Tuesday, October 29, 2013

7N3 - Battlefield 3

It's kind of sad that, years later, the most famous thing associated with Battlefield isn't the return of the Brigadier or the impressive realization of the Destroyer (more about that next entry), it's the dangerous on-set accident that nearly killed Sophie Aldred. Raw video footage of the event wasn't only featured on several clip shows in the years afterward, it was also included in an internal BBC safety video about how television productions could go very wrong.

That accident features in Episode Three (you can even see the glass crack in a couple shots used in the final edit), but there is so much else going for this episode. For one, the Brigadier finally meets the Seventh Doctor, and the story (at last) kicks in. The scene where the Brigadier goes through all the technological advances that UNIT has made in the past 15 years (or is it 10 years?) in order to impress The Doctor is wonderful. He lists various types of artillery that would be effective against Yeti, Daleks, and Cybermen and, while doing so, smashes the illusions that UNIT, and Doctor Who itself, is an organization or franchise that learns from its mistakes. It evolves to match the era in which it now exists. UNIT creating gold-tipped bullets to battle Cybermen is as important as showing a Dalek hovering up a flight of stairs.

There is also a genuinely powerful scene in the Gore Crow hotel where Lavel tries to subdue a drunk Mordred before having her mind wiped by Morgaine, who was only scanning the UNIT soldier's mind for information. Lavel was a likable character who we got to know and like during her (many) scenes in the helicopter with the Brigadier in the previous episode. To see her first win the respect of Mordred, then tragically die at the hand of his mother, is sad. When the bartender Pat protests, wishing for Morgaine to heal the fallen soldier, there's a slight hope that Lavel will be returned to normal, but Morgaine dashes those hopes by vaporizing Lavel instead. The scene then concludes with Morgaine, in payment for the many beers imbibed by her son, giving Pat's blind wife Elizabeth her sight back. Elizabeth's realization that she can now see is truly emotional, and it's underscored by one of the few impressive pieces of music that Keff McCulloch brought to the table during his time on Doctor Who.

Episode Three is a really good episode, especially after the stalling tactics of the previous episode, and the cliffhanger reveal of the Destroyer is amazing.