The Keeper of Traken
By Johnny Byrne
“A new body at last.”
The Doctor and Adric are invited to Traken or diverted to Traken by the Keeper. The Keeper needs The Doctor to help him to prevent evil to take over the source when he dies. It appears that a calcified statue called Melkur that had appeared on Traken many years ago hasn’t desolved into the ground as most things that are evil do. The Keeper is worried that when he dies that somehow Melkur would find a way to get possession of the source and threaten all the tranquility of the Traken Union.
Things do not go as planned when The Doctor and Adric arrive as they are surrounded by the Fosters and taken to the council for questioning. After not believing The Doctor’s and Adrics story and the TARDIS not where it should be they call the Keeper to see if The Doctor’s story is correct in him inviting them. But unfortunately Melkur is peeking through the door and The Keeper sense great evil and the Councils believe the evil is The Doctor and Adric.
Now with the suspicion being planted on them and the council overreacing Tremus has decided to believe them and decides to have The Doctor and Adric in his care. What they do not know is the Melkur is using Tremus wife Kassia, who was once the one who took pity on Melkur and seems to have a bit of a relationship with it, is in league with Melkur and is in fact his agent. She has been manipulating things so Tremus wouldn’t become Keeper and stay with her. But what The Doctor has discovered is that she is the one being manipulated and it will cost Kassia her life and Traken it’s Keeper as a familiar foe makes his triumphant return.
The Keeper of Traken is the first part of what the fans have dubbed “The Master Triology” and rightly so as this story and the next 2 deals with the return of The Master to human form and The Keeper of Traken starts it all off. Anthony Ainley starts off playing Tremus whose body The Master takes over in the closing seconds of the story. He plays him really well and you get a hint of what he can do before he starts going over the top as The Master. He gives something to Tremus and when he gets killed by The Master you feel sorry for him. You knew when he touches the Clock TARDIS that he was a goner.
I loved the fact that they brought The Master back to human form. By using the power of the Keeper to allow The Master to enter a body was a pretty good idea. In fact they hinted at it in episode 4 before he takes over Tremus by having The Master attempt to do it to The Doctor before the Source rejected him. When I first watched The Keeper of Traken you did not know that The Master was Melkur so it was a really good reveal in episode 3 when he turned in his chair and said I’m free. That was a really good moment and even the moment he takes over Tremus as there were not any spoilers over the internet in that day. So seeing what happens was pretty cool and a good surprise.
What I found watching The Keeper of Traken is that if Adric had some time being the companion without the two girls later he might have been better than what we got. Yes he was an annoying and whiney companion but when you see him in The Keeper of Traken he actually is not bad. There is some chemistry between him and Tom Baker even though they did not get along but the chemistry with The Doctor was pretty good. Too bad he didn’t have some time to be the only companion before it went south for him.
The Keeper of Traken is another great performance for Tom Baker. With the clock winding down on him he gives us another wonderful performance in his penultimate story. During the E- Space trilogy he did not look like he was having fun at all. The Keeper of Traken must have been a different scenario for him or he just was relieved that he was leaving or JNT wasn’t bothering him or something like that. But he does up his performance from the previous three stories especially Warriors’ Gate where he was ill during that.
The Keeper of Traken is a classic story and one of the finest from the Tom Baker era. It has a lot of things going for it with the surprise return of The Master to the dumbest head of security in Proctor Neeman who fell for the same trick four times. It also got us headed on the path to a new era as not only did we have a new Master but Nyssa was introduced also leading up to her being a companion. It is also a pretty strong story where the use of making a gadget helps saves the day. An all-around great story to watch and it survives the test of time. Well maybe not the possessed Kassia eyes they don’t.