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Dreams are important... never underestimate them.—The Doctor
Uh-oh. Looks like Tegan isn't quite over her encounter with the Mara, the mind-controlling snake god from "Kinda": not long after they land on the planet of Manussa, she starts having sinister snake-themed dreams.
Possibly these were inspired by her environment. Manussa used to be controlled by the Mara until they kicked the evil snake god to the curb some 500 years previously, an event commemorated by a festival that the TARDIS crew has landed smack in the middle of. Could the Mara be attempting a comeback?
Of course. It's a good time for it, too: Manussa's currently under the control of vain and weak-willed Lon, and no one in the palace believes the Doctor's warnings of incoming doom. Except one token guy, who gives the Doctor a crystal and tells him about an old scholar, who also believed in the Mara and later left society to wander around in the desert and be a monk. Or something. It takes the Doctor roughly five seconds to deduce that the Mara came to Manussa when the ancestors of the Manussans made some kind of giant
magic molecularly-engineered crystal that fed off everyone's hate and fear and thus allowed the Mara to enter. Either he's really good, or someone's been showing him the scripts.
Lon, meanwhile, proves easily susceptible to the Mara's charms, especially when they come Tegan-shaped. Now he's trying to rejigger the Ceremonial Ritual Commemorating Having Kicked Out The Mara into a ceremony to allow them reentry.
- All Myths Are True: The Mara is largely regarded as a fairy tale used to scare children, but guess what...?
- Cassandra Truth: For once the Doctor has trouble getting people to believe him. The other characters think he's mad; his habit of bursting into rooms and spewing panicked monologues about the Mara may have something to do with this.
- Cliff Hanger: Naturally. Part 3 gives us a particularly stereotypical Prepare to Die moment, complete with a rare Nyssa scream.
- Demonic Possession
- Distressed Dude: Once again, the Doctor spends almost an entire episode locked up in a cage!
- Does Not Like Shoes: Dojjen
- Everybody Lives, astonishingly enough for a Fifth Doctor serial
- Gods Need Prayer Badly: For the Mara to return, it must feed off of the belief of the Manussan people. The Doctor throws a metaphysical spanner in the works by finding his "still point" and disrupting the Mara's control.
- Hermit Guru: Dojjen
- I Know You Are in There Somewhere Fight
- I'm Not Afraid of You: how the Doctor weakens the Mara enough to be able to destroy it.
- Impossibly Tacky Clothes: Martin Clunes, the actor who played Lon and who went on to be a sucessful star, is being quoted on the dvd for never quite forgiving director Fiona Cumming for putting him in the ceremonial costume, since whenever he now appears on a talk-show they always show that clip in order to make fun of his earlier jobs pre-stardom.
- Sarah Sutton cheekingly said during the dvd-commentary when the Costume showed up that "You can only make the young wear something like that, anyone with some experience and confidence under their wings would take one look at it and flat-out refuse."
- Meaningful Name: Manussa. Swap a syllable and you get Medusa, who famously had hair comprised of the Mara's bretheren.
- Mind Control: Tegan and the Mara
- Retroactive Recognition: Lon is Gary from Men Behaving Badly and the titular Doc Martin
- Royal Brat: Lon
- Shout-Out: Takes place in a very Gormenghast-like kingdom
- Sissy Villain: Lon
- You Have to Believe Me: The Doctor's method of choice for winning over the Manussans.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The Mara to the showman, almost to the word.