“The Aztecs”

Season 1 Serial Six

Reviewed by Tom-Tom


Here we come to another historical episode which were common during the First Doctor’s time. The time travelers arrive in 15th Century Central America in the middle of an Aztec Temple. Susan and her schoolteacher Barbara wander around and the former is quickly snatched by Aztecan guards led by a High Priest who isn’t very bloodthirsty at all despite the proximity of a sacrificial alter. Barbara plays Cortez’s role and convinces the natives she is a reincarnation of a famous priest. Soon they make the acquaintance of the High Priest of Sacrifice whom Doctor refers to as “the local butcher” played as shrewdly sniveling as any Wormtail or Iago desperate to draw blood to bring back the rain. He is very suspicious of the time travelers but is cautious in expressing his opinions and pulling the strings behind the scenes to quietly do away with the interlopers. Much pain is made as to show a balanced view of the Aztecs who are historically only seen as heart ripping barbarians by Susan. The Doctor shows his kind side by joining senior citizens in the garden, where they retire after 52 to live a peaceful existence. He flirts with a comely lady to find his way into the temple to get back to his TARDIS. For the very first time in the series, the danger of standing in the way of history is dealt with. Barbara, attempting to play god prevents a human sacrifice which surprises even the man to be sacrificed. The Doctor is furious and explains in a fury the consequences of her actions and the selfishness of her actions.

Meanwhile, Ian, Susan’s other schoolteacher gets drafted into the Aztec military and demonstrated his skill with a Vulcan neck poke (2 years before Star Trek!). The historical drama continues better than most due to the revelation of the Doctor’s flirtatious side in his dealing with the retired comely gardener and the deep questions of the right or not to change history. Susan gets It is soon realized that the non-bloodthirsty of the Aztecs are in the minority and that Barbara and her “handmaiden” and “servants” are against the tide of history. It is a terrible and hard truth for Barbara to swallow and she has to grow up and learn to the times and people of history in a more general context and so, by extension, do we. The four episodes of this serial move quickly with hand to hand combat, armed combat,  double dealing, and even a few school lessons for Susan on Aztec culture. We see beautiful jewelry, mysterious temples, lovely gardens, and native Aztec garb. The original producers of Doctor Who had hoped the show to be a historical showcase for young kids and in that respect, this serial is a great success.


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