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The Claws of Axos

The Claws of Axos was the third story of Season 8 of Doctor Who. It was the first story written by Bob Baker and Dave Martin, who stayed with the series until the end of the 1970s and created K9.

The Claws of Axos was the third story in the season long “Master arc”. It saw the introduction of Axos. Despite its popularity, Axos would not again appear in the Doctor Who universe until the Doctor Who Magazine comic story The Golden Ones. Thus far it has not appeared in any other television stories, although it was mentioned on screen occasionally.

This story’s events led the Doctor to strike a deal with the Master, who was unusually placed in a position of distress. With his help, the Doctor was able to restore his TARDIS back to working order, only to discover the High Council of Time Lords had programmed it to always return to Earth no matter how many times he could attempt to leave. He also revealed that the Time Lords had blocked his knowledge of dematerialization theory.


Episode 1

An approaching alien spaceship is detected by monitoring equipment at UNIT HQ, where Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart is entertaining two visitors -Horatio Chinn, a Conservative MP making a security inspection, and Bill Filer, an American agent sent to discuss the threat of the Master.

The ship lands in England and the UNIT team, joined by Sir George Hardiman and Professor Winser from the nearby Nuton Power Complex, enter the ship and meet its occupants: beautiful golden-skinned humanoids called Axons. Unknown to them, Bill Filer also enters the ship and is held prisoner, as is the Master. The Axons inform their guests that they are in desperate need of fuel.

They propose to exchange the miracle substance they call Axonite for much needed energy. Axonite is a “thinking” molecule that can replicate any substance. Despite the Doctor’s vocal suspicion, Chinn and the Nuton scientists are transfixed: such a substance would give the UK unlimited food and power.

Back outside, Sergeant Benton and Captain Yates find a decomposing body next to the ship. The Doctor’s companion Jo Grant enters the ship searching for Filer and screams when a hideous monster appears before her.

Episode 2

Jo’s scream is heard by the others, who tell her that she was hallucinating, though she adamantly insists she heard Filer’s voice in the Axonite ship. The Doctor convinces Hardiman and Winser that despite the potential of Axonite, it should be scientifically analysed before it is distributed. Chinn is one step ahead of him, and is granted special favors by the Ministry to ensure that distribution is left in the hands of the UK. Convinced the Doctor and UNIT will be hindrances, he has the regular army put them under security arrest, though he reluctantly grants permission for the Doctor to assist Winser in the laboratory.

Meanwhile, the Axons are not as nice as they seem. They release a duplicate of Bill Filer to the outside world and strike a deal with their captive, the Master, offering him his freedom in exchange for his efforts to guarantee worldwide distribution of Axonite. The duplicate Filer attacks the Doctor, but is killed when the real Filer escapes from the Axon ship and shoves the clone into Winser’s light accelerator. The Doctor realizes, after an accident involving Winser, that the Axonites are all part of a single parasitic entity brought to Earth by the Master to feed on the planet’s energy. He has little time to relish this insight as Jo, Filer and he are surrounded by the Axonites in their true forms.

Episode 3

The Axons take the Doctor and Jo prisoner in the Axon ship. The Doctor is interrogated; the Axons, aware that the Doctor is a Time Lord, want the secret of time travel. They claim to be able to repair the blocks in the Doctor’s memory imposed on him when he was exiled.

Meanwhile, the Master has no intention of helping the Axons. Instead, he makes his way to the Doctor’s TARDIS, intending to use it to escape Earth, as his own is being used as a bargaining chip by the Axons. He fails to get it to work, though it occurs to him that it could be done using power from the reactor in the power station where the TARDIS is currently situated. When he leaves the TARDIS, he is caught by the Brigadier and UNIT troops, though he is not finished, since the Axons control the reactor, which has the potential to cause a nuclear explosion. He offers his assistance in exchange for his freedom. The Brigadier agrees. The Master’s idea is to turn the power of the Axonite against the Axons. As he prepares to blow up Axos, the Doctor and Jo have not yet escaped their clutches. They will be killed as well.

Episode 4

The Master’s plan fails. The Doctor and Jo escape from Axos and return to the complex. The Doctor, realizing that Axos is interested in travelling through time to broaden its feeding base, plans to trick it into linking up its drive unit to his TARDIS so he can send Axos into a perpetual time loop. After tricking the Master into completing the repairs, the Doctor materializes his TARDIS, with the Master on board, at the center of Axos. He offers to link the two ships together to make one giant time machine, on condition that Axos helps him take revenge on the Time Lords for exiling him to Earth. They accept, but he has tricked them. Every part of Axos dematerializes from Earth, including the Axos automatons and the Axonite. They materialize inside the Doctor’s TARDIS and warn him that he shall join them within the “loop of time.” The Doctor simply boosts a flight circuit and frees himself from the loop.

At the end, with the Master having escaped in his own TARDIS during the confusion aboard Axos, the Doctor returns to Earth, but not of his own volition. Apparently, the Time Lords have programmed the TARDIS to always return to Earth, turning the Doctor into “some kind of a galactic yo-yo”.


The Third Doctor
Jo Grant
Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart
John Benton
Mike Yates