036 – A Desperate Venture (The Sensorites Part 6)

The Doctor and Ian are lost in the aqueducts, but despite this, they discover who is poisoning the water.

Another deadly weapon thwarted by being unplugged.

SUSAN: Why do you trust your people?
FIRST ELDER: Why do you wish to make me doubt them?
SUSAN: Well, trust can’t be given, it must be earned.  I trust you, but only because I know you.
FIRST ELDER: But, Susan, our whole life is based on trust!
SUSAN: Yes, and that might be your downfall.  Look, you don’t trust the ground you walk on until you know it’s firm, don’t you?  Then why trust your people blindly?
FIRST ELDER: When I listen to you, you who are so young among your own kind, I realize that we Sensorites have much to learn from the people of Earth.

This is an interesting and mildly troubling passage.  While the truth of the exchange is that you sometimes can’t put blind trust in people, taken to its extreme, this exchange can breed the type of paranoia that caused the conspiracy in the first place.  If anything, The Second Elder nee City Administrator suffered from the exact opposite of blind trust: blind distrust.  He couldn’t bring himself to trust anyone who wasn’t Sensorite, eventually branching out to distrusting any Sensorite who sided with the humans.  While he would never allow anyone to earn his trust, to not trust until that trust is earned could also cause one to keep at a distance from those you meet.  To a degree, The First Elder wants to trust even in the face of evidence that shows otherwise, but isn’t it better to trust until it is proven that you shouldn’t trust?  Yes, it hurts to have your trust in another shaken, but shouldn’t you offer them the opportunity?  What has caused Susan to adopt such a philosophy?  We do get mere hints of her past.  She wishes to go home, but as The First Elder says, she longs for adventure.  Susan then offers a description of her homeworld, a description which will be echoed in 2007, some 43 years later.

Mere moments later, The Doctor and Ian are ambushed by humans.  Yes, these are the survivors of the expedition which had visited The Sense Sphere long ago.  They have been living in the aqueducts, poisoning the water.  And they have grown quite mad.  Convinced they have been waging a guerilla war against The Sensorites for the planet and the molybdenum, the commander is at first happy to see The Doctor and Ian, but is soon concerned that he and his men won’t get credit and adequate share of the riches.

Barbara, who has now arrived from the ship, accompanies John into the aqueducts after The Doctor and Ian.  Susan stays in the palace and uses the mental communication device of The Sensorites to guide Barbara with the remaining map.  When Barbara and John lead everyone out of the aqueducts, Sensorite warriors are waiting and take the survivors prisoner.  The survivors are then turned over to Maitland, off screen, mind you.  And The Second Elder nee City Administrator is also taken prisoner due to his treachery being exposed with the false map…again, off screen.

Our heroes return to the TARDIS, where Susan laments that she may lose her telepathic ability due to unique frequencies on The Sense Sphere.  The Doctor theorizes that when they return home, they may in fact be able to mold and develop Susan’s talent.  The Doctor laments that The TARDIS seems to be an “aimless thing” that may not be able to get them home, but it isn’t something to worry about.  However, moments later while watching Maitland’s ship depart, Ian says “at least they know where they’re going.”  This statement offends The Doctor.  “You think I’m an old fool, do you?” he bristles.  Either The Doctor is somewhat tetchy today or we needed a cliffhanger of sorts, for The Doctor proclaims that upon their next stop will be Ian’s last stop.  He will be expelled from The TARDIS.  I understand The Doctor’s irritable nature, but this seems extreme.  Poor Ian.

While The Sensorites has on the whole stood up better on this second viewing, this final episode actually felt the weakest.  Too much happened in the amount of time allotted for the episode.  Even though time was an issue, we could have used a reunion between Barbara and Susan for an establishment of her return.  While not necessary, it would have been nice to see Maitland again, having been gone for the previous three episodes, and to see him take the survivors from the aqueduct.  Most glaring, however, is the resolution of The Second Elder nee City Administrator’s antagonism.  He was extremely prominent upon arrival on The Sense Sphere, and to have his ultimate confrontation and arrest happen off screen seems a cheat.  Again, this is largely due to time, but I think it would have been much more satisfying to see this than to re-introduce Barbara and have her and John go through the aqueduct.  It is comparable to the theatrical version of Return of The King, when we have no final resolution with Sauruman.  He was the primary visible antagonist in Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers and to have no appearance of him in the third movie, no resolution beyond his imprisonment in his tower seemed incredibly unsatisfying.  The extended edition of the film rectified this to a degree.  While this addition may not have satisfied purists, it did at least put an end to Sauruman so we could have closure.  As we are not likely to get The Sensorites Extended Edition (I liked the story, but I think even that would be pushing it), we will just have to accept it as it stands.  This is still a shame since everything had been plotted so well until this point.

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One thought on “036 – A Desperate Venture (The Sensorites Part 6)

  1. The story ends rather nicely.

    Its good to have a Dr Who story where the bad guys are not killed off. Sometimes there can be just a little too much death in this show. It was also a bold idea to have the bad guys as humans who had gone made, rather than sinister villains or monsters.

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