Saturday, January 10, 2009

"The Escape"

The Historian here, along with Ketina, Ronelyn, Cz and SumGuy, to watch the third episode of this serial. Let's get to it!

Episode Synopsis: First short 4 January, 1964. Outside the TARDIS, Susan discovers her follower. He turns out to be the beautiful Alydon, a tall, blond haired member of the Thal race. He tells her that the Thals have survived, but are now in danger because their small plots of land will no longer yield viable crops. He takes Susan back to the edge of the forest, after giving her a second set of rad drugs. The Daleks confiscate one set of drugs, but leaves Susan with the other and the crew uses them. In the forest, the Thals gather and wait for the Dalek response to their plea. The Daleks decide to use Alydon's trust in Susan to lure them into the city and get her to write a letter stating that the Daleks would help them survive. In the conversation of the Thals, we learn that they were the warriors and the Daleks teachers and philosophers before the war--are the positions now reveresed? Meanwhile in the city, the crew deduce that the Daleks must run on static electricity...and trap a Dalek using the cloak Alydon gave Susan. Ian and the Doctor, repulsed, take the apparently dead Dalek creature out of its casing (though we cannot see it). Ian gets into the casing and the crew take off down the corridor, with Ian-Dalek "taking the prisoners for questioning," as the escape begins. Meanwhile, the Dalek creature stirs in the cloak on the floor....

This episode sees a surprising advancement of the plot, with the introduction of the beautiful Thals--to counteract the ugly Daleks. Yes, it's beauty=good, ugly=evil, but it feels a bit more nuanced here, thanks to the Thals' description of life before the war. Admittedly, this then leads to a pastoral vs. technological thing; paradoxically, this can often be found in SF of the time as some of the excitement of technology gave way to the horrors of potential atomic war.

The Daleks themselves are, again, magnificent. They show a surprising amount of character, especially compared to some of their later appearances. In fact, the Daleks completely overshadow the Thals, who come off as fairly dull. There's a significant amount of time given to the relationships among the Thals. Though this will probably become important as the story continues (there are, of course, four more episodes), at this point it felt a bit tedious.

The crew was wonderful; it was great to see them working together and their deduction of the Daleks' power source, among other things, was really fantastic. The group have started to really come together as a team instead of just four people thrust together by circumstance. Terry Nation's writing shines best in both the crew's dialogue and that of the Daleks, though it falls down a bit when it comes to the Thals.

As usual, I know there is more to say, but I am currently a bit short on concentration, so I will turn this over to my impatiant companion, Ketina. Until next time, I remain



Ketina here.

I started the episode shouting "take the drug!". But then the Alydon points out that they might not know how they work, so I forgive Susan. :P

The silly - the Thals are apparently the Arian race of the Doctor Who universe. There was a moment when I was thinking it was the Daleks vs. the Nazis, but the Thals do not appear maleviolent.
The odd - there was a strange edit the confused me for a bit. After Susan meets Alydon, and he mentions bringing her back to the city, there's a brief cut to the Dalek's discussing things and then Susan is back in the cell with The Doctor and companions. At first I thought there was a scene missing, but then Susan explains to everyone else what happened in the intervening time.
The good / bad - I liked the way they figured out how to disable the Dalek, but, apparently as usual, I thought the scene went a little long. I was also annoyed that Ian and The Doctor make the ladies leave the room when they were opening the Dalek casing. Feminist growl - I'm not normally this bad, but these early episodes seems to bring it out in me. Okay, I do get why they asked Susan to leave (guarentee she's scream) but I think Barbara could handle it. Ian's macho behavior just continues to irritate me...

And you never do get to see them take the drugs on screen.



1 comment:

Alzarian said...

Another fine episode. I agree that it seems a bit patronizing the way that Barbara and Susan are sent away when the time comes to open the Dalek casing, but I choose to justify that this is less about protecting Barbara as it is to shield the "child" Susan from the horrors of what may lie within. Susan is a bit of an odd bird... she is the one from a more advanced civilization, and has apparently been travelling with her Grandfather for quite some time prior to the start of the series, and yet, she seems to suffer from being easily disturbed. As for the Thals - they remind me of the naive and inncocent Eloi from HG Wells' "Time Machine"... and their costumes are certainly designed more for style than functionality.