The Time Warrior
The Time Warrior was the first story in the eleventh season of Doctor Who. It marked the first appearance of the Sontarans, along with Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith, the Third Doctor’s new companion. The story also finally revealed the name of the Doctor’s home planet as Gallifrey.
Script editor Terrance Dicks gave Robert Holmes the task of writing a story set in a medieval castle, which was believed to be a difficult task. Holmes would reverse the roles in giving Dicks the setting of a lighthouse for Horror of Fang Rock in 1977.
In the Middle Ages, the bandit Irongron and his aide Bloodaxe together with their rabble of criminals find the crashed spaceship of a Sontaran warrior named Linx. The alien claims Earth for his empire then sets about repairing his ship, offering Irongron “magic weapons” that will make him a king in return for shelter. They strike a bargain, though Irongron remains suspicious.
The Third Doctor and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart are investigating the disappearance of several scientists from a top secret scientific research complex. They do not know Linx has used an osmic projector to send himself forward seven hundred years and has kidnapped the scientists then hypnotized them into making repairs on his ship. The projector only lets him appear in another time for a brief period. While the Doctor investigates he meets an eccentric scientist called Rubeish and a young journalist called Sarah Jane Smith, who has infiltrated the complex by masquerading as her aunt. Later that evening Rubeish disappears and the Doctor uses the data he has gathered to pilot the TARDIS back to the Middle Ages, not realizing new companion Sarah has stowed away on board.
Irongron is a robber baron who has stolen his castle from an absent nobleman, and relations with his neighbors are appalling. Indeed, the mild Lord Edward of Wessex has been provoked into building an alliance against him and, when this is slow in developing, sends his archer Hal on an unsuccessful mission to kill Irongron. When Sarah follows the Doctor to Irongron’s castle, she is seized by one of his guards, while the Doctor witnesses Linx removing his helmet.
Irongron is in a foul mood when a captured Sarah is brought before him. His mood improves when Linx presents him with a Robot Knight which is then put to the test on a captured Hal. The archer is only saved when the Doctor intervenes from afar, shooting the robot control box from Irongron’s hands. The ensuing confusion lets both Hal and Sarah flee, and they head for Wessex Castle. There, Sarah concocts a plan to kidnap the Doctor, who she thinks is working for Irongron rather than against him.
Meanwhile the Doctor has realized that Sarah is in the time period and has been captured. He finds Linx’s lab, where the kidnapped scientists have been hypnotized except for Rubeish. He is caught by Linx, who restrains him using a head device, but Rubeish frees him when Linx leaves. The Doctor then leaves to search for Sarah, but is chased by Irongron and his men. When the Doctor stumbles, Irongron raises his axe…
Hal shoots the axe out of Irongron’s hand, allowing the Doctor to escape. The Doctor is able to convince Sarah and Edward that he was trying to stop Linx, and agrees to help construct a defense against an attack on Wessex Castle by Irongron’s men.
The next morning, the robber baron and his troops assault the castle using rifles supplied by Linx, scarcely fooled by dummies the Doctor has made to make it appear as though the castle has more soldiers than they do. As they march forward, the Doctor unleashes smoke bombs, which scare them away. The failure further sours the relationship between Linx and Irongron, which has deteriorated since the robot knight fiasco and the point at which the robber saw the Sontaran’s true visage beneath his helmet.
The Doctor now decides to lead an attack on Irongron’s castle, and he and Sarah enter dressed as friars. He offers to help Linx if he sends the scientists back home, but Linx refuses and zaps the Doctor.
The Doctor isn’t harmed, and Linx is rendered immobile when Rubeish, acting on a hint from the Doctor, hits his probic vent (a Sontaran refueling point on the back of their necks which is also their main weakness). Rubeish and the Doctor use the osmic projector to send the scientists back to the twentieth century. Sarah now inveigles herself into Irongron’s kitchen, using the opportunity to drug the food, thereby knocking out Irongron’s men.
A recovered Linx now determines his ship is repaired enough to effect a departure. Once more he encounters the Doctor, and they wrestle in combat. A crazed and half drugged Irongron arrives and accuses Linx of betraying him; the Sontaran responds by killing him. As Linx enters his spherical vessel Hal arrives and shoots him in the probic vent, and the Sontaran warrior falls dead over his controls, triggering the launch mechanism. Knowing the place is about to explode when the shuttle takes off, the Doctor hurries the last of his allies out of the castle. It explodes moments before the Doctor and Sarah depart in the TARDIS.