chronometric systems. The Doctor has to open the doors using a door crank as a result (see Death to the Daleks). The TARDIS can normally redistribute its weight across five dimensions. The TARDIS contains a portable force-field generator capable of generating a temporal field around the wearer, and tubes of green liquid that give off phosphorescence when shaken (see Frontios). The TARDIS contains a large, circular room with walnut paneled walls, which the Doctor describes as a place of remembrance where he keeps mementoes of past companions in a glass and wood case. These include a copy of The French Revolution (Susan - An Unearthly Child), a scrap of tartan cloth (Jamie), a badge emblazoned with the letters SSS (Sara Kingdom - The Daleks' Master Plan) and the remains of Adric's badge (Earthshock).

Passing through the rift between worlds causes a release of artron energy (see The Deadly Assassin, Four to Doomsday).

Links: There are references to Adric's death (Earthshock), as well as the Xeraphin and Tegan's departure (Time-Flight). Tremas appeared in The Keeper of Traken, in which the Master stole his body and Traken was destroyed. Nyssa speculates that the Doctor has foreknowledge of her future life (Asylum). She has considered asking him to take her to visit Traken before its destruction, but has not yet done so, setting this story before Primeval. There is a reference to Varsh (Full Circle). The Doctor notes that he hasn't ridden in a Hansom cab since 1892 and also recalls the analogy he used to describe Greel's cellular collapse (The Talons of Weng-Chiang). The Doctor mentions the Brigadier.

Location: New Lanark, Dundaff Linn and Corra Linn, 1856; Windsor, London, and New Lanark and Corra Linn, Scotland, February 14th 1863 to February 21st 1863.

Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor isn't sure whether or not he's met Queen Victoria before, claiming that he's lost track of all the people that he's met. He met Felix von Luckner, commander of a German vessel during the Great War, who kept escaping from a prisoner of war camp in New Zealand. The Doctor knew Julius Caesar, describing him as a splendid chap.

The Bottom Line: Whilst not quite plumbing the depths of either Amorality Tale or The Domino Effect, Empire of Death is, at best, a banal and tedious run-around with dull characters and an unimaginative plot. At worst, it's a barely veiled anti-abortion message, which makes no attempt to address the issue in any depth and frankly should have been left alone.

Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke

Other Guides to this Story

Feel free to Contact Us if you have any questions about the site, or any technical problems with it. You may also want to check out our Privacy Policy. There is also an About Us page, if you really want to read one.

Add new comment


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.