Troughton is back from his week’s holiday, and although he’s uncharacteristically flaky on his lines in his confrontation with Terrall, generally he’s again the strongest thing about this episode. Whitaker even gives him another of those lines that are tailor-made for guide books:
THE DOCTOR: I am not a student of human nature. I am a professor of a far wider academy, of which human nature is merely a part. All forms of life interest me.
Later, he gets a great scene with Waterfield: as the Doctor finalises the experimental positronic brains containing the Human Factor, Waterfield contemplates killing him to prevent the Daleks from enslaving all humanity – a very similar choice, in fact, to one the Doctor himself is wrestling with:
WATERFIELD: And sacrifice a whole world. A history, past, present and future? Destroy an entire race?
THE DOCTOR: Yes. I don’t think you quite realise what you’re saying. But yes, it may come to that. It may very well come to that.
This is clearly foreshadowing the Doctor’s plan to bring a final end to the evil of the Daleks. It implies he is willing to contemplate the genocide of the Daleks, and that Genesis of the Daleks is not the first time he has been tempted by this choice. This a lot darker than the first Doctor ever got: he defeated the Daleks whenever he met them, often ruthlessly, but he never seemed to engineer their utter destruction. But now, with Terry Nation hawking his proposed Dalek TV show around the world, and the BBC having decided to remove the Daleks from Doctor Who, a final showdown is on the cards. The dark undercurrents in this episode, and its sense of significance, are tangible.
Sadly, the episode also contains more of the Terrall sub-plot, including a sword fight with Jamie that seems to go on forever, before he’s sent away in the care of Ruth Maxtible. I’m not entirely clear of what the purpose of Terrall or Ruth has been, and if this is the last we see of them, their contribution to the story has been padding the run time.
Luckily, Jamie’s confrontation with the Doctor is more meaningful: Jamie is furious, threatening that ‘We’re finished. You’re just too callous’ just as Steven once did: it’s a great moment for Frazer Hines, and it forces the Doctor to defend his motives – ‘I’ve never held that the end justifies the means… I care about life.’ Between this and his face-off with Terrall, this is the first time this Doctor has been so forthcoming. It’s a stretch to suggest this pays off any sort of arc brewing since The Power of the Daleks, but it’s nice that the season ends with him being direct, rather than evasive about who he really is. And after an episode that flirts with the Doctor being at his darkest, it ends apparently light-heartedly with the Humanised Daleks pushing the Doctor around in a game. ‘They’re taking me for a ride,’ he declares delightedly. And he’s right – although perhaps not in quite the way he expected.
Next episode: The Evil of the Daleks – Episode 6