A ship is attacked by an unseen creature. The Doctor and Jo visit the Master who is in prison, on an island. He is in fact plotting with the help of the governor Trenchard. The Doctor learns that a number of ships have gone missing; a lifeboat was found capsised with burn marks on the bottom. The Doctor goes to the Naval Base in order to study the lifeboat. The Master finishes watching the Clangers and gets to work on admiralty charts provided by Trenchard; he notes that a sea fort, being used as a solar energy station, lies at the middle of where the ships have gone missing. The Doctor talks with Capt. Hart and says the ships have been deliberately sunk. The men at the fort are attacked by a Sea Devil. The Doctor and Jo go to the fort; their boat is sunk. They hear something coming towards them.
One of the humans is alive and tells the Doctor about the Sea Devil. The Doctor goes to get a radio when he sees and is persued by a sea Devil. He runs back to the quarters and barricades the door. He rigs an electrical wire to the door, which gives the Sea Devil a shock. It runs off. The Doctor concludes that the Sea Devils are related to the Silurians and have been awkon by the re-building of the fort. They get picked up by air-sea rescue.
Trenchard goes to the Navy base and smuggle is the Master, who is dressed as a naval officer. He collects some supplies and, as he leaves, is spotted by Jo. The alarm is sounded and the Doctor talks to a petty officer who was attacked; he realises that Trenchard and the Master must be in cahoots. Back at the prison, the Doctor sees Trenchard and also sees the Master is back in his cell. The Doctor asks Jo to get on to UNIT. The Master asks to see the Doctor, alone; he knocks out a guard and takes his knife and gun. The Master and Doctor fight; the Doctor disarms him but, as he turns his back, the Master throws the knife.
The Master misses and Trenchard comes in and places the Doctor under arrest. The guards try to detain Jo but she manages to get away. Trenchard sees the Master, who is busy making a device. Capt. Hart orders a submarine to patrol the area around the fort. The Doctor is taken to see the Master; the latter is planning to make contact with the Sea Devils and help them take over the world. Suspicions rise at the navy base when Trenchard says Jo and the Doctor went back to London, and that they didn't return the borrowed jeep; Hart drives to the prison. Jo sneaks into the Doctor's cell and takes his handcuffs off. Trenchard gives Hart a cover story and the Captain leaves. The submarine picks up a contact but the controls begin to go. The Master is tricking Trenchard with a story about enemy saboteurs. Jo and the Doctor escape. The submarine is attacked by Sea Devils. Jo and the Doctor make for the beach; the Master operates his machine and a Sea Devil emerges from the waves.
The Doctor and Jo negotiate a minefield with the Sonic Screwdriver. He then uses it to blow up mines to scare off the Sea Devil. Hart sets up a search for the missing sub. A Sea devil orders the sub to a new bearing. Jo and the Doctor talk to Hart about what is happening; the Captain doesn't believe him. (Classic Pertwee - he scoffs a plate of sanwiches in Hart's office.) The sub heads for the fort; meanwhile the Master tests his calling device. More Sea Devils emerge from the water. Trenchard begins to doubt the Master and tries to call the Minister to warn him about the Sea Devils. They have entered the prison and are killing the guards. Trenchard is killed too; the sea Devils collect the Master. Hart assembles his forces and they go to the prison, but they are too late as the Master and the Sea devils are gone. A ship is sent to the fort and the Doctor uses a diving bell to examine the seabed around the fort. A Sea Devil looks through the window of the diving bell; radio contact with the Doctor is lost. The bell is hauled up but it is empty.
A parliamentary private secretary, Walker, has come to take charge. The Doctor and the Sea Devil leader talk; the Sea Devils plan to reawaken and take over the planet. The Doctor tries once more to broker a peace; the Master tells the leader that the Doctor is their enemy. Walker orders that the Sea Devils be attacked. The Master wants to start a war but the Doctor succeeds in reaching an agreement with the sea devil leader; but the naval attack starts. The Sea Devils change their mind; the Doctor is sent to be killed. He manages to escape when some of the ceiling falls on his guards. The Master comes up with a ruse - bodies and debris float to the surface, so the Navy are fooled. Walker agrees to cease fire. The Master needs equipment to repair the hibernation units so the Sea devils plan an attack on the Navy base. The Doctor releases the sub captain and they head for the submarine. The sub crew receive a morse message and overpower and kill their Sea Devil guard. The Sea Devils create a force field to stop the craft; they blast a way out with torpedoes. Jo and the Doctor are reunited; he talks to Walker and says he will try to negotiate a peace. On the way out, they encounter a Sea Devil, its weapon pointed at them.
The Doctor uses his karate to overpower the Sea Devil but is knocked out by a second. The Sea Devils capture the Navy base. The master and Doctor talk; the Master wants the Doctor to help him revive the creatures. Jo and Hart plan an escape; Jo gets out of the room via a ceiling ventilator. She talks with the Doctor, who is planning a diversion. He turns on the Master's device and it emitts a signal that disorientates the Sea Devils. Jo escapes with Hart and a number of seamen; they launch a counter attack. The Master heads off in a speed boat, persued by the Doctor. The Sea Devils return to the sea and the base recaptured. The Doctor is taken prisoner by the creatures. Walker requests a nuclear strike against the sea devil base. The Doctor tries once more, but fruitlessly, to gain the leader's trust; the Master and Doctor are placed in a cell. The Doctor has managed to reverse the polarity of the neutron flow on the Master's machine - and it is going to blow up. The Doctor uses the Sonic Screwdriver to open the cell and the y find sub escape gear. They are picked up by hovercraft. The Sea Devil base explodes. The Master escapes though.
The Sea Devils doesn't reach the same level as the Silurians, alas, but it does have some really good parts, albeit later on when they appear in number and the pace picks up. (The first few episodes do drag on a bit.) The Royal Navy helped in the making of the story so there is some good location filming and lots of Navy gadgetry on display.
Malcolm Clarke's incidental music is one of the most memorable scores in the show's history, combining as it does some very high pitched electronic sounds with a sort of farting sound for the music accompanying a sea devil.
The Sea Devils themselves are a lovely addition to the Whoniverse of monsters. Once again, though, who is the monster - them or us? Walker is an absolutely odious pen pusher, who is more concerned about the marmalade or tea than his act of murder when the sea base is attacked.
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