I have to admit, I didn’t like this serial while I was watching it. Two reasons: 1) The “Robomen” looked and acted very silly. 2) I didn’t understand why the Daleks were there in the first place. They want to move the Earth… why? To turn it into a giant war machine? Okay, I guess that’s pretty scary.
Looking back on it, though, it was actually pretty good. The deserted London was really creepy. Some interesting new characters were introduced, and my favorite crew members play a big role, too. Plus, this serial marks the return of the Daleks, and thus Doctor Who’s first recurring baddie.
So, the Daleks have taken over the world and have converted almost every human into mind slaves called Robomen. However, the mind control only works for so long; after that, the Robomen die. Because they’re not human anymore. Whatever. After running around avoiding Robomen for a bit, the Doctor and Ian are captured, while Barbara and Susan find a hidden resistance group.
The Doctor and Ian sit in their cell, trying to figure a way out, while another cell-mate is asking the Doctor annoying questions. Here, the Doctor says one of the funniest lines I’ve heard so far, while handing the guy an unnecessary piece of equipment: “Take this and shut up.” It’s just, wow, the Doctor’s really angry! The line seems really out of character for him.
The Doctor and Ian eventually escape the cell, but the Doctor is captured again and is going to be turned into a Roboman! Gasp! So the resistance comes to save the day with high-powered explosives that don’t do much. Oh, well. The Doctor is rescued, at least.
After the attack, Ian is left on board the Dalek ship. Susan and the Doctor end up traveling with a bunch of resistance members, one of whom is Susan’s love interest. Hooray for Susan.
BUT HOLY DAVROS BARBARA ENDS UP RUNNING DALEKS OVER WITH A TRUCK SOMEHOW! That’s awesome. As a Barbara fan, I appreciate this moment of Dalek destruction.
The Dalek ship takes Ian to a mine where apparently he will spend the rest of his days. The Daleks want to be able to pilot the Earth around. I don’t know. They’re going to lower a bomb into a mine shaft. Anyway, somehow Ian ends up INSIDE the bomb capsule while trying to disarm it. Sure. The Doctor arrives and manages to stop its descent in time for Ian to escape. Through technobabble, the bomb is able to go off without destroying the planet, and instead just destroys the Daleks. All of them. Yep, the entire Dalek invasion force relocated to that one mineshaft. Well, I suppose it’s plausible.
The TARDIS crew get ready to leave when the Doctor notices that Susan has grown very attached to that certain resistance member. He ends up locking her out of the TARDIS, and tells her that she needs to make a life for herself. His parting quote is particularly touching: “One day, I shall come back. Yes, I shall come back. Until then, there must be no regrets, no tears, no anxieties. Just go forward in all your beliefs, and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mine. Goodbye, my dear. Goodbye, Susan.”
I really, really, didn’t like Susan, and was glad to see her go, but this moment was sad. And also confusing. What’s so bad about Gallifrey that the Doctor can’t just drop her off there? And why was she even with the Doctor in the first place? I think some of my questions might be answered (if vague spoilers of The Three Doctors and The Five Doctors have anything to say about it), but it is a little weird just leaving her so abruptly.
Oh, well. At least she’s gone. And now there’s a void that can never be filled. Or can it? The Doctor needs a replacement companion, and there’s one waiting for him in the next serial, The Rescue!