OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 590
STORY NUMBER: 126
TRANSMITTED: Tuesday 18 January 1983
WRITER: Christopher Bailey
DIRECTOR: Fiona Cumming
SCRIPT EDITOR: Eric Saward
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 6.7 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Mara Tales (Kinda / Snakedance)
In the Tardis Tegan suffers tormented dreams of a cave with a snake mouth. The Doctor realises she has subconsciously set the Tardis co-ordinates for Manussa, the former homeworld of the Sumaran empire. Manussa still celebrates the banishing of the Mara from their world, but few now believe the legend of the return of the Mara from a dream. Rigging a device to cut out the dream's influence on Tegan, the Doctor & Nyssa take her to find the cave but she will not enter. The Doctor does and encounters the wife & son of the Federator, Tanha & Lon, being given a tour of the caves by Ambril, the Director of Historical Research. Ambril does not believe the Doctor's story that the Mara is trying to return through his companion and when he takes them to see Tegan they find her gone, having fled into the market when scared by a hawker selling toy snakes. She is taken in by a fortune teller who removes the Doctor's device. As the teller looks into her Crystal Ball a snake's skull appears and grows with the crystal ball shattering and the Mara assuming full control of Tegan.
Yeah that wasn't too bad at all, far better than the last eight episodes. OK Lon is annoying but I think he's meant to be. The dream stuff is nice, and reminiscent of the earlier Mara tale, Kinda, and the snake skull in the crystal ball, which then explodes is a very nice image. But who on Earth came up with Nyssa's new costume? That's the worst one I've seen since Sarah-Jane's Andy Pandy outfit in Hand of Fear. Fortunately it isn't around for long!
But, you say, didn't we see the Mara destroyed on Deva Loka in Kinda? How come it's still here now? Here's two possible solutions: either it left something in Tegan's mind when it left her to go to Aris OR it re-entered Tegan at the point she peaked inside the ring of mirrors (go back and have a look, she does) towards the end of the episode.
Playing the Hawker who scares Tegan with the toy snake is George Ballantine who appeared, uncredited, as Federico's Manservant in Masque of Mandragora.
This story was filmed straight after Time Flight and before Arc of Infinity ensuring, yet again, that this season had it's episodes shown out of production order. The last year that the episodes were shown in the order they were made was season 16, the Key to Time stories.