I’m very unconvinced by this episode. Sarah Jane sums it up: they’re all stuck waiting until Z-list UNIT solider Major Beresford comes up with something. The Doctor warns Scorby ‘bullets and bombs aren’t the answer to everything’ and not to try to escape the house, as he’ll never make it through the killer veg. Then, the Doctor decides bullets and bombs are, in fact, the answer to everything: Major Beresford calls in the RAF and blows up the Krynoid while the Doctor and Sarah Jane escape the house and make it through the killer veg. I’m afraid this just won’t do at all. And the final, Avengers-style tag scene is rubbish.
It’s a curate’s egg then. The most interesting character, Scorby (who we here learn was a mercenary in Africa and the Middle East) gets killed off by some pond weed, like the pond life he is. The most entertaining, Chase, is composted – a fate that makes even the Doctor shook. It’s poetic justice for a man who saw human beings as food for the plants. The final scene with Sir Colin is notable for the Doctor extending the offer of a TARDIS trip. Sir Colin’s dry response, ‘I’d be delighted, but my wife’s expecting me home for tea’, would have been a much wittier way to end an episode that’s a bit witless.
I think this is a pretty poor conclusion to a story that’s every bit as well directed, performed and scored as Terror of the Zygons, but that has, somehow, failed to engage me anywhere near as much. I think one problem is that the Doctor and Sarah don’t seem to be at the top of their game. In the Antarctic segment the Doctor consciously refused to provide all the answers, telling Moberley, ‘You must help yourselves’ then blew up the Krynoid with Scorby’s bomb. In the Chase segment, much of the hard work is done by other characters – Miss Ducat, Sir Colin, Major Beresford, even Scorby, while the Doctor makes ominous warnings and Sarah Jane does even less.
The other problem is that calling in the RAF to sort it out seems like the kind of solution the Brigadier could have come up with without the Doctor’s help (and would have ended up scattering seed pods across half of Great Britain, or something equally dreadful). It’s a good job Major Beresford is so useless that the Doctor has to suggest the RAF strike, otherwise he might as well not have been in the back half of the story.
Next episode: The Masque of Mandragora