Written by Terry Nation
Directed by Richard Martin
Barbara and Jenny hijack a truck, Ian and Craddock infiltrate a mining camp, and Susan is menaced by a baby alligator.
“This smells like an old goat farm.”
While Dortmun’s bomb did nothing for the Dalek casing, when the chemicals inside were applied to the firebomb, they destroyed the casing and David is able to pull the timer or firing mechanism or something from the bomb, disabling it. The details are a bit vague, but whatever. It works.
We finally see the mining operation at Bedfordshire. There is a mixture of stock footage and an effective scene of enslaved humans pulling a cart loaded with Robomen and equipment. It doesn’t take long for Ian and Craddock to fall ill of a Roboman, but Ian soon dispatches him and makes a new ally who has black market connections in a man named Ashton. We begin learning more about this post-apocalyptic world, specifically the surviving population. Yes, many humans have become Robomen and some organize into groups to resist The Daleks. But many people just try to survive at all costs. Ashton is one such character. Sadly, at this point this concept is underdeveloped. We do have a few interesting ideas in this story, however. While The Slyther itself is less than effective as a costume/creature, I find the idea of The Dalek Commandant having a pet. At this point, Terry Nation is drawing a bit from prisoner of war movies. The Slyther is an alien creature that The Daleks found somewhere, and The Dalek Commandant allows it to roam the camp at night. It looks for food, and sometimes that food includes people. The Daleks don’t typically display this type of perverse cruelty or even caring for a non-Dalek entity. And yet, doesn’t it make a type of sense? The Daleks want to destroy all non-Dalek life, but couldn’t that largely apply to sentient life, creatures that are self-aware and capable of civilization? What threat would a Slyther be? Nazis viewed themselves as building a master race of humans, not necessarily of animals. If The Daleks did not see a creature as a threat, then why not have a pet. If anything, sometimes The Daleks act more like robots than actual living creatures. We don’t see much variation in personality between The Daleks, and I wonder if that could be a minor way to inject a bit of life into these aliens who are growing increasingly stale. Trevor Baxendale, in his novel Prisoner of The Daleks, created a Dalek Inquisitioner. The Dalek was actually sadistic, not wanting to merely exterminate, but actually gaining satisfaction from torturing. This Dalek was one of the most chilling portrayals I have encountered. This is hinted at in The End of Tomorrow, and I would like to see more of this.
Another interesting idea in this episode is that every member of the main cast is separated. Barbara is escaping London with Jenny. Ian is at the prison camp with Craddock. Even Susan had to leave an ill Doctor in a cemetery while she traipsed through the sewers with David. I think this is the first time in the show thus far where this has happened. Each character must make his or her own way to the mining camp. It is interesting that everyone would independently choose to go there, but I’m sure we can make up our own reasons for why this would happen. So, it is fun seeing each character meet new characters and how they interact.