For the first time, an episode that appears more based around a good idea, than having 25 minutes to fill.
Thorne: "The Department is a multi-national security facility, offering career-opportunities in the UK, the Americas, the Pacific Union, and other lesser-known countries."
The Department are having a careers day, so Starkey and Darius join a tour to facilitate breaking into Thorne's office.
Unfortunately, Thorne is using the same opportunity to lure them in. K9 smells a trap, but this may just be due to his senses being heightened since his apparent off-camera inflation in size:
So, Starkey and Darius sneak off and break into Thorne's office:
Hang on, doesn't this room look ever so slightly like the Department's Alien Technology Archive five episodes back in Alien Avatar?
Flippin' executive cubicle mentality.
Despite this continued recycling of sets, the location work here is, if you'll excuse my saying, a breath of fresh air. The simple fact of the tour being shot in a real building lends this episode a rare sense of quality.
But wait, there's more. Thorne has planted something akin to a picture on his desk, which is actually an alien recording of an entire planet. Starkey gets sucked in, becoming data as he does so, and is suddenly able to explore the virtual reality version of the planet Ehrlich.
Ignoring my usual issues with what becomes of Starkey's atoms while his consciousness is in this realm (same problem as with Mona Lisa's Revenge), this is where things could get quite interesting, but instead they stop. Starkey doesn't explore said world, and the ramifications of such technology don't get much of a muse either. However the presence of Thorne, along with all the strategising necessary to outwit him, again make this a much more involving episode than most others so far.
Thorne's plan all along, you see, has been to… well, actually no-one seems too certain about that. To exploit the alien tech, for sure, but Starkey's role in this masterplan remains as unrealised as why the helpful blue librarian shows up outside Gryffen's lab.
Buried away on the 'Missing Persons' board at the back of the set is a TubeCorp map, which I'm pleased to note indicates that, in the future, Aldwych will reopen. (as you know it closed in 1994)
According to DVD order, K9, Gryffen and Jorjie all meet Thorne for the first time, although none of them seems to be aware of this.
Gryffen: "He'll never keep his side of the bargain."
And Gryffen's right.
All the same, Thorne definitely represents a positive step forward in this show's development. He's playing his part better than anyone else apart from Gryffen. And he punishes robots. Now that's just evil.
Good job our crew end the episode with, apparently, a lifelong amnesty from any harm by him, thanks to their ever helpful new librarian friend.
Well, that should give them all a real bullishness when they remember it in the next episode on the disc.