Monday, July 27, 2009

XX4 - The Seeds of Death 4

Finally, after six years of having either William Hartnell or Patrick Troughton take a week off and having the story suffer as a result, this, the final Doctor-less episode in the series' history, shows how writing The Doctor out of the episode for a week can be done without stalling the story in its tracks.

Part of the credit might go down to script editor Terrance Dicks, who was pretty much writing all the episodes of this story at this point, but the development of Fewsham's story is, again, the most interesting thing to watch here. The Doctor's absence (or, at least, his conscious absence, as Troughton's body double appears in a few scenes) is almost beneficial, in this instance. When Slaar orders Fewsham to T-mat The Doctor into space, it seems to finally push Fewsham over the edge in his collaboration with the Ice Warriors. Sure, he's seen the Martians slaughter all of his friends, but the fact that the Ice Warriors order Fewsham to press the button is what makes it hard for the poor technician. Even though Fewsham presses the button to (apparently) banish The Doctor's body to space, he is adamant that the Ice Warriors are the ones behind it. Fewsham's cries of "You've killed him! You've killed him!" hammer that point home. It's a fairly intense scene, and it also shows what Slaar is willing put Fewsham through in order to test Fewsham's growing loyalty towards the Ice Warriors.

The very beginning of this episode contains another one of those deaths to minor characters that always seems to kick me in the gut every time I watch it. Brent, well meaning assistant to Miss Kelly and who probably has one or two employee-of-the-month awards under his belt, is the first onscreen victim of a seed pod. Poor guy. Every time I watch this, I wish he would duck out of the T-Mat booth just a couple seconds early so he doesn't feel the full brunt of the seed pod explosion. Sniff.


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