In which The Thals and The Daleks have their final confrontation.
“Every problem has a solution.”
We left Ian clinging to a rock on the edge of a cliff and Antodus hanging from a rope below. Antodus’ weight on the rope was slowly causing Ian to lose his grip. Ganatus rushes back to help, but even he has difficulty stabilizing Ian. Antodus, perhaps motivated for the good of the expedition, perhaps giving in to fear and hopelessness, cuts the rope and falls to his death. Having lost a second member of the party, Ganatus begins to share Antodus’ fears, fears that are magnified when Kristas returns with news that the corridor on this side of the cliff is a dead-end. As their lantern begins to die, Ganatus fears the need to return in defeat. Ian attempts to rally some sort of hope. It isn’t until the light finally extinguishes that Ian realizes there is another light source. There is a hole in rocks, and through this hole Ian can see the basement of one of the buildings in the Dalek city.
This was a powerful scene, leading me to look back on the chasm-crossing from the previous episode with a less critical eye. It may have been paced slowly, but the emotional weight of Antodus’ death and the realization that all the work and death resulted in a failed pathway does pay off after a fashion. Again, I’m impressed with the actor who plays Ganatus (Philip Bond), because he really conveys a loss of hope. His cheer from earlier is gone, as is a large degree of his innocence. This story is almost a coming-of-age tale, not of a specific character, but of a group of people. Where the Tribe of Gum in the previous serial had to learn to work together for survival, the ultimate survival of the inhabitants of Skaro is a symbiotic relationship between the Thals and The Daleks. Unfortunately, The Daleks have formed a new plan for their own survival, a plan that involves releasing waste from the nuclear reactors of the city into the atmosphere. The Dalek need for radiation, and thus panic on their part, makes any attempt at reconciliation impossible. In many ways both sides of this conflict are in a similar position, but with two distinct responses. The Thals left their isolation because they needed food and were willing to make peace with any Dalek survivors to achieve a new, beneficial relationship. The Daleks have discovered in the course of this story that they need radiation. Both races are faced with extinction, but The Dalek solution is survival at all cost. This combined with concepts of racial purity means that a peaceful solution is not likely.
The Doctor and Susan are held captive, and The Doctor attempts to bargain with The Daleks for the lives of The Thal people with the only card he has left: The TARDIS. He offers the machine and his own expertise to build them their own TARDIS if only they spare The Thals. The Daleks express disbelief that such a device exists, and The Doctor foolishly tells them the ship’s location. The Daleks inform The Doctor they will access the TARDIS once the atmosphere has been flooded with radiation. The Doctor says he is the only one who can operate the machine and he won’t help them if they kill The Thals. “Every problem has a solution,” replies the lead Dalek.
Alydon’s party has entered the city, and soon meets with Ganatus’ party. While this is a necessary development for going in to the final battle, one wonders why splitting into two parties was necessary to begin with, especially since no one from Alydon’s party died. But how often is life just like this. One person goes the hard route, another reaches the same end by an easier route. Irritating.
In the end, Ian, Barbara and the Thals assault The Dalek control room in a fight that is a bit weak by today’s standards. How rocks, ropes, clubs, and a torch can help take down a large number of armored creatures with guns is a bit beyond me, but then the Ewoks did take down an Imperial army. I guess The Daleks were just overconfident . . . ? Regardless, during the struggle the machinery that converts the static electricity into a useable energy for The Daleks was destroyed, causing them to lose power. With his final breath, the lead Dalek asks for The Doctor to repair the machinery or they will die. “Even if I wanted to,” comes his reply, “I don’t know how.” The Dalek dies with a final scream.
The fluid link back in The Doctor’s possession, our heroes make their farewells. The Thals have a new society to build and many things to think about from the last few days. The Doctor turns down the invitation to stay and help them build their new society. Also making farewells are Ganatus and Barbara, both reluctant to say goodbye, but the desire to return home is too great for Barbara. This relationship would require one person to give up their home, Barbara giving up Earth, or Ganatus giving up Skaro. Practically, Skaro probably needs Ganatus more than Earth needs Barbara, but as Barbara left against her will, her desire to return home is understandable. She does give Ganatus a parting kiss.