The TARDIS is now in Klein’s hands, and she has rewritten history as she pleases. Whenever threats arise to challenge her “Fourth Reich”, she simply goes further back in time and prevents those threats from existing. The web of time is stretched to its breaking point. In a cell in Klein’s headquarters, a Time Lord called the Doctor is kept in chains, because he remembers events that Klein wiped from history, from meeting her in in Kenya during the Mau Mau uprising to taking her to an alien world to thwart genocide. To anger Klein is to risk being erased from time itself; even though she’s not the nominal Fuhrer of the Fourth Reich, few dare to cross her. But when a Selachian attack force arrives with its own time travel technology, the Doctor instantly becomes a suspect – and, it turns out, he helped to plan the Selachian invasion in advance. Or maybe he did that in another timeline. In any case, Klein and her “Bureau of Temporal Affairs” have met their match, and her own place in history is subject to revision.
Cast: Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Tracey Childs (Elizabeth Klein), Lenora Crichlow (Rachel Cooper), Ian Hayles (Sam Kirke), Jamie Parker (Major Richter), Lloyd McGuire (Generalleutnant Tendexter), Chris Porter (Selachian Leader), Rachel Laurence (Feldwebel/Computer Voice), David Dobson (Pilot/Selachian)
Notes: The Doctor’s TARDIS is disguised from the Selachians, and everyone else, by means of a perception filter, a decidedly new-series Who of terminology (The Sound Of Drums, Torchwood: Everything Changes). The other Doctor’s TARDIS is reduced to the dimensions of a mere police box in a scene that instantly recalls the ninth Doctor’s discovery of the gutted TARDIS in Father’s Day. The end of this story, which sees Klein in a new role as UNIT’s new scientific advisor, sets up the sprawling chain of events of UNIT: Dominion. The Selachians were introduced in the BBC Books Past Doctor Adventures novel The Final Sanction, written by Steve Lyons, who scripted this story as well as Klein’s introduction in Colditz.
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: This is the mind-bending, time-twisting tale that The Last Of The Time Lords wanted to be, but couldn’t because of the time limits of TV. The Architects Of History takes the basic underpinning of that story – someone else has gotten their hands on the TARDIS and all of history is now up for grabs as a result – and gives it room to breathe (a notion of which Klein would no doubt approve). Tracey Childs is in charge here, with Klein having slipped effortlessly back into her role of being the real power behind the throne, instilling a new flavor of Nazi terror across the universe (not only will you become a non-person if you cross her, you’ll be wiped from history altogether – you can’t become much more of a non-person than that).
We’re also introduced to a doomed, but unflaggingly loyal, companion of the alternate-timeline seventh Doctor. This is a bit of a risky maneuver – we spend much of the story not really realizing that Rachel is the Doctor’s companion, and as history’s proper course reasserts itself, tragically, even the Doctor doesn’t recall traveling with her. Whether or not the audience latches onto her is really down to the performance, and a misfire gets you another “Gemma and Samson” situation (the previously unknown companions of the eighth Doctor foisted upon us as a major plot device in the audio story Terror Firma). This is a case where the gambit pays off. As history catches up with her, Rachel worries not so much about dying, but about “never having lived” by traveling with the Doctor. She wonders if the Doctor will find her again in the new timeline, but perhaps the character should be allowed to rest in peace. Meeting her alive and well in an alternate timeline would diminish the impact of her erasure from the timeline here – it would be like bringing back Astrid after Voyage Of The Damned: it would be a feel-good cheat that reduces the original conception and depiction of the character.
The Architects Of History is a twisty, twisty tale, but a fun one that brings the unexpectedly enjoyable “Klein trilogy” to a fitting close.