Written by Ian Stuart Black
Directed by Michael Ferguson
Ben brings news to The Doctor of The War Machine, and the army is sent in.
“You know how young people are. He’s probably distracted by something.”
Having been spotted by The War Machine, Ben attempts to escape, but is quickly recaptured by Polly, who is now under Wotan’s control. Rather than be killed, Ben is put to work on The War Machine project. Unfortunately, there is one flaw in this part of Wotan’s plan. As every other worker is under Wotan’s control, there is no need for guards. Thus, Ben is able to sneak out. Polly watches him leave, but says nothing. When it is discovered that Ben has escaped, Polly is taken from the warehouse for Wotan to deal with.
Ben gets word to The Doctor and Sir Charles, and the army is sent in. The recon patrol is soundly trounced by The War Machine and the workers. They fall back as the machine bursts out of the warehouse. None of the army’s weapons work, all jamming or malfunctioning. As the soldiers continue to fall back, The Doctor takes a few cautious steps into the path of The War Machine, a look of resolution on his face.
While there is quite a bit of action in this episode, not a lot happened. The secret project is out, however, and Wotan’s plans are now known. We have reached the point where The Doctor must now find a way to foil Wotan’s plan and take out the War Machines. I love the final shot of this episode, where William Hartnell gets the chance to be the tough Doctor. It’s similar to when The Tenth Doctor walked through the flames of the Titanic after Astrid’s death, only subtle. The Doctor has no fear of this machine and you know everything will be okay.
And how couldn’t it be okay? The War Machine’s design is, let’s face it, extremely impractical. This is a shame, really, as they are really the weak point of the story. The shootout in the warehouse is an exercise in stunt-work attempting to sell us on the threat. It reminds me of the scene in Ed Wood where Ed is doing a night shoot with Bela Lugosi as Lugosi’s character is being savaged by an octopus. The mechanized octopus is put in a stream, but the crew forgot the motor, so Lugosi has to thrash about in the water, moving the octopus’ arms himself. The actor has to sell the scene, and while all the soldiers and workers give it their best in this episode, it is hard to believe that The War Machines are much of a threat when you can easily out maneuver them and run away. I’m sure Wotan can come up with better, given time.
Apart from the promise of Doctorly heroics to come, the other part I like from the episode is when we discover Polly’s enslavement. It was well done and a bit unexpected. Sadly, Ben doesn’t pick up on the situation quick enough.