Doctor Who episode 129: The Smugglers – Episode 3 (24/9/1966)

Things take an unexpectedly complicated twist in the third episode, as everyone seems to have their own agenda, working against each other to achieve a common purpose: uncovering Avery’s gold.

The double-crossing includes Pike and the Squire, apparently partners in crime at the start of the episode, each plotting to get one over on the other, and Cherub planning to betray them all for his own benefit. The corrupting, Pardoner’s Tale influence of the buried treasure even sees long-time allies Kewper and the Squire turn on each other, before they’re both murdered by the grinning Cherub. There’s also another suggestion that ‘gentlemen’ are nothing of the sort, and kindness is a mug’s game:

SQUIRE: Let us behave like gentlemen.
KEWPER: Gentlemen? Was this gold got by gentlemen? Is it now to be got by kindness?

Like last week, one of the TARDIS crew plays on superstition and the fear of witchcraft to escape captivity – this time it’s the Doctor, and the credulous Jamaica doesn’t like it up him when a furious Pike gets back aboard. The horror overtones and Seventeenth Century witchiness are present in references to ‘the black arts’, and Pike thunderously demanding to know ‘Where in Satan’s name is [Cherub]’.

The graveyard and crypt provide a suitably spooky backdrop for the final part of the episode, as the various separate strands of the story begin to converge as the Doctor deciphers the clues to find the treasure. This is a busy episode, filled with plenty of neat touches (like the secret contraband stash inside a grave), people dashing about on location, and appropriately florid dialogue. It’s in no way classic, but it’s very enjoyable.

Next episode: The Smugglers – Episode 4


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