Alien Avatar was the twelfth episode of Series 1 of K9.
The Thames is badly polluted by an alien chemical. K9 discovers that telepathic aliens, the Medes, are imprisoned by Drake, who is trying to duplicate a missing special key to operate their organic starship. K9 rescues the Medes. June discovers Drake's plot and helps release their starship.
As they make their way to the River Thames, Starkey explains fishing to K9. Two CCPCs ask them what they are doing. K9 explains fishing to them. Starkey and K9 arrive to find dead fish. K9 warns him not touch them. He has detected an unknown alien substance. At Gryffen Manor, Jorjie sings along to music and accidentally elbows Darius, who is carrying a pile of books. Gryffen asks him if he was going to sell the books. Darius denies it but Gryffen tells him to take them back to the library. Jorjie starts singing again. Gryffen has to raise his voice to get her attention to tell her to keep it down.
As Darius goes to the library, he sees two aliens appear and vanish. At Gryffen house, Starkey takes readings of the toxin in the dead fish. It is extraterrestrial. Starkey finds a match: the toxin is chenium, a corrosive byproduct of the manufacture of Qualon 37, used in the making of inter-dimensional starships. K9 estimates that if it builds up in the food chain, 85% of life in the Thames Valley will die.
In June's office, Drake orders a CCPC to be more persuasive. June tells him she sent her squad to investigate possible alien activity, They were turned back by Drake's unit. Drake is contacted by the CCPC, who tells him the aliens won't stop talking. Drake tells June he won't "upset" her squad again. He has business to attend to. She leaves.
K9 and the team find where the toxin is entering the river. Starkey sees the aliens. They knock him to the ground and disappear. Back at Gryffen's house, K9 looks up the aliens in his file. They are the Medes, a species who can project their images as avatars if they cannot physically be present. The team decide to go to the pollution's source. K9 goes through the drains as Darius and Jorjie track him through the streets and Gryffen and Starkey monitor them.
K9's transmission starts to break up. In Drake's office, June finds the missing schematics for a Fallen Angel on his computer. When Drake arrives, she asks him about his interest in the ship. Before he leaves, she warns he best not be in possession of the ship. June goes to Gryffen's house, where she shows him a blueprint of the Mede starship and the molecular refractor on the top, telling him Drake, not the Department, is exploiting it. The molecular refractor allows the ship to dematerialise and with this he could spy anywhere and not be seen.
The gang spots a factory. Gryffen and June analyse an image of the Mede avatar which cannot be seen in infrared. Starkey insists that Gryffen tell June the situation. Gryffen informs her that Darius, Jorjie and K9 are looking for the source of the pollution in North West 12. June contacts Jorjie and warns her to get out, but she and Darius are caught by CCPCs.
Darius and Jorjie are tied up in the factory, where Drake's men are experimenting with the refractor. K9 sees the Medes' avatars, who tell him to come with them. He replies in their language. They take him to the factory, the source of the pollution, where he sees the workers casting chenium. He finds Darius and Jorjie and frees them. Darius and Jorjie are recaptured. June arrives and the CCPCs take the workers away.
K9 asks Starkey to help him deliver the molecular refractor to the Medes and tells June that Drake had the Medes locked up. K9, Starkey and June gives the Medes the refractor, apologise for what Drake did to them and let them go. The Medes clean up the pollution and repair the damage to K9 before they leave in their ship. After noting the "awesome" day they had, Starkey asks K9 if he wants to go fishing. K9 cheerfully refuses.
- This episode aired on the same day as the Doctor Who episode Flesh and Stone.
- While other episodes use matte paintings to establish London landmarks, this episode's exteriors aren't really treated in any way. It is blatantly obvious, especially as the characters are at the riverside, that they're not anywhere close to the Thames. Tropical trees can be seen on the other side of the river and the wide shots don't reveal any architecture that even slightly resembles London. Much of the action also takes place under a bridge that runs parallel to the river, something that doesn't exist in London. It's forty years into the future, a lot has changed, the climate, the government, the city, everything, time has really taken its toll.
- When K9 cheerfully refuses Starkey's offer to go fishing at the end of the episode, the lights on his face that go on when he speaks don't flash. That's probably because he hadn't had enough time to fully recover from his infection, meaning that he would continue to be plagued by further technical difficulties, which would grow weaker and weaker with each attack before ceasing completely.
- When June Turner has another jurisdictional dispute with Drake, she threatens to launch a report with Lomax.
- This episode establishes that the reason this K9 unit's language is laced with so much English slang is that the five thousand Earth movies on his memdrive have influenced his mode of expression.
- This episode definitively establishes that K9 has some sort of on-board linguistic database, as he talks to the Medes. This point was never particularly clear in his (or his successors') usage in Doctor Who, since he would have ostensibly had access to TARDIS translation circuit. Moreover, he's never been shown to use other languages in The Sarah Jane Adventures.
Home video releases
This episode is featured in the following DVD sets:
- Series One complete box set, released in Australia on 29 September 2010.
- A "vanilla" DVD called Alien Avatar, containing The Fall of the House of Gryffen, Jaws of Orthrus, Dream-Eaters, Curse of Anubis, Oroborus and Alien Avatar, released in Australia on 29 September 2010.
- K-9: Series 1: Volume 1, containing episodes 1–12, released in the UK on 31 January 2011.
- K9: Ultimate Collectors Edition, containing the full first series, scheduled for release in the UK on 11 June 2011.