‘I don’t want to understand everything, I want to work things out for myself.’ The difference, I think, between this and the earlier stories this season is the balance it strikes between the elevated SF of the forest, and the rather more robust scenes inside the dome with Simon Rouse’s portrayal of Hindle’s insanity, and Davison’s brilliantly judged “phew, what a loony” reactions. In both strands, madness is creeping in to disrupt the world, it’s just we understand the rules a lot better in one setting than the other.
Everything inside the dome is fairly straightforward to follow: Adric’s “betrayal” is clearly set up as a ploy (that the Doctor sees through); Todd takes the role normally set aside for Tegan, grouching at the boys and demanding they come up with a plan. Hindle’s madness is explicitly linked to the effect of the forest: ‘seeds, spores and things… The trees have no mercy’. Even the return of Sanders isn’t the rescue it appears to be, because the Kinda have got at him, and he’s been cured of his own breakdown. He’s no longer ‘the old, red-faced man who shouts’ but almost grandfatherly, gentle and passive – thanks to whatever’s in the Kindas’ box.
Out in the forest, Tegan’s fallen under the spell of the Mara, which gives Janet Fielding the opportunity to play the snake in the garden preying on Aris’ doubt. This is after Aris has sought help from the wise woman of the Kinda: Panna’s high-handed dismissal of his concerns, in the same manner the Doctor and Sanders brusquely deal with their own juniors, suggests that she isn’t as wise as she pretends to be. Her arrogance places Aris at the mercy of the Mara. All the way through, we see the failure of those in authority to look after those that look up to them. This story has a reputation of being “artsy” and difficult, but only, I think, if you get lost in the weeds of the consciously weird dream sequences.
Next episode: Kinda – Part Three