Written by Terry Nation
Directed by Douglas Camfield
Cut off from the TARDIS, The Doctor, Steven, Katarina, and Bret must discover what The Daleks are planning and find a way off Kembel.
“The evil ones searched for us but Bret helped us. He said they were evil.”
While I don’t mind listening to the audio of missing episodes, it was nice that this episode still exists and I could actually watch it. Sometimes it helps to see how the actors played the parts, the moves and actions they took while in character. It helps to see the sets. It also helps to see the visual cues, and in this episode, visual jokes. There is a scene with Mavic Chen that, while having dialogue, has a visual punch line. In this scene, one of the delegates is conversing with Chen. The delegate thinks Chen is foolish for being suspicious of the Daleks. The delegate believes The Daleks need each race represented at the meeting and that they wouldn’t dare betray them for fear of upsetting the balance of power. He chides Mavic Chen for even hinting that The Daleks would eavesdrop on the delegates (which they are doing). This delegate believes Mavic Chen should rise to the esteemed position that the other delegates populate. He should realize his importance to the plan. As this conversation progresses, Chen walks over to an odd structure composed of thick bars running from floor to ceiling. He puts his hands on the bars. As the delegate finishes his reprimand, Chen smirks and says, “Perhaps I know my place,” and he casts his eyes to the bars on either side of him. This is a beautiful visual joke that not only puts the other delegate in his place, but shows how perceptive Mavic Chen can be. He is smart, he is clever, and just a bit humorous. He is dangerous.
As to Chen’s motivation, he claims that holding power in The Solar System is merely a piece of something bigger, something greater. He wants more power, more territory. He is ambitious, something The Daleks know is dangerous to their plans. The Dalek Supreme informs his underlings (and the audience) that all the delegates will be killed when the plan is complete.
The Doctor, Steven, Katarina, and Bret are caught outside the TARDIS. Daleks surround the time ship, and other Daleks have begun to burn the jungle in an attempt to flush out the four characters. Left with no other option, they go to the Dalek outpost. Bret immediately recognizes Mavic Chen’s ship. This means two things, 1) he can fly it, and 2) Chen may be betraying The Solar System. Bret is horrified, but he must do what needs to be done. They make plans to steal the ship, but first The Doctor insists that he must discover what The Daleks are planning. He gives Marc Cory’s recording (that he found in the previous episode) to Bret, and they capture the delegate who earlier argued with Mavic Chen. This particular delegate walks around in a robe similar to a Monk’s habit. The face is concealed. The Doctor puts on the robe and goes to the meeting hall where The Daleks are finally revealing the plan. They have constructed a device called The Time Destructor. The final piece, the activator, is being provided by Mavic Chen. The metal used to power the activator is only found on a planet in The Solar System, and it took 50 years to mine enough. Seems like they should have found a more readily available element, but that seems to be how these things work.
The delegate The Doctor and Bret had subdued comes to and sounds an alarm, throwing the meeting into chaos. As everyone rushes about in confusion, The Doctor grabs the activator and runs. Bret, Steven, and Katarina have captured Mavic Chen’s ship, stashing the crew somewhere in the landing area. Panicked by the alarm, Bret prepares the ship for launch, perfectly willing to leave The Doctor behind if he must. In Bret’s defense, The Doctor urged him to do this if things got bad.
Honestly, this is still a well-paced story. We aren’t padding yet. It does feel different to other Daleks stories, which I think I’ll credit to the new director. This is the first Dalek story that didn’t have Richard Martin’s fingers on it in some way. I think it has actually improved things. There are so many characters in this that we aren’t spending as much time with the Daleks, so they can remain enigmatically behind the scenes scheming, which is sometimes what they do best in this early era. All in all, a great second episode. I wish more existed.