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Tangled Web was the third story in the audio anthology Dark Eyes, produced by Big Finish Productions. It was written by Nicholas Briggs and featured Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor and Ruth Bradley as Molly O'Sullivan.

Publisher's summary[]

Something happened when Molly O'Sullivan was just two years old, and the Doctor thinks it's high time they found out exactly what it was.

Meanwhile, the Daleks are fully activating their Temporal Chamber. And while the Doctor and Molly get closer and closer to the terrible truth, the nature of reality itself seems to be in question.


In 1893, Molly O'Sullivan has gone missing on her second birthday. She is returned, deeply asleep, to her parents by Kotris, who talks to himself about her destiny to free the Universe from tyranny.

In the TARDIS, the Eighth Doctor marvels at Molly's textbook operation of the dematerialisation controls. He cancels her coordinates, suspicious that since Molly arrived the Daleks seem to know where they will be. Through hypnosis, he helps Molly remember being taken on her second birthday into a TARDIS - but it wasn't the Doctor's.

On Srangor, Kotris reports to the Dalek Time Controller. He has constructed a "relativity map", technology which belongs to the Time Lords - who used to be Kotris' own people. He uses the map to track Straxus' movements, and confirm that his temporal drone is following the Time Lord to prevent interference. An alarm sounds, alerting them that the Doctor's course in the vortex has changed.

The Doctor has let Molly pilot the TARDIS under hypnosis, taking them to her second birthday during a storm. They witness Kotris arriving in his own TARDIS, confusing the Doctor, who can tell Kotris isn't a Time Lord. They watch Kotris take Molly into his TARDIS, which disappears and returns almost immediately, and Molly suddenly recovers her memories of being returned to her parents by a stranger.

Kotris reviews footage of the same event and realises he was observed by the Doctor, which threatens their plans. He contacts a "third party" for assistance.

The TARDIS shuts down mid-flight; it's been "time-clamped" and is trapped in the vortex. As they discuss pain, hope and Molly's conviction that she must return to World War I, the Doctor hears a strange noise, calls out Lucie's name and collapses. When he comes to, Molly has brought him out of the TARDIS into an alien world - something that should be impossible while it is clamped. More worryingly, the doors have closed and locked themselves. They hear Daleks approaching, but the Doctor can't open the TARDIS doors even with the key, and they run.

Straxus reports to the President that Kotris is acting as predicted, and Kotris's temporal drone is following him - but the Doctor has disappeared. The President orders Straxus to find the Doctor by any means and make sure he "arrives on cue".

The Daleks corner Molly and the Doctor in a cave, but ask them politely to come out. They claim that they have seen the error of their ways and wish to welcome them. The Doctor hears the noise and collapses again; when he wakes he and Molly are being taken to a Dalek city being rebuilt. Within, Daleks play with children among beautiful ceramic towers decorated with flowers, and the Daleks offer to care for the Doctor in their hospital. Molly tries to convince the Doctor to accept the Daleks new reality, reasoning that they could become sick of war, just as he has. A small squid-like creature, Thelus, arrives to treat the Doctor, but he hears the noise and collapses again.

After a week of convalescing, Molly and Thelus explain to the Doctor that they are on Skaro, which has been transformed after a thousand years of peace. The Daleks are changing too, genetically retro-engineering themselves: Thelus is an intermediate phase, able to exist outside a "shell", and the children are basically Kaleds. This society is all that's left after a great war nearly wiped out the Daleks - and destroyed the Time Lords. The Doctor admits he has always hoped the Daleks would change, but despite Molly's attempts to persuade him he can't believe what's happened. He suddenly remembers the TARDIS and runs to it, but still can't open the doors. As he hears the noise again, he realises he has electrodes in his head and manages to remove them.

The Skaro reality melts away - it was a fantasy engineered by the Mezcoranis, robots who believe the Doctor is a dangerous patient with a persecution complex and delusions of saving the Universe. Their therapy having failed, they threaten to use mind-altering surgery on the Doctor, who is trapped in a glass cell with Molly. He removes her electrodes and asks her to tell him who she is and what she can remember about being in Kotris's TARDIS. All this is part of Kotris's plan; he is watching and activates a psionic link. Molly realises he has always been with them, watching, and under Kotris' influence tells the Doctor "I will be the death of all Time Lords." Kotris assures the Dalek Time Controller that this revelation will drive the Doctor to act exactly as they wish.

Straxus locates the Doctor and Molly by predicting what Kotris would do - something he tells his assistant Sandun he is uniquely qualified to do - and rescues them by materialising his TARDIS around them. Shortly after the Daleks arrive and destroy the Mezcoranis to prevent there being any witnesses to their plan. Kotris is disturbed, but the Dalek Time Controller chastises him, reminding him he's no longer a Time Lord.

Straxus reveals that the President prevented the Doctor returning to Gallifrey, but they don't know who Kotris is. They refer to him as X, and believe he was once a Time Lord, but has now been genetically altered by the Daleks into something else. They do know where he is and program his coordinates into the Doctor's TARDIS, but another craft time rams Straxus's TARDIS. Straxus urges the Doctor to go, leaving the others to die and thus foil the Daleks' plan - just as Straxus' TARDIS disintegrates around them.




  • On her second birthday in 1893, Molly went missing for several hours. She was eventually returned to her parents by Kotris.
  • Kotris is a former Time Lord who has been genetically altered by the Daleks.




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