Roots: Raine references Rembrandt. The Doctor whistles Greensleeves. Casablanca ("the start of a beautiful friendship")
Intertextuality: The title of this story was taken from a speculative DWM 255 article and changed from Cartmel's original, due to its popular use in fandom since.
Dialogue Triumphs: "It's a war zone, love. By definition there's not a lot of intelligence knocking about the place."
Double Entendres: "Unless you want your delicate sensitivities exposed to further impossible things, I suggest you leave."
Continuity: Felnikov has been promoted from Major to Colonel (see: Links) and orchestrated Operation Cloudburst, an attempt to destabilise the economy of the Western world through a deliberate stock market crash, hence 'Black Monday', a global crash which cost Markus his fortunes and led him to return to a live of crime.
Kafiristan is near the border of the former Soviet Union and is usually known for its imaginative use of goat skins. Its mountain passes are said to be haunted by demons. Sayf Udeen's palace is vast and high in the mountains. He is a warrior prince with seven wives, and has fenced in several Olympic teams. Regarded as one of the greatest swordsmen in the world, but was recalled to his homeland to repel the Soviet arm's invasion. His people carry legends of the Doctor arriving in a time of their need, so he has been expected (the Doctor also remembers that he is now obliged to create that legend in advance one day)
The Martian sword is intricately jewelled and feels like an extension of the wielder's arm. It is mesmerising and characteristically noisy, buzzing and cracking. It is empathic, suggesting to its wielder the best way to hold and use it - to Ace it seems to be like a form of telekinesis.
A Polyglot Seven language translator is a popular universal device but is, according to the Doctor, notoriously unreliable. Among its settings is one for dolphin ("one of the few sentient species on this planet")
Metatraxi cannot refuse single combat and won't partake in uneven combat, won't refuse a challenge and consider it a dishonour to fight women or machines. A Metatraxi philosopher once said of war: "What else is there?"
The robot kill-team has very primitive circuitry.The robots were constructed at Margrave University
Raine is 22 years old and an accomplished cat burglar and safe cracker. She got her stethoscope from a nice medical student she met at a party in Hyde Park. She keeps a diary (with which the Doctor is able to retrospectively arrange to be rescued from a safe by her). The Doctor always remembered her birthday and ensured she had presents every time while she was growing up. She had a picture of her mother wearing black pearls (which were not of earthly origin). She learned to fence at school and can fly a helicopter.
Ace says she has had some bad experiences in caves.
The Doctor once visited a white city beside a blue ocean beneath a red star where the walls really did have ears. It wasn't a pleasant place. He never gets jet lagged. He is gathering rare artefacts and distributing them carefully. The Doctor is a member of a private club ("for longer than I care to remember") in London. He says he knows some people who actually are liquid, and some robots who are susceptible to bribery by way of software upgrades.
Links: Felnikov, and many of the alien artifacts, also featured in Thin Ice, and Margrave University appears in Animal. Ace mentions Perivale (Ghost Light, Survival), while her bad cave experiences may refer to either the TV stories Battlefield or Dragonfire. The 'club' referred to and visited by the Doctor may be the same one mentioned in Terror of the Autons.
Location: Some days around October 13 1989 (Black Friday). Kafiristan and RAF Spadeadam test facility.
The Bottom Line: "I've heard your reputation. I haven't seen anything to back it up, yet."
A smart and witty opening, and another realisation of a long-described scene. Raine sounds a most interesting companion, although it's strange that Ace seems to get the roles Raine ought to have had, once again (like swordfighting, given Raine's established prowess.) In the end there's perhaps a little too much going on, and the Metatraxi are a baffling threat; but given the growing interconnectedness of these stories, perhaps their story remains to be fully told?