The Evil of the Daleks: Episode Three
While Jamie’s excursion in search of Victoria is but an episode away, there’s a massive upside this padding (I hasten to add that I don’t think this section of the story is bad, it’s just not of the same standard as the rest of it); it puts the companion’s relationship with the Doctor under the spotlight. Not in the banal, “I wuv you, Doctor” manner of nu-Who, but in a compelling way that believably sees one of the Doctor’s most devoted sidekicks questioning everything he thinks he knows about his fellow time traveller.
That fraying of the bond between them begins here. After he is rescued by the Doctor (more on his kidnapping shortly), Jamie overhears him apparently betraying the Scot with Waterfield (Waterfield tells the Doctor was not supposed to mention the Daleks to Jamie; to be honest, I was unclear if Jamie was intended to overhear this and it was part of the whole subterfuge; he only fully agrees to the plan in a subsequent conversation with the Daleks, so maybe that was not the case).
Doctor: I know what’s happened to Victoria. She’s a prisoner of the Daleks.
Later, he confronts the Doctor.
Doctor: Jamie, you’re in a temper!
Jamie: Is that bad, then? Does that mean I won’t be co-operative? I won’t do everything I’m told?
Doctor: You were eavesdropping!
Having the Doctor attempt to find some entirely absent moral high ground is a nice touch, but even more resonant is that even here – where the Doctor is apparently called to account – he continues to manipulate his companion.
Doctor: I won’t have you ruining everything, trying to rescue Victoria Waterfield.
Which is, of course, precisely the plan. Whitaker doesn’t spend time on the Doctor’s moral quandary. While it’s clear that he is acting against his will, there’s a lack of handwringing that encourages us to see Jamie’s point-of-view. Not an awful lot happens in Episode Three, but it’s vital in setting out the character dynamics (at the end of Episode Two we know that the Daleks are planning these tests, at the end of Episode Three Jamie begins them).
Dalek: We do not trust you
Doctor: Well, we’re quits then.
Dalek: But we have your time machine. So you will obey us.
The bargaining chip of the TARDIS cannot be the only motivating factor for the Doctor (he needs to buy time to do for the Daleks, obviously) but he is content to let it appears so to the Daleks.
Doctor: And you want to introduce this Human Factor into the race of Daleks?
Dalek: Yes. The conquest of humanity has eluded us. The Daleks must know why.
Of course, RTD returned to the well of human/Dalek cross-pollination to derisible effect in Evolution of the Daleks (with an end result of going to extremes – madness – such is his lack of nuance). Eric Saward did the similar to extremely grizzly results in Revelation of the Daleks. Whitaker concentrates on the social and political dynamics of the resulting conflict in morals, ethics, psychology and philosophy. He does this very straightforwardly, however.
The big deal of using Jamie remains somewhat oblique. He is needed because “travelling with you makes him unique”. When the Doctor asks why not him, he is told:
Dalek: You have travelled too much through time. You are more than human.
Which suggests the Daleks don’t know the Doctor is a Time Lord (more to the point, at this period in the series, they don’t know that he is from another planet – something the Doctor mentions later in this very story). But why do the Daleks need a human who has time travelled (the series picks up on the theme of its effects in The Two Doctors and again during the 2005+ incarnation)? Is it something to do with their plans later for the Dalek Factor (since the Daleks time travel do they need that ingredient in the mix)? It’s not something we’re encouraged to ask, frankly. Whitaker is playing this in big, bold strokes that conjure an idea rather than break it down logically.
Daleks have been brought from Skaro to be injected with the nebulous Human Factor once it’s been isolated. To achieve this, Jamie’s reactions will be recorded and transformed into thought patterns.
Dalek: It is for you, Doctor, to select the major feelings to make up this Hu-man Factor.
All of which leads one to expect a massive goof lining itself up for the Daleks to trundle into (as appears to be the case in a couple of episodes’ time). So it’s just as well they have a plan behind their plan; the worst you could accuse them of is being a bit slack in terms of scientific rigour (through arrogance or foolishness they do not isolate the Daleks infused with the Human Factor).
Jamie’s kidnap is a strange business, mainly because it seems as if the Daleks have two plans running simultaneously and that they do not completely dovetail. At least in part, this is down to human error; They are controlling Arthur Terrall (we don’t know that yet, but it’s pretty evident an alien force, punctuated by electronic noises on the soundtrack, is manipulating him) but the conditioning is erratic. Toby, meanwhile, is a loose cannon (Terrall did not want him to abduct Jamie). If this all goes to create an atmosphere of confusion and strangeness then that is appropriate, because the plot thread is not resolved in a wholly satisfactory manner.
Gary Watson’s performance as Terrall is suitably strained, and a point is made of identifying him as the kind man who suffered during the Crimean War. It’s a fine example of the series not making an emotional meal over a character point and not labouring any metaphorical aspects in having him no longer himself; in today’s show the writers would nurse Terrall’s condition to the point where they showed how little insight they have into so much matters, and then wrap it all neatly in a bow. The Doctor’s history reference sounds more like something his next incarnation would spew out.
Doctor: I watched the Charge of the Light Brigade. Magnificent folly.
Toby’s outlived his usefulness, which wasn’t very extensive. First Terrall bashes him on the head, and then he’s exterminated. Anyone would think this was an Eric Saward script (no, not really).
The spooky aspects have receded somewhat. The strange environment still holds an impact (Daleks in a Victorian house) but we now know too much about the circumstances to be affected by Molly’s tales.
Molly: Well, they do say, sir, that the house is haunted. Mr. Kitts and the butler left. And Cook and the two footmen are complaining.
Toby exits this week, and Kemel (future Ice Warrior Sonny Caldinez) enters. He’s mute, and Turkish (you can see this, as he wears a fez).
Maxtible: His mind is, how shall I say, undeveloped.
Kemel is “strong but stupid”. It’s unfortunate that the racial connotation of this is unavoidable. And ironic that, as part of its attempts to present wider cultural backgrounds in its characters, the series stumbles headlong into crude stereotypes. Kemel is the strong, silent, “noble savage” type that will be given an encore in the form of Toberman in the next story (The Tomb of the Cybermen).
In plot terms, however, this announces the start of Jamie’s trials of strength and endurance; the episode ends with Jamie encountering the quiet giant.
Maxtible: He’s an evil villain, Kemel. He would gladly murder us all our beds.
A slight step down from the first two episodes, but the plot remains engrossing. If occasionally a little confusing.