Doctor Who: The Ambassadors of Death, Part 6

Masks off! (Source: Radio Free Skaro – The Chronic Hysteresis. Copyright 1970 by the BBC,)

As episodes go, I think this one is the most even. It is certainly my favorite so far. We get final confirmation of what has been happening all along. Alien ambassadors have been kidnapped by humans and the astronauts are being held prisoner until their return. The Doctor, finally having all the necessary pieces of the puzzle, can now work toward a resolution. This is good stuff.

Once more, the aliens are not necessarily evil. At this point, we don’t know if the aliens were hoping to make peaceful contact with Earth or not, but the fact that ambassadors are involved means some attempt at negotiation. The aliens haven’t responded with violence, merely taking hostages of their own. They have not, however, eliminated the possibility of violence, as they tell The Doctor that they will destroy the planet if their people are not returned.

While there is not an actual invasion happening, the threat of invasion is what is driving General Carrington. It seems he was behind the abduction of both the aliens and Liz. He fears the alien ship is an invasion force and is reacting accordingly. He is being driven by fear and what he feels is best for the country he is trying to protect. It just a shame he got things so wrong.

So, the story has really picked up—for me—in the end. I’m looking forward to the resolution.

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2 thoughts on “Doctor Who: The Ambassadors of Death, Part 6

  1. General Carringtpn’s motives are quite weak, and this is the central flaw with this serial; but the script editor, Terry Dicks, was forced into writing most of the serial himself when the contracted writer, David Whittaker, couldn’t continue. There was no opportunity to revise the initial 3 episodes, so Terry had to muddle through on the lines laid down in those early episodes. The serial works quite effectively, but the central motivation of Carrington himself is unclear, and in the end has to be ascribed to a fairly unlikely cause.

  2. I have recently been upbraided, elsewhere, for making the bold – and incorrect – statement that the final 4 episodes of serial CCC, ‘The Ambassadors of Death’, were written by Terrance Dicks, the then-current script editor for ‘Who’.

    While it’s true that the contracted writer, David Whittaker, never delivered a script for any but the first 3 episodes of the serial, Dicks evidently commissioned Malcolm Hulke to write episodes 4 to 7.

    These were written from scratch by Hulke from his own storyline, which was delivered to the Dr Who production office on Monday 9th June 1969 (at which point this was still being treated as Serial BBB).

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