The Evil of the Daleks: Episode Four
So this is the “I’m a Doctor Who Companion Get Me Out of Here” episode, as Jamie endures Dalek trials observed by an attentive audience. It’s an extended trifle, without much substance.
Jamie wins out through showing mercy to his foe, Kemel; he saves him, and then they ally to overcome the Daleks and rescue Victoria (there appear to be no consequences for the Dalek destruction derby they embark upon). Aside from Kemel, various axes and spikey objects block his path. There isn’t much in the way of tension to these scenes, as we know it is just a test. Excepting the climb to the staircase towards the climax.
In respect of Kemel, the strong, silent savage aspect may well be a leftover from an earlier draft of Whitaker’s plot. Here, a caveman named Og would have featured in the challenges faced by Jamie. It would certainly have laid the story less open to accusations of racism, although quite likely Og would have been unintentionally amusing.
More meat is provided in the other plot threads. The Doctor instructs the Daleks on the human “ingredients” that are required.
The Doctor: If you want the Human Factor, a part of it must include compassion.
He also informs them,
The Doctor: But there is instinct too. Jamie used instinct to avoid your trap.
But it’s the interaction between Waterfield and Maxtible that scores strongest. Waterfield’s stricken conscience foreshadows the concerns voiced by the Doctor later in the story, but with the same religious overtones that imbue the Daleks with a satanic majesty.
Waterfield: There’s no end to this, the hands of the Devil.
Maxtible, single-minded in his avarice, insists that they are not to blame (for the deaths that have occurred, the most recent of which is Toby’s). His patience is running thin with his colleague and stooge (“Waterfield, I am sick of you… Am I to blame for everything?”)
Waterfield: How many people must dies so that my daughter can live?
Maxtible: We are not the murderers.
Waterfield: No, just the silent partners. But we are just as much to blame because we stand by and do nothing.
Waterfield has a strong moral compass, and the Doctor’s conversation with a belligerent Jamie in the following episode sees him hold forth similarly regarding the ends justifying the means. Just in less emotive language.
Maxtible’s base desires are laid bare this week, as he gets stroppy with his masters. He still labours under the delusion that he has equal bargaining power with them, such is his tunnel vision.
Dalek: Do you threaten the Daleks?
Maxtible: It is not beyond me to ruin the entire enterprise… The secret., the secret. You promised to give it to me. That is why I have done all this.
He worships the alchemist’s dream. Not the immortality of the Sisterhood of Khan, but the more prosaic version; the transmutation of metal into gold.
Maxtible: To possess such a secret would mean power and influence beyond all imagining. And I am about to discover the secret. Nothing will stop me! Nothing! Nobody!
It’s not a little ironic that he is blind to his scientific achievements (whatever their quantifiability; they certainly appear to have opened a portal to another dimension, even if it is the Daleks who provide the nuts and bolts of time travel apparatus). There’s a slight echo of the advancements and proclamations of Nikola Tesla in his science beyond the imaginings of the world of the 19th century. But Tesla was dedicated to his practice, with little interest in financial rewards. For Maxtible, riches and prestige are the sole point of his dabblings.
Elsewhere, the increasingly combustible Terrall mystifies Ruth. His assessment of poor Molly might be better applied to the ever-wilting Victoria (well, the sniveling part).
Terrall: She’s a mean, snivelling little minx.
A so-so episode. But it’s not as if other lengthy (quality) stories aren’t the victim of similar less-than-essential padding. Both Invasion of the Dinosaurs and Planet of the Spiders include lengthy chase sequences that take up an entire episode.