We set out for the summit of the Daleks’ Master Plan. Nothing in the world can stop us now.
The Abandoned Planet
Sue: I do not believe it…
That’s right, the Monk’s directional thingamy whatsit has burnt itself out. Sue isn’t happy. Just when she thought the Doctor could finally “drive” his TARDIS properly. But, as luck would have it, it worked long enough to get us back to Kembel.
Sue: How big is Kembel?
Me: That’s a good point. They could have landed hundreds of miles away from the Dalek base. That would be funny.
Sue: They won’t have. It’ll be 200 yards away. It’s always 200 yards away.
200 yards away, deep within the Dalek base, Mavic Chen is lording it up at a meeting of the galactic council.
Sue: Chen is so stupid, he doesn’t realise he’s been betrayed by the Daleks. If the Daleks had a sense of humour, they’d be laughing their heads off at this point. What a numpty.
Me: He’s a bizarre character, part-Blofeld, part-Basil Fawlty. I think he knows damn well that he’s been betrayed but he’s so insane, he’s actually trying to convince himself that he’s still in control of the situation. I almost feel sorry for the sociopath.
Chen becomes so unhinged, he murders a delegate who doesn’t address the chair correctly. That definitely wasn’t on the agenda.
Me: Awwww, poor Gearon. I’ll miss Gearon. Gearon was my favourite.
Sue: Are you taking the piss?
Me: I like Beaus best.
When Sara and Steven arrive at the Dalek base, only to find it deserted, Sue has an interesting theory.
Sue: Perhaps they’ve landed in the wrong time zone. Maybe they are too late and the universe has already been invaded, or maybe they’re too early and nothing has actually happened yet.
Me: They might loop back on themselves.
Sue: That doesn’t bear thinking about.
When Steven discovers that Mavic Chen is being held prisoner (“I think the penny’s finally dropped for Chen”), he gets very tetchy indeed.
Sue: I can’t remember the last time Steven didn’t sound like he was itching to get into an argument with someone. He needs to chill out a bit. He can be very intense sometimes.
Me: He’s great, though, don’t you think?
Sue: Oh, don’t get me wrong, he’s very good. I don’t understand why he gave up on acting to become a presenter.
Me: Maybe Doctor Who sucked any passion he had for the craft out of him?
Sue: Actually, that makes perfect sense.
Against his better judgement, Steven allows the duplicitous delegates to escape from captivity so they can warn their respective governments that they tried – and failed – to sell out the entire universe to the Daleks. He even lets Mavic Chen out – apparently he’s the only person who can warn Earth that the Daleks are about to murder everyone, thanks to all that taranium ore he mined from Uranus when no one was looking. I bet that will go down well with the electorate.
And then his spar explodes.
Sue: There’s no way Chen was on that ship. They wouldn’t kill him off-screen. He’ll be back. That reminds me, Hartnell’s been gone a long time…
Me: He must be on holiday again.
Sue: That’s odd, he was there for the first five minutes. Perhaps he sneaked in a weekend break.
Chen’s break from the action is even shorter – he faked his own death so he could persuade the Daleks (who have moved to another base up the road) that he’s still working with them. We’re intrigued enough to press on with the final episode.
The summit is within sight and we can’t give up now.top
The Destruction of Time
Sue: Twelve parts. Twelve. Bloody. Parts.
Me: Thirteen, if you count Mission to the Unknown.
Sue: I’m guessing this is a one-off and we’ll never have to sit through anything over six parts ever again? Yes?
Me: Don’t worry, love, there are whole seasons of 1980s Doctor Who that are only one episode longer than this story.
Sue: Really? That makes me feel a little better. I mean, it’s nearly May and we’re still on William Hartnell!
Me: Hartnell made loads of episodes. The only person who beats him is Tom Baker. It will get easier, I swear.
It may have taken them twelve episodes but they certainly saved the best till last. To put it bluntly, this episode blew our socks off.
It begins predictably enough. The Daleks have had enough of Chen but Chen is too insane to realise that he’s out of his depth. Instead of doing the sensible thing, like legging it back to our solar system so he can find a spin doctor and a military fleet, he decides to proclaim himself leader of the Daleks instead. Doh!
Sue: The Daleks should draw him a diagram.
The Daleks take the piss the only way they know how – they blank him. Chen loses his cool and he fires at the Dalek Supreme. Supreme isn’t having any of it, and while Chen does make it as far as a corridor (“I almost want him to get away with it”), he is quickly – and unceremoniously – gunned down.
However, this distraction gives Steven and Sara the opportunity they need to reunite with the Doctor, who immediately picks up the Time Destructor -
Sue: He’s going to try to bluff the Daleks with it -
- which he then switches on.
Using a Dalek as a shield, the Doctor and his companions make it out of the control room. He orders Steven and Sara back to the TARDIS and all hell breaks loose.
Me: How intense is this?
The Doctor manages to delay the Daleks, giving his friends the time they need to escape (“That’s nice”), but Sara has stayed behind. Oh no!
We can’t see what’s happening – not clearly – but Peter Purves is doing a magnificent job of selling the devastating effect of the Time Destructor on the planet Kembel and its inhabitants.
Sue: Why doesn’t the Doctor age as quickly as Sara? He’s closer to the Time Destructor.
Me: He’s an alien. He ages slower.
Sue: Of course he does. So when does he pull his finger out and save Sara? This is not a good look for her.
And then – in what has to be the single most horrific thing we’ve witnessed in the series so far – Sara ages to death.
Me: To lose one companion in a story is careless. But to lose two..?
Sue: She’s not really dead. You’re just winding me up again.
Me: I’m not, I swear. She’s dead.
Sue: Bloody hell.
Me: So, was Sara Kingdom a companion?
Sue: Well, if whatshername was -
Sue: Yes, her. Well, if she can be counted as a companion then Sara must be one, too. She did loads more stuff – she spoke in complete sentences for a start. She travelled in time more than Katarina ever did. And she saved the Doctor’s life at the end, so she must count.
Me: Did she really? When was that then?
Sue: She went back for him -
Me: So what? All she did was die for her trouble. If she had listened to the Doctor, she’d still be alive now.
Sue: I suppose so. But at least she died trying to save the Doctor’s life. I liked her. She counts. Hey! Hang on a minute – has Steven just saved the day by flipping a switch so the machine is put into reverse?
Sue: So why didn’t the Doctor do that five minutes ago?!
As Peter Purves’ narration reaches fever pitch, Sue crumples up her nose and wonders if what he’s describing to us could have been realised on a BBC budget. Daleks being twirled around in a whirlwind of detritus before imploding back into childhood? Really?
Sue: It probably looked terrible.
Me: Douglas Camfield is still directing.
Sue: In that case, it probably looked incredible. Maybe this is where all the money went. It would explain a great deal.
Me: Of all the missing episodes, this is now the one I want to see recovered the most.
Sue: Not The Tenth Planet Episode 4?
Me: Forget about The Tenth Planet Episode 4. This is much more interesting. I never knew that the final episode was so intense. I really wish we could see it.
When the dust has settled, the Doctor holds up a crablike embryo, all that remains of a Dalek (“Ewwww!”), and then Steven recites the names of the dead. It’s chilling stuff.
Me: And it’s over. The Daleks’ Master Plan. Beat you, cock.
Sue: I really feel like I’ve accomplished something. Do I get a badge or something?
Me: Actually, I do have some ming-mong epaulettes to go with your Sara Kingdom catsuit.
Sue: Stop it.top
The Final Score
This is where things get complicated. This story was so drawn out, Sue can’t remember what she thinks about it. She admits that the last episode was a blinder, but when I remind her about the earlier episodes she keeps getting stuck on that 1920s film set.
Sue: I really don’t know. It’s impossible to give this a single mark. 3 out of 10, maybe? Is that too harsh? 4 out of 10? The Monk was good, I suppose. Is a 6 too high? That bit on the film set. Oh dear. And it didn’t half go on. It could have been a tight six-parter. Maybe a 4? The last episode might have been a 7 or 8. It’s complicated.
She gets her calculator out.
Sue: OK, I think it’s fair to say that some of it was rubbish and some of it was very good. I’ll have to split it right down the middle, just to be fair.
The experiment continues…