Skip to main content

The final end.


Doctor Who
The Evil of the Daleks: Episode Seven


The Doctor: No, you can’t make me do it. You can’t.

The Doctor’s reaction to a cliffhanging ultimatum is fairly standard stuff, but Whitaker structures the final episode so that, while there’s the prerequisite “blow things up” climax, it hinges on twists and turns and cunning shown by both the Daleks and the Doctor.

The Doctor: You see, there isn’t a persuasion strong enough. Not even the offer of all the lives in this room. Five lives, against a whole planet. That’s not a choice, is it?

The series generally cops out when it comes to really testing the Doctor’s mettle in the face of an ethical quandry. Usually, the Doctor will opt to save his companions/friends and so buy time to come up with a means of avoiding the more terrible action he has agreed upon. This story at least proves an exception to the norm, since the Daleks believe they have converted him with the Dalek factor. 


Whilst the script has laid sufficient groundwork to head-off potential plot holes (we are told that they believe him to be “more than human” because of his travels, whereas he informs us that he is not human), it’s another area where, given what they know, you’d expect them to be a little more careful and a little less credulous when the Doctor emerges from the conversion process and proves to be full of good ideas.

There’s a diverting speculation on possible means of surviving the current predicament. The sort of thing that you won’t encounter post-The War Games as so much has been revealed. But, prior to that, the Doctor’s nebulous comments on his origins are intriguing for the detours of the imagination they provoke. He comments that, even if he trusted the Daleks and they set him free, they still could not return to Earth (as it would be full of Dalek Humans, presumably).

The Doctor: I suppose I might try to take you all to another universe. I might even try and take you to my own planet.
Jamie: Your own?
The Doctor: Yes. I live a long, long way from Earth.

Returning seems more of an option than it did in the Hartnell days, although the Doctor comes across as daydreaming rather than seriously considering the option. The important point is that the exchange is needed for to validate what comes later. Having said that, the great strength of The Evil of the Daleksis how its inventive plot is underpinned by moral quandaries for the characters and especially for its hero.

The attempted take-over of the Doctor had not really been explored at this point in the series, although he had been deleteriously affected on several occasions. Whitaker doesn’t spend much time letting us think the Doctor might have been converted into a Dalek, but needs-must in terms of progressing the story.

Maxtible becomes the chosen representative for the effects of the Dalek Factor. It has to be said that the Daleks’ ruse for converting him is of the most unsubtle “Ha, fooled you!” variety but they are using persuasion.

Dalek: The machine is yours.
The Doctor: Maxtible, if you value your life don’t go near that machine.

But Maxtible is like a donkey chasing a carrot, the object of his desire (apparently) almost within reach. Jamie thinks alchemy is an old wives’ tale.

The Doctor: Oh, I don’t know. The alchemists of the middle ages made transmutation their main aim in life. Even in the twentieth century it’s still considered scientifically possible.

Presumably this is a yardstick Jamie can understand, as they have just been to that time, centuries on from his own. If I thought the new series could handle such a task, it would be interesting for the Doctor to visit Paracelsus; his fantastical claims would be ideal fodder for the show.


To an extent Maxtible is the broadest of characterisations, with a performance to match; shambling, hirsute and cartoonish. But he is effective nonetheless. The broad strokes of his performance are well matched with those of the Daleks (both are equally obsessive). Accordingly, Goring’s performance as a Dalek is highly pronounced, and is suggestive of a disturbingly manic screen presence.

As noted, the Daleks resort to subterfuge rather than force. This is interesting, as for such a demonstrably in-your-face species they seem quite aware that they can get the results that they want through psychology rather than threat.

Jamie: They’ve turned him into a Dalek.
The Doctor: Yes. The Dalek Factor.

A similar ruse is then tried on the Doctor.

Maxtible: I have come to help you. Look at the box. I have had your TARDIS placed outside the city. Rise, and follow me.

The Doctor does so, and the remaining humans are left briefly in doubt, concerned that he has succumbed to the Dalek Factor. Curiously, Maxtible indicates further work on the Factor is necessary.

Maxtible: We will work together on the Dalek Factor. Follow me.
The Doctor: I obey.

Perhaps he just means the processing, as more of Whitaker’s crazy science comes into play when we are told that the Dalek Factor will be transformed into a steam and then be sprayed into Earth’s atmosphere.


The Doctor’s switcheroo could be argued as a bit too simplistic, but it is satisfying; to ensure that the Human Daleks are converted back to proper Daleks, all Daleks must pass through the archway door that imbues the Dalek Factor. Which he has replaced with the Human Factor.

Jamie: Why didn’t it effect you, then?
The Doctor: I don’t come from Earth, Jamie.


The spread of the Human Factor occurs just as the Doctor predicted in the previous episode, helped along a little by his own meddling. The simple question “Why?” becomes the Human Daleks’ mantra for the final part and word gets back to the Emperor.

Dalek: Emperor, a Dalek questioned an order.

There are also further rehearsals of “Dizzy, dizzy, dizzy Daleks”.

Dalek: Continue working.
Human Dalek: Why?
Human Dalek: Yes, why?
Dalek: Do not question.
Human Dalek: Why?
Human Dalek: Why?
Human Dalek: Why not question?

It’s a capitalist critique in a nutshell, and one that resonates during the era (and especially the year) in which the story was made.  The outcome of which is civil war. Whether such benign-sounding Daleks would really get behind destroying their fellows is debatable, but I suppose they are human and the Doctor cannot onlyhave introduced the human virtues to the formula he referenced in previous episodes. Perhaps, if he did, this is why the Doctor finds it necessary to give them a little pep talk.

The Doctor: Defend yourselves. Destroy the Emperor. Or destroy yourselves.


Consequently, the Emperor’s state of disarray evokes memories of Dr. Strangelove.

Emperor: Do not fight in here. Do not fight in here.


While he is left to opine that “The Dalek race will die out completely”, as the city begins to erupt, the focus shifts back to the humans. We have already said goodbye to Waterfield, who would inevitably not last out the story as justice for his reluctant-but-knowing complicity (Whitaker was kind to Terrall, but there are limits it seems).

The Doctor: You saved my life, didn’t you?
Waterfield: Yes, a good life to save. Please, you must… Victoria…
Doctor: Don’t worry about Victoria. We’ll look after her.


We don’t see the fate of Maxtible, however. He calls Kemel over and then unceremoniously pushes him over a cliff. This seems rather unnecessary. Presumably the producer didn’t want a silent, hulking, Turkish gentleman as a member of the TARDIS crew. It comes across as if Whitaker only remembered at the last moment that he was a loose end requiring attention.

Maxtible: The race will survive. The Daleks will live, and rule, forever.

So, who knows if he survived and formed a part of their future development? It’s an unusually open-ended position for a character in the series, but Maxtible embodies a striking illumination of the consequences of greed; an empty shell, devoid of humanity awaits.

It doesn’t make enormous sense that Maxtible actually had the TARDIS placed outside the city, but it was certainly handy of him to do so.


The Doctor is both consoling and reflective as he leaves the Daleks to destroy themselves. Of Waterfield, he has words of comfort for Victoria (we can only be grateful that the episode didn’t fade out with her blubbing and wailing).

The Doctor: But he didn’t die in vain. I think we’ve seen the end of the Daleks forever.

And for Jamie, the perma-hard Scot, he promises a busty playmate.

The Doctor: We’re not going to leave her. She’s coming with us.


Then there are the last words of possibly the most inventive Dalek story of them all:

The Doctor: The end. The final end.


A stunning, decisive ending. Unlike The Daleks’ Master Plan, the only Dalek story this can compare to in terms of scale, we end on a hopeful note (well, depending upon how positive you see the addition of Victoria to the TARDIS crew). But, like that story, the death, devastation and carnage are profound.


Overall:


It’s easy to forgive the slightly moribund fourth episode when the rest the story is of such high quality. Evil has been extolled as a classic since forever, and it’s a lauded status that did Tomb of the Cybermen no favours when it was retrieved from Hong Kong. But (just about) everyone agrees that Episode Two is something special, so there’s no reason to think that the rest of it isn’t of a similar high standard. Derek Martinus’ work on the series was consistently excellent, and he deserves more accolades than he gets. The only question mark is the model work finale, where toy Daleks were blown up in abundance, and rather obviously. I expect I could forgive it, should Episode Seven ever materialise, as Power’s cardboard cut-out Daleks fail to dent the standing of that story.

There has been a bit of a re-evaluation over the past few years as to which of Whitaker’s Dalek stories is superior; the slow-burning, more low-key Power or the high concept, purposefully epic Evil. I prefer the latter; I like the oddity of the setting, the strangely mystical scientific dabblings of Maxtible, the bizarreness of Human Daleks and the totality of the climax. Whitaker creates a rich, varied an immersive world(s).

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

We live in a twilight world.

Tenet (2020)
(SPOILERS) I’ve endured a fair few confusingly-executed action sequences in movies – more than enough, actually – but I don’t think I’ve previously had the odd experience of being on the edge of my seat during one while simultaneously failing to understand its objectives and how those objectives are being attempted. Which happened a few times during Tenet. If I stroll over to the Wiki page and read the plot synopsis, it is fairly explicable (fairly) but as a first dive into this Christopher Nolan film, I frequently found it, if not impenetrable, then most definitely opaque.

She was addicted to Tums for a while.

Marriage Story (2019)
(SPOILERS) I don’t tend to fall heavily for Noah Baumbach fare. He’s undoubtedly a distinctive voice – even if his collaborations with Wes Anderson are the least of that director’s efforts – but his devotion to an exclusive, rarefied New York bubble becomes ever more off-putting with each new project. And ever more identifiable as being a lesser chronicler of the city’s privileged quirks than his now disinherited forbear Woody Allen, who at his peak mastered a balancing act between the insightful, hilarious and self-effacing. Marriage Story finds Baumbach going yet again where Woody went before, this time brushing up against the director’s Ingmar Bergman fixation.

You can’t climb a ladder, no. But you can skip like a goat into a bar.

Juno and the Paycock (1930)
(SPOILERS) Hitchcock’s second sound feature. Such was the lustre of this technological advance that a wordy play was picked. By Sean O’Casey, upon whom Hitchcock based the prophet of doom at the end of The Birds. Juno and the Paycock, set in 1922 during the Irish Civil War, begins as a broad comedy of domestic manners, but by the end has descended into full-blown Greek (or Catholic) tragedy. As such, it’s an uneven but still watchable affair, even if Hitch does nothing to disguise its stage origins.

Anything can happen in Little Storping. Anything at all.

The Avengers 2.22: Murdersville
Brian Clemens' witty take on village life gone bad is one of the highlights of the fifth season. Inspired by Bad Day at Black Rock, one wonders how much Murdersville's premise of unsettling impulses lurking beneath an idyllic surface were set to influence both Straw Dogs and The Wicker Mana few years later (one could also suggest it premeditates the brand of backwoods horrors soon to be found in American cinema from the likes of Wes Craven and Tobe Hooper).

The protocol actually says that most Tersies will say this has to be a dream.

Jupiter Ascending (2015)
(SPOILERS) The Wachowski siblings’ wildly patchy career continues apace. They bespoiled a great thing with The Matrix sequels (I liked the first, not the second), misfired with Speed Racer (bubble-gum visuals aside, hijinks and comedy ain’t their forte) and recently delivered the Marmite Sense8 for Netflix (I was somewhere in between on it). Their only slam-dunk since The Matrix put them on the movie map is Cloud Atlas, and even that’s a case of rising above its limitations (mostly prosthetic-based). Jupiter Ascending, their latest cinema outing and first stab at space opera, elevates their lesser works by default, however. It manages to be tone deaf in all the areas that count, and sadly fetches up at the bottom of their filmography pile.

This is a case where the roundly damning verdicts have sadly been largely on the ball. What’s most baffling about the picture is that, after a reasonably engaging set-up, it determinedly bores the pants off you. I haven’t enco…

James Bond. You appear with the tedious inevitability of an unloved season.

Moonraker (1979)
Depending upon your disposition, and quite possibly age, Moonraker is either the Bond film that finally jumped the shark or the one that is most gloriously redolent of Roger Moore’s knowing take on the character. Many Bond aficionados will no doubt utter its name with thinly disguised contempt, just as they will extol with gravity how Timothy Dalton represented a masterful return to the core values of the series. If you regard For Your Eyes Only as a refreshing return to basics after the excesses of the previous two entries, and particularly the space opera grandstanding of this one, it’s probably fair to say you don’t much like Roger Moore’s take on Bond.

He tasks me. He tasks me, and I shall have him.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
(1982)
(SPOILERS) I don’t love Star Trek, but I do love Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. That probably isn’t just me, but a common refrain of many a non-devotee of the series. Although, it used to apply to The Voyage Home (the funny one, with the whales, the Star Trek even the target audience for Three Men and a Baby could enjoy). Unfortunately, its high regard has also become the desperate, self-destructive, song-and-verse, be-all-and-end-all of the overlords of the franchise itself, in whichever iteration, it seems. This is understandable to an extent, as Khan is that rare movie sequel made to transcendent effect on almost every level, and one that stands the test of time every bit as well (better, even) as when it was first unveiled.

Twenty dwarves took turns doing handstands on the carpet.

Bugsy (1991)
(SPOILERS) Bugsy is very much a Warren Beatty vanity project (aren’t they all, even the ones that don’t seem that way on the surface?), to the extent of his playing a title character a decade and a half younger than him. As such, it makes sense that producer Warren’s choice of director wouldn’t be inclined to overshadow star Warren, but the effect is to end up with a movie that, for all its considerable merits (including a script from James Toback chock full of incident), never really feels quite focussed, that it’s destined to lead anywhere, even if we know where it’s going.

My dear, sweet brother Numsie!

The Golden Child (1986)
Post-Beverly Hills Cop, Eddie Murphy could have filmed himself washing the dishes and it would have been a huge hit. Which might not have been a bad idea, since he chose to make this misconceived stinker.

When I barked, I was enormous.

Dean Spanley (2008)
(SPOILERS) There is such a profusion of average, respectable – but immaculately made – British period drama held up for instant adulation, it’s hardly surprising that, when something truly worthy of acclaim comes along, it should be singularly ignored. To be fair, Dean Spanleywas well liked by critics upon its release, but its subsequent impact has proved disappointingly slight. Based on Lord Dunsany’s 1939 novella, My Talks with Dean Spanley, our narrator relates how the titular Dean’s imbibification of a moderate quantity of Imperial Tokay (“too syrupy”, is the conclusion reached by both members of the Fisk family regarding this Hungarian wine) precludes his recollection of a past life as a dog. 

Inevitably, reviews pounced on the chance to reference Dean Spanley as a literal shaggy dog story, so I shall get that out of the way now. While the phrase is more than fitting, it serves to underrepresent how affecting the picture is when it has cause to be, as does any re…