Doctor Who #270: The Ambassadors of Death Part 4

"Someone threatening to kill her if I don't stop interfering. Well, let's get back to work shall we?"TECHNICAL SPECS: Will watch the episode via the Internet until it's out in restored color. First aired Apr.11 1970. Apollo 13 launched on this date. Think about that. Creepy, right?

IN THIS ONE... Liz is kidnapped by the people working with the "astronauts" and one of these is sent to the space center to tie up some loose ends.

My unfamiliarity with this story is really helping its air of mystery! Though it seemed there was more than one faction at work, it would seem there's only one and the other is just a cover for UNIT's sake. Just when you think someone's been exonerated, he still proves to have something up his sleeve. But just because they're on the same side, it doesn't mean they trust each other. In fact, as soon as you become a loose end, it looks like you're done, and two members of the conspiracy pay the ultimate price. But is this another case of humans thinking they are in control of the aliens, when they are in fact being manipulated by them? Carrington and the doomed Quinlan seem convinced they are doing what's best for the planet, but are they being misled? The machine the aliens have us build looks to be a communicator (not like Contact's travel machine then), but the story's title may reveal their true intentions.

The conspiracy is pretty pervasive, but it's brought the Doctor and the Brigadier back together as allies. In opposition to the Silurian incident, the Brig is a willing ally. He listens and believes, though of course, he may find government cover-ups easier to believe that primeval lizard men. The Doctor's obstinacy is responsible for a number of deaths here. He can't leave well enough alone, and the aliens are forced to silence those who would speak to him. When Liz is held hostage, he ignores the threats against her life and carried on. When the government arranges to bench all the astronauts who might pilot Recovery 8, the Doctor offers to do it himself (we know he's got the experience from The Seeds of Death). Moooooooonrakerrrrrrrr. I also like how they make use of Liz's academic background. She knows Dr. Lennox and he feels compelled to let her escape. As she stands by the side of the road, I had to wonder if no one would stop for a pretty scientist in a short skirt, but alas, the baddies are still one step ahead and pick her up again. Doesn't stop her from being sassy. She's awesome.

Like the previous episode, it's structured to end with an action sequence, which more easily forgives any lenteurs when scientist types speak about scientisty things. The lone alien astronaut, backlit and covered in lens flares, electrocuting a UNIT soldier, is the stand-out here. After that, there's a whole lot of soldiers firing their weapons in vain (the UNIT cliché) and the alien zapping them with its touch. That final image of the alien coming up behind the Doctor was just MADE for the top of this post though, wasn't it?

- The thriller elements work quite well still, and the characterization ain't bad either. I scarcely notice that the color's missing.



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