This episode sees the regulars running rings round the locals which, taken alongside Ben’s cruel ‘witchcraft’ pranks in The Smugglers, doesn’t necessarily cast them in the best light. Polly has no time for Kirsty’s greetin’, and lures the hapless Ffinch into the trap they’ve fallen into before robbing him, and threatening to blackmail him.
Meanwhile, just as his previous incarnation did, the Doctor plays on the superstitions of the period, before escaping captivity, threatening Grey with a gun and gagging him, and gleefully bashing his assistant’s head on the table while asking him if he suffers from headaches. It’s a sadistic streak to the second Doctor that’s not much in evidence in later stories. Neither is his love of dressing up – the infamous washerwoman disguise is from this episode – although his accent is less successful (apparently German doctors sound very much like Mexican dictators).
There’s practically no story development this week that wasn’t already established last time. The episode again is a showcase for Troughton’s versatility, as the Doctor jumps between leading the captive Highlanders in a tune (much to Michael Craze’s amusement, looking at the telesnaps), the malevolent imp Doktor Von Wer and a gentle Scotch menial. This is either the production team demonstrating that they now have a leading man capable of doing all this, or alternatively it’s fudging having to settle on the new Doctor’s persona until the public verdict is in, and there’s been time to work out which aspects they want to keep, which to tweak and which to drop. I suspect it’s the latter.
Next episode: The Highlanders – Episode 3