Frontier in Space
Frontier in Space was the third story in season ten of Doctor Who. It saw the introduction of the Draconians and the reappearance of the Master. It was loosely connected with the following serial, Planet of the Daleks, and is significant for showing an alliance between the Master and the Daleks.
It is further notable as the final appearance of Roger Delgado in Doctor Who before his death. Later in June of 1973, Delgado died in a car accident when the chauffeur-driven vehicle ran off the road and fell into a ravine, during the on-location shoot for the film Bell of Tibet, cancelled following his and two film technician’s demises. His character was meant to have a final encounter with the Doctor in the serial The Final Game, which was scrapped, prompting writers to bring the Master back in a decaying form several years later as the main villain of The Deadly Assassin.
As the Earth cargo ship C982 moves through hyperspace, it narrowly avoids a collision with the TARDIS, which de-materializes out of the way and re-materializes in the ship’s hold. The Third Doctor determines that they are in the 26th century. Jo sees a ship come alongside and hears a strange, high-pitched buzz. The ship shimmers, turning into a Draconian Galaxy-class battle cruiser. The two pilots, Stewart and Hardy, send out a distress signal and prepare for battle. When Hardy goes to get weapons, he meets the Doctor, but, thanks to the sound emitted by the enemy ship, he sees the Doctor and Jo as Draconians whilst Jo sees Hardy as a Drashig. Hardy escorts them at gunpoint as the Draconian captain orders C982 to surrender its cargo or be destroyed.
On Earth, the President and the Draconian ambassador (who is also the Emperor’s son) accuse each other of attacking their ships and violating the frontier between the two empires established by treaty. General Williams reports to the President that a mission to rescue C982 is being prepared. Williams’s hostility to the Draconians is well known — it was his actions that started the last war between the two — and the Prince believes Williams wants war again, a war, the Prince warns the President, that will see Earth destroyed. News of the attack spreads and anti-Draconian riots break out on Earth. The opposition calls for the government to take action.
Locked up in C982’s hold, the Doctor deduces that the strange sound was some kind of sonic hypnosis device that caused Hardy and Jo to see what they most feared. As the boarding party burns through the airlocks, Hardy gets the Doctor and Jo to use as hostages, but when the airlock door bursts open, the boarders are not Draconians, but Ogrons. The Ogrons stun the two pilots and the Doctor. They tie up Jo, and take the ship’s cargo and the TARDIS as they leave. When the Doctor revives and releases Jo, she tells him what the Ogrons did, and wonders if they are working for the Daleks, as they were when she first met them. The Doctor points out that the Ogrons are mercenaries. When the rescue party arrives, Hardy and Stewart have stopped hallucinating, but with their memories garbled, accuse the Doctor and Jo of being Draconian traitors…
The two travelers get locked up again as C982 heads back to Earth. General Williams believes the Doctor and Jo are human agents planted by the Draconians to sabotage any war effort by Earth. He brings the two travelers to confront the Draconian Prince, but the Doctor denies working for the Draconians. He tries to convince the President that a third party is trying to provoke the two empires into war. However, as the Doctor can provide no reason why someone would want to, Williams orders him and Jo be taken away and vows he will get the truth out of them.
In the Draconian embassy, the Prince arranges to help Jo and the Doctor “escape” so they can be questioned. When the two are escorted from their cell to be brought to the President, a Draconian squad attacks, taking the Doctor prisoner. Jo tries to get more guards to help, but she is arrested instead. The Draconians question the Doctor, believing that he is involved in a plot with Williams to provoke a new war. The Doctor manages to escape, but is recaptured in the compound by Earth troops. Once he is back in the cell with Jo, she hears the same sound as on C982. Outside, the Ogrons raid the prison, looking like Draconians thanks to the hypnosound. They break into the Doctor’s cell and order him to go with them….
The second escape goes no better than the first: the Doctor is recaptured again and the Ogrons disappear. This second “rescue attempt” cements Williams’ suspicions. He demands the president grant him the authority to strike first against the Draconians. The president agrees to break off diplomatic relations but will go no further without conclusive proof.
Williams puts the Doctor under a mind probe. It indicates the Doctor is telling the truth. Williams refuses to believe it and orders increased power, but the probe overloads. The president orders the Doctor sent to the Lunar Penal Colony, where political prisoners are exiled for life, while Jo remains on Earth. Williams and the president receive records from the Dominion government of Sirius IV, a colony planet that with some autonomy. The records “prove” the Doctor and Jo are citizens of Sirius IV and career criminals. A commissioner from the Dominion has arrived to claim jurisdiction — the Doctor’s old enemy, the Master.
On the Moon, the Doctor meets Professor Dale of the Peace Party, who shows him around. The Doctor tries to gain Dale’s trust and include him in his plans for escape. On Earth, Jo recognizes the Master immediately, and realizes he was behind the Ogron attacks. The Master discovered the Doctor and Jo’s presence when the Ogrons brought him the TARDIS. Given the unsavory choice of going with the Master or staying in her cell, Jo agrees to go with him to fetch the Doctor.
Dale believes the Doctor. The peace with the Draconians lasted many years, but suddenly devolved into senseless acts of hostility. The Doctor’s fantastic story explains everything. Dale outlines the escape plan: Cross, one of the overseers, will leave two spacesuits near an airlock. They will cross the lunar surface and steal a spaceship. Dale offers to take the Doctor back to Earth where he can tell his story to Dale’s contacts in the press and government. However, once inside the airlock, they find that the suits’ oxygen tanks are empty. The Doctor tries to open the door, but it is locked. He and Dale realize Cross has tricked them, and is pumping out the room’s air…
At the last moment, the Master arrives and restores the room’s atmosphere. He obtains custody of the Doctor, and gets the Doctor to come along quietly by revealing that he has Jo. Reunited with Jo in a cell in the Master’s ship, the Doctor wonders why he is still alive. The Master explains that his employers are very interested in the Doctor. The Master sets the automatic controls for the Ogron home world.
Pretending to tell Jo stories of his life, the Doctor uses a hidden steel wire to file through the cell’s hinges. Jo blocks the security camera and natters, pretending to continue the conversation, while the Doctor sneaks out. Donning a spacesuit, he makes his way across the hull and into the flight deck. The Master puts Jo in an airlock, threatening to eject her into space if the Doctor does not surrender. The Doctor takes him by surprise. As the two face off, they do not see a Draconian battle cruiser approaching. Draconians enter the airlock where Jo is located.
The Draconian captain tells them all diplomatic relations with Earth have been severed. Violating Draconian space is punishable by death. The Doctor says he has vital evidence for the Emperor and asks to speak to him. The captain locks up all three of them to take back to Draconia. However, the Master secretly activates a device whose signal is picked up by the Ogrons.
As the ship arrives on Draconia, the prince is speaking with his father, asking for permission to strike first at Earth. The emperor, like the president, is hesitant. He knows such a war could bring down both empires.
The Doctor, Jo and the Master are presented to the emperor and the Doctor gives the ritual greeting, “My life at your command.” The prince is incensed that the Doctor has the temerity to address the emperor like a Draconian noble, but the Doctor says that heis a noble of Draconia — the title was given him by the 15th emperor, five centuries before, when he aided Draconia against a plague from outer space. The Doctor accuses the Master of trying to start a war between Earth and Draconia using Ogrons and the hypnosound device. As the emperor considers this, a courtier announces that an Earth spaceship has arrived. Jo hears the sound of the sonic device, and realizes it is the Ogrons. They burst in, guns blazing, and retreat with the Master, leaving several dead Draconians in their wake. One Ogron has been knocked out by the Doctor. As the effects of the hypnosound fade, the emperor sees the “Earthman” before him transform into its true form. He realizes the Doctor is speaking the truth.
The emperor decides the Ogron must be shown to the Earth authorities, but a Draconian ship would be shot down. The prince, the Doctor and Jo will take the Master’s police ship. As they cross the frontier into Earth space, they spot a ship following them. By the time they identify it as the Ogron ship, it has already launched its missiles. As the Doctor takes evasive action, the captive Ogron breaks out of its cell, overpowering its Draconian guard. It enters the flight deck and in the struggle cuts the ship’s speed. The prince and the Doctor subdue the Ogron, but the Master’s ship catches up and a party boards the ship. A firefight breaks out on the flight deck, just as an Earth battle cruiser shows up. The Master recalls the boarding party, who rescue the Ogron prisoner and take Jo captive. Their ship zips away. The Earth battle cruiser places the Doctor’s ship under arrest.
Without the Ogron, the president is not convinced. The Doctor suggests a trip to the Ogron homeworld, but Williams thinks it a Draconian trick to divide Earth’s forces. The prince expects this response from Williams — after all, he started the first war. Williams protests, but the prince reveals what is in the Draconian court records. Twenty years before, the Draconians sent a battle cruiser on a diplomatic mission. When the Draconian ship did not answer hails, Williams gave the order to attack. The battle cruiser was unarmed, its missile banks empty, and the reason it did not answer was because its communications systems were destroyed in the same neutron storm that had damaged Williams’s ship. Williams is shaken by the prince’s revelation and apologizes for the wrong he had done to the Draconians. Williams now intends to lead the expedition to the Ogron planet himself.
The Master brings Jo to a bunker on the Ogron home world, where he shows her the TARDIS. He plans to use Jo and it as bait for the Doctor. He tries to hypnotize Jo, first with his own powers and then with the hypnosound.
Jo’s mind is strong enough to resist. The Master orders her taken away. An Ogron reports that one of their ships found and attacked two Earth cargo ships, destroying one. The Master is delighted. This means that war is not far off, and indeed, cries for war from Earth are at a fever pitch.
Williams prepares his personal scout ship. The Doctor and the prince accompany him as it heads at top speed to the coordinates the Doctor got from the Master’s ship. Jo digs her way into the next unlocked cell and sneaks further into the bunker as Williams’s ship enters orbit, and they avert near destruction from a Draconian cruiser. She pockets the hypnosound, then finds a pad with the coordinates of the planet and bunker. She transmits a distress signal with the information. The Master shows up, revealing that the signal was muted, and only the Doctor could read it. His ship has been detected in orbit. When he comes, the trap will be sprung.
Williams’s party lands nearby, not knowing the Ogrons have set up an ambush. The Ogrons open fire on them, but are frightened away by an orange, slug-like lizard they call the Eater. The Master is furious. He warns them their masters are coming. This terrifies them more than the monster. Williams’s group hears the roar of a landing spaceship. When they look at the ridge, they see the Master… accompanied by several Daleks, who exterminate Williams’ men before they can fire. The Daleks want to exterminate the Doctor immediately, but the Master proposes that the Doctor be placed in his hands, to be allowed to see the galaxy and Earth in ruins before they kill him. The Gold Dalek agrees, and leaves for its ship, to prepare the Dalek army on another planet.
The Doctor explains the Daleks want a war between Earth and Draconia so both empires will destroy each other and the Daleks can pick up the pieces. The Doctor modifies the stolen hypnosound, making the Ogron guard see him as the Gold Dalek. In fear, it unlocks the cell gate. The Doctor tells Williams and the prince to get the word to their respective governments and mount a joint expedition against the base on the Ogron planet. The Doctor and Jo find their way to the TARDIS, but are surrounded by the Ogrons and the Master, who trains a blaster on the Doctor. The Doctor activates the hypnosound, panicking the Ogrons. One knocks the Master’s arm, making him fire, the shot grazing the Doctor’s head. The Master and the Ogrons scatter. The Doctor, barely conscious, has Jo help him into the TARDIS. He staggers to the console, de-materializes the ship, then presses his palms to the telepathic circuits, sending a message to the Time Lords. The TARDIS spins away into space…