Mags turning into a weredoge gets Captain Cook a high score from the audience. He tries to give the Doctor some exposition but the incidental music is going as crazy as Mags (maybe it is being performed by another weredoge?) and it is very hard to make out what the Captain is saying.
The little manny in the audience's eyes glow. The Doctor escapes from the ring but Mags chases him (doggys like chases). He goes up to the three audience members and all of their eyes glow now and this somehow causes the Doctor to fall back into the ring. He is only saved when Mags turns upon Captain Cook and the Captain goes
Ace and Kingpin look in the space bus for the missing piece of the medallion. The bus conductor robot tries to kill Ace, but when Kingpin finds the missing piece he gets his memories back. He remembers the robot has a self-destruct button and gets Ace to press it. Instead of simply going "blargh I am ded" the robot goes
Mags scares the clowns so she and the Doctor can get away. The mannys in the audience "want more" so the clowns turn on the Ringmaster and Morgana, making them do a disappearing magic act. Then all of the clowns do the thing with their hands.
I somehow don't think the Ringmaster and Morgana will be coming back. It's like Paul Daniels' 1987 Hallowe'en special all over again!
The mannys in the audience want the Doctor. He goes back so Mags can run away, and the clowns chase her (doggys like chases) in their scary black death car.
When the Doctor goes back into the Circus he goes into a special effect and winds up in a different sort of arena - one that is old and stone and not the Circus from before. The three audience members are still there, but they also look very different - made of stone with sinister faces.
The Doctor recognises them as "the gods of Ragnarok."
It makes sense that there are three gods of Ragnarok because there are three cat gods: Ceiling Cat, who sees all; The Maker of Cats, who made us into cats out of socks; and The Hoff. Nobody knows why The Hoff is the third cat god, but he is. Unlike religious mannys, who worship their gods, we are cats so we merely acknowledge our gods as equals.
The gods of Ragnarok are obviously bad gods because they use their giant eye to watch things from below, like Basement Cat does, while Ceiling Cat watches from above and is a good cat.
"I have fought the gods of Ragnarok all through time."says the Doctor. While you might think that the Doctor has never met the gods of Ragnarok before now, remember that everything in this story is a metaphor for something else outside the story, including the gods. The gods say
"Entertain us!"The Doctor does magic tricks for the gods. They shoot some pewpewpews at him, but they don't kill him yet. They say
"Entertain us or die! So long as you entertain us you may live."
"When you no longer entertain us you die!"
"You are nearing the end, Doctor."and
"You are on the brink of destruction, Doctor. We want something bigger, something better."This gives us a clue as to who the gods represent in the show but, just as this story has been doing throughout, I'm going to hold back on revealing the answers for now...
Mags meets up with Ace and Kingpin. Ace lures the clowns to where
Five clowns come out of the clown car, which is not that many really but what can we expect on a BBC budget?
Ace, Kingpin and Mags steal the clown car to get back to the Circus quickly. The gods make Captain Cook come back to life as a zombie and he steals the medallion from Kingpin just before he can throw it down the well to where the Doctor is.
Ace and Mags together knock it out of Zombie Captain Cook's hands so it falls into the well, where the Doctor catches it and uses it to reflect the gods' pewpewpews back upon them. The gods and the "Dark Circus" (as Kingpin calls it) collapse, so the gods must have been load-bearing baddys.
The Circus tent explodes behind him as the Doctor walks away, not looking at it.
Kingpin and Mags decide to make a new Circus, one that can't possibly go wrong, mew. They invite the Doctor and Ace to join them but the Doctor declines, and the last line of the story is him saying
"I find circuses a little... sinister."
The Greatest Show in the Galaxy is a flawed classic. It has great and memorable baddys, and a plot which manages to be both an exciting mystery and, at the same time, an allegory for Doctor Who's place in the world at the time when it was 25 years old. It is a fresh and original story, and a fine way to conclude the anniversary season.
It isn't perfect - the mystery is so slow in playing out its hand that the first half of the story can be quite hard to follow at times, and this is not helped by the incidental music intruding on some key lines of dialogue.
There are a lot of characters who get introduced quite quickly - some of them only existing to get killed off or to provide some early exposition - with the result that they end up quite broad and one-dimensional. The character of Whizzkid is an example of this, as well as being an unnecessary and unwelcome caricature of Doctor Who fans.
"It was your show all along, wasn't it?"Ace asks the Doctor. The gods of Ragnarok are the BBC Management. They can't kill the Doctor while he is still entertaining, not even though they want to, not even though he is their greatest enemy and stands against everything they believe in. They want "something bigger, something better" and yet are prepared to sit there while the Doctor performs his low-budget magic tricks one after another.
And then by the time they try to kill him off, it is too late.
Despite the TV series getting cancelled the following year Doctor Who is, of course, still with us - and by that I don't just mean the new series that came back to BBC TV in 2005. Target novelisations of the TV stories were available before they began to be released on VHS (and later DVD). In the 1990s they would be repeated on the satellite channel UK Gold, allowing cats and mannys who were too young to have seen them on the BBC to watch them and become fans that way. Plus there were many original book stories, comic strips, Doctor Who Magazine and Big Finish... and all that before the internets truly came along!
By its 25th birthday in 1988 Doctor Who had grown to be far more than just another TV programme. It was The Greatest Show in the Galaxy.