053 – Desperate Measures (The Rescue Part 2)

Written by David Whitaker
Directed by Christopher Barry

The Doctor, Ian, and Barbara meet Vicki and Bennett, the two survivors of the crash, and try to convince them to leave the planet Dido.

It was Red Herring all along!

“You‘re right!  I‘ve been here a long time!  I know what it‘s like here.  You‘ve only just come and you‘re trying to ruin things!  Nobody asked you to come here!  Nobody!”

Allow me to depart from the normal review and address the above quote.  In the context of the show, Vicki is mad at Barbara for killing her pet Sandy.  Sandy was a beast which looked quite ferocious but apparently was not.  Vicki had trained Sandy to leave his cave for food.  It would seem this creature was Vicki’s only friend on Dido, and Barbara shot him with a flare gun, killing him.  When our heroes try to convince Vicki to leave Dido, she gives the above rant.  The quote is from a place of anger and frustration.  She doesn’t really mean it.  However, it is an interesting thought.  The Doctor and his companions, current and future, show up on a planet, meddle, then leave.  We always accept their actions are for good, and usually they are, but it is easy to get involved than it is to rebuild after interfering.  In some ways, this is quite irresponsible.  Using a real-life example, it was arguably a good thing to remove Saddam Hussein from power.  He was a cruel dictator.  And while we could argue that his presence in Iraq held other powers at bay, he was harsh toward many of his people.  There is no question that he committed crimes against humanity.  However, it was much easier to remove him from power than it was to build a stable society after he was deposed.  We probably still haven’t seen the final result of this conflict, if we ever will.  It could still be a chain in the unfolding drama that is human history.  Vicki is correct.  The Doctor shows up, does his thing, and leaves others to clean up the mess.  Presumably there is something about his race that allows him to see how to interfere with minimal consequences, but this has never (to my knowledge) been fully addressed.  Should the show do this?  Would it limit things too much?  I’m not sure.

Back to the review.  This was a good conclusion that fits perfectly well with the previous episode.  There isn’t a lot of meat to The Rescue as a whole, but it is enjoyable and accomplishes it’s primary task of introducing us to Vicki.  Hartnell turns in two great performances in Desperate Measures, one when he convinces Vicki that he is here to help and that Barbara is not a blood-thirsty animal slayer, and the second when he confronts Koquillion, who is really Bennett.  Let me just say that the temple in which this latter scene takes place is wonderfully realized.  It is perfectly lit with shadows, beams of light, and mist.  The visuals in this story are some of the best the show has done so far.

One wonders if The Doctor thought much beyond his confrontation with Koquillion.  If the Dido survivors hadn’t showed up when they did, would Bennett have killed him?  It is fortuitous that they appeared when they did.  However, it is also unexpected and confusing.  The Doctor later explains that Bennett must not have killed the entire population of Dido.  Such a shameful oversight on his part.  Come to think of it, he didn’t kill Vicki either.  This seems odd for a man who murdered everyone on the ship and essentially committed suicide just so he wouldn’t be tried for the murder of a single man, which is why he was on the ship to begin with.  I guess when you really get down to it, this story has some major holes.  While a third part could probably fill in these holes, it really isn’t all that necessary.  Why should the production waste any more time than is necessary on what is essentially a character introduction?  Although, sometimes we dig ourselves some pretty deep holes when we try to not get caught at something.  We will compound lies and deception, so why not murder.

No, I’m not buying it either, but the costume looked cool, so I think I’ll let it go this time.

No sarcastic caption this time. Did I mention that I think this episode looks really good?

052 – The Powerful Enemy (The Rescue Part 1)

Written by David Whitaker
Directed by Christopher Barry

The TARDIS materializes on the planet Dido where survivors of a crashed ship are being menaced by the malevolent Koquillion.

Imprisoned by threat of spanner.

“Oh, I think I‘m going to have a nap.”

This episode has some great lighting.  When a review starts this way, you should be concerned.

Lighting aside (and in all seriousness, the lighting is very good), this isn’t a bad episode.  It has a feel to it that I can’t quite discern, but it feels like something is new.  Perhaps it is Susan’s absence.  Even The Doctor is having difficulty adjusting now that she is gone.  In fact, he seems more aloof than before.  He ushers Ian and Barbara out of The TARDIS to explore while he goes to take a nap.  In reality, he is trying to figure out where they are.  He realizes they are on the planet Dido, which is a good thing because he has been here before and the people are friendly.  Or so it would seem.

Outside the caves where the TARDIS has materialized lie the ruins of a ship.  This ship holds the injured Bennett and teenage Vicki.  Both are at the mercy of a mysterious creature named Koquillion, who insists that the two humans do all he say.  He claims to be protecting the humans from the rest of his people, who would kill them if they found them.  While he claims to be benevolent, his methods and actions seem more domineering than anything else.  Indeed, in an earlier scene Ian and Barbara encounter Koquillion and he pushes Barbara from a ledge and traps Ian and The Doctor in the caves.  This doesn’t seem like a hero.

Vicki is thrilled to find Barbara.  She has been hoping for rescue for days, and the arrival of other humans gives her hope.  She keeps Barbara hidden when Koquillion is around, but when Bennett later appears, she brings out Barbara in the hopes Bennett will share her excitement.  He doesn’t.

I think this story starts out fairly strong, stronger than Whitaker’s previous story Edge of Destruction.  The shots of Koquillion in the shadows of the cave are quite effective, and The Doctor and Ian have a wonderful interplay as they try to find a way out of the caves.  Bennett is obviously hiding something.  Vicki is hard to read at the moment.  No, she doesn’t harbor a dark secret, but while Maureen O’Brien seems to be approaching the material competently, it is hard to get a read on the characterization.  On the one hand, she is frightened of Koquillion.  She is also easily excited, but has an odd scene were she turns against Barbara without warning because she feels she is being pitied.  Maybe Whitaker is trying to show us a more dominant, strong character than Susan.  At least she isn’t screaming or panicking.

Oh, did I mention that Vicky is Susan’s replacement.  It is hard to judge a character based on one episode or even one story.  However, I like her better than Susan already.  I hope the writers find more interesting ways to use her.