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

It's Dark Age, by Jupiter!

The Dig (2021) (SPOILERS) An account of the greatest archaeological find Britain would know until Professor Horner opened the barrow at Devil’s End. And should you scoff at such “ fiction ”, that’s nothing on this adaptation of John Preston’s 2007 novel concerning the Sutton Hoo excavations of the late 1930s. The Dig , as is the onus of any compelling fictional account, takes liberties with the source material, but the erring from the straight and narrow in this case is less an issue than the shift in focus from characters and elements successfully established during the first hour.

He’s probably paranoid, high-strung, doesn’t like daylight. You know, has a lot of crumbs in his beard, if he has a beard.

Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) (SPOILERS) I’d like to report I had a blast with Godzilla vs. Kong . It’s lighter on its oversized, city-stomping feet than its slog of a MonsterVerse predecessor, Godzilla: King of the Monsters , and there are flashes of visual inspiration along with several engaging core ideas (which, to be fair, the series had already laid the seeds for). But this sequel still stumbles in its chief task: assembling an engaging, lively story that successfully integrates both tiny humans and towering titans.

Roswell was a smokescreen, we've had a half a dozen better salvage operations.

The X-Files 1.24: The Erlenmeyer Flask The Erlenmeyer Flask makes for a fast-paced, tense and eventful ride, but does it make any sense? That less than mattered at the time, but revisiting the mythology arc (for probably the fourth or fifth time) reveals increasingly tenuous internal coherence as the various conspiracy elements begin to pile up and the situations become ever-more convoluted. This will become the Chris Carter’s signature: don’t examine the details too closely, go with the flow. Trust Chris implicitly.

UFO IN MOSSINGHAM?

A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (2020) (SPOILERS) One might reasonably suggest the recourse of the ailing or desperate franchise is to resort, seemingly out of nowhere, to space aliens. Even Police Academy didn’t go that far (to Moscow, yes, but not to space). Perhaps animators think kids have no skills of discernment and will swallow any old sugar-coated crap. Perhaps they don’t, and they will. Ice Age had been enjoying absurd success until Collision Course sent Scrat spinning into the cosmos and grosses tumbled. Shaun the Sheep has been around for a quarter of a century, but this is only his second movie outing and already he’s pulling an E.T. on us. Of course, this may all be part of the grand scheme, and Nick Park is simply doing his bit to familiarise the tots in time for Project Blue Beam.

Suspicions of destiny. We all have them. A deep, wordless knowledge that our time has come.

Damien: Omen II (1978) (SPOILERS) There’s an undercurrent of unfulfilled potential with the Omen series, an opportunity to explore the machinations of the Antichrist and his minions largely ignored in favour of Final Destination deaths every twenty minutes or so. Of the exploration there is, however, the better part is found in Damien: Omen II , where we’re privy to the parallel efforts of a twelve or thirteen-year-old Damien at military school and those of Thorn Industries. The natural home of the diabolical is, after all, big business. Consequently, while this sequel is much less slick than the original, it is also more engaging dramatically.

You stink, my friend.

Mulan (2020) (SPOILERS) Let that be a lesson to Disney. It’s a fool’s errand to try and beat the Chinese at their own game, no matter how painstakingly respectful – or rather, pandering – you are. Indeed, Mulan ’s abysmal $40m box office take in the country – where it did get a proper release, so no plandemic excuses can be cited – feels like a direct rebuke; don’t try and tell us how to suck eggs. There’s an additional explanation too, of course. That Mulan sucks.

By heaven, I’d thrash the life out of you… if I didn’t have to read the Nine O’Clock News.

The Green Man (1956) (SPOILERS) The Green movie from Launder and Gilliat starring Alastair Sim that isn’t Green for Danger. Which is to say, The Green Man can’t quite scale the heady heights of that decade-earlier murder mystery triumph, but neither is it any slouch. Sim is the antagonist this time – albeit a very affable, Sim-ish one – and his sometime protégée, a young George Cole, the hero. If the plot is entirely absurd, Robert Day’s movie wastes no time probing such insufficiencies, ensuring it is very funny, lively and beautifully performed.

A subterranean Loch Ness Monster?

Doctor Who The Silurians No, I’m not going to refer to The Silurians as Doctor Who and the Silurians . I’m going to refer to it as Doctor Who and the Eocenes . The Silurians plays a blinder. Because both this and Inferno know the secret of an extended – some might say overlong – story is to keep the plot moving, they barely drag at all and are consequently much fleeter of foot than many a four parter. Unlike Malcolm Hulke’s sequel The Sea Devils , The Silurians has more than enough plot and deals it out judiciously (the plague, when it comes, kicks the story up a gear at the precarious burn-out stage of a typical four-plus parter). What’s most notable, though, is how engaging those first four episodes are, building the story slowly but absorbingly and with persuasive confidence.

Well, I’ll be damned. It’s the gentleman guppy.

Waterworld (1995) (SPOILERS) The production and budgetary woes of “ Kevin’s Gate ” will forever overshadow the movie’s content (and while it may have been the most expensive movie ever to that point – adjusted for inflation, it seems only Cleopatra came close – it has since turned a profit). However, should you somehow manage to avoid the distraction of those legendary problems, the real qualitative concerns are sure to come sailing over the cognitive horizon eventually; Waterworld is just so damned derivative. It’s a seafaring Mad Max. Peter Rader, who first came up with the idea in 1986, admitted as much. David Twohy, who later came aboard, also cited Mad Max 2 ; that kind of rip-off aspect – Jaws birthing Piranha – makes it unsurprising Waterworld was once under consideration by Roger Corman (he couldn’t cost it cheaply enough). Ultimately, there’s never a sufficient sense the movie has managed to become its own thing. Which is a bummer, because it’s frequently quite good fun.

Farewell, dear shithead, farewell.

Highlander II: The Quickening (1991) (SPOILERS) I saw Highlander II: The Quickening at the cinema. Yes, I actually paid money to see one of the worst mainstream sequels ever on the big screen. I didn’t bother investigating the Director’s Cut until now, since the movie struck me as entirely unsalvageable. I was sufficiently disenchanted with all things Highlander that I skipped the TV series and slipshod sequels, eventually catching Christopher Lambert’s last appearance as Connor MacLeod in Highlander: End Game by accident rather than design. But Highlander II ’s on YouTube , and the quality is decent, so maybe the Director’s Cut improve matters and is worth a reappraisal? Not really. It’s still a fundamentally, mystifyingly botched retcon enabling the further adventures of MacLeod, just not quite as transparently shredded in the editing room.