Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror

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    Mudlark @mudlark


    As I said, there is no reason that your theory shouldn’t be feasible in the Whoniverse 🙂  The temptation to nit-pick has, however, always been my fatal and irritating flaw 😈

    Consider me well and truly slapped down and contrite.

    TheWomanOfSteel @thewomanofsteel

    I enjoyed this episode. After it was over I thought, “Well that felt like a proper Who serial”. Almost felt like Classic-Who”. I wasn’t a fan of the majority of last series but, 4 episodes into this one and so far, I’m digging it. I’ve always been a fan of the series’ having one-off stories and 2-parters, it can make for a good mix. I like that Doctor is getting stakes now; as in real danger. Also, unlike last series, I feel like she is being given much more to do. When the 13th Doctor era started, I was worried 3 companions might be a bit much; it worked pretty well in Classic-Who but, 3 at one time consistently would be an interesting challenge for NuWho. I like how in series 12, they are allowing the companions to be separated and have different roles in the story. Graham remains my favourite of the 3 by far but, now that Yaz and Ryan are becoming more useful, they are growing on me as well.

    I wasn’t a fan of how the “mind-wiping” was used and handled in the Spyfall two-parter but, it’s fine. I am surprised it wasn’t used with Tesla, Edison, and Ms. Skerritt when it was used on Ada Lovelace and Noor Kyan in Spyfall. All are quite important historical figures. How come the Doctor was concerned about Lovelace and Khan but, not the others?

    Anyone else notice the “flirting” with the Doctor in Tesla. I put “flirting” in quotes as I’m not sure that was their intention but, it was nice seeing them share similar feelings about how they are seen and treated by others due to their intellect.

    Last series barely kept me interested after the 4th episode (I have a 4th episode rule) but, series 12 has definitely hit the mark.

    Juniperfish @juniperfish

    @mudlark I like your idea that the Scythra (I know it’s officially Skithra, but I like my spelling better) are a hive species.

    @bluesqueakpip Yes, I can buy your distinction in terms of the Spyfall mind-wipe for tech-whizz Lovelace (as she’d seen the future) vs the lack of mind-wipe for tech-whizz Tesla. But, as you and @jimthefish and @mudlark say – it’s still a morally problematic act. And I hope it is indeed revisted as part of the Time Lord arc.

    @blenkinsopthebrave That is a good bonkers theory about some kind of timey-wimey filching of time-tech by the Time Lords, despite @mudlark ‘s lack of archeological evidence 🙂 Which exchange makes me miss River, time-travelling archaeologist extraordinaire, herself.

    On the question of the Time Lords and potential genetic experimentation in order to “create” themselves, I had a flash-back to Genesis of the Daleks, and Davros’ experimentation on the Kaleds to mutate them into Daleks.

    How much would Davros crow if it turned out the Doctor’s own people were guilty of similar genetic “enhancement”.

    And wow that would put a new spin on the Time War.

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord


    How much would Davros crow if it turned out the Doctor’s own people were guilty of similar genetic “enhancement”.

    This will be very interesting if it goes into this kind of territory. But are we veering dangerously close to Looms and such things?

    winston @winston

    Well, I liked this episode but then I like them all especially the historical ones. I am always curious to see how these real people will be presented to us and I think they did a good job of job of pointing out the differences and the similarities between the two inventors. The sets were great as were the costumes the Fam wore. I loved Grahams bowler hat!  The Doctor is starting to feel more alien to me and I am feeling some of the other Doctors in there while she  remains unique. Loving her steampunk goggles.

    I really thought that it was the Racnoss when I first saw the queen but no, not a spider but a scorpion alien. See what happens when you answer messages from space without call display.

    nerys @nerys

    @winston See what happens when you answer messages from space without call display.

    Now, this made me laugh out loud! Thanks, I needed that.

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    @mudlark ah, but that’s time. They could have gone far back with their new abilities to get the jump on all the rivals.

    @blenkinsopthebrave – don’t worry, I’ve got you – possibly:

    @mudlark – what if they stole, and then changed the course of history? Which we’ve been reminded can happen. This would potentially require ‘fixed points in time’ not to exist until after the Time Lord shenanigans, maybe that itself, fixed points, are a result of Time Lord actions. So they stole the tech, used it to go back in time and prevent the humans ever getting it. Then went far far back in time, changing almost everything in process, to get and keep control and credibly be able to claim ‘oh this? Just something we knocked together…’

    And then maybe all this threatened quite a bit of chaos, because of all the meddling. So somehow ‘fixed points in time’ become a thing, and they talk about not interfering (even though they do) partly as a cover up, partly to avoid further damage.

    And yes that would create a big massive paradox, but they could have worked out a work around for that first…


    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    I don’t think that would worry the Master. I don’t think even the discovery that the Time Lords nicked time travel from the Daleks would worry him that much. As Missy said, killing Daleks is kind of Time Lord golf, so having cunningly stolen time travel from them would just be another point in the endless (or timeless) game.

    On the other hand, discovering that the mighty Time Lords are some kind of escaped genetic experiment, originally created by another species as super-warriors – that they are, in effect, Daleks – that would truly disturb him. It would attack him at his sense of superiority, which would work with Missy’s developing empathy. It would place him at the same level as the people he’s been killing. Especially if it turned out after all these years that the reason for the human-Doctor connection is that the Time Lords are a human genetic experiment. Who may well have stolen time travel as a means of making their escape. 😀

    The Master wearing Nazi uniform is accompanied by a big script spotlight, loudly announcing that even the Doctor didn’t expect that. Which is weird, really, because this is the Master. He has no problem with mass murder and the villain turning up as a Nazi isn’t normally a big problem in melodrama. So why the spotlight?

    Another weird connection is between Rosa Parks and eugenics. A school named after a eugenicist was renamed Rosa Parks Middle School. Again, like Tesla, this is deep background that can be found on the internet rather than in the episode – but Rosa connected racism and time travel. As did Spyfall. Tesla is connecting technological advance and theft.

    It doesn’t really matter how long the Time Lords have been around, because once time travel is discovered they can be created in our future and then go back in time to Early Gallifrey.

    [And now I read on and discover that @miapatrick has made the point before me. Oops!]

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    I’d point out that the AG series has had no scruples in using any good ideas from the New Adventure series. ‘The Other’ is the thing that came into my mind when The Timeless Child was first mentioned.

    The Looms as depicted have been thoroughly dumped, I think by the discovery that the Time Lords have billions of kids on the planet. If they’re using Looms now, then the ‘product’ is coming out as babies and are being promptly adopted.

    Doesn’t mean they can’t re-use the Loom idea and set it in the past.

    Mudlark @mudlark

    @miapatrick @bluesqueakpip

    The possibility that it involved some jiggery-pokery with time did flit across my mind but I dismissed it, perhaps over hastily, as a time-loop too far.  But then again,  why not give it a whirl.

    In a possible future or alternative time line, ape-descendants on or from earth discover the principles of time travel and develop the technology to exploit it. Along comes an unprincipled race of space travelling humanoids who pirate the technology and appropriate the means to use it, presumably including the eye of harmony and means of access to the untempered schism, then scuttle back  with the whole kit and caboodle into the far distant past and establish Time Lord civilisation on Gallifrey.

    Question: do these piratical proto-Time Lords originate on Gallifrey-future and travel back along their own time line and beyond to the past of their own planet, or do they originate elsewhere and choose Gallifrey as a suitable base to establish their new order?  If the former, then it creates a major paradox which, as you suggest @miapatrick , implies a divergent time line in which the existence of the Time Lords depends on ancestors in a future which no longer exists.  If the latter, then I suppose the Time Lords could exist alongside their future ancestors, but I doubt if they are on speaking terms 🙂  Either way, it probably needs one of @bluesqueakpip ‘s diagrams to sort it out.



    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord


    Good point about the Looms. As you say, it doesn’t mean that won’t manifest in some form and it’s true that the show does have form in nicking stuff from other media. Having said that, Chibs seems to be going out of his way to retcon Moff’s vision of Gallifrey out of exsistence, so I wouldn’t put anything past him at the moment.

    What is nice, however, that he’s finally provided some material for some proper bonkerising. And not before time.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    Chibs seems to be going out of his way to retcon Moff’s vision of Gallifrey out of existence, so I wouldn’t put anything past him at the moment.

    Possibly. The way Moffatt left Gallifrey, I wouldn’t have been terribly surprised to return and find it was in the middle of a full scale civil war, so ‘smoking wreck, again‘ isn’t too disappointing.

    Or possibly Chibbers is simply re-mirroring the Doctor and the Master. The Doctor destroyed Gallifrey, leaving us in the slightly embarrassing situation of our hero having done more evil than our villain, so the Master has now destroyed Gallifrey as well. Mind, poor old Gallifrey must be getting a bit sick of it. 😈

    I might have a go at a diagram this weekend. 😀

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    @bluesqueakpip @jimthefish Gallifrey seems to be something of a battleground for the show runners. Or a pantomime…

    RTD: They’re all dead.

    SM: Oh no they’re not.

    CC: Oh yes they are. (possibly).

    As you say, the Doctor destroyed Gallifrey. Or at least, now, he thought he did, he had decided to do it and was willing to go through with it until a viable alternative was offered. The Doctor might need to keep that in mind, regarding the Master.

    @mudlark I think quite possibly somewhere else. This still means they’ve still majorly meddled with the time line to wipe out the human development of the technology, and pretty much everything else they’ve done since going back, though.

    @bluesqueakpip I agree about the Master’s possible motivations. It’s a discovery that would shock the Doctor on a moral level (which the Master would know) and shock the Master on a – I don’t even know what to call it. It would hit his pride and self image and sense of superiority.

    The only reason I’m leaning away from deliberate genetic experiments at the centre is that we know that exposure on the Tardis during pregnancy is enough to effect a single generation mutation to possibly the most important difference between Time Lords and humans – regenerations – River. And, assuming this Doctor does come after Missy, that mutation alone was enough to make her respect River more than any of the Doctor’s other companions. She hadn’t turned guid. but she sympathised with him for his loss. So A: a lot of Time Lord stuff seems like it happened pretty quickly and spontaneously, an effect rather than an effort, and B: The Master’s master race ideas are relatively flexible. Of course that’s assuming a fair amount of consistency, and as this Master admitted to Graham while tempting him with the history of the Doctor ‘a few inconsistencies…’

    So the two hearts might have been deliberate. And I know there’s other differences. But the regenerations could still be accidental, and the Master isn’t, historically, all that bothered about how they come about, or about the two hearts etc. Of course, Missy’s sympathy could have been because she was intending to persuade the Doctor to save her so ‘haha your wife died’ wouldn’t have been great policy. Or she might have respected River’s chaotic aspect. It’s just that the Master has only shown an iota of respect for one human, and that was a human born with the ability to regenerate.

    Either way it all brings a new resonance to ‘but you look human’ ‘you look Time Lord!’


    Mudlark @mudlark


    I think quite possibly somewhere else.   This still means they’ve still majorly meddled with the time line to wipe out the human development of

    If that is the case, and they don’t travel back to a different planet from that of their origin and don’t thereby generate an alternative future for themselves, then I don’t see why they would need to meddle with the time line to wipe out human development of the technology; in fact doing so would create a particularly knotty  paradox. What they could do, and all they would need to do according to this hypothesis, would be to snaffle the means of powering the technology – i.e. the Eye of Harmony – and then take measures to deprive humans of the means to create a replacement.

    When I wrote

    a divergent time line in which the existence of the Time Lords depends on ancestors in a future which no longer exists.

    I should have specified ‘no longer exists for them’, because that theory presupposes a universe in which multiple alternative futures are generated, such as the Doctor implies in Orphan 55. The destruction and/or saving of Gallifrey in The Day of the Doctor doesn’t depend on such a universe, only on what the inhabitants of the universe perceive and believe, and only the 11th incarnation of the Doctor and his successors, plus the survivors on Gallifrey in its pocket universe, need be aware of the truth of the matter.

    As for the Master’s claim that he has destroyed Gallifrey, does that mean that he has destroyed the whole planet?  The ninth Doctor believed that by using the Moment he had destroyed it and everyone on it, but what we glimpsed at the end of Spyfall were only the ruins of the Time Lord citadel, and presumably the Time Lords in it. And the Master’s monumental grudge was clearly directed at the Time Lords. From his point of view, being the kind of person he is, the ordinary Gallifreyans wouldn’t even register.



    Mudlark @mudlark

    and they don’t travel back to a different planet from that of their origin

    That should, of course, read ‘ … and they do travel back …’ 😳

    Spider @spider

    Oops, meant to post in here last week but never got round to it.  Really enjoyed this episode, a huge improvement from the last one.

    As with lots of others here one of the sticking points I had was the non mind wipe of Tesla/Edison, which just meant that the mind wipes in Spyfall II really jarred all the more.  I can just about go with the “there was no time travel” reasoning, coupled with that the Doctor maybe knows when it should be done and shouldn’t be done (not that she/he is ever consistent about that, or the writers for that matter!).

    Loved them in period dress – at one point there was a shot of Yaz that almost had me convinced for a second or two it was Missy!


    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    I think Fugitive of the Judoon, while not explaining the mind-wipe as such, may explain why the producers needed to include a mind-wipe somewhere.

    Spider @spider


    That is a good point.

    I suppose it has indeed been a while since we saw the Doctor do such a thing- therefore they felt a reminder was needed for those who did not know or had either forgotten (ha, see what I did there! XD).  And it is easier to do that with characters in the current story than maybe have a flashback and have to try and explain all that.


    scmods @scmods

    I presumed the resemblance to the Racnos was deliberate (spiders v scorpions) and was waiting for the obligatory one liner somewhere that they came from the planet next door or something (like the Ood and the Sensorites).

    As for why they were so clumsy, they had to be otherwise there was absolutely no chance of outrunning them!

    Robsie @robsiehallert

    I have to say, I love Chibnall’s historical episodes.
    And I’m a big fan of Goran Visjic, so this was a delight to watch.
    If I had a criticism, it’s that I wasn’t fond of the space wasp queen. I don’t like that style of make up, it reminds me of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers baddies.
    Still, the writing was solid, all the regulars had clear motives, it was a fun romp.
    And I’m from the US but I like history, so I 100% agree with the portrayal of Edison as a bit of a louse.

    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    Geek warning: The next three paragraphs contain excessive railway geekery. Skip them if you value your sanity.

    The steam loco at 05:24 doesn’t look recognisably British to me, but it doesn’t look American either. The dome is too big a diameter to be a British domestic design. It looks to me a little like a British-built loco for export. Possibly South African (since we know they’ve been there)? (Does a bit of Googling: Bingo!!! It’s a South African 2-foot gauge NG15 2-8-2! (More Googling) Likely No 17 (built by Henschel so not a British export) at Sandstone Estates (though I’m not familiar with that railway). Happy geek dance! I’m not gaga yet! 🙂

    I’m afraid it’s very wrong for “full speed, straight to New York” though, and “Night train, right on schedule”. Not only does the loco look quite unlike an American loco of the 1900’s (its lines are too modern), but the train we see is all goods wagons (freight cars in US) not passenger carriages. (Couldn’t they have used some library footage?). And they’re ‘seeing the sights’ in a baggage car? The director made a liar of the writer there.

    And oh dear (geek mode cuts in bigtime) the Doctor uncoupling the train is just nonsense. I’m darn sure that by the 1890’s US trains had proper knuckle couplers between cars (not just a loose chain) and continuous Westinghouse brakes – which meant that if part of a train broke away the brake hoses would disconnect and immediately bring both halves to a stop. (Any US-based railgeeks please correct me?)

    The floating ball reminds me of the Master’s little friends (Toclafane) in The Sound of Drums. Apparently it isn’t though. It’s yet another alien artefact that the Doctor instantly knows all about. This is getting ridiculous, is there any lifeform or gadget in the entire universe that this Doctor doesn’t know the entire history of?

    Um, ammonium nitrate plus zinc plus a ‘bit of green stuff’ would not produce a sustained ring of high flickering flames, it would go off ‘foof’ in a second or so.

    The thing that kidnapped Yaz and Tesla looks exactly like the Racnoss from Runaway Bride.

    As with the previous ep, I’m a bit leery about messing with historical characters. Except this one was worse. It gave Tesla far too much credit. No way did he ‘invent wi-fi’, nobody ever thought of that for 100 years, the concept would be meaningless before computers. He took out some patents on wireless but Marconi developed a practical system first. Edison (in the episode) made the absolutely valid point that “Anyone can have ideas. I make them happen”. Except that, in respect of AC power, it was not Tesla but George Westinghouse (of Westinghouse air brake fame abovementioned) who built the Niagara power station, built AC power networks and fought the ‘war of the currents’ (AC vs DC) with Edison. Westinghouse started building AC systems in 1885, two years before Tesla started work on an AC induction motor (which patents Westinghouse subsequently bought). Tesla was only a very minor player in the game. Yet Westinghouse never got a mention in this allegedly historical-based episode?

    Tesla was also wrong about transmitting power by wireless (still not a thing yet and probably never will be, except in science fiction).
    True that Edison ran a virtual patent factory though.

    Sorry to rain on the parade, but that’s a risk when messing with history. If the writer had restrained herself a bit it wouldn’t jar with me so much.

    That aside, considered as total fiction with no resemblance to reality, the characters all seemed to be treated okay by the writer.

    P.S. Just listening to the commentary. Starts with Mandip (Yaz) saying how interesting it is to learn about Tesla. And the writer claiming historical accuracy. I couldn’t stand it afer 15 minutes, I wanted to shout at the screen “That’s wrong!” And that is exactly where my biggest objection to this episode resides. If the writer’s ‘research’ had included the Wikipedia pages on Edison, Westinghouse and Marconi the Doctor might not have hailed Tesla as the inventor of virtually everything. Any more than Leonardo ‘invented’ the helicopter. I would rather have seen a screenplay that gave Tesla due credit but didn’t devalue everybody (Tesla included) by making absurd claims. [/rant]

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