War of the Sontarans

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PRODUCTION INFO

Name

War of the Sontarans

Serial Code

Series 13

First Transmitted

7 November 2021

Final Ratings

5.10m

BLU RAY RELEASE

Blu-Ray

DVD RELEASE

DVD

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CAST

Regular Cast

Jodie Whittaker (The Doctor), Mandip Gill (Yasmin), John Bishop (Dan Lewis)

Guest Cast

Sam Spruell (Swarm), Jonathan Watson (Skaak/Sontaran Commander Riskaw), Sara Powell (Mary Seacole), Jacob Anderson (Vinder), Sue Jenkins (Eileen), Paul Broughton: Neville (Dan’s father), Steve Oram (Joseph Williamson), Gerald Kyd (General Logan), Dan Starkey (Svild) (Starkey previously played Sontaran Strax), Rochenda Sandall (Azure), Jonny Mathers (Passenger), Nigel Richard Lambert (Priest Triangle), Craig Els (Karvanista)

CREW

Written by Chris Chibnall
Directed by Jamie Magnus Stone
Produced by Nikki Wilson, Matt Strevens, Chris Chibnall

sypnosis

The Doctor has an unexpected encounter with one of her deadliest enemies when the Sontarans become a new faction in the Crimean War. As the British army goes into pitched battle with the warlike aliens, The Doctor and her companions seek the help of renowned nurse Mary Seacole (Sara Powell), while an ancient temple hides mysterious secrets.

plot

The Thirteenth Doctor wakes, alone, on a barren wasteland, looking up at a giant, dilapidated house. She is then shaken back to reality; a field of marsh, surrounded by dead soldiers and spent artillery. Yaz and Dan then reappear, having also blacked out when the Flux cloud hit the TARDIS. The Doctor deduces they are on Earth just as a woman approaches them from the fog, calling them thieves. She confirms herself as Mary Seacole and the Doctor deduces that they are near Sevastopol in 1855, in the middle of the Crimean War. Seacole hears enemy soldiers returning and the four of them hide. When The Doctor asks how many Russians the British are fighting, Seacole disclaims her as a Sontaran commander, riding a horse, emerges with his troop.

Elsewhere, deep inside a large stone temple, Vinder wakes up from his encounter with the Flux and is quickly met by a floating diamond-shaped talking object called a Priest Triangle, who desperately asks him if he can repair something and leads him further in. In the inner chamber, Vinder is taken aback by the six plinths, on which humanoid figures appear when he walks close by, two of them flickering. The triangle explains how “the Mouri must never be compromised.”

Seacole leads The Doctor’s group to the safety of an army camp and introduces them to her British Hotel. As Yaz wonders if history is somehow being rewritten, Dan starts glowing blue and he quickly vanishes, followed by Yaz. The Doctor promises to get them back and considers their disappearances a side-effect of the collision of the Flux and vortex energy. She runs back to the TARDIS, hearing the Cloister Bell ring, but despite her panicked efforts, cannot find the door on any of its four sides. Upon hearing the Sontarans return, she runs back to the British Hotel.

Meanwhile, Dan rematerialises to find himself on Granger Street, Liverpool in 2021, just outside where his house should be. As he apologises to his neighbours for the disturbance, they shoot him worried glances, and he looks down the street to see a Sontaran flagship, followed by two Sontarans hunting him down for breaching their curfew. Dan narrowly escapes down an alleyway only for his mother, Eileen, and father, Neville, to appear and knock them out. They are both surprised to see each other.

Yaz awakens inside the same temple that Vinder appeared in and quickly meets up with Joseph Williamson, who is equally confused on how he could have appeared there from 1820. He explains that the building keeps shifting and leaves to retrace his steps. Suddenly, another Priest Triangle appears before Yaz, also asking if she can repair. Glancing down at the letters “WWTDD” on her hand, she agrees to help.

The Doctor enters the British Hotel and is welcomed by Seacole again, alongside a British solider, Lieutenant General Logan of the Light Division, who is busy planning his advance against the Sontarans. He ignores her cries to avoid conflict at all costs and insists that the Sontarans have always been on Earth; The Doctor reconfirms this by finding Sontar on a nearby map in the place of Russia and China. However, Seacole and Logan vaguely recognise the name ‘Russia’ and the Doctor concludes that the changes to time must have been relatively recent. However, Logan continues to dismiss her help and Seacole leads her away on her nursing rounds.

As Seacole discusses her calling of tending to the victims of war, she leads The Doctor behind a curtain to see one of her patients – a Sontaran foot soldier named Svild. Despite his strong yells, he is captured after being hit by a cannonball, which The Doctor taunts him for. He asserts his right to silence under the Shadow Proclamation but changes his mind upon being told that The Doctor is nearby. She frees him under the promise that he will relay this information to his commander, allowing her to meet up with him on her signal, and he leaves under a shower of threats.

The Doctor and Seacole follow Svild across the battlefield as the sun sets and they watch him seemingly disappear. The Doctor uncovers the Sontaran camp’s camouflage shield and on the other side of it, at the top of a rock face, a whole fleet of ships is being protected by hundreds of Sontarans. The Doctor tasks Seacole with keeping watch of the camp overnight and note any weaknesses.

Meanwhile, Svild passes on The Doctor’s message to his commander, Skaak. Despite Skaak being impressed with the receipt of this information, he considers Svild a disgrace to the Sontaran effort and grants him “the mercy of immediate execution”, disintegrating him.

As Dan hides in a car with his parents, they explain that the Sontarans arrived just after he disappeared two days previously, following the Three Minute Eclipse that was caused by the Lupari ships’ shield. According to Eileen and Neville, millions of Sontaran ships have appeared worldwide, but they arrived six hours early in Liverpool, allowing the residents to learn their key weaknesses. As Dan’s parents lead him to Liverpool Docks, where the fleet first appeared, Dan chooses to invade their ranks alone, armed with the wok that Neville used to knock a Sontaran out earlier.

In the temple, Yaz and Vinder meet each other and discuss their similar situations, learning they are in the Temple of Atropos, which Vinder does not believe. A triangle explains they are on the planet of Time and the Mouri, the people found in the centre of the room, harness and control all of time in the universe, but two of them have been broken. The triangle insists that time is evil, and it must be prevented from escaping by the Mouri.

In Liverpool Docks, Dan sneaks his way towards the base of the ships but is forced to hide behind some shipping crates as Commander Ritskaw leads three innocent people in front of a firing squad due to spying against Sontar. They are executed and exclaim that their Temporal Offensive is nearly ready, deeply worrying Dan, who continues to evade capture.

In Sebastopol the next morning, The Doctor uses her sonic screwdriver, to alert Skaak that it is time to parlay. The two meet on either side of a wide, empty battlefield, separated by the morning mist, and the Doctor reveals that she is who he has been searching for. Skaak admits that their Flux strategy did not foresee her, revealing that although they did not create the Flux, they did take advantage of the Lupari shield to slip onto Earth undetected. The Doctor gives Skaak the chance to leave alive if they do not fight the British, but Logan appears and points a gun at her head, telling a soldier to escort her away before the battle. As several hundred members of each army charge and fire at each other, the humans are massacred. The Doctor uses Venusian aikido on the soldier to knock him out for six hours and she makes her escape. Meanwhile, in Liverpool, Dan begins to film the situation on his phone as he climbs up a crane to find a way onto one of the ships.

The Temple of Atropos gains more visitors in the form of Swarm, Azure, and a tall and silent black-clad figure called Passenger. They are met by another Priest Triangle, who Azure promptly destroys with a touch of her hand, calling her power stronger than before.

With Logan continuing to advance his men despite the overwhelming odds, The Doctor meets up with Seacole, still watching the Sontaran camp. She explains that it is deserted, and the two decide to enter one of the ships. The Doctor quickly uses a pocketed catapult to knock out a guard in one hit and looks at a computer bank. As she does, she sees Dan, who is doing the exact same thing in 2021 Liverpool. The two share progress updates, allowing The Doctor to realise that the Sontarans are building in 2021 to plan an attack across time, starting with the Crimean War. As The Doctor tells Dan to do whatever he can to stop the timeship fleet from taking off, they are interrupted by Ritskaw and hang up, leaving Dan feeling lost. He quickly distracts and defeats a Sontaran but finds himself cornered by four more.

Inside the temple, Yaz and Vinder are interrupted by Swarm, Azure, and Passenger, and Swarm taunts Yaz by his knowledge of her, including the letters on her hand, standing for “what would The Doctor do?”, as well as Vinder. He tries shooting Swarm and Azure, but they simply teleport around the room before they can get hit. They force Yaz and Vinder to activate the proximity of the Mouri, and as the second Priest Triangle protests their presence, Azure destroys it as well. Swarm immediately kills a third Mouri, causing the rest to scream in pain. Elsewhere, as Dan prepares to face execution at the hands of Ritskaw and his troops, they are defeated by the sudden appearance of Karvanista who arrives to reluctantly rescue Dan.

Back at the British Hotel, The Doctor and Seacole comment on the hundreds of dead soldiers before Logan arrives in distress, having played dead to avoid capture. That night, The Doctor details an action plan. Realising from Seacole that the Sontarans need to rest for 7.5 minutes every 27 hours so they can refill their suits’ protective gases in their ships, and that the next refill will be happening in 38 minutes, the trio leaves with some surviving soldiers to help drain the ships’ supplies. As they get to work, but Skaak in the Crimea and Ritskaw in Liverpool are furious.

Karvanista explains to Dan how he interrupted his and the Doctor’s transmissions to learn their plan and quickly launches the Sontaran ship. Meanwhile, back on the battlefield, The Doctor meets up with Skaak again and forces him to “make a strategic withdrawal”. Karvanista’s plan is to ram the remaining ships, creating a temporal explosion that will destroy the rest. Despite being cornered by yet more Sontarans, they escape down a waste tube to land in the docklands just seconds before the ship crashes, destroying all the others in a giant blue explosion.

In the Crimea, the Sontarans begin to evacuate, but Logan has other plans and lights a fuse leading to the ships. The group run for their lives as the ships explode, infuriating The Doctor as they were already leaving. However, she hears the TARDIS in the distance, and leaves in disgust to find her friends. The door finally materialises on one of its sides. She lands in Liverpool in front of a wet Dan and Karvanista, leading Dan to choose to travel with her. Karvanista promises that the Lupari will protect Earth but warns that the universe is in a bad state. Inside the TARDIS, The Doctor is shocked by the sudden appearance of strange cobweb-like structures sprouting out of the walls, but she does not have much time to investigate before they are hijacked.

The TARDIS lands in the Temple of Atropos and Swarm leads them to find Yaz. As he clicks his fingers, the Mouri reappear, with Yaz and Vinder taking the place of two of them, visibly distressed. Swarm warns that they will be killed if The Doctor tries to rescue them, and Azure counts down from five before Swarm claims that “the full force of time will blast through them” when he clicks again. As The Doctor begs him to stop and explain what he wants, he refuses, and clicks his fingers in Yaz’s face.

REFERENCES

History

The Crimean War originally saw the British Empire fighting the Russians. Time has been altered so that the Empire has been fighting the Sontarans instead.
The Doctor mentions that the Ottoman Empire is weakening.

Locations

In her own mind, The Doctor finds herself in a forest having found a floating house.
Team TARDIS have landed in Sebastopol, Crimea, 1855.
Vinder remembers crashing in his escape pod towards a planet, then wakes up in a hallway.
Mary Seacole invites Team TARDIS inside her British Hotel.
Dan is thrown back to his now-lost house on Granger Street in Anfield, Liverpool, 2 November, 2021 via a time window.
A few locations appear on the map:
Asia, Baltic Sea, Barbary, Bay of Biscay, Black Sea, The British Isles, Europe, France, Germany, Hindustan, Iceland, Italy, North Sea, Persia, Sontar and Spain are labeled on the eastern hemisphere of the map.
Cape Verd Isles, Cuba, Gulf of Mexico, Jamaica, Mexico or New Spain, South America, United States, Venezuela and the Western or Atlantic Ocean are labeled on the western hemisphere of the map.
Russia and China are gone from the map.
Dan and his dad makes fun of Birkenhead.
The Priest Triangle explains the Temple of Atropos on the planet Time.
When caught, Dan feigns ignorance and says he’s “looking for the Pier Head”.
The Doctor says the spatial-temporal readings are at zero on the planet.

Individuals

The Doctor mumbles about the Flux being “the end of the universe”.
Team TARDIS meets Mary Seacole.
Mary mistakes The Doctor, Yaz and Dan for “Vultures”.
Mary says that “Doctor” is a man’s term, and calls herself “Doctress”.
Mary says that all of the Sentry patrol are dead.
Mary mentions a “Mrs Nightingale”.
Dan thinks Mary Seacole is an army nurse.
Dan and Yaz are thrown into time windows caused by the Flux and Vortex energy having collided.
Dan attempts to talk to his neighbor Jim, then to his front door neighbor.
Dan tries to call Diane.
Dan, Neville and Eileen use a wok to defend themselves.
Dan mistakes it for a frying pan at first.
Joseph Williamson appears at the temple and believes it to be “the year of our Lord, 1820”.
Her Majesty’s Army is led by Lieutenant General Logan of the Light Division.
Logan says he has all the help he needs from “Queen and Country”.
Svild was hit by a cannonball in the back.
The Doctor mentions having been President of Gallifrey.
All Sontaran strategic base construction troops were ordered to report to Commander Strevs and security patrol was ordered to execute intruders.
Commander Skaak executes Svild for bringing shame to Sontar.
Dan and Karvanista escape from the Sontaran ship through a waste tube.
A “fella in Birkenhead” figured out to hit Sontarans on the probic vent.
Dan wants to save the docks.
Neville says he used to be Wallasey’s Junior Boxing Champion in 1966.
Vinder calls himself “Serving Commander Inston-Vee Vinder of Kasto-Winfer-Foxfell”.
Yaz calls herself “Serving Officer Khan, Hallamshire Police, Earth Division”.
Skaak says that the Psychic Command foresaw the Flux and timed their attack before the Lupari Shield took effect.
Skaak reclaims Earth as an outpost for the Sontaran Empire in the name of Commander Linx.
The Doctor uses Venusian aikido on a soldier.
Swarm, Azure arrives with a third party they call Passenger, inside the Temple.
The Doctor calls her plan against the Sontarans “Project Crimean Eviction”.
The Doctor rewards Mary Seacole with a gold star and a sticker for being right.
Karvanista takes off in the Time Carrier and uses it as a battering ram against the others, creating a temporal implosion.
General Logan uses sets off a match to fire up a pile of gunpowder barrel, exploding the Time Carriers.
Dan sarcastically calls Karvanista “Scooby Doo”.

STORY NOTES

For the endboard, the old BBC Studios logo was used instead of the new one which was used in the previous episode The Halloween Apocalypse.
The opening sequence of the episode (inside The Doctor’s mind) is in black and white. The last episode to have a black/white sequence was the “Previously” sequence of Twice Upon a Time with William Hartnell as the First Doctor.
As Sontar-ha is established by the Sontarans as a war chant or when something is positive, this episode introduces a negative in the form of “Sontar-ho”, as when Skaak executed Svild for dishonour to the name of their species.
When The Doctor tells Mary Seacole “half a league onward” as she’s about to enter the Imperial Sontaran Time Carrier, she referenced The Charge of the Light Brigade by Lord Alfred Tennyson.
The Sontaran flag symbol resembles the yellow diamond symbol seen on the door of Styre’s ship in The Sontaran Experiment.

CONTINUITY

Skaak mentions Commander Linx’s claim on Earth for the Sontaran Empire, (The Time Warrior) even though the Rutans had prior claim. (Castle of Fear)
Svild remarks about his shame at having been injured in battle and the need to face execution to atone for his sins in battle. This echoes Commander Kaagh’s own sentiments. (The Last Sontaran)
Much like the Tenth Doctor with Harriet Jones regarding the Sycorax, the Thirteenth Doctor shows moral outrage when the retreating Sontarans are massacred by Logan. (The Christmas Invasion)
The Second Doctor had once stated that he had been to the Crimean War. (The Evil of the Daleks) Soldiers from the war were also kidnapped by the War Lords. (The War Games)
The Seventh Doctor landed during the siege of Sevastopol where the TARDIS was also damaged, this time by a British Cannonball which separated the interior from the exterior. On this occasion The Doctor and Ace became prisoners of the Russian Empire, whilst Hex met his childhood hero of Florence Nightingale. (The Angel of Scutari)
The Twelfth Doctor had previously helped Mary Seacole deal with an alien infection. (The Charge of the Night Brigade)
Svild invokes the Shadow Proclamation. (Rose, The Stolen Earth)
The Doctor mentions being President of Gallifrey (The Invasion of Time, The Five Doctors, Hell Bent)
Yaz asks herself “what would The Doctor do?”, which Swarm mocks. This was a phrase the Master once said to Martha Jones as a way of mocking her admiration for the Tenth Doctor. (Last of the Time Lords)

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