‘It’s begun: the battle of the giants!’ The episode starts with a dramatic recap but what follows has nothing to rival Yeti attacks in Covent Garden. Instead, it’s a lot of people standing in rooms having urgent discussions while the Weed Creature’s servants creep about in the background stealing helicopters and looking shifty.
That’s not to suggest this is untypical of Doctor Who, which often implies more action that it shows, but after two stories that featured a lot of location filming, pitched battles and ominous silences, Fury from the Deep feels a lot more dialogue heavy. Perhaps it’s showing its roots (and future in The Pescatons) as an audio drama: the Weed even has a helpful heartbeat theme signalling its presence, and we get our first hint here that it can be defeated by sound. The bits that do survive look quite good (especially the helicopter shots of the gas rig covered in foam), but I definitely think compared to other Season Five stories like The Abominable Snowmen and (formerly) The Web of Fear, this suffers less from lack of visuals. That said, the episode’s final image, of the possessed Robson emerging from the foam, is indelibly horrid.
But the script is much more about character and atmosphere than spectacle. Again, Megan Jones stands out as one of the most competent people the Doctor has ever met: she’s keen to save lives, and thinks of the crew out on the rigs; checks on the health of her old friend Robson, and expresses sympathy to Harris about his wife. When she is willing to follow the Doctor’s suggestions he’s moved to comment, ‘How nice to be trusted.’
Similarly, Victoria’s departure is getting more set-up than any companion’s since Ian and Barbara. Her increasing dissatisfaction with a life of permanent peril is re-emphasised, and her subsequent kidnap and abduction to the Weed Creature’s lair is hardly what she needs in her present state. The only trouble with all of this is that it makes the Doctor and particularly Jamie seem a bit callous, although Jamie’s attempts to encourage her to buck up are quite sweet. But it’s fairly obvious that, from Victoria’s perspective at least, things are definitely coming to a head.
Next episode: Fury from the Deep – Episode 6