Written by David Whitaker
Directed by Christopher Barry
The TARDIS materializes on the planet Dido where survivors of a crashed ship are being menaced by the malevolent Koquillion.
“Oh, I think I‘m going to have a nap.”
This episode has some great lighting. When a review starts this way, you should be concerned.
Lighting aside (and in all seriousness, the lighting is very good), this isn’t a bad episode. It has a feel to it that I can’t quite discern, but it feels like something is new. Perhaps it is Susan’s absence. Even The Doctor is having difficulty adjusting now that she is gone. In fact, he seems more aloof than before. He ushers Ian and Barbara out of The TARDIS to explore while he goes to take a nap. In reality, he is trying to figure out where they are. He realizes they are on the planet Dido, which is a good thing because he has been here before and the people are friendly. Or so it would seem.
Outside the caves where the TARDIS has materialized lie the ruins of a ship. This ship holds the injured Bennett and teenage Vicki. Both are at the mercy of a mysterious creature named Koquillion, who insists that the two humans do all he say. He claims to be protecting the humans from the rest of his people, who would kill them if they found them. While he claims to be benevolent, his methods and actions seem more domineering than anything else. Indeed, in an earlier scene Ian and Barbara encounter Koquillion and he pushes Barbara from a ledge and traps Ian and The Doctor in the caves. This doesn’t seem like a hero.
Vicki is thrilled to find Barbara. She has been hoping for rescue for days, and the arrival of other humans gives her hope. She keeps Barbara hidden when Koquillion is around, but when Bennett later appears, she brings out Barbara in the hopes Bennett will share her excitement. He doesn’t.
I think this story starts out fairly strong, stronger than Whitaker’s previous story Edge of Destruction. The shots of Koquillion in the shadows of the cave are quite effective, and The Doctor and Ian have a wonderful interplay as they try to find a way out of the caves. Bennett is obviously hiding something. Vicki is hard to read at the moment. No, she doesn’t harbor a dark secret, but while Maureen O’Brien seems to be approaching the material competently, it is hard to get a read on the characterization. On the one hand, she is frightened of Koquillion. She is also easily excited, but has an odd scene were she turns against Barbara without warning because she feels she is being pitied. Maybe Whitaker is trying to show us a more dominant, strong character than Susan. At least she isn’t screaming or panicking.
Oh, did I mention that Vicky is Susan’s replacement. It is hard to judge a character based on one episode or even one story. However, I like her better than Susan already. I hope the writers find more interesting ways to use her.