Taphony and the Time Loop was the twentieth episode of Series 1 of K9.
Gryffen tries to free a time being imprisoned by the Department. Gryffen is responsible for an experiment that created the Time Blank. K9 assists him in his plan. Unfortunately the Blank, in the guise of a girl (Taphony) turns on Gryffen and begins to drain Jorjie's life force to stabilise her own existence.
In a Department prison, a girl looks confusedly at her virtual reality surroundings. Gryffen appears. He asks her if she knows her name and where she is. She doesn't know. Gryffen tells her her name is Taphony. She is in a virtual reality prison and her memory has been blocked. In thirty seconds he will disrupt the prison's security circuits and she will be able to escape. When the security system is breached, Taphony removes her VR goggles, the door opens for her and she leaves. Two CCPCs tell her to halt and return to her cell. When they grab her, she turns them into dust.
At the mansion, Gryffen and K9 are working on the STM. Gryffen says it's taking too long and she should be away by now. K9 warns him he has no control as she is an unstable time entity. Gryffen says that's no reason to lock her out. He's releasing her into time to allow her to find where she belongs. K9 insists it's a bad idea, but Gryffen doesn't listen. At the Department Mobile HQ, Thorne orders the perimeter sealed to ensure no-one enters or leaves the prison. June says it's an internal security matter. Thorne maintains it was clearly engineered from outside. Thorne tells June the escaped prisoner is a maximum security inmate associated with Project Taphony. Back at the mansion, Gryffen can't keep the portal open much longer. K9 explains that as a Time Blank, she does not obey the normal rules of time. She is present physically, but her essence exists outside normal time. Gryffen is relieved she has gone through the portal, when she appears in the house. Darius walks in with Gryffen's birthday cake, singing, "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow". He spots Taphony and they introduce themselves. He offers her some cake but when she touches it, it disintegrates. Gryffen and K9 come down to meet her as Darius introduces Taphony to Starkey and Jorjie, who have just walked in.
Gryffen tells Darius his birthday isn't until tomorrow. K9 scans Taphony, finding a partial memory block and a strange energy force. Gryffen introduces himself to her as Darius shows her to the lab. K9 warns Gryffen that as a Time Blank, Taphony can sustain her existence only by absorbing the life force of another. They need to get her back into the portal as soon as possible but as Gryffen says, he owes her an explanation. Gryffen takes a look at her and finds no psychic damage. All Taphony remembers is that she was in prison. Gryffen explains to everyone she didn't do anything and something was done to her. When the Department began acquiring alien technology, they experimented on a being capable of time travel. Gryffen was brought in because of his experience. The Department called the experiment a failure. To keep it a secret, Taphony was imprisoned. Gryffen couldn't rest until he freed her. Darius suggests showing Taphony around. Gryffen says it's a good idea and the kids leave.
K9 reminds Gryffen of his warning they have to get her away. Gryffen says she is a young girl and should have some fun. K9 states the odds that she will cause a major time disruption is 94.78%. Gryffen tells him as he gets older he has to make amends for the past. The Department imprisoned her because they are "inhumane and unscrupulous". K9 says also because she is very dangerous. As Gryffen and K9 watch Darius and the others show Taphony around, K9 notes Jorjie is considerably paler than usual while Taphony is "blooming". Darius sees no reason Taphony can't stay here. K9 thinks it inadvisable as Taphony does not belong in this time-space continuum. Gryffen says his plan was to set Taphony free and not to have her stay. Taphony doesn't want to leave; it feels like home. Gryffen tells her it's too dangerous. She gets angry and grabs him, inflicting great pain and making him collapse. The team help him up and find him rapidly aged.
K9 scans Gryffen's DNA ageing rate and finds its degradation has accelerated by a factor of a hundred. Taphony says he helped make her the way she is. He can feel what it's like to be a "freak in time". Jorjie follows her out of the chess room. She tells Taphony everyone is angry at what she has done to Gryffen. He is their friend. Taphony dismisses this, saying Gryffen is in better shape than Jorjie is. She tells Jorjie that she feels lost. Jorjie tries to comfort her but Taphony warns her not to touch her. Jorjie assures her she is there for her. Taphony says that in all her life Jorjie is the only friend she's had. Jorjie says they will talk more later. Meanwhile, Gryffen tells Darius, Starkey and K9 the only thing that can help him is getting rid of Taphony. K9 confirms that as long as she is here, the disruption to Gryffen's timeline will continue. Gryffen agrees K9 was right all along. K9 warns him that if he has a birthday in his present state it will become permanent.
Starkey warns that it's dangerous to get Taphony to do things she doesn't want to do. Darius says they don't want to become a "dried up pile". This offends Gryffen. Darius says he was talking about the cake. K9 stops the discussion of the cake and says Taphony must be dealt with. Later in the chess room, Jorjie tries to convince Starkey and Darius she is not dangerous; she just doesn't understand. Darius believes Jorjie is being stolen by Taphony and Starkey adds that Taphony wants her future. Jorjie suggests she doesn't understand the harm she's causing. Taphony zips into the room. Jorjie calls it cool and tries to get the boys to think so. Darius reminds her of what she has done to Gryffen. Taphony listened to what they were saying. She does want to be friends and she's only teaching Gryffen a lesson. She assures them Jorjie will be fine.
They go to the STM room to play frisbee. Taphony slows it down. She distorts time around them until K9 arrives and asks her what she is doing with his friends. She says they are having fun. K9 declares it over. Starkey assures Taphony she's going to make everything right. K9 warns him that Gryffen has 2.33 hours left and Jorjie has even less. Jorjie feels unwell and Starkey decides K9 is right, but Taphony speeds off. K9 confirms that Taphony's life essence is increasing as Jorjie's diminishes, just as he predicted. Darius compares her to a vampire. Jorjie still insists she wants to be friends. Gryffen says Darius is right and they need to treat Taphony as a threat.
June arrives and is met by Taphony. Taphony realises that she is from the people who locked her away. Taphony tells her Jorjie is her friend. June finds Jorjie near death and Gryffen rapidly aged. June tells Gryffen he will explain later why he released her. For now, what do they do? K9 says Taphony must be returned to the portal and transported before she can do more damage; Gryffen only has 1.57 hours left. Taphony arrives, She refuses to just jump into the portal and disappear. Will she have friends? K9 tells her it is possible. She asks if they will play catch. K9 says it's unlikely that "pointless plastic entertainments" will exist.
She asks if she will have a mother. He says that would be impossible. She says if she stays here she can have all of it. June tells her that absorbing Jorjie won't make her Taphony's mother and Darius tells her it won't make them her friends. Taphony says they are her friends. Darius tells her they won't be any more and Starkey agrees. Taphony speeds off.
Gryffen now has only 1.13 hours left. The gang split up to search for Taphony. Each finds her and each rejects her. June, Starkey and K9 are by Jorjie's side. She tells them if she isn't saved she wants to thank them all for looking out for her. Starkey asks K9 if there is any specific reason why Taphony needs Jorjie. K9 says she is a female of similar age, so she is the most logical but not completely necessary choice. She could have chosen Starkey, June or Darius. Darius suggests that they all offer. June agrees. Taphony arrives and freezes time, shocked they would all offer to sacrifice themselves. K9 confirms it; he is immune to the time freeze. Like her he does not conform to all the rules of this time continuum. Taphony asks K9 if he understands what she is doing. She only wants to stay. K9 understands but does not agree. She says Jorjie is her friend. K9 asks her if she is her friend, why is she doing this? People do not hurt their friends. That's what makes them friends.
Taphony unfreezes everyone. Starkey and Darius tell her there is no reason she can't take them instead of Jorjie. Taphony says there is a reason; they are her friends. She asks the Professor how long he has. He says ten minutes. In the STM room, Darius asks Taphony if there is any way to keep in touch. Taphony says he won't remember her but she always will remember him. With only two minutes left for Gryffen, Taphony goes into the middle of the room as Gryffen powers up the STM. Jorjie arrives with June, who thanks her. Taphony tells her that's what friends are for. Darius throws the frisbee to Taphony before she leaves. Time is reversed all the way back to Gryffen finding she has gone through the portal, but this time she hasn't arrived at the house. Darius walks in singing, "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow", carrying the cake with Starkey and Jorjie behind him. Gryffen thanks him but tells him his birthday isn't until tomorrow. Gryffen decides they should celebrate anyway. As Gryffen goes downstairs, K9 bids goodbye to Taphony, who has arrived safely in a dimension suited to her.
- Gryffen was born in Canada in 2012.
to be added
- If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
- Gryffen is rapidly aged by Taphony. This has happened many times in the Whoniverse: to the First Doctor and Sara Kingdom in The Daleks' Master Plan, to the Fourth Doctor in TV: The Leisure Hive, to the Tenth Doctor in TV: The Sound of Drums and to Martha Jones in TV: Dead Man Walking.
Home video releases
This episode is featured in the following DVD sets:
- Series One complete box set, released in Australia on 29 September 2010.
- K9: Series 1: Volume 2, containing episodes 13–26, 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.