Doctor Who #50: The Waking Ally

"Leave this creature to his own devices and salvation."TECHNICAL SPECS: Part 5 of The Dalek Invasion of Earth. First aired Dec.19 1964.

IN THIS ONE... Susan and David fall in love while they, Tyler and the Doctor get to the mine. Barbara and Jenny are sold out to the Daleks by crones. And after Craddock is killed, Ian finds himself in the Dalek base, in a capsule meant to blow the Earth's core.

REVIEW: There are a number of nonsensical episode titles in the canon, especially in the early days when each part of a story had its own, but "The Waking Ally" takes the prize. Who is this ally that awakens? He or she is nowhere to be found. Unless it refers to Craddock's brother Phil, robotized, who in the last seconds of his life, recognizes his brother, also dying on the end of his machine gun. It would be touching if it weren't so melodramatic. Another pitiable creature is the Slyther - no, not pitiable, pitiful, that's it - which falls to its death soon after the episode begins. Hardly worth the trouble of waxing one's tentacles in the morning. Seeing as it didn't even make it into the film version, the Slyther's big moment will just have to be the DVD extra in which it goes on a date...

After more sewers action (dear God, why?!), the Doctor, Susan and the Resistance members, head for the mine where Susan and David immediately start frolicking around their camp site. There's kissing and everything. The Doctor sees more than they think, and amusingly says he can see something's cooking. This isn't going to be one of those "out of nowhere" romances Doctor Who will become infamous for. The other good bit belongs to Barbara and Jenny who come across a cottage with two disheveled women in it. They offer food for shelter from the storm (it's all very Gothic) and are rewarded with betrayal. You don't want Daleks to come knocking at your door in those parts. The "women in the wood" are rather good at justifying their actions ("Oh, well. She’d been captured anyway."), the kind of thing we might have expected of Ashton had he survived the previous episode. And with that scene, the story returns to what it was doing so well in earlier chapters - painting a larger world. The old woman talks about visiting London before the troubles began, and of "moving pavement".

The Daleks' plan is revealed and it is, of course, very much absurd. They mean to empty the Earth's core, disrupt its magnetic and gravitational fields, and replace with a power source to turn the planet into a great, big (gas-guzzling) spaceship. Everyone important is converging on "Project Degravitate", with Barbara making a play for the Black Dalek using Dortmun's notes to broker a meeting, and Ian hiding out (as usual with Richard Martin's direction, rather obviously) in the very capsule that will deliver the penetration explosives to the core. Oops! It's only a matter of time before the Doctor gets to the control chamber too. Meanwhile, the Daleks play with their big wall model and get shot with Dutch angles a lot.

THEORIES: Why a planet-ship? Maybe they want to go head to head against the Cybermen (see The Tenth Planet... eventually). Seriously though, maybe these Daleks are a more desperate lot than they admit to. Remember, these are static-dependent Daleks, like the ones in the Skarosian city, not the more advanced models we'll see later. Getting to Earth might have been a feat or even a stroke of luck, and they don't have the power to return to Skaro on with their saucers. A ship as big as Earth might be the only way the whole stranded fleet could get home, bringing slave labour and minerals as booty.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - The Waking Ally offers some great scenes, but also a lot of silly B-movie stuff. The Daleks were definitely better as Nazi stand-ins than as what boils down to mad scientists.

3 comments:

Matthew Turnage said...

I always figured The Doctor was the "Waking Ally" after his week off in episode four. At least, he makes as much sense as anyone else.

The Last Real Person On Earth said...

It's the Doctor! It's the bloody Doctor! Why does everyone think this title is confusing? IT'S OBVIOUSLY THE BLOODY DOCTOR! JESUS CHRIST PEOPLE HOW CAN YOU NOT FIGURE THIS OUT. HOW. TELL ME HOW. JUST BLOODY TELL ME HOW ON EARTH YOU CAN'T WORK THIS OUT. THE TITLE IS THE WAKING ALLY, THE DOCTOR IS AN ALLY AGAINST THE DALEKS, THE DOCTOR WAKES UP FROM BEING UNCONSCIOUS IN THIS EPISODE. CHRIST. EIGHTEEN SECONDS OF THINKING. THAT'S ALL IT TAKES TO UNRAVEL THE POXY MYSTERY. IS THAT SO BLOODY HARD. IS IT. IS IT SO HARD. JESUS.

Siskoid said...

Ladies and gentlemen, Who Fandom.

I'm watching a show called Doctor Who. Allies should be people OTHER than the Doctor, no? The Doctor doesn't need to "ally against the Daleks", he's already against the Daleks. Your justification for the title works as well as any, but it's still mystifying to me that it was considered a good one.

ESPECIALLY SINCE HARTNELL WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE OUT OF ACTION IN THE PREVIOUS EPISODE. THE SCRIPT WAS CHANGED HASTILY BECAUSE OF HIS ON-SET INJURY. SO DID THEY CHANGE THE TITLE WHEN THEY MADE THOSE CHANGES? IF SO THERE IS NO EVIDENCE OF IT ON EXISTING DRAFTS!

/all caps Who Fandom argumentation

 

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