Thursday, March 11, 2010

6R2 - The Caves of Androzani 2

In a story full of memorable scenes, perhaps my favourite scene ever in Doctor Who occurs in Episode Two, and it is possibly one of The Caves of Androzani's more superfluous indulgences. It occurs when Krelper (played as the perfect buffoon by Roy Holder) challenges Stotz (Maurice Roeves) on his leadership of the gun runners, then gets put in his place by his superior.

When described like that - yeah, it's a superfluous scene indeed. But then Graeme Harper waves his magic wand, and it becomes utterly breathtaking. Harper lets his actors play it very close to the line and leaves it to the them to decide where to take it (watch for Holder stepping on Roeves's line about "cutting out your black heart"). Harper then tweaks the sound, something tragically rarely done in Who (but then, Harper is all about doing things with his story that have rarely been done in Who), and cranks up the echo when Stotz holds Krelper's head over the cliff and forces him to swallow a suicide pill. The resulting sound makes Krelper's cries and Stotz's repeated demands of "Bite!" ten times more intense and dramatic, and turns a standard BBC quarry in a vast range of hills and valleys. The scene has one minor purpose, that of establishing that Stotz and Krelper dislike each other, but it is done with such style and intensity that it firmly draws each character path from here on in. Krelper may boast, but he is a coward. Stotz will stop at little to exercise his control over others.

From early on in Episode One, The Doctor and Peri's lives have been in danger not by General Chellak or Sharez Jek, but by innocently stepping into a spectrox nest. They only find out the dangers of spectrox halfway through this episode, which gives the story it's subplot. Yes - subplot. Only in a story like Androzani, with numerous strong characters and countless memorable scenes, would the fight for survival of The Doctor and his companion be seen as a subplot in the truest sense. The Doctor's attempts to survive and find the milk of a queen bat merely form the path that he takes, around which we are allowed to witness the lives of the other characters. The various plotlines that occur outside of The Doctor's own thread of survival are in no way linked, but each one is affected by the other. The Doctor has but one desire - leave the situation, find the milk, and leave. Sharez Jek wants to hold The Doctor captive to get to Peri. He would do best to just let them leave. Same goes for Chellak, Stotz, and Morgus. The Doctor explicitly states in Episode One that all he wants is to leave, and yet no one listens to him. It will soon be everyone's downfall that no one did listen.

There is so much in this episode that I haven't even mentioned, namely the performances of Christopher Gable, Peter Davison, and Nicola Bryant (who share two or three blistering scenes in this episode), but to keep going about them would invite repetition. Suffice it to say that each of them are no less than extraordinary, and that each of them will have even better chances to show off their stuff in the episodes to come.


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