Friday, February 9, 2018

A Menoptera (the butterfly-like being) and other creatures in the hallucinogenic episode "The Web Planet" -- the six-part fifth serial of the second season of "Doctor Who". It aired in February and March 1965.

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The TARDIS is pulled off course and crashes on the planet Vortis. The Doctor and Ian go exploring. The Doctor wonders why Vortis has several moons, when it should have none... Barbara is drawn outside, and then an unseen force pulls the TARDIS away across the planet's surface with Vicki trapped inside.

Barbara meets the butterfly-like Menoptera. She escapes and is captured by the ant-like Zarbi. The Zarbi are able to use gold as a transmitter for their telepathic thoughts, and control Barbara through a gold collar. Barbara leads them to the Menoptera, who enslave the Menoptera, amputate their wings, and force them to harvest needle-like vegetation. This is then dropped into a river of acid, and is consumed by the glowing, multi-tentacled, balled, plant-like creature known as the Animus. In turn, Animus generates more acid, which is slowly taking over large areas of the planet.

The Zarbi capture the Doctor and Ian, and reveal that they are the ones who dragged the TARDIS away using telekinesis. It was Zarbi mental communication which interfered with the TARDIS and also caused it to crashland. With Vicki as a hostage, the Doctor is forced to help track down the Menoptera. Ian escapes.

Ian is captured by the Menoptera. Their leader, Vrestin, reveals that the Animus is not native to their world. The alien took control of the Zarbi and pulled several new moons into orbit. By the time the Menoptera realized what was happening, their planet had been taken over.

The Animus uses equipment on the TARDIS to discover that the Menoptera plan to attack the field of needle-plants. The Animus ambushes them. Ian and Vrestin escape underground into the realm of the Optera, larvae-like creatures who are actually immature forms of the Menoptera. Born from eggs underground, they grow for decades not realizing that, if allowed onto the surface, they will become Menoptera. Unfortunately, with the Animus in control of the planet, the Menoptera have not allowed any Optera access to the surface. The Optera now believe the Menoptera are oppressing them, and distrust all the news about the Animus and Zarbi. Nevertheless, Ian and Vrestin convince them to join the fight against the Animus.

The Doctor manages to free one of the Zarbi from the Animus' mind-control, it frees the Doctor and Vicki before succumbing again. They meet up with Barbara, who escaped in the chaos of the Animus' ambush, and plan a counter-attack. The Optera have developed a "living cell destructor" called the Isoptope. (That is not a misspelling.) It could destroy the Animus if they could get it close enough.

The Doctor and Vicki take the Isoptope and try to sneak into the Zarbi camp. They're caught, as the Doctor expected to be. Brought before the Animus, the Doctor whispers to Vicki to give him the Isoptope. Unfortunately, she did not realize that capture was the plan, and she left it behind in the room where they were caught. The Animus mesmerizes them, and then smothers them with its tentacles to absorb their brains.

With the Animus focused on the Doctor and Vicki, Barbara and the Menoptera sneak into the Zarbi city looking for the Doctor. She discovers the Isoptope and realizes the Doctor is in trouble. They sneak up on the Animus, but it becomes aware of them. It mesmerizes Barbara, and prevents her from setting off the bomb. At that moment, Ian and Vrestin emerge from underground. Distracted, the Animus releases Barbara -- who sets off the Isoptope and kills the Animus.

Free from mental control, the Zarbi become docile again and the rivers of acid become rivers of pure water. The Optera learn the truth about their future, and decide not to use the Isoptope against the Menoptera (their parents).

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