“This is not Troy. This is not even the world. This is the Journey through the Beyond.” – Katarina
This missing story requires a few listenings to appreciate. It’s a historical drama but an oddity in that the characters of Greek myth are treated as historical realities. To his credit, Donald Cotton makes the mythic situations more down to earth (Achilles is a regular soldier rather than a divinely protected being, Cyclops is a man with an eyepatch, Odysseus is an unlikeable pirate) so that it actually is just a story of warring kingdoms. You can say that it’s intended that these real individuals are the ones that become bigger legends in the future; Cotton spells this out more explicitly in his novelized version of the story (referencing why the title is the ‘myth makers’). Of course, you could argue that it’s actually the Doctor and his crew that are the ones making the myth, because it is they who introduce the larger than life idea of the Trojan horse and it turns out that Vicki is the future legendary Cressida. (Not to mention that the Doctor seems to confirm that he is Zeus as his TARDIS temple fades from sight.)
The writing of the story seems serious at first—Achilles and Hector’s battle is full of big, boasting words. However, the story takes a lighter turn after that with many of the interactions full of witty dialogue and some of the characters like Paris being almost comical in tone. Some of my favorites are:
- The Doctor disappointment at Achilles’ lauding him as Zeus: “To Europa, you appeared as a bull. To Leda, as a swan. To me… in the guise of an old beggar.”
- Hysterical Cassandra: “You will be burned! As a sorceress, a false prophet, and a spy!” Her less enthused father: “Well, as one of them, anyway.”
- The brother and sister bickering and whining of Paris and Cassandra
- Steven’s flattery of Paris
In a way, our regulars don’t participate too much in the course of the story but are rather swept along with it. It’s a surprising story to have as the send-off for a companion. I wasn’t sure that I liked the idea of Vicki leaving abruptly in such an ancient time period, especially since it was ‘for love’, but they actually again did a good job building to it and portraying it very clearly as her choice, even giving her lovely closing scene to show she’s glad at the choice she’s made.
Best unsettling moments:
Despite the farcical nature of some of the story, the actual point of the sack of the city is quite horrific (full of screams) and characters that were a bit silly and funny just before are suddenly facing desperation and death. What makes it even more uncomfortable is that the Doctor (though rather unwillingly) is the one setting all this in motion.
- Mythical characters actually real
- First companion from ancient times
The back and forth with the Doctor helping with the invasion of Troy becomes a bit tedious. It would have been time better spent on developing the introduction of Katarina and how she suddenly becomes so devoted and helpful to Vicki instead of Cassandra. It would have been nice to have more scenes where they bond and also to see Katarina’s reaction at entering the TARDIS.