Written by Terry Nation
Directed by Richard Martin
Our parties converge on the Dalek mining camp and we finally learn of The Dalek’s diabolical plot!
“I see something‘s cooking!”
The Dalek plan is finally revealed. They have been mining to the Earth’s core, not because there is a special mineral, but because they wish to remove the magnetic core of the planet and replace it with an engine. This would, in turn, allow them to pilot the planet anywhere in the galaxy. Um. Yes. Bear with me here for a moment.
This plan is utterly daft. It really doesn’t make much sense, even from a scientific perspective. So, I have a big question here. Why do we accept it? Let me ask this question another way (with a longer set-up). Doctor Who is my favorite program. I love the uniqueness of the show. I love that the only thing that binds the show is imagination. I love the character of The Doctor, even though at this point in the show’s history the cast truly is an ensemble. The Doctor is one character among a group of leads rather than a lead with a co-star. I am a fan of both old Who and new Who, and yet the new show doesn’t quite live up to what I want to see from Doctor Who. Yes, it is a good science fiction show in its own right, but there is something about the old show, call it imagination, call it depth, I’m not sure what it is, but it is special. It may just be nostalgia. But what I wish to point out here is that the plan of The Daleks is absolutely absurd. They wish to remove the core of the Earth and pilot it across the galaxy like a giant ship. In series four of New Who, The Daleks removed planets to an isolated part of the galaxy so they could create a giant bomb that would destroy reality. So, the question again, why does the first plot seem tolerable and the second absurd? Sure, I have my answer for this. I have a reason why New Who has fallen short in this respect, but I cannot deny that the ultimate plan is not based in any time of relevant science, or to a degree fantasy. It is pure absurd, b-movie imagination. I don’t use “b-movie” here to mean “dumb”, but audacious. It is a child-like view of reality. Do not misread me here, I don’t say “childish”. Childish implies an immature, selfish, or indulgent view. Child-like implies a sense of wonder. It implies a sense of horror. It is playing with your toys and imagining He-Man driving The Batmobile and Batman riding Battle Cat as they fight against the combined army of Skeletor and Cobra. It is an imagination where anything can happen.
For some reason, a show written in the 1960s can get away with such a concept because we feel we are so much more sophisticated now. Granted, in terms of polished story-telling, scripts do tend to be much tighter. But do they have the sheer imagination? I am no fan of Journey’s End from series four, but is that because there is really anything wrong with the story, or am I just being too sophisticated? Again, I have justified my dislike of that episode and I will one day share it here, but when you put these two plots side-by-side and compare them, don’t they both seem equally ridiculous? Yet, somehow, one seems “quaint”, and we can accept that. Is it the story, or is it us?
Dalek plan aside, we have our parties converging on the mines. Susan and David share a kiss and they actually seem to have a bit of chemistry in this scene. They also seem much more playful with one another. Given the gravity of their situation, this seems a bit out of place, but we’ll go with it. Susan has always been prone to mood swings.
I think my favorite part of this episode is when Barbara and Jenny, having left London, find a run-down shack with two women in it. These women make clothes for the mining camp. They lure Barbara and Jenny in, then turn them in to The Daleks for the food that Barbara and Jenny were carrying. Barbara’s look of disappointment is quite heartbreaking. I like this scene because it helps reemphasize the desperation of humanity. This story started out so ominous and chilling, which I loved, and this scene brought it back up. For whatever reason, as The Daleks became more involved in the story, the focus and tone shifted. This is perfectly natural and understandable, but I preferred the horror of the first episode.
As the episode ends, our characters are still not back together. Barbara and Jenny are going to meet with The Black Dalek. The Doctor, Susan, and David are still traveling to the mining camp. Craddock is dead, having been killed by his brother who turned out to be a Roboman. Ian is trapped in an explosive that The Daleks are lowering to break through to The Earth’s core. Again, I love that everyone is following their own storylines, and it is fun seeing how they come close to converging, but ultimately don’t.
However, I’m not quite sure of the title. What exactly is “The Waking Ally”?