Friday, May 29, 2009
After a somewhat meandering latter half of this story, this epic story ends with a pretty shocking finale. The Doctor makes a sudden return (fresh from his hypothetical temper tantrum from the previous week, according to, well, me), a working Time Destructor in hand, ready to threaten the Daleks with its destruction and thus depriving the Daleks of their treasured Ultimate Weapon. I already wrote about the disappearance of The Doctor from the storyline in the previous writeup, but it eventually serves to raise some unanswered questions in regards to the Time Destructor. How did The Doctor manage to obtain it, and the taranium core, so easily? And so unseen? It's taken 12 episodes to get both core and Destructor in the same room together at the same time, but considerably less time and effort for The Doctor to pilfer it.
The other disappointment is Mavic Chen, who was such a strong villain and, really, the driving force behind the first half of this story. But now, without his fellow delegates who all escape back to their own star systems, he's reduced to blundering on about being the "master of the universe" and making other such empty promises. He's the only one in the room who doesn't realize that his eventual fate lies at the end of a Dalek gun. Such a smart mind would have and should have seen this coming, but Chen's been more or less on the outs with the Daleks since recovering the taranium core in Episode 10. It's a pity, as Kevin Stoney was simply magnificent as Chen for the most part in this story, but he, and his character, are not treated as well in its finale.
Any shortcomings of the episode, and indeed, the story, are more than made up for in the final scenes. The Doctor and Sara are being chased through the jungle, functioning Time Destructor in hand, by a horde of Daleks intent on recovering their beloved weapon of death. The staggering results of the device's actions are seen - the jungle is reduced to a stark desert, and Sara ages and dissolves into dust in seconds. There's almost a celebratory end to previous Dalek stories, but not this one. The Doctor and Steven win, but at what cost? Interestingly, The Doctor tries his best to be optimistic of the situation by stating the Daleks have been destroyed, but it is Steven who puts him back on track by lamenting the loss of their friends during the course of the story - Bret, Katarina, and Sara. For the first time in the series' short history, the deadly consequences of travelling with The Doctor have been shown for the first time, about which we will see more in the episodes to come.
It is a bit of a shame that the middle episodes of this story meander a bit, mostly forced by the necessity to cram in a holiday episode for the Christmas Day broadcast. The first five episodes of this story made it appear that it was shaping up to be the best Dalek story ever, and perhaps even the best Hartnell story ever, but sadly, the inability to sustain the momentum over a massive 12-episode length is the serial's only, yet major, downfall.
Posted by Steven at 10:15 AM