Another week, another week of the regulars standing about wondering if they can change the future – and again, Barbara sounds like the voice of the audience: ‘All we do is stand around saying this whole thing is a nightmare. Why don’t we do something?’
Faced with having to second guess every action, Ian seems to snap, and when cornered by a Morok very Doctorishly refuses to cower instead advances on the armed guard, acts like he’s in charge and practically terrorises him into surrender. As Hartnell is having a week off, William Russell gets his meatiest work for weeks. Given something to do beyond feed lines to Hartnell or stand about while the Optera or the Saracens do their thing, he’s reliably impressive. He gets a couple of decent fight scenes, and finally manages to march into Lobos’s office and demand answers.
Maureen O’Brien also gets a good chunk of action as Vicki is captured by the Xerons, learns about their history, and rapidly comes to the conclusion that they’re weak as water. Exasperated at the incompetence of the Xeron resistance she foments a revolution, demands they find the Morok armoury to steal weapons and wage war on the occupying force. It’s impossible to imagine Susan having an ounce of this gumption. This impression is confirmed, when Vicki marches the Xerons to the armoury, investigates the security computer, and reprograms it leading to an exchange that pretty much sums up her character:
Computer: What is your name?
Computer: For what purpose are the arms needed?
In amongst this, it’s only Jacqueline Hill who gets a bum deal, first locked in a junk room then gassed while she tries to escape. This isn’t a particularly inspiring episode, but it feels like pretty standard Doctor Who in a way most of the Hartnell episodes haven’t yet – an exasperated baddie bemoaning being surrounded by incompetent soldiers; regulars creeping round space corridors and assisting revolutionaries, and everyone promising ‘I’ll explain later’. If you took away the complication of cheating fate, this is the kind of part three that you might have got at any point until the mid 1980s.
Next episode: The Final Phase