Written by Paul Erickson and Lesley Scott
Directed by Michael Imison
As more humans and Monoids succumb to the virus, The Doctor, Steven, and Dodo are put on trial.
Truth be told, there isn’t much in this episode we haven’t seen before. The humans are panicked because they are in a desperate situation. Monoids are dropping like flies, and when the first human dies, they start calling for The Doctor, Steven, and Dodo’s heads. Their leader, of course, believes they are good. Steven soon becomes infected, and The Doctor is allowed to work on a cure, using Steven as the guinea pig. Does any of this sound familiar?
Yes, this is a similar scenario to what we had in The Sensorites. But the real gimmick of the story lies not in the plague-scenario. This is just a bit of dramatic tension for something more clever. After The Doctor cures the virus (as we knew he would), the time travelers go back to the TARDIS, dematerialize, then rematerialize in the same jungle. At first it seems that only a few minutes have passed, but then Dodo finds the statue, the one that was supposed to take 700 years to build. Only, instead of being a human, it bears the head of a Monoid. This is the real story, the real concept being explored. In a voyage of hundreds of years, possibly more than a millennium, how would a race change? How would interactions change? The plague was only a bit of drama to get the audience familiar with the situation of the ark, the humans, and the Monoids. The previous episode was largely set-up to this end. This episode resolved the tension and, now that we were familiar with the dynamics aboard the ark, sets about to subvert them. Sadly, we must wait until the next episode before this pays off.
I have had mixed experiences with The Ark, sometimes enjoying it, other times not. But I have always loved the concepts at play, the idea of viewing the same location at different points in time. Civilizations are not static, they change, and in 700 years, they may even cease to exist. This story tried something different, and I look forward to finishing it and seeing if I think it still works.