In which Barbara fights a trapper and Ian fights Ice Knights and wolves.
“That door will keep anything out. Or in!”
This episode was a vast improvement over the previous. Two distinct threats arise, first is the trapper who attempts to hold Barbara prisoner for reasons best left unexplained to a pre-watershed audience. The second problem is finding the key, which actually proves to be the easier of the two problems.
The trapper rescues Ian and Barbara from the snow and the wolves. Ian discovers that Altos had helped the trapper carry Ian and Barbara to the cabin before heading down to the village. Ian quickly leaves to catch up to Altos, leaving Barbara with the trapper, who starts to make threatening comments. Barbara discovers the trapper had stolen the keys and travel dials of Susan, Sabetha, and Altos. Thankfully, Ian and Altos arrive back at the cabin before anything to horrific can happen. They force the trapper to take them to the caves to find Susan and Sabetha.
The situation with the trapper is quite mature given the initial mandate that Doctor Who be a family show. Yes, the subject of potential rape is handled quite delicately and would likely be lost on a young child who would think that the man is mean and trying to hurt Barbara, but it is still a bit shocking. In many ways this is probably the most horrific threat seen on the show thus far because it is so thoroughly human. This isn’t an alien wanting to irradiate humanity or a creature hiding in the shadows in a wet-suit. This is a human committing a human crime. It is believable.
The ice caves are the video game section of this story. In fact, the sequence is similar in some ways to the caves from Terry Nation’s first story. There is a chasm to cross and lots of ducking and danger all around. And much like a video game, the key is in a block of ice which is surrounded by frozen knights who come to life when you take the key. Truth be told, while the video game aspects of the previous episode were a bit lackluster, they seem fun in this episode. Young Ian is chased through an ice cave by ice knights. That sound so absurd as to be awesome. It’s a striking image, even if never really explained in any way.
The episode ends with the trapper being killed by the ice knights and our heroes using the travel dials to leap into an episode of The Avengers. Looks like fun awaits–with a vengeance!