Doctor Who 133 – The Tenth Planet Part 3

Written by Kit Pedler
Directed by Derek Martinus

As the Cyberfleet closes in, Cutler decides upon a controversial course of action.

“I could make some coffee or something.”

The episode opens with The Doctor collapsing.  These are the first few moments that give indication that something is not quite right.  However, this wouldn’t be unheard of in The Hartnell Era.  It isn’t the first time The Doctor became ill and spent a bit of time off camera.  It makes me wonder what the original audience made of this.  Both Ben and Polly spend some time commenting on how odd it is that The Doctor would fall ill at this time.  And since he was the main force to stand against Cutler, everyone suffers just a bit because of it.  Given the lack of footage of Hartnell in this episode, I think it is safe to say that he wasn’t even present during filming of this episode.  If that is the case, then technically Part 2 was the last appearance of William Hartnell during his era that we still have on film.  A bit of a shame, really.  It is also a shame that the next episode is lost, but we’ll get to that tomorrow.

With The Doctor out of commission, it seems time for Ben to shine!  He is the main force to stand up to Cutler in this episode.  Sadly, however, Ben is a soldier, and while he is not rushing to blind obedience, Cutler doesn’t recognize any attempts by Ben to stop the z-bomb.  Cutler, now that his son is in distinct danger, feels that this doomsday bomb is the only weapon left to use against The Cybermen.  The plan is to fire the bomb at Mondas.  It should be a powerful enough blast to destroyed the weakened planet.  The primary flaw in the plan (to everyone but Cutler) is that the resulting radiation blast will turn Mondas into a mini-sun, which would then roast whatever side of Earth was facing Mondas.  Cutler feels it is an adequate price to pay to stop The Cybermen and save Earth.  Ben cites another plan, one The Doctor mentioned.  It is possible that, based on the rate of absorption, Mondas will absorb too  much energy and destroy itself.  Cutler dismisses this plan and has Ben imprisoned.  This leaves Polly to make the coffee and try to convince Barclay to side with them.

Basically, this episode takes a break from the threat of The Cybermen and focuses on the z-bomb.  The only appearance of The Cybermen is a brief one where they are ambushed by Cutler’s men.  The majority of the antagonism is from Cutler.  But you feel for the man.  His son is in danger and may soon be killed.  To go with The Doctor’s plan may ensure his son’s death.  Cutler is in a horrible position, and he loses either way.  He chooses his own self-interest, as many people probably would.  However, he continues to make the situation personal.  When Ben and Barclay attempt to sabotage the z-bomb, Cutler threatens to take justice into his own hands if the bomb fails.  Ben and Barclay are following their consciences and obligation towards the millions who would die for Cutler’s son.  Cutler takes this as a personal attack, which it obviously isn’t.  Regardless, the situation is dire, the missile is ready to launch and a second wave of Cybermen is most-likely immanent and I don’t believe they will be fought off as easily this third time.

Doctor Who 132 – The Tenth Planet Part 2

Written by Kit Pedler
Directed by Derek Martinus

Cybermen invade the SPISC while Cutler and Barclay attempt to get the Zeus 4 shuttle back into Earth’s orbit.

“There are people dying all over your world yet you do not care about them.”

We get a massive amount of information in this episode.  Mondas appears to get around, having once been a twin planet to Earth, it went to the edge of the galaxy and has now returned to drain Earth’s energy.  Perhaps the Cybermen mean Earth’s resources.  Regardless, it will leave Earth a dead planet and all life will be destroyed.  The Cybermen graciously offer to take the SPISC crew back to Mondas for conversion to Cybermen, an offer which the SPISC crew refuse.  We also learn a lot about the Cybermen and how they were once human but constantly worked to improve their bodies until only the brain was left.  And of course, they have no emotions, which will lead to every Doctor having some sort of rant about the benefits of emotions and, in one instance, the satisfaction of a well-prepared meal.  I rather enjoy the self-confidence of the Cybermen in this story.  Sometimes they are played for laughs, but in this story, The Cybermen are deadly serious and the characters take them as such.  They are cold and eerie, even their voices are mechanized but they have inflection that makes them seem, not so much robotic, but inhuman.  And I think that is the point Kit Pedler is trying to make.  It isn’t that The Cybermen are robots or even cyborgs as we know them from later science fiction.  They are inhuman, they are perversions.  They are the end result of an attitude of constant improvement at any cost, even the chopping off of anything remotely human if it is perceived as a hindrance.  The Cybermen, in their purest form, are a technological Frankenstien monster.  Based on what I have seen of later Cybermen stories, I almost suspect Pedler was the only writer to portray them well on the television show.  Regardless, these are The Cybermen at their most-frightening and most disconcerting.

I don’t have much more to say, but for those unfamiliar with the story or the plot, I’ll go over a bit of what happens in this episode.  Zeus 4 is destroyed on re-entry, but not before the base in Geneva sends a shuttle to help get Zeus 4 down.  Unfortunately for Cutler, his son volunteered to pilot the shuttle.  If we thought he was hard before, he is worse now.  Ben attempts to fight The Cybermen, but is locked in a storage closet.  He is able to escape, reluctantly killing a Cyberman in the process.  This allows him to gain one of the light-weapons that The Cybermen use.  Cutler uses the device to kill the rest of The Cybermen in the base, so for the moment they are safe.  But this only lasts for a short while as scanners pick up a fleet of hundreds of ship heading toward Earth from Mondas.  Interplanetary war seems imminent.

Similar to The War Machines, we have news reports.  These reports are about the new planet appearing in Earth’s sky.  One of my continual complaints about the RTD era was that the threats always seemed too big, too dire, and taking place on present-day Earth.  And if I voiced this, others did as well.  But I’m starting to think this complaint is somewhat invalid if I truly believe the Classic Series was any different.  The War Machines was, at the time, a contemporary story with a couple of rampaging machines.  And in this story, we have an invasion fleet and a new planet appearing in the sky (makes me think, reluctantly, of The End of Time).  In a few months time I will see another Cybermen invasion, this time on contemporary Earth (The Invasion), and it is one of my favorite Cybermen stories.  So why, if Doctor Who did this from time to time, did it grate so much in the RTD era?  Well, I think on one level, it was ignorance on my part, failing to make the connection with what came before.  But on another level, Classic Who didn’t often show how ordinary people dealt with the invasion.  Maybe you’d get a cop on a deserted street being shot by an Auton or an army of Cybermen marching down the empty steps from St. Paul’s Cathedral.  There was a conspicuous lack of extras in the old days.  Now, however, we can have Cybermen bursting into residences, Daleks destroying houses, and people on the street watching as the Sun is blocked out by the Atraxi.  Bottom line, the stories seem bigger not because they are, but because they can now be filmed that way.  If Innes Lloyd had the budget that RTD had, and the support of the BBC, I think it is safe to say we would have multiple shots of television announcer Glenn Beck reporting the new planet and getting perspectives of the people.  However, I think such a move sacrifices the intimacy that this story and other Classic Series stories have.  So, it would seem Doctor Who has always touched upon large-scale, world-wide events, but in the past it focused more on how our characters dealt with it in their corner, rather than showing how the world dealt with it.

Humble pie is a bitter dish.

Doctor Who 131 – The Tenth Planet Part 1

Written by Kit Pedler
Directed by Derek Martinus

The TARDIS materializes at the South Pole in 1986 and witness a space expedition that is about to go horribly wrong.

“All I can see is snow, snow, and more snow.”

I wish I could view this episode free from the knowledge of what is coming.  Unfortunately, I cannot, which makes me wonder if the growing sense of dread is effective direction or anticipation.  It feels like a season finale, like when I would watch The X-Files and know that this episode will have some sort of big cliffhanger.  The Tenth Planet is a huge story, not because of anything that is particularly done in the primary plot, but because it introduces two firsts to Doctor Who: The Cybermen and regeneration.  But unlike many regeneration stories, the story doesn’t seem to have a “funereal” tone or the weight of premonition.  It seems like any other adventure and the audience should have every expectation that things will work out as normal.

The Tenth Planet begins a formula that we are about to see again and again: The Base Under Siege.  The elements are present here: a remote scientific outpost, an international crew, The Doctor and companions arriving just before or at the beginning of a mystery and getting caught up in the action and suspicion.  It is a formula that continues to be used by the show, recent examples being Waters of Mars and The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People.  Here we have The South Pole International Space Command, headed by General Cutler.  Cutler is a well-realized character.  He is a hard-nosed American general.  He doesn’t have time for flippancy and he seems to spend most of his time angry.  The head scientist seems to be Dr. Barclay, a man who is more open to The Doctor’s thoughts and theories.  The SPISC is overseeing the return of a space expedition, The Zeus 4.  But the return is complicated when a new planet appears and this planet seems to be moving toward the earth.  The Zeus 4’s energy systems begin to drain and the new gravity disruption from this tenth planet affects re-entry to the Earth’s atmosphere.  The astronauts of Zeus 4 are in serious danger.

The Doctor figures out pretty quick what the new planet is.  It appears identical to Earth, and he tries to explain to Cutler and Barclay, the former stomping out of the room when The Doctor mentions a twin planet.  This leads me to wonder, has The Doctor arrived at a time that he is familiar with, or is he working the situation out from the clues?  Basically, is this a so-called “fixed point” in time?  The Doctor mentions to Ben and Polly that the base is about to have visitors.  And he turns out to be correct.  Soldiers are ordered out into the snow to break in to the TARDIS and they are killed by what we will eventually learn are Cybermen.  Here, they are creatures in form-fitting suits with mechanical equipment stuck on.  Yes, I know they are wetsuits, but just go with the illusion in the episode.  What is particularly striking about The Cybermen so far is the emotionless face.  This is possibly the most chilling moment in Doctor Who since the cliffhanger for part one of The Sensorites.

So, The Doctor, Ben, and Polly are prisoners of The SPISC until Cutler can deal with their intrusion, The Cybermen are outside the base and ready to infiltrate, and the Zeus 4 is in serious danger of being destroyed.  And there is a new planet in Solar System.  Looks like a good beginning to me.

Doctor Who 130 – The Smugglers Part 4

Written By Brian Hayles
Directed by Julia Smith

Can The Doctor stall Captain Pike from unleashing his men on the village until the revenue agent arrives with the malitia?

The answer, of course, is yes.  I think of all the parts, this was my favorite.  Everything came together, from a change in heart to The Squire, to Pike and Cherub’s greed pitting them against one another.  Interestingly, Avery’s gold was said to be cursed, the terms being that any who seek the gold will be betrayed by one another.  Such is how things go.  Avery was playing the odds, apparently.

I suppose it would be appropriate to launch into a dissection of The Smugglers as compared to The Curse of the Black Spot and try to point out inconsistencies.  But what fun would that be?  It seems a bit silly to me, at the moment, to take what was obviously an in-joke on the latter’s part and try to build some large continuity explanation.  However, it was also silly for me to put honey in my coffee, but I did it anyway.  Let’s just draw the line at silliness there.

Thinking back over the episode, what I find most interesting was that The Doctor sent Ben and Polly back to the TARDIS, and explained to them (after they protested) that with them out of the way, he would be able to fully deal with Pike without worry of hostages.  This stands out as interesting to me because modern-day companions wouldn’t dare bow to The Doctor’s logic in this instance.  They would pretend to leave, but come back.  Then, they would either save The Doctor from some unseen factor, or they would get taken hostage and The Doctor’s plan would be complicated.  Granted, both of these are drama, but the former weakens The Doctor as an other-worldly character.  He ceases to be a being from a higher plane of awareness and consciousness.  Mind you, he didn’t really start out that way either.  He was rather human in the Lambert years.  Otherworldly, yes, with the hint of greater awareness, but still flawed.  I’m not sure how I like my Doctor, as a god-like character who is flawed where his people are concerned, but still more enlightened than his human companions, or as a flawed character that is just a bit more advanced than the rest of us.  I think he has been portrayed as both in the run of the show.  Granted, what we get in The Smugglers isn’t nearly as big as either of these concepts are, it’s just something that I was compelled to think about.

It’s also interesting to me that character actions seem quite uneven.  The Doctor had a lot to do this episode, but Ben and Polly not so much.  They have had good moments in other episodes of this story, but The Doctor would then take a back seat where the action was concerned.  It makes me wonder if the three or more TARDIS crew works best in stories that are more than four parts.  A six part story, while a bit long for many serials, would provide plenty of opportunities for characters to have their own subplots and challenges.  Perhaps this is why the six part stories were viewed as a hindrance by Philip Hinchcliffe in the Tom Baker years.  The Doctor typically only had one companion (Sarah Jane then Leela) during this time.  I’ll file this theory away and keep my eye open as I progress.  But it seems that with the current string of four parters, characters have been fading into the background a bit.  For crying out loud, Dodo faded so far that she disappeared.

But in the final analysis of The Smugglers . . . it was good.  Certainly not the best historical, but it had good moments.  I think it gets better with each episode.

And I’m really apprehensive about the next story.

Doctor Who 129 – The Smugglers Part 3

Written by Brian Hayles
Directed by Julia Smith

The Doctor and the innkeeper escape Pike’s ship.  Now the search for Avery’s gold begins.

As mentioned above, The Doctor and the innkeeper are able to escape from The Black Albatross.  This proves disasterous to their guard when Pike returns.  The Squire and Pike, while the escape is occurring, decide the best way to be rid of Ben and Polly is to convince the revenue agent that the two Londoners murdered Longfoot.  The agent goes along with their accusation, and takes Ben and Polly away.  Pike and The Squire then finalize negotiations for smuggling.  What The Squire doesn’t realize is that Pike has no interest in being a smuggler.  He is here for one reason: Avery’s gold.  However, the smuggling goods hidden in the church’s crypt will not be overlooked when he raids the village.

The agent releases Ben and Polly, trusting their word over The Squire’s.  The rumors he came to Cornwall to investigate implicated The Squire.  As the agent fills Ben and Polly in on the investigation, The Doctor arrives with the innkeeper.  The innkeeper, upon seeing the agent, feels he has been betrayed by The Doctor and flees.  The agent, anticipating a confrontation between Pike and The Squire, rides for reinforcements and The Doctor, Ben, and Polly set about finding Avery’s gold as a negotiating tool to protect the village from Pike.

As Pike returns to the ship to make raiding plans, The Squire and the innkeeper resolve to find Avery’s gold before Pike returns.  What they don’t realize is that one of Pike’s men, the man named Cherub who was Longfoot’s real murderer, is following them.  Whether he is working for the good of Pike or for his own reasons, is unclear.  But in a confrontation in the crypt between The Squire, innkeeper, The Doctor, Ben, and Polly, Cherub kills the innkeepr.

Up until this point I can see why the historicals eventually fell by the wayside.  This isn’t a bad story, but I have found it somewhat difficult to engage with.  There is a lot of posturing and maneuvering between characters, deceptions and double-crosses, and while this isn’t a bad thing, you need a larger cast to achieve this and sometimes it is hard to figure out who is who.  I think if the episode still existed I would be having an easier time with the story.  That said, this was the first episode of this story that I really got in to.  Usually I find my interest waning in part three, but here I felt we were beginning to see two episodes of build-up pay off.  Honestly, I think that seems to be the form of the historicals: two and a half episodes of build-up and one of action.  I’m glad to finally see the story moving forward.

The Squire is a fool.  First, Pike completely dupes him.  Second, when he finally meets The Doctor, he insists on formalities and acting like gentlemen.  This isn’t something that will likely stop Pike.  It is good that The Squire recognizes the danger of a man like Pike, however.  But I think he means to save his own skin in this.  Typical government man.

Sawbones Who 128 – The Smugglers Part 2

Written by Brian Hayles
Directed by Julia Smith

The Doctor becomes a “guest” on The Black Albatross as Ben and Polly find themselves wrapped up in a smuggling ring.

The Doctor is safe enough for the time being, finding a way to sweet talk Captain Pike.  He even negotiates to help Pike find Avery’s gold in return for a portion of the treasure.  But Pike is more than a mere pirate.  The inn keeper arrives at The Black Albatross to arrange for Pike’s participation in smuggling.  Pike agrees to meet with The Squire to negotiate, and makes the inn keeper stay on board the ship with The Doctor.

Ben and Polly go through a bit this episode.  They pretend to be practitioners of voodoo to escape from the gaol.  They return to the church to look for clues to lead them to the real murder of Longfoot, but end up taking a man prisoner in the crypt.  Ben learns that the prisoner is the King’s revenue agent, and he is investigating a smuggling ring.  He has found a system of caves that lead to the beach.  The entrance is in the church’s crypt.  Ben is a bit suspicious of the story, but does discover that the caves lead straight to the TARDIS.

Polly goes to The Squire to tell him about the murder suspect, but is recaptured by Pike and The Squire.  The two men surmise that the prisoner could be the King’s agent, and they return to the crypt with Polly, recapturing Ben and gaining a new prisoner in the form of the agent.

After being thrown right in with the previous episode, things seem to unfold a bit slower this time around.  We still have the mystery of Avery’s gold, but now we have an added smuggling ring, and it seems very few allies for The Doctor, Ben and Polly.  The innkeeper is an interesting character as he is excited about being involved in the smuggling intrigue, but he is also concerned about what Pike could do in his attempt to find Avery’s gold.  He fears Pike could burn down the village.  Should have thought of that before you got excited about smuggling, innkeeper.

I think I am enjoying Ben a bit more than Polly at the moment.  Ben seems quite eager now that he realizes he really is in the 17th century.  Sure, he is still quite skeptical and doesn’t accept things easily, but once he is on board, he is enthusiastic.  He takes to this life quite well, but since we have every indication that he joined the navy to travel and have adventures, traveling in the TARDIS should come quite naturally to him.  Polly, however, just doesn’t grab my attention much.  She does seem quick to catch on and clever, but there is something undefinable that just hasn’t allowed me to warm to her.

It seems all the players are now accounted for.  I’m guessing the next episode will involve a lot of running around.

Doctor Who 127 – The Smugglers Part 1

Written by Brian Hayles
Directed by Julia Smith

The Doctor, now saddled with Ben and Polly, arrives in the 17th century and finds himself at the mercy of pirates searching for the lost treasure of Captain Avery.

This review is brought to you by Linenkugel Summer Shandy.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the Captain Avery referred to in this episode is supposed to be the same Captain Avery from Curse of the Black Spot.  I don’t really know how I feel about this, but I don’t suppose it makes any difference whatsoever to either story, so it makes as much sense as anything.

So, yes.  Ben and Polly accidentally stowed away, much to The Doctor’s annoyance.  He claims that he was interested in traveling alone again, but I think that can be attributed to hurt feelings over Dodo’s departure.  The Doctor quickly goes over the rules for Ben and Polly and any new viewers.  Did I mention this is the beginning of season four?  Well, it is, and perhaps new viewers to the show need an update.  We are moving into a new era of Doctor Who, after all.  So, the rules are 1) The TARDIS travels through time and space and 2) The Doctor cannot control the TARDIS.  It pretty much goes where it wants.  Apparently, these rules are subject to change depending on the incarnation of The Doctor.

The TARDIS materializes on a beach.  Polly guesses they are in Cornwall.  Ben seems to have little difficulty accepting they are in Cornwall, but can’t seem to come to terms with being in the 17th century.  He and Polly set out to find a bus or train so Ben can get back to the barracks.  The Doctor follows, claiming he needs to keep them out of trouble.  They soon come upon a church where they are assaulted by a man with a gun.  The man is Joseph Longfoot.  He is the warden of the church, he is afraid of pirates, and he thinks Polly is a boy.  I’m sure that is going to play an important role later.  While Longfoot cannot give the travelers lodging, he offers them food and sees them on their way to the inn.  Before leaving, however, he tells The Doctor what seems to be a code.  This will also probably be important later.

Dropping the name “Longfoot” at the inn gains The Doctor, Ben, and Polly admission for the night.  Unbeknownst to them, however, Longfoot is currently being murdered by a pirate.  Seems Longfoot was once first mate to Captain Pike on The Black Albatross.  Pike believes Longfoot knows the location of Captain Avery’s gold.  Longfoot claims ignorance, making the pirate more suspicious.  He kills Longfoot, but believes that The Doctor was told the location.  So, he makes for the inn.

Unfortunately for The Doctor, Ben, and Polly, Longfoot’s body is soon found and the owner of the inn sends for the squire.  But before the squire arrives, The Doctor is kidnaped by pirates.  When the squire arrives, he tells Ben and Polly that they are wanted on suspicion of murder.

Quite a lot happens in this episode, which is a nice change of pace after the previous two, which were good, if a bit predictable and insubstantial.  This episode, however, moves briskly from scene to scene.  In all honesty, I wish it wasn’t lost because it would be easier to keep up with.  There are a lot of characters introduced, along with quite a bit of intrigue and danger.  The visuals would probably help me process better.  But, upon more thought, I felt similarly when I started listening to Farewell Great Macedon, and that proved to be one of my favorite Big Finish stories.

This particular historical is interesting as, to the best of my knowledge, it isn’t dealing with a specific event or character.  I don’t think we’ve had an historical like that since The Aztecs.  The Doctor, Ben, and Polly merely find themselves embroiled in the dangers of the times, rather than at the mercy of an historic event or meeting someone special from the past.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  However, I think the story may focus more on action/adventure than detail and accuracy.  Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

I rather enjoy that the pirates have taken to calling The Doctor “Sawbones”.

Doctor Who 126 – The War Machines Part 4

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.

And in this corner, weighing in at one ton, 257 lbs...

 “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?

Doctor Who 125 – The War Machines Part Three

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.

First Doctor Tough Guy Pose

 “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.