The Daleks are very fond of a good chant aren’t they? Perhaps I’ve forgotten, but I don’t remember quite so much chanting in previous stories. I suspect Daleks might enjoy a good football match. Or fifty years from now they’d be right at home at a US election rally: “YOO ESS AY! YOO ESS AY!” Tribal chanting is always sinister and disturbing in whatever context.
Is it me or has the pace slowed down a bit this week? Saggy middle episode syndrome? Whether or not that’s the case it’s merely by comparison with the first two episodes, and still gripping.
What’s this Dalek up to then? And what’s Bragen up to? It seems as though everyone is secretly plotting this week. Trust issues everywhere: Ben doesn’t trust the Doctor, the Doctor doesn’t trust the Dalek, Bragen and Hensell don’t trust Quinn…
Lesterson suggests they use the Dalek as a miner. Good plan, Daleks absolutely love mining, everyone knows that.
You know when you’re watching something and the character gets into a predicament because they can’t make themselves understood, and you want to shout at the tv “JUST EXPLAIN EVERYTHING!!”? Well it’s one of those situations here with the Doctor…he tells the others that the Daleks need to be destroyed, but admits he can’t prove it. He just gets cross and doesn’t give anyone a reason to believe him. What he needs to do is sit down with them and tell them everything he knows about the Daleks. The Invasion Of Earth in 2164 for a start! All the murders, all the slavery, the whole lot. JUST TELL THEM!
The Doctor orders the Dalek to deactivate and it pretends to obey until he’s left the room. This is a crafty Dalek! We’ve never seen one behave like this.
It seems as though Bragen is trying to stitch Quinn up and Hensell’s buying it.
Meanwhile the Doctor’s building a thing. That’s proper Doctor Who that is, building a thing from stuff. He doesn’t tell us what the thing is for. The first Doctor would have told us.
What I like so much about this new version of the Doctor is that a lot of the time it’s quite difficult to imagine William Hartnell acting from the same script. Sure, the indignation and anger at the scientists could be the first Doctor talking, but those scenes where he’s being cagey and mysterious, plotting to himself, and then the silly playfulness, that’s all quite new. It feels like a real boost for the programme, getting a new take on the character like this.
Lesterson is having a go at being an examiner himself and giving the Dalek a science test. This Dalek knows his periodic table – he is expert in physics and chemistry and passes with flying colours. Assuming he didn’t have the answers written on the back of his grubby protuberance of course… The Doctor walks in and apologises for his outburst earlier, pretends to go along with Lesterson. Janley gets a mysterious phone call and sneaks out. Hello…what’s going on now? I like a good mysterious phone call. The Doctor also sneaks off – to a control panel – and electrocutes the Dalek. It is unharmed though.
Janley is definitely up to no good. She’s plotting with Bragen to take over the colony by encouraging a rebellion using the Dalek gun. She wants Polly out of the way so has her kidnapped. Nice to have a strong female villain, I think the only one we’ve had before was Maaga from Galaxy 4 but that was the gimmicky “beautiful women turn out to be the baddies”, whereas Janley just happens to be a woman working for the bad guys. A refreshing change from most of the feeble women characters I’ve been watching in 1966.
So Lesterson thinks the Dalek seems like a decent enough chap, and can’t believe his luck when it offers to build infallible computers for him. Bonus! Now it’s the Dalek’s time to sneak off (a lot of sneaking this week). The Doctor and Ben arrive and hear movement in the capsule. The Dalek appears – it’s woken up it’s friends! A great scene here as the Doctor and Ben back away. The first “When I say run…” moment. Again, the difference between Doctors: Troughton’s playing it much more seriously than Hartnell would have, and I very much approve.
Another good scene later when Bragen and the Doctor confront each other, each trying to get the other to admit their true identity and intentions. The Doctor has deduced that Bragen killed the real Examiner in episode 1. I knew it. Bragen’s got a classic villain’s face, his treachery was written all over it.
In the lab the Daleks are all playing along with the plan, being co-operative, all with their guns removed. No need for guns apparently, ever so polite, you could take them home to your mum for tea. Daleks like tea. Nothing sinister about all that chanting now is there? A big close up of Lesterson. You can see his mind ticking over. Is he thinking “hang on a minute…there’s something funny going on here…”? Or is he just enjoying being their boss? I can’t tell. Let’s watch next week and find out. But there’s nothing remotely suspicious about three scary voiced aliens in mini tanks shouting “WE WILL GET OUR POWER” in unison over and over again…