Most of this episode concerns Ian, Barbara and the Thals’ journey into the mountains behind the Dalek city. The most impressive thing about it is the cave sets, which are excellent: boulders, pebbles and dirt on the ground, and a convincingly uneven, rocky interior that genuinely sells the episode. The lighting is good as well. It’s played well, with virtually no music, and some naturalistic dialogue between Ian, Ganatus and Antodus. There’s also an exchange between Ian and Barbara that is particularly eyebrow-raising if you listen with your eyes shut:
Oh, no, not that way. Now stay still. Give me your other hand. You’ve got to come back. Now, swing. Now this time, face the rock. And reach round with that arm. Reach higher. Can you feel?
There’s a passing attempt to suggest a love triangle between Barbara, Ganatus and Ian, but it doesn’t develop or cause any conflict between the characters and so feels tokenistic. Antodus’ cowardice, as opposed to Ganatus’ ideological pacifism, is more significant given it plays directly into the cliffhanger, with Antodus literally threatening to drag Ian down with him.
Elsewhere, the Doctor, Susan and Alydon re-enter the Dalek city, where the Doctor sabotages the Dalek scanners. This is a really poorly executed sequence, with Hartnell and Ford apparently having to improvise as the Daleks trundle into place to ‘take them by surprise.’ Later, the Dalek leader confronts the Doctor: ‘You have destroyed our videoscope and one of our lifts!’ It seems a petty basis for five decades of genocidal enmity, but maybe the Daleks really like their lifts. We also get to see them do the Nazi salute for the first time as they declare that, ‘Tomorrow we will be the masters of the planet Skaro!’
Aptly-named, The Ordeal is the series’ first sub-par episode. Unless you’re a speleology enthusiast there isn’t enough incident to sustain 25 minutes, and the whole thing feels a bit plodding. There aren’t even any amusing Billyfluffs, unless you count his fluffy wig, much more of a Thatcher bouffant than normal.
Next episode: The Rescue