Wednesday, June 3, 2009
The grimness in this episode, and the story, really, is unrelenting, to its credit. There is no humour in this story at all, and it would seem out of place if it was there. No one seems happy, yet no one seems evil, either. There are no real villains or heroes in this story, as in real life. The story is populated entirely by "real" people, which makes their inevitable fate all the more interesting.
William Hartnell's little performance as the Abbot of Amboise is terrific, and it makes you realize how many of Hartnell's supposed quirks are actually just the quirks of his Doctor. It also helps the story that it is never mentioned that the Abbot is or isn't the Doctor. Steven believes it to be The Doctor in disguise, and since Steven is the only character we can relate we can trust in this story, we are also in doubt as to whether or not the Abbot is really The Doctor. When Steven eventually meets the Abbot, he plays along with what he thinks is a bluff on the part of The Doctor, further hammering the point home that it might be The Doctor in disguise.
Thus, the death of the Abbot/Doctor at the end of the episode is shocking, and an increasingly alienated Steven is forced to deal with yet another link severed to his world in the TARDIS. His relationship with Anne (and one does get the impression that it is, indeed, a close relationship) is all that he has left at the end of the episode. The grimness continues...
Posted by Steven at 8:31 AM