Written by Terry Nation
Directed by Douglas Camfield
As our heroes attempt to escape the planet Kembel, they fall prey to The Dalek randomizer are forced to make an unpleasant stop.
We finally leave the planet Kembel and begin the planet-hopping that will mark the rest of the story. You could say The Chase is on. Yes, I deliberately invoke the previous Dalek story because structurally, it is similar. However, this isn’t Richard Martin’s version of The Chase, this is the Douglas Camfield version, and so far, so good. We’ll address the similarities as they become more apparent.
First up, we have the fallout from Zephon’s capture in the previous episode. There is a mini-trial, where The Daleks accuse Zephon of negligence by allowing The Doctor to apprehend him and steal the teranium core of the Time Destructor. Zephon attempts to deflect his failure by pointing his fingers (or leaves) at Mavic Chen. His defense is that the intruders were obviously from Earth. As defenses go, it is rather weak. The Daleks don’t buy it and neither do the other delegates. Zephon is summarily exterminated for his negligence. The Daleks then activate a device called “The Randomizer”, which disrupts the controls of the escaping ship, causing it to crash gently on the planet Desperus. This is a penal planet, where convicts are abandoned. The arrival of the ship with The Doctor, Steven, Katarina, and Bret does not go unnoticed.
As Steven and Bret work quickly to repair the ship, two convicts (Bors and Garge) converge on the ship. The Doctor and Katarina fix up a quick defense using a type of live wire and some sort of sci-fi energy that merely knocks people out rather than kill them. Bret seems to think it is foolish to not kill the convicts, but The Doctor is on his high horse here. We’ll see how that lasts in the next episode.
Oddly enough, the aspect of this story that kept distracting me was how The Doctor treated Katarina. More than once he pointed out how she didn’t ask questions, she just watched and observed and did what she was told. The Doctor seems to find her passivity refreshing in the face of Bret and Steven’s questions and suggestions of what to do next. I think what kept me coming back to this is that she doesn’t seem to have much of a personality, which I find sad because I really want to like the character. She seems sweet. But due to her underdevelopment, I think that makes her harder to identify with or really warm to. Even The Doctor doesn’t know what to do with her, but is thankful she stays out of the way. She is the first companion to just . . . be there. Quite the contrast to the headstrong Vicki. With these thoughts in mind, I find it a shame that the next review won’t be up until Monday. I want these thoughts to be fresh for the next episode because I will feel the need to elaborate on them.
And by way of setting things up, the episode ends with a scream. The audio doesn’t give any sort of clue as to the reason. But as we will find out, The Doctor’s scheme to protect the ship wasn’t nearly as successful as he initially thought.