Monday, April 16, 2012

Phantom Who: Power of the Daleks



Welcome to Phantom Who, a new feature designed to go along with the Earth Station Who podcast, which I co-host. Every other week there will be a new podcast discussing all things Doctor Who, with a central discussion about a particular story.

For the first year we are covering regeneration stories. Starting with An Unearthly Child and wrapping up the current regenerations with The Eleventh Hour, we’ll be covering the first and last stories of each of the first eleven Doctors.

Last time on Phantom Who…

The first Doctor, along with Ben and Polly, thwarted the plans of the evil Cybermen from the planet Mondas! Well, Ben thwarted. The Doctor mostly napped because he was preparing for his first regeneration into the second Doctor! The story picks up immediately after the “renewal” (they don’t actually call it a regeneration).

The Doctor, now in a shorter and younger body that is not entirely dissimilar to that of Moe Howard, has taken the TARDIS to a new planet.

The Doctor is still a bit wonky after his “renewal”. Ben and Polly aren’t sure what to make of him and the former downright refuses to accept it’s the man they’ve been traveling with for the past few… uh, whatever. Not sure how long they’ve been together story-wise.

During the Doctor’s recovery we see the first examples of several now-standard regeneration tropes. The Doctor is disoriented and has to spend a bit of time getting himself together (though far less than later regenerations), he establishes a new quirk (the second Doctor’s trademark recorder), and we get the first suggestion that the TARDIS itself is involved in the process. It is at this time that the Doctor also comes across a very specific piece of metal that makes him nervous.

Extermination,” he says fearfully, putting the piece of metal in his pocket. He also makes a point of finding his diary.

Once the Doctor has stabilized (sort of) the TARDIS materializes on a strange new planet in the middle of a mercury swamp. Oddly, the planet is called Vulcan. Just as oddly, the Doctor goes wandering off into the swamps as soon as they land. There, he witnesses the murder of another man. The Doctor – being the Doctor - decides to inspect the body and he discovers a badge that identifies the man as an Examiner sent from Earth. The badge grants full access to pretty much everything everywhere. Naturally this is exactly the sort of item the Doctor wants to have (this story predates the Psychic Paper), so he takes it. But as he is examining the Examiner’s body, somebody strikes the Doctor over the head and then places an item in his hand.

It’s a weird start, but if you’re a Doctor Who fan you’ve seen weirder.

Ben and Polly find the Doctor soon after, and they are all in turn found by a group from a nearby colony. The Deputy Governor – Quinn, and the Head of Security – Bragen, are accompanied by several of Bragen’s guards. Quinn expresses his distaste for the hired thugs, but Bragen insists they are necessary given the current political climate of the colony. Apparently there are some malcontents who are gradually growing even less content and more bold in their actions.

So the colony officials come across the Doctor (who is unconscious), Ben and Polly (who have just gotten faces full of mercury vapor). Not the best way to start your day. They identify the Doctor as the Examiner, but find it odd that he has arrived so early. Apparently they weren’t due for another Examination for two more years. Neither Quinn nor Bragen know who sent for him, but both suspect it has to do with the activities of one Doctor Lesterson.

It seems Dr. Lesterson has discovered a space capsule that laid immersed in the mercury swamp for hundreds of years. The metal of the capsule has not corroded or decayed in any way; as a matter of fact, with a little cleaning it shines like new. Lesterson is fascinated by the capsule and its potential and is determined to open it as soon as possible to discover what secrets it may hold. If you have ever watched Doctor Who at all - or any other science fiction television show, for that matter – you know this is a monumentally bad idea that will almost certainly lead to lots of ugly death. Otherwise this story would be pretty boring.

Or possibly not, as the new Doctor is a hoot and a holler. It turns out one of the major benefits of listening to this story as an audio play is that you don’t have visuals distracting you from the dialogue. I know I frequently miss bits and pieces of dialogue and exposition in anything I watch. Whether it’s from processing the on-screen action or from being distracted by background events, it happens. Here I was able to catch every little thing the Doctor said and I have to say that Patrick Troughton’s Doctor impressed me early and often. He has a quick wit and offers a new facet to the previous Doctor’s otherness – humor.

Okay – back to the doctor. No, the other doctor. Dr. Lesterson. The man is in his laboratory, eagerly polishing a piece of metal from the space capsule in the corner. He and his assistant – Janley – are having a conversation about a group of people she has fallen in with. 
Apparently they are not content with the current governor and wish to make changes. 
Lesterson has agreed to let Janley hold a meeting in one of his rooms, but that is the end of his involvement. He’s much more concerned with unlocking the space capsule and the mysteries within.

Side Note: It’s a sign of the times that the writer – David Whitaker – simply used the prefix “Space” to denote futuristic items. “Space Capsule” is the only term used to define the item Lesterson uncovered. I was particularly amused by the description of the actual Examiner’s clothing – a “Space Tunic”. I want a Space Tunic for Dragon*Con this year.

Janley tells Lesterson about the arrival of the supposed Examiner and suggests that the man will prevent the opening of the capsule. The doctor is unconvinced about joining her group, but does seem concerned about being prevented from continuing his studies of the space capsule. Already we are seeing that Lesterson might be just a bit obsessed with the capsule.

Meanwhile, the Doctor and his companions have been left in a guest room to recover from their ordeals. The Doctor is tooting away on his recorder, which Ben and I both find highly annoying. I mean, I like the idea of the recorder as a little character quirk, but in practice it is pretty awful. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not ruining anything for me: I just identify strongly with the characters who aren’t so crazy about it (I think I remember the Brigadier finding it to be a nuisance in later stories).

One thing I like an awful lot about Ben is that he is constantly suggesting they just go back to the TARDIS. He starts off wanting to leave because things on Vulcan are dull (although considering they’ve already witnessed a murder, been attacked, been poisoned, and discovered a colony of future humans with a space capsule I can’t imagine what Ben would consider exciting), and later wants to go when things get hairy. I found it to be a very realistic sentiment and one that I don’t believe has ever been echoed by another companion – “You know, we don’t have to stick around and deal with this alien/killer robot/genocidal maniac/evil corporation. We do have a time machine that can take us somewhere else.” It’s a reasonable thought. It made me laugh every time he said it.

After a bit Bragen and Governor Hensell come to pay the trio a visit. Hensell wants to know why the Examiner is on Vulcan and the Doctor cleverly maneuvers around his lack of knowledge while examining the two men’s clothing – clearly looking for missing buttons. The verbal exchange here is very good as the Doctor pries for information and feeds it back to explain his presence. Hensell is perturbed by the presence of an Examiner, certain he is there because of the rebel groups while Bragen continues to suggest it must be because of Lesterson’s capsule.

As Hensell explains the origin of the capsule to the Doctor, the Doctor seems to utterly ignore him and keeps a close eye on Bragen. This being Doctor Who, the man with the closest ties to any sort of military is naturally the most suspect. The Doctor proclaims he himself will examine the space capsule later and dismisses Hensell and Bragen, which I thought was pretty funny.

Polly points out the Doctor’s behavior while Hensell was talking and he acknowledges his rudeness, explaining that he was much more concerned with Bragen’s reaction to Hensell’s story than the story itself. Ben warns the Doctor not to get too cocky, as one person in the colony knows full well that the Time Lord is not an Examiner – the man who murdered the real one.

Later on Quinn confronts Bragen about a new order regarding the Examiner. Apparently the governor has decreed that no one can see the Examiner. Quinn recognizes Bragen’s influence and doesn’t buy the Head of Security’s claim that he had nothing to do with it. These two are not golf buddies, and the story is doing a fine job of establishing the possibility that either of them could be up to no good. Especially when, after their exchange, Janley notices a missing button on Quinn’s tunic. Which is presumably of the “Space” variety.

And now it’s time to get on with it, as the Doctor has made his way to Lesterson’s laboratory and is examining the space capsule. He notes Lesterson’s piece of metal and is a bit suspicious when the doctor tells him it simply dropped from the capsule. Lesterson can’t wait any longer to get that capsule open, and explains to the governor his plan to make it happen. During this exchange, the Doctor compares Lesterson’s piece of metal with his own and mutters, “Extermination,” again.

Lesterson has come to the conclusion that a laser will be able to open the capsule. This seems like a pretty good conclusion, if not an entirely safe one. I’m not sure just blasting foreign objects with lasers is ever the best course of action, but it does happen to work out in this case. After a couple of tries, the laser causes a hatch to open and everybody just rushes right in. This also seems terribly unsafe to me. But all they find is an empty compartment. Lesterson expresses disappointment, but the Doctor knows better and points out that it is simply the foyer (or whatever). As with most stories, we are getting a sense here that the Doctor knows more than he is letting on.

The Time Lord decides they have done enough for one day and just up and leaves with Ben and Polly in tow. The governor can’t quite believe it and is clearly frustrated. He tells Lesterson it is going to be his job to keep the irritating little man out of administrative business. Lesterson agrees, at the same time noticing his own piece of (space) metal has disappeared.

Later that night the Doctor and his companions return to the lab because Lord knows the Doctor isn’t going to examine something like the space capsule with all those idiot colonists just standing around drooling all over the place. He steps right into the capsule and inserts one of the pieces of metal into the slot he detected earlier. A door slides open, revealing…

A linen closet!

No – of course not. This story isn’t called The Power of the Linen Closet, now, is it?
The door slid open to reveal…

DALEKS!


Two of them, though the Doctor notes there is an absent third; which confirms his rapidly growing concerns about just what the heck is going on around this colony. The Daleks are unresponsive – seemingly dead, so the Doctor tells Ben and Polly to enter and take a look at them, wanting his companions to be familiar with the enemy.

Ben is unimpressed. But everybody gets a scare when a “clawed mutant” pops out of the shadows!

The first time I heard this I pictured the Metaluna Mutant from This Island Earth. I mean, you hear “clawed mutant” and what else are you going to think of? But the second time I listened I got the idea that it was supposed to be much smaller. Now I’m picturing Krang from TMNT with claws on his tendrils, which is actually not that for off considering what the mutant turns out to be.

Ben runs back out into the lab and retrieves a work light, but by the time he returns the clawed mutant has vanished. The illumination does allow Ben to note that the Doctor was correct – there were three Daleks. There is a Dalek-shaped circle in the dust next to the other two Daleks.

The Doctor surmises that Lesterson has not only already been in the capsule, but that he has removed the third Dalek. Ben (still unimpressed, as the Daleks are apparently dead and really just kind of look like trash cans with whisks and plungers stuck on them, anyway) doesn’t see what the big deal is, but the Doctor explains that the Daleks aren’t dead, they just need power and that one Dalek is more than enough to wipe out an entire colony of humans.

Side Note: Two things about Daleks, here. One is that there is nothing more crucial to the Dalek’s existence than exposition. Characters absolutely must talk about the Dalek’s awfulness and have to describe any menial activities they perform. If the Doctor didn’t act all scared and concerned every time they show up, viewers would never buy them as a threat. He has to go on about how much mass murder they’re responsible for and all the atrocities they have committed. And if a Dalek is building something or, say, laying wire somewhere a character has to mention it because you certainly can’t show them doing that.
I love the Daleks, but when it comes right down to it there is an awful lot of stuff beings shaped like this:

simply are not going to be capable of.

The second is that I learned the official BBC-sanctioned name for the Dalek’s plunger is “sucker arm”. Or at least, it was in 1966.

Meanwhile, in the guest room, Quinn is looking for the Examiner (the Doctor) when Bragen comes busting in. He wants to know what the Deputy Governor is doing in there when he was expressly forbidden from seeing the Examiner. Quinn isn’t having any of Bragen’s mess, however, and tells him to get bent. Bragen attempts to stop Quinn from leaving and gets knocked on his ass for it. Quinn is not sweating the colony’s Head of Security in the least. He tells Bragen he better not ever block his way again. After the other man leaves, the Head of Security gets up and tells one of his guards that the Examiner is missing and must be found.

Back in the lab, the Doctor, Ben, and Polly are trying to decide what to do. Ben – still being much more rational than your average companion – reminds the Doctor that everybody thinks he’s this Examiner. Why not just order the colonist to destroy the Daleks? Meanwhile, the Doctor and Polly are busy walking around saying, “Lesterson listen,” because it sounds funny when you say it a bunch of times in a row.

This is interrupted when Lesterson comes stomping into the lab. His little buddy, Resno, ran and told him about the intruders in his workspace. He demands to know who gave them permission to be in his laboratory and the Doctor gleefully runs up to the man and sticks the Examiner’s badge in his face, demanding he read it.

Accord every access.”

Exactly! It doesn’t say ‘except your laboratory’ anywhere, does it? Unless it’s in microprint…”

The Doctor goes on to point out that everybody who entered the capsule was shocked by the sight of the Daleks. Everybody, that is, except for Lesterson! That’s because Lesterson had already been in the capsule and has removed the third Dalek for purposes that must be nefarious, or at the very least a bit naughty!

This is also the part where I caught an instance of a flubbed line. I’ve heard and read many times about how rushed the filming was on the classic episodes, and how there were times that actors would mess up lines. There was no time to reshoot scenes, so the mistakes would just get left in. I’ve caught a few over the years. This time, Patrick Troughton says “Contart” before correcting himself and saying “Compartment”. It’s no big deal, but it is interesting that things like that just got left in.

Bragen shows up in the midst of these accusations and demands to know what’s going on. Bragen does an awful lot of demanding and it’s starting to get on my nerves.

The Time Lord tells Bragen what Lesterson’s been up to and the doctor does not deny it. 
The Doctor goes on to say that the Daleks must be destroyed, demands it, even. Lesterson pipes up at this point and says he cannot allow that and that the Examiner is exceeding his authority. The Doctor wants to take that up with the Governor, but Bragen informs them that probably isn’t going to happen. The Doctor – being the Doctor – stomps off to find the Governor.

Lesterson is somewhat panicked by all this and tells Resno to go find Janley. As soon as his man is gone Lesterson opens a hidden compartment in the space capsule, revealing the third Dalek. He starts talking to the inert cyborg like the nut he is, telling it he will find a way to restore it soon.

Back in the guest room, Bragen is lecturing the Doctor about invading Lesterson’s lab unattended. The Doctor responds by asking the Head of Security if he would wait for permission to rip up the floorboards if he knew there was a bomb underneath. Bragen sees his point and goes on to mention the acts of the rebels, including some minor sabotage.

After Bragen leaves, the Doctor does some pretty impressive babbling while he examines a bowl of fruit. Ben gets very frustrated with this until the Time Lord slices open a apple and reveals a listening device in the middle. He then tosses it on the ground and stomps it. Ben assumes Bragen planted the device and the trio are still left wondering just who the heck sent for the Examiner in the first place.

Ben once again suggests they simply return to the TARDIS and not deal with this nonsense, but the Doctor knows the threat presented by the Daleks is far too great to just up and leave. Especially with people as stupid as the ones they’ve met so far running things.
Speaking of stupid people doing stupid things, Lesterson is in his lab with Resno and Janley doing his best to revive the third Dalek. The two assistants are arguing about politics when Lesterson tells them to shut the heck up about it and lend a hand. He’s determined to activate this thing (which he has now adopted the Examiner’s term for) before somebody discovers what he’s doing. They have hooked a power supply up to the Dalek and I really wish I could see this scene because I bet it would be really ominous. Very slowly, the Dalek begins showing signs of life – the eye stalk moves, the sucker arm extends towards Janley, making her cry out. Actually, it would all be a lot creepier if they’d stop referring to the plunger arm as a “sucker stick”. I mean, really.

After a brief display of life, the Dalek returns to its dormant state. Lesterson surmises they need more power (of the Daleks). Resno is uncomfortable, as he feels that the Dalek is watching them and more sentient than it appears. He voices his feelings only to have them dismissed by Lesterson.

The Doctor has decided that if he can convince the authorities on Earth of the menace the Daleks represent they will order their destruction. He makes his way to the communication room only to find that it has been thoroughly sabotaged. As he is examining the destroyed equipment, a figure holding a large set of wire cutters steps from the shadows. It’s Quinn, and he is relieved to see the Doctor. At the same moment, Bragen enters the room. He sees Quinn and makes the assumption one would make in a room full of cut wires. The Doctor also produces the button from his attacker and gives it to Bragen, sealing the Deputy Governor’s fate. Quinn considers resisting arrest, but complies when Bragen’s guards enter the room and surround him. He leaves with the men, but is confident things will be different when an inquiry is held before the Governor. Sure, Quinn. Let me know how that works out for you.

Meanwhile Lesterson, Janley, and Resno are back in the laboratory making Dalek home movies. The doctor has rigged up a better power source and they’re making the Dalek do things like wiggle its sucker stick, turn in circles, aim its eye stalk, and blast Resno with its weapon stalk. Oops.

Let that be a lesson to you, Resno. Don’t ever tell a Dalek how much you don’t trust it.
Lesterson is actually pretty upset by this. Janley assures the doctor that Resno isn’t dead (she’s lying) and sends him to get help.

Later on (possibly even the next day – time is a bit sketchy in this story) in the guest room, the Doctor and his companions are discussing Quinn. Polly fells that he is innocent and Ben is pointing out that the evidence says otherwise. The Doctor is playing his recorder. Bragen shows up and fetches them for the inquiry.

Back in the laboratory Lesterson has removed the Dalek’s weapon stalk and Janley is telling him that Resno is fine and it’s really not even worth mentioning what happened to him and they should totally show up right in the middle of Quinn’s inquiry and show off their new toy. This seems completely insane to me, but Lesterson is not exactly the picture of common sense. He’s just excited about his new toy.

Things aren’t looking too good for Quinn at the inquiry. The evidence is all pointing to the Deputy Governor being a pretty bad guy, which suggests to me he’s been totally set up. He was pretty stupid for picking up those wire cutters, though. The Governor is in the process of suggesting that the Daleks could be a motivation for all the sabotage when Lesterson and Janley show up with their new pet. The Doctor is absolutely horrified, and the fact that the Dalek seems to recognize him as it rolls into the room doesn’t help. Ben observes all of this and is just as unsettled as the Time Lord.

Okay, this next bit is another instance where the character’s exposition is just going to have to put the Dalek over. It’s kind of like when the Rock faced Hogan at WrestleMania 18 and everybody knew that Hogan was a broken down old man, but Rock kept talking about what a legend Hogan was and how many titles he’d held and how many other legends Hogan had beaten. So by the time WrestleMania came around you really believed Hogan was this legitimate threat just because of how much the Rock had talked about him.

The Doctor puts the Daleks over like that all the time.

And he does it again here, doing his damndest to convince the stupid colonists that the Daleks are going to destroy the heck out of him, but the whole time he’s talking the Dalek is sitting in the corner, all subservient-like, intoning, “I am your servant,” over and over again. For some reason this convinces the Governor and his ilk that the Daleks are not only harmless, but are going to be great and efficient additions to the colony work force. This is absolutely bat-poop crazy when you consider that the Daleks look like this:

But we’ll ignore that for the sake of the story’s forward momentum.

Lesterson even goes on to suggest that the Dalek could double their production overnight. Since it has never been specified what, exactly, the colony produces we’ll assume it’s something that requires a fair amount of rolling to produce and just move on.

The Doctor finds all of this just as ridiculous as I do (but for different reasons) and claims he is going to bring down Earth’s authority to have the Daleks destroyed. Lesterson - all puffed up with the Governor’s approval – laughs at this. The Governor – who is apparently deaf as well as being dumb as a rock – asks the Doctor what his problem is.

The Doctor doesn’t quite understand how the words “murderers”, “genocidal”, “monsters”, and “remorseless” haven’t resonated a bit more with these colony morons. As he stomps out of the room disgustedly, he pauses by the Dalek and commands it to immobilize itself. It reluctantly complies, but as soon as the Doctor is gone it reactivates itself. When questioned by Lesterson as to why it stopped obeying, the Dalek explains that the Doctor’s orders were wrong and that it cannot serve humans as Lesterson ordered if it is immobilized; so it ignored the incorrect orders.

This display of intelligence concerns the Governor, but Lesterson assures him it’s only a good sign. Because he is an idiot. The doctor orders the Dalek to follow him back to the lab and they depart, allowing the inquiry to resume.

Outside in the corridor, the Doctor and his companions are discussing recent events as they make their way back to the guest room. They agree that the Daleks are the main concern now, though Polly is still convinced Quinn is innocent.

The Governor, meanwhile, is convinced he is not. Bragen has pressed the case hard and the evidence against the Deputy Governor is just too convincing. They reached the conclusion that Quinn was using the rebels to maneuver himself into the position of Governor. Hensell strips Quinn of his position and orders him incarcerated. Once the convicted man is escorted from the room, Hensell laments the situation and appoints Bragen Deputy Governor.

After the Doctor, Ben, and Polly return to the guest room the Time Lord busies himself with disassembling various portions of the room’s electronics to build some sort of device, MacGyver-style. Ben once again suggests they just return to the TARDIS, but the Doctor can’t just leave these poor, simple fools at the mercy of the admittedly merciless Daleks. Ben then suggests that they kidnap Lesterson and just sit on him for awhile. This isn’t as crazy as it sounds, but the Doctor has other plans.

On the way back to Lesterson’s laboratory the trio pass Quinn being taken to a cell. He tells them they need to look into the rebel activities. Polly wants to help him, but Quinn and the Doctor both tell her there are more important things afoot.

In the lab, Janley is watching as Lesterson is testing the Dalek’s knowledge of chemistry and thermodynamics and is completely unconcerned by the fact that the cyborg is possessed of a seemingly vast intelligence.

The Doctor shows up and tries to make nice with Lesterson. Janley takes this as her cue to leave, but on the way out snags the Dalek weapon stalk that is sitting on a workbench. Neither the Doctor nor Lesterson notice, as the former is busy being charming and compliant and the latter is busy being a naïve fool. Still.

As Lesterson continues to question the Dalek, the Doctor makes his way over to the power supply and connects his MacGyver device to it. When he activates the device, the Dalek starts spinning around and going nuts. Lesterson is very upset by the Doctor’s sudden and inevitable betrayal and smashes the device before the Dalek can be permanently harmed. As Lesterson chases the Doctor out of the room, the Dalek’s vacant weapon socket fixes on the Time Lord and clicks away uselessly.

In another part of the colony Janley is meeting with the coordinator of the rebels activities…
BRAGEN!

The two twirl their figurative mustaches and talk about how evil and clever they are. Bragen’s long game is to take the position of Governor from Hensell by using the rebels to make Hensell look ineffective and incompetent and then to smash the rebels himself. Janley produces the Dalek weapon stalk and tells Bragen they can give it to the rebels to encourage their aggression. Now that Quinn is out of the way, things can move ahead. But Bragen is worried about that darned Examiner. He’s far too clever…

So Janley and Bragen decide the best way to keep the Examiner in line is to kidnap Polly. If you remember, Ben’s idea was to kidnap Lesterson. Seems like lots of solutions involve kidnapping. The 60’s were a different time.

Janley follows Polly into the communications room and has her man, Valmar, grab her and knock her out. Valmar is apparently pretty high up in the rebel organization and is just waiting for the right advantage to strike out against Hensell’s seemingly laid-back but apparently oppressive government. Janley shows him the Dalek weapon stalk and he reacts like she just gave him the plans to the Death Star. That reaction coming from somebody who had actually seen the Daleks in action might almost make sense, but the level of excitement Valmar displays over that fairly unassuming cylinder is another instance where the characters might be putting the Daleks over a bit much. He even says, “This could win us the revolution!”

Seriously, dude? One laser weapon? Is the current regime armed with pretzels?

But this is Doctor Who, so we accept his enthusiastic confidence and move on.

Back in Lesterson’s laboratory, the first Dalek is convincing the doctor to just hand over a bunch of equipment so the Daleks can build a one-hundred-percent effective meteor storm detector out of the goodness of their hearts. Naturally Lesterson just thrusts a ton of expensive high-tech equipment at his good buddy and leaves it completely alone to do whatever it wants. As soon as the most naïve man on the planet is gone, the Dalek glides over to the space capsule and starts doing sinister stuff.

Ben and the Doctor are on their way to report Polly missing when the Doctor pauses by a notice board. The notice board has been pointed out a couple of times in the story by this point, but I haven’t previously mentioned it because, well, it’s a notice board. The Time Lord rips a piece of paper off and starts doing calculations, but then Lesterson walks by, fresh from leaving the Daleks to build a doomsday device or whatever kind of menace they’re up to. Ben grabs the Doctor and tells him they should go check out the laboratory again.
The pair enter the lab and head toward the space capsule, but the Dalek moves to intercept them. It does not obey when the Doctor orders it to let them pass, and as a matter of fact two armed Daleks appear from within the capsule. Ben and the Doctor wisely decide to skedaddle, leaving the trio of Daleks to do their creepy Dalek chanting about conquest. Obviously, the poo is about to hit the fan.

Lesterson, the Doctor, Ben, and Bragen end up in Hensell’s office discussing the Dalek situation with the Governor. In what is probably the most impressive display of stupidity in this entire story Hensell gives Lesterson cart blanche over the Daleks and puts Bragen in charge while he goes to tour the perimeter. Might as well give a couple of ten-year-olds matches and a stick of dynamite. I don’t know what’s out on the colony’s perimeter, but it must have red hair and a sweet ass for the Governor to be behaving this irresponsibly.
Once Hensell and the Doctor leave, Lesterson requests round-the-clock guards for his laboratory and Bragen suggests the Examiner will no longer be a problem. Thanks to the magic of kidnapping! Though he didn’t come right out and say it.

Bragen goes to the guest room to confront the Doctor about his true identity, but Ben points out that only the guy that killed the real Examiner would know that. Bragen realizes they are at an impasse, but warns the two to stay away from Lesterson and the Daleks. As soon as Bragen leaves, an envelope is slid under the door containing a note:

"The girl is safe. She will remain so as long as you leave the Daleks alone.”

Which implies – to me, anyway – that Bragen left the room and then turned around and slid the note under the door. Which is kind of funny to think about. Bragen is a very immature extortionist.

Back in the laboratory Lesterson is hanging out with his buddies the Daleks, who have disarmed themselves. He asks how their project is coming and they start to do one of their creepy Dalek chants, “WE WILL GET OUR POWER. WE WILL GET OUR POWER.” and Lesterson finally starts to get just a little creeped out. He walks over to the power supply and cuts it in half, causing the Daleks to become quiet and sluggish. The doctor reminds them that he is in control, then returns power. The two newly restored Daleks return to the capsule where, according to Dalek One, they are awaiting Lesterson’s orders. Uh huh.
Meanwhile Bragen has pretty much taken up residence in Governor Hensell’s office. He even has a nice, new Lieutenant Governor’s (space) tunic. Valmar is hooking up a new communications system to replace the destroyed one. The two have a bit of a spat, and the Doctor and Ben barge into the room as Valmar stomps off in a huff. The Time Lord and his companion demand to know what Bragen is doing to find Polly when a Dalek rolls into the room with a tray of beverages. Seriously.

The Doctor can’t believe these colonist idiots are just letting the deadliest creatures in the universe run about unsupervised and leaves Bragen’s office with Ben to find Polly.
Meanwhile, back at the notice board, Janley is pointing a particular note out to a colonist named Kebble. The Doctor is explaining the Dalek’s power supply to Ben as they approach. The Daleks draw on some sort of static charge that runs through the floor. I’ve actually heard this explanation before but have no idea how it’s supposed to work. Are they lot slot cars or something? I dunno. Just remember that they are all utilizing a connected source of energy.

And then three Daleks roll by. This is extremely alarming because there was also a Dalek back in the Governor’s office and that is one more Dalek than should currently be available. Ben and the Doctor decide a visit to Lesterson is vital, but as they walk away the Time Lord notices another man scrutinizing the notice board and even taking notes. Something strange is afoot at the notice board.

Something even stranger is afoot in the laboratory, as Lesterson is finally starting to really question the Daleks. He and Janley are discussing the issue and the doctor decides he wants to ask the Examiner’s advice (although if I remember correctly the “Examiner’s” advice was offered freely long ago and went something like, “DESTROY THEM ALL NOW BECAUSE THEY ARE EVIL).

This doesn’t jibe with Janley’s whole plan of using the Daleks to help put Bragen in power, so she finally plays her evil bitch card and tells Lesterson the truth about Resno. She also says that his death is squarely Lesterson’s fault and she’ll go to the authorities if he doesn’t clam up and go on about his business.

Just then the Doctor and Ben enter the room and start asking about Polly. They also tell Lesterson that the Daleks seem to be multiplying. Lesterson doubts this until the Doctor mentions the brilliance of the Daleks and (putting them over again) says that given the right materials they can accomplish anything. This gives Lesterson pause, and also makes Janley a bit nervous. She calls for security and has the Doctor and Ben escorted out of the laboratory. Lesterson is just straight-up frazzled by now and doesn’t even notice Janley slipping a sedative into his water. He passes out on the couch and the seditious female calls for Valmar. The two rebels then discuss plans to lay some power cables and Valmar mentions seeing a certain notice…

Meanwhile, back at the NOTICE BOARD, the Doctor has finally unraveled the rebels’ code! He deduces where the next rebel meeting will take place and he and Ben head off to do a little reconnaissance.

Later at the rebel meeting Valmar and Janley roll out a Dalek and display its power and the control (they think) they have over it. Ben and the Doctor are hiding in the back of the room watching the whole thing, but they can’t see the rebel leader from their vantage point. He is concealed in shadows. When Ben tries to get a better look he knocks over some boxes. He tells the Doctor to stay hidden and tries to play it off like he’s alone, but Janley’s pet Dalek flushes him out. At that point Bragen steps from the shadows, revealing himself as the man behind the rebel actions.

The Doctor is taken to the prison block and placed in a cell beside Quinn. The two trade “I told you sos” and decide they had better figure out a way to escape and stop Bragen.
Back in the laboratory Lesterson has awakened and overhears two Daleks conspiring. He finally admits the truth to himself – the Daleks are super-evil and he never should have messed with them. Determined to discover their nefarious plot, the doctor sneaks into the space capsule and finds yet another hatchway. After traversing a series of corridors, the doctor comes across a truly horrifying sight – a huge chamber full of fully functional Daleks. But that’s not the bad part. The bad part is what those Daleks are doing. They are operating a massive assembly line. An assembly line that is rapidly and efficiently building more Dalek bodies, into which one of the functional Daleks is placing a certain familiar clawed mutant!
As each new cyborg is completed the prime Dalek counts off a number and the Dalek chorus chants, “We are the new Dalek race!”

Way to go Lesterson, you ignorant dick.

Lesterson goes half unhinged at the sight of all this and rushes out of the capsule, blocking the main entryway with a cabinet as he leaves. Janley enters the laboratory and wants to know what’s going on and a near-incoherent Lesterson explains about the assembly line and that he has realized the Examiner is right and the Daleks must be destroyed. He cuts the Daleks’ power supply. Janley flees from the lab, presumably to fetch help to deal with the near-mad Lesterson while the doctor gets on the comm to find the Examiner (the Doctor).

After he finds out the Doctor has been imprisoned, he turns to find the prime Dalek (still unarmed) has emerged from the space capsule. He is shocked to see the presumably powerless cyborg, but the Dalek explains that they have constructed their own power source using the materials Lesterson gave them.

That about does it for Lesterson. He goes from half-mad to mostly hysterical and flees the lab. The Daleks button things up, but decide that it is not yet time to teach the humans about Dalek law.

The Doctor is in his cell with a glass of water, running his finger around the top and clearly trying to hit a certain pitch. Quinn is commenting on how annoying this is when Lesterson bursts into the prison block and frantically tells the Doctor about the Daleks reproducing and creating their own power source. The Doctor barely bats an eye, as this is exactly the sort of thing he was trying to warn everybody about. As guards drag Lesterson away, the Doctor tells the prison guard to bring him some more water and pays close attention when the man uses his sonic key to open the cell (this was before the days of the sonic screwdriver).

Lesterson is taken to the Governor’s office, where Bragen is sitting preening and a Dalek is laying power cables (somehow – I’d like to see visuals for that one). The doctor is distressed by the Dalek’s activity and asks what it is doing, to which Bragen responds he thought it was operating under Lesterson’s orders. Once the Dalek is ordered out of the room, Lesterson tells Bragen they are all in terrible danger and need to get the Governor back at once (though I’m not sure what he’s going to do about anything). Then Janley shows up and she and Bragen have Lesterson hauled away.

Meanwhile Polly is being held captive in the space capsule while Valmar and Kebble work on the Dalek’s power project. The Doctor’s companion is trying to convince them that the Daleks are up to no good and will turn on them as soon as they are able. She almost seems to have Valmar convinced until she starts talking smack about Janley, who Kebble points out Valmar is sweet on. Oops.

In the prison block, unbeknownst to the guard, the Doctor has managed to unlock Quinn’s cell. The two overpower the guard and make their escape.

Governor Hensell has returned early from his tour of the perimeter to find Bragen sitting in his office and being a big jerk. Bragen is just short of contemptuous with the Governor and is clearly ready to make his play for power. He taunts Hensell to the point where the man calls for guards who are, of course, Bragen’s guards. Bragen then summons a Dalek and arms it with its weapon stalk. I think we all know where this is headed.

Bragen tells Hensell he will allow him to remain Governor, but he must do as Bragen says. Hensell won’t comply and the Dalek blasts him. Bragen immediately (and wisely) disconnects the weapon stalk and the Dalek asks why humans kill humans. Bragen has no answer.

Valmar is in the laboratory finishing up with the power cables and a Dalek is telling him that the purpose of the cables is to supply the Daleks with power throughout the colony so they can “be twice as useful”. Valmar doesn’t have time to ponder this before Janley enters and tells him the Governor is back. The two of them rush from the room, followed by the Dalek, allowing Quinn and the Doctor to emerge from the hiding place they had secured moments before.

The Doctor is horrified by the discovery of the Daleks’ new power source. He and Quinn make their way into the space capsule, where they find Polly and Kebble. Quinn makes short work of Kebble and flees the laboratory along with the Doctor and Polly.
In the space capsule, the Daleks note the escape and determine they will wait until the rebels mount their open attack to make their move and exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate!

You get the idea.

Quinn, the Doctor, and Polly have found the Governor’s dead body in his office when Bragen strides in, all gloaty and stuff. He tells them they will be imprisoned and that he is in charge now. The Doctor asks Bragen what he’s going to do about the Daleks and the man replies that they’ll do as he says.


Meanwhile, the Daleks have decided to kill every human in the colony; which I’m pretty sure isn’t anything Bragen said to do. The cyborgs are rolling out of the space capsule by the dozens, chanting about exterminating and conquering and destroying. As is their wont.
In the Governor’s office Bragen is explaining the rest of his plan to Janley. She isn’t too excited to find out that the rest of his plan involves having his guards execute Valmar, Kebble, and everybody else who knew about Bragen’s conspiracy. She’s even less pleased to find out Bragen was about to shoot her if she didn’t go along with things. This deal’s getting worse all the time…

The Doctor, Polly, and Quinn manage to escape from their guards as Valmar is escorting Ben back to the guest room. Valmar explains to Ben that he’s grown wary of Bragen and has decided to oppose him. He tells Ben to wait in the room while he goes and finds his friends.

Across the rest of the colony, chaos breaks out as the rebels and the Daleks launch their attacks simultaneously.

The Doctor, Quinn, and Polly find Ben in the guest room. The Doctor orders them to stay put and rushes off. He runs into Kebble and a couple of guards, but Daleks round a corner and exterminate the guards. The Doctor grabs Kebble and the pair make their way back up the corridor towards the guest room. When they get there the Doctor informs the group – now consisting of Quinn, Polly, Ben, and Kebble – that they must make their way to the laboratory to stop the Daleks. They escape through a window, but before Kebble can exit the Daleks show up and shoot him in the back.

Bragen is coordinating his guards from the safety of the Governor’s office, mainly by making announcements over the intercom. Pretty much everybody is ignoring these announcements, so I can’t imagine Bragen is too satisfied with his term as Governor thus far. A guard bursts into the room and tells Bragen that the Daleks are working with the rebels and Bragen tells the man to get back out there and shoot them. I don’t think the guard is too impressed with Bragen’s term as Governor, either.

Meanwhile, Janley and Valmar have been using the control box Lesterson built to use the Daleks against Bragen’s guards. Eventually they figure out that the thing is useless, as the Daleks are just shooting everybody. They run away from their “pet” Daleks and straight into Quinn, but they weren’t fast enough, as Janley takes it in the rear from a Dalek. Er… a Dalek shoots her in the back. Quinn grabs Valmar and tells him to get moving.

The Doctor and company have made their way to the laboratory, where they find Lesterson. Lesterson has totally lost it. He’s pretty much convinced that the Daleks are omnipotent and are going to be replacing humans as the new dominant species of the universe. He’s resigned to just sitting back and watching them take over. The Doctor realizes that the cables laid everywhere are the Daleks’ new power supply and asks Lesterson where the source is. The man tells him only Valmar and the Daleks know. The Doctor leaves Ben and Polly with Lesterson and races off to find Valmar.

He finds the man in a corridor with Quinn, surrounded by chaos and bodies. The Doctor tells Quinn to go and try to reason with Bragen while Valmar take shim to the power source.
Quinn convinces Bragen to send his guards up against the Daleks and the Doctor and Valmar are able to make their way into the space capsule, where the power supply is located. The Doctor takes one of the cables, preparing to overload the power supply and kill all of the Daleks. Ben asks why not simply cut off the power, but the Doctor knows better. Outside, two Daleks enter the laboratory and Lesterson moves to intercept them before they can discover the Doctor and his companions.
Prime Dalek : Our cables have been moved.
Lesterson : And I could tell you who did it!
Prime Dalek : What were you doing in there?
Lesterson : I want to help you.
Prime Dalek : Why?
Lesterson : (repeating the phrase the Daleks have been using less and less convincingly over the course of the story) I am your servant.
Prime Dalek : We do not need humans now.
Lesterson : Ah, then, but you wouldn't kill me. I gave you life.
Prime Dalek : Yes, you gave us life.
And the Dalek blasts Lesterson in the face. As the pair of cyborgs turn towards Ben and Polly, the Doctor leaps across the bay and jams the cable into the power source. The Daleks spark and wail, spinning around; their implements waving about uselessly. All over the colony Daleks are in their death throes.

In the Governor’s office, Quinn tells Bragen his short tenure as Governor is over. Bragen begins to disagree with a gun, but Valmar blasts him from the doorway. Quinn and Valmar agree that they must work together and rebuild the colony.

The Doctor regains consciousness to find Ben and Polly standing over him, concerned. He hops up, unperturbed and suggests they had better get going before the colony bills them for all the damage. They pass a seemingly inert Dalek on their way into the TARDIS, but after they enter and the TARDIS begins to dematerialize, the Dalek’s sucker stick moves slightly upward…

Notes:
  • I was disappointed that there was no interview after this production, but there was some kind of weird Dalek dialogue. I wasn’t sure what to make of it.
  • In addition to the audio production from Audible.com I also used a transcript located here:

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and could not wait to talk about it with the ESW crew. Actually, I ended up adjusting my work schedule just so I would be available for the episode.
Come back next time for The War Games, which is the next story in the series and the final story for Patrick Troughton, the second Doctor! It should be quite interesting, as it is a ten-parter and I haven’t even gotten started on it yet.





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