Written by Ian Stewart Black
Directed by Michael Ferguson
Having found a way to neutralize the War Machines, The Doctor must now find a way to destroy Wotan.
“The city of London has reacted with characteristic calm to the situation.”
This episode sees Doctor Who’s first news report! RTD would have been so happy.
Resolving the cliffhanger, The War Machine didn’t attack The Doctor because it had not been fully programmed. It seems that by attacking early, the military forced the machine to be activated too soon. Thus, The Doctor was able to subdue it by waving his hands around a bit, possibly confusing the poor thing. Before celebrations can begin, however, a new War Machine is activated in West London. The Doctor devises a plan to herd the second machine into a trap whereby a hastily-constructed magnetic field can block Wotan’s signal. Since this is part 4 of 4, the plan works and The Doctor disables the machine. Look’s like Wotan’s plan is quickly falling apart.
The Doctor reprograms the first War Machine and sends it to attack Wotan at the Post Office Tower. Ben rushes to get there first so he can rescue the still hypnotized Polly. The War Machine makes short work of Wotan and after the computer is destroyed The Doctor vanishes, something that will become common with successive Doctors. Back at The TARDIS, The Doctor waits for Dodo . . . poor Dodo. Ben and Polly arrive to inform The Doctor that Dodo enjoyed her time with The Doctor, but she would be staying in London. The Doctor is a bit indignant at her ingratitude, and stomps into the TARDIS. Ben and Polly follow him into the ship after Ben realizes he has Dodo’s TARDIS key. The ship dematerializes, thus ending the story and season three.
While I enjoyed this story, I think the resolution came rather abruptly. Wotan was subdued quite quickly and easily, it seems, and if it was going to be this simple, why not just shut off the electrical mainframe for The Post Office Tower to begin with. Surely Wotan needed electricity. Then the computer could be dismantled and the problem would be solved. I admit, having The War Machine attack Wotan is conceptually better and more satisfying and it causes explosions, but still. Of course, there is plenty of room in the resolution to revive both Wotan and The War Machines. That was probably the intention of the crew. It would surely be plausible to have a revived Wotan refit and activate The War Machines in contemporary London. That might be fun. Perhaps Wotan has been hidden away in some corner of the internet, watching and waiting for an appropriate time to reappear.
Perhaps the biggest flaw of this episode is Dodo. She disappeared in part two and that was the end of her. I understand the behind-the-scenes issues that were at play. It is a shame the girl wasn’t given a proper departure. As sudden as Steven’s was, at least he had a final scene. Dodo’s is almost suspicious. No wonder The Doctor is indignant. But I can’t help but postulate that something else is going on. Perhaps Dodo didn’t leave willingly. Maybe something devious is occurring to her right now! I think there is a Companion Chronicle waiting to be written to give a better, more satisfying end to Dodo Chaplet’s story.
And . . . can I be the one to write it, Big Finish? Please?