Doctor Who #191: The Enemy of the World Part 4

"You can't threaten me now, Benik. I can only die once. And someone's beaten you to it."TECHNICAL SPECS: As with most of this story, this episode is missing from the archives. Yep, it's reconstruction time again. (The episode has since been found, see Versions.) First aired Jan.13 1968.

IN THIS ONE... Fariah is killed and Salamander goes to an underground bunker where he's tricked people into working the earthquake machines thinking there's an atomic war on.

REVIEW: Watling and Hines were on holiday that week, so neither Jamie nor Victoria appear. But then, there's not much Doctor in it either. Once again, the bulk of the episode is given over to guest characters, but the guest cast keeps changing, leaving the viewer with few people to latch onto. After Denes and Fedorin's deaths in the previous episode (and the loss of Griff the doomsaying chef), here we lose Fariah just as she's ready to betray Salamander. She dies a brave death, but alas, it seems like we'll never know her story, what hold Salamander had over her, etc. Benik, an effete heavy introduced in the last episode takes on a bigger role, but he's strictly two-dimensional when compared to other enforcers like Bruce or even the guards who are given lines.

And then there's the introduction of the people who have lived underground for the past five years, thinking there's a nuclear war raging on the surface. They're the ones being manipulated into working some kind of machinery to cause natural disasters where it'll hurt "the enemy" the most, and though Salamander seems to spend a lot of time on the irradiated surface, only their young people want to risk following him up there. What IS this plotline?! It comes out of nowhere and seems like a science fiction plug-in to make a political story a little more Whovian... or a little more Thunderbirds if we imagine the mysterious buzzing scene in which we must imagine Salamander going down to the bunker in some sort of contraption. We've lost even the most basic of visuals for this, but I can't imagine it not feeling like a slice of forever. BUZZZ. BUZZZ. BUZZZ. Gah! (But see Versions.) And while I'm on the subject of annoyances, I can't really get the other SF conceit of calling places by their Zone designations. It makes Earth feel incredibly small, where the whole of Central Europe is completely undifferentiated and seems only a short drive away from Australia.

And the Doctor in all this? He's still gathering evidence as if he had always been interested in due process, and finding it wanting. These are sum zero scenes, because Fariah dies with her evidence anyway, and Salamander's men know there's an impostor abroad. Aside from Fariah, he's not even given anyone interesting to talk to. Kent is as boring a cipher as they come, and Astrid continues to be the most reckless agent that ever survived a mission, here talking on open coms and needing to be told to turn the scrambler on like it's optional. She's making it much too easy to get her people caught or killed. There's also the matter of the Doctor being asked to assassinate Salamander, as if being his body double actually allows that (and they had their chance when they let Jamie "rescue" him), and of course we know he won't. I suppose it adds a layer of ambiguity that the goodies are just as bad as the baddies, blackmailing the Doctor as they do. Cue another limp cliffhanger and roll credits.

VERSIONS: Ah yes, nice. The effect of Salamander tubing down to the center of the Earth is very well done and adds a lot to this still odd twist. I won't say Benik is given a third dimension, but he's even smarmier with video added, smiling like a loon at becoming Salamander's new favorite. And in the apartment block siege, outdoor architecture gives the sequence, and the world, a bigger scope.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - Fariah gets a good death scene, but this is otherwise more annoying than pleasant. There are definitely more plot holes than there are scenes with any of the regulars.



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