After the first episode introduced the colonists, this focuses on the crew of the IMC survey ship, arrived on the planet to search for the rare mineral duralinium. Like the colonists, they’re not exactly a coherent unit. They’re clearly the baddies, here to strip mine the planet to feed the insatiable appetite of the Earth (which, according to the information film the Doctor watches is pretty much as awful as everyone says). However, Caldwell (Bernard Kay) has serious qualms about the means by which his captain Dent and sadistic colleague Morgan are planning to convince the colonists to give up their new home.
Hulke’s equation of capitalism with exploitation and ecological collapse is pretty plain: ‘What’s good for IMC is good for Earth,’ Dent tells the Doctor, before reminding Caldwell that he stands to make a bumper bonus from mining the planet, enough to pay off the debts he’s drowning in: ‘the exploitation of this planet can make us both rich’. There’s a grim, socialist morality here that’s a bit different from “rebels versus fascists” stories. The IMC crew are, in their own, selfish ways trying to escape the system as much as the colonists – it’s just IMC are playing by the rules, whereas the ‘eccentric’ colonists, having fled the Earth and set up a collective, are making their own.
The Doctor is a wild card in this. Like other outsiders to the colony (the IMC crew and Jo), he wears red and black rather than the various earth tones of the colonists, but is obviously going to support the colonists’ prior claim and idealism against IMC’s greedy land grab. Pertwee is great in this, playing it so the Doctor has already broadly sussed the truth about the giant lizards, and is giving IMC enough rope to hang themselves. He also gets a fight scene which is more elaborate and Shatnerish than any he’s had so far. Soon, whole chunks of episodes will be given over to him wrestling in slow motion, and this is on the cusp.
Next episode: Colony in Space – Episode Three