We get a crash course in Sensorite government and sociology plus, we learn more about the illness.
“No opinion can be worse, sometimes, than a very dogmatic one.”
The cliffhanger from the previous episode, where Susan agrees to go with the Sensorites in order to save the lives of her friends, is quickly resolved as The Doctor demands that she doesn’t. The two characters have an argument over Susan’s foolish choice. Susan insists that she is no longer a child, The Doctor insists that she still lacks wisdom. While this scene is odd when juxtaposed with the threat that caused it, it does provide some good characterization between Susan and The Doctor. She is growing up. The Doctor states that he and Susan have never argued before. Perhaps her telepathic link to The Sensorites is making her more bold. Perhaps she is merely growing up as Barbara says. Regardless, it is a nice opening scene even if it does cheapen the cliffhanger from the previous episode. Two for two on that account.
We learn more of the history of Sensorite-Human relations in this episode. It seems that five humans had visited The Sense Sphere once before. At the time they were welcomed, but the humans began to argue. Two of them took the ship and tried to leave but it exploded. The Sensorites never saw the other humans from the ship and assumed that they had stowed away. Ever since that day The Sensorites have been dying off in greater numbers each year. This new situation filled them with fear, but The First Elder has decided to let The Doctor, Ian, Susan, Carol, and John visit The Sense Sphere. He hopes The Doctor may be able to find a cure for his people. The Sensorites, as an act of goodwill, will attempt to cure John. Barbara and Maitland will remain on the ship as insurance should the humans try anything deceptive.
With this, the third episode, we finally see the villain of the piece in the form of The City Administrator. None of The Sensorites have names beyond their positions, which is indicative of their caste society. The City Administrator seems to be a type of Third Elder, after the First and Second Elders. Each Elder is marked by a sash, The First Elder having a sash that crisscrosses his chest, the second having a single sash across his chest, and the City Administrator who has a sash around his neck. He is also very distrustful of the humans. As a result, he has assembled the disintegrator ray and has it trained on the humans visitors. The Second Elder, furious at this action, takes the firing key from the disintegrator. This does nothing to dissuade The City Administrator from his opinion, it only makes him more subversive and cautious.
As The Doctor, Ian, and Susan dine with The First Elder, they are initially served different water. The Elder insists his guests are served water that he has stored in flagons at the palace. It seems he discovered a spring one day and all the elders drink from the water gathered there. Coincidentally, none of the Elders have grown ill. I wonder…. Ian, being extremely thirsty, drinks some of the lesser-water. He soon passes out and it is revealed that he is afflicted with the same illness that is killing The Sensorites.
Okay, let’s just say it now, the water is the key. The Elders dink stored water, everyone else drinks water from the aqueducts. The Elders are not growing ill, everyone else is. It is obvious that the water is being poisoned somehow. As simple as this seems, it is fun that the writer actually put enough thought into the story to provide large clues. There is a mystery here. While it is reasonable to conclude the water is the key, we do not yet know what is causing the poison, but we do know it coincided with the departure of the original human visitors. We also know from this episode that The Sensorites couldn’t account for all five of the original visitors, they merely assumed they left with the others. It is not a big leap to theorize that the original humans are still on the planet and could be the cause, in one form or another, of the poisoning.
We also have it established that John, due to his “mind being opened”, is able to determine if a person is good or evil. He senses an evil presence in The Palace, but he also senses that The First Elder is good. More clues, although the evil presence will most-likely be The City Administrator since he advocates murder.
The Sensorites is holding up so far, although it was harder to keep my attention on this episode. This is probably due more to not getting enough sleep last night rather than anything inherent in the episode. Three down, so far so good.