Who Wrote It?
Bob Baker and Dave Martin
What’s It About?
A group of astronauts bound for Titan becomes infected by a virus that is looking for a host suitable to germinate a swarm. The ideal candidate is The Doctor.
Contact Has Been Made
The problem with The Invisible Enemy is that it follows some great stories. After the high production values and wonderful atmosphere of both Talons of Weng-Chiang and Horror of Fang Rock, The Invisible Enemy really stands out—in a bad way. There are some decent effects when the astronauts first get infected. And let’s face it, when you study parasites, the behavior of the Nucleus really isn’t that unbelievable. Parasites can alter the behavior of the infected organism, even causing erratic and deadly behavior. I appreciate this angle of the story. But everything really falls apart in the end. An interesting resolution is cast aside for an explosion. The Nucleus fails to be effectively realized, more in the practicality of the costume than the design.
It is interesting, however, that in the first episode, the Doctor compared the human race to a disease. Leela questioned him on this, and the Doctor clarified that when humans “get together in great numbers, other life forms sometimes suffer.” First, this line signposts the monster, which turns out to be a virus. Second, it draws an interesting parallel between the actions of the Nucleus and humanity as a colonizing force. Are the actions of the Nucleus really any worse than the actions of humanity? Sure, the Nucleus erodes the free will of the beings it infects, causing the corruption to spread from within, but socio-political conquest works similarly, only with ideas that infect and spread. The Nucleus is correct that it has every right to exist and perpetuate that existence; it is just attempting this biological mandate on a grander scale. The Doctor, however, chooses to fight the Nucleus because it should only exist on the microscopic level. Attempting to conquer the galaxy and time itself are unacceptable. But is this not how evolution works, a sudden, drastic mutation that alters the destiny of a species? In this particular instance, the Doctor is playing God, choosing who lives and who dies. Leela asks why the Doctor does not contact the Time Lords during this crisis. He doesn’t need to; he is doing their work for them. Viewers recoil because the Nucleus threatens humanity and free will; the Doctor recoils because the Nucleus threatens his Time Lord sensibilities.