Thursday, February 11, 2010

6H2 - Enlightenment 2

Union strikes delayed the production of Enlightenment, which forced the original actor chosen to play Captain Striker, Peter Sallis, to bow out of the story. Sallis's replacement was Keith Barron, who does such a perfect job at portraying Striker that I would have a hard time believing anyone else in the role.

Barron and Peter Davison have two magical scenes in this episode. The first is when The Doctor first discovers that Striker and the rest of the officers are Eternals, and that they are telepathic. Striker reads The Doctor's mind to glean that he is a Time Lord, that he travels in time. "Are there lords in such a small domain?", he asks. "And where do you function?", replies The Doctor.
"Eternity. The endless wastes of eternity." That last line, one of many beautiful lines as written by the first female Doctor Who writer, Barbara Clegg, says a great deal of the plight of the Eternals. They have the power of gods, but nowhere near the imagination to do anything with it. Eternity would be a vast universe of infinite possibilities for any other being, but for the Eternals, it is hell.

Later on, The Doctor chastises Striker for using the humans (the "Ephemerals") for their minds and their imagination, and that they are parasites. Davison sizzles in this scene. He's an impressive actor, but his skills are even more enhanced by the right director. Fiona Cumming, who directed Enlightenment, the third of four stories directed by her in the Davison era, seems to be the best match for Davison. He's magnetic in Castrovalva, and positively extraordinary in Snakedance, and he is no less brilliant in this story. Most of Davison's scenes take place in the wheelhouse, and although one would think that this takes The Doctor out of the action for a time, the delight in Episode Two is finding out what the Eternals are all about and their relationship with the ephemeral world.

At the end of that scene with Striker, The Doctor storms off, prompting the usually telepathic Striker to ask where he's going. The Doctor is surprised by this, and, seconds later, Striker ascertains that The Doctor is off to Tegan's cabin. "But you didn't know, just for a second. Interesting.", and The Doctor leaves the room. I love that this line is so tantalizing, yet it is never explicitly explained why Striker didn't know where The Doctor was going. That the Eternals are never completely explained is one of Enlightenment's biggest drawing points.


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