In which our heroes are captured by The Daleks, get a history lesson, and begin to succumb to radiation sickness.
“It’s possible that they may have been anti-radiation gloves . . . . drugs.”
The Doctor confesses to faking the fault with the fluid link. Turns out it was fine the whole time. Ian is, of course, furious, and take the fluid link from The Doctor to insure The Doctor doesn’t leave without Barbara.
In the previous episode, the characters kept commenting on headaches and generally feelings of illness. Turns out that this wasn’t a bid for a sick day for the actors, it was in fact radiation sickness for the characters. The Doctor, Ian, and Susan discover a lab that has equipment that measured high amounts of radiation. The Doctor speculates that the only weapon capable of petrifying the forest, causing radiation, yet leaving the city in tact would be a neutron bomb. It should be noted that this episode aired 18 years after the bombing of Hiroshima, which means the threat of atomic weaponry would still be strong in the minds of the viewers. Given that World War II was so recent, the concept of a devastating war where victory must be achieved at all costs would have struck a chord with the viewers. The history of the war on this mysterious planet is imparted by The Daleks, the race that led imprisoned Barbara and later captured The Doctor, Ian, and Susan. Ian attempted to escape but his legs were shot, temporarily paralyzing him. The Daleks interrogated The Doctor, believing the travelers to be of a race called “Thals.” The Daleks had detonated the bomb, believing it would destroy The Thals, but they now believe this did not succeed completely. The Daleks speculate that The Thals would be horribly mutated by this point.
Seeing the travelers suffering from radiation sickness, The Daleks agree to allow one prisoner to go to the TARDIS and get anti-radiation medicine. In the previous episode, the person Susan was convinced was in the forest had left a box with phials of liquid, which The Doctor believes to be medication. The Daleks want the medicine for their own experiments and use, willing to let a prisoner collect it, then denying its use by the prisoners. “The will die in time. Their only value is in bringing us enough of the Thal drug to duplicate for our use,” says the seeming leader of The Daleks. Circumstances force Susan to go, as Ian is still injured from his attempted escape and The Doctor and Barbara are much too ill. Thus, we are given more images of Susan running in panic and fear, something that I’m sure will never get old. The episode ends with Susan opening the TARDIS doors, having collected the medicine, preparing to enter the ominous forest once more.