So far we have witnessed the TARDIS crew land on a dead planet and meet the Daleks for the very first time. The Doctor, Ian and Barbara are dying of radiation poisoning in a Dalek cell, Susan has been sent to retrieve drugs from the ship while the Daleks have no intention at all of saving the travellers at all (Terrible Air BnB. One star. Would not stay again). Will Susan have the courage to leave the safety of the TARDIS? Will she be able to evade the mutants who supposedly roam the countryside? Will the Doctor stop being a selfish jerk? Let us find out with the Doctor Who episode The Escape!
Susan has made it to the TARDIS and been able to obtain the drugs mysteriously left there back in episode one but now a storm has moved in and she is understandably fearful regarding the journey back to the Dalek city. As soon as she leaves the ship she turns to see a figure watching her, a rather down-his-nose snooty manner that a teacher would use for a disobedient student. This figure is apparently one of the horribly mutated creatures that survived the neutron war we heard the Daleks talking about in the last episode. Susan calls him “perfect” and the figure explains that he tried to make contact yesterday but frightened her instead (sneaking up on someone and putting your hand on their shoulder will do that, obviously).
The stranger is surprised to find out that the Daleks have survived as well and gives Susan a second lot of drugs so that she can give one to the Daleks but keep the other hidden, so rest of the crew can be treated. The figure introduces himself as “Alydon of the Thal race” so clearly he is the hideous mutant (As a side note, Alydon is played by John Lee who had a surprisingly extensive acting career – and is further awesome because he was an Aussie), but he raises the interesting question that if the Daleks regard Thals as mutations … then what must Daleks be like?
Susan returns to the city and manages to give the drugs to the rest of the TARDIS crew, while the Daleks plot to use the humans to lure the Thals into a trap. In an interesting piece of editing/scripting Susan explains how the Daleks did find the second case of drugs but allowed Susan to keep them – this goes against the usual storytelling rule of “show, don’t tell” but it is understandable here as it saves a lot of time and Susan’s explanation would have happened twice (once showing the actual search and again when she is returned to the cell) and that would have been grating for the audience. Susan hugs the cloak Alydon gifted her and calls the Thals “magnificent people” which sets up a problematic good vs evil construct. Relatively little is known about either the Thals or the Daleks and Susan’s attitude seems to be based on how good looking the Thals are, with their behaviour used as secondary evidence. It seems to fall back on a version of the old Western trope of white hat/black hat. Susan further goes on to say that Alydon informed her that the Thals are in trouble, despite their apparent ease at making anti-radiation drugs, and that they will soon starve if they do not soon find another source of food. The Daleks, of course, are monitoring this conversation via a blatantly obvious camera and realise that they now have the means to lure the Thals in to the city.
The Daleks allow the travellers to sleep and then bring them food, all to set up a false sense of security amongst the humans. Susan is taken away under a promise that the Daleks with to help the Thals (which is technically correct, the Daleks wish to help the Thals … to die). Ian, not being an idiot, realises that the only way that the Daleks could possibly know that the travellers want to help the Thals is if they had been listening in. Meanwhile, a bunch of Thals gather at the TARDIS and give the audience some exposition about the planet’s past – how the Thals were once warriors but are now farmers and the Daleks were once teachers and philosophers. After the casual sexism (“you should have give the drugs to a man and not some girl!”) and inferences that Alydon wants to get it on with Susan, the Thals prepare to meet with the Daleks – an exchange of food for help in re-cultivating the land.
The TARDIS crew conclude that the Daleks are a bunch of jerks and pull a ruse that destroys the camera in their cell, before using some wonky logic to figure out that the Daleks gain their power through the metal flooring. They trick a Dalek to investigate the cell and push the guard onto the cloak Alydon provided earlier, cutting the Dalek off from his floor based power source. The deactivated Dalek is easy to open and some nice sound effects indicate just how horrible the creature inside is, even if it remains unseen as the Doctor scoops it out with Alydon’s cloak. Ian clambers in and they all do a round of the classic guard escorting prisoners routine seen in shows and movies everywhere. The episode ends with a claw appearing from under the discarded cloak, suggesting what Daleks really look like.
Next episode: The Ambush
- Times the TARDIS crew is knocked out: 0
- Times the TARDS crew is captured or taken prisoner: 0
- Times the TARDIS crew screams: 0
- Times sonic screwdriver used: 0 (ages until it is first introduced)
- Overall rating: Must see.