Doctor Who #607: Enlightenment Part 3

"Have you ever seen a man flogged to death? Or keelhauled? Very painful. You Ephemerals have such inventive ways of inflicting pain."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Mar.8 1983.

IN THIS ONE... Our heroes are invited to the unscrupulous Captain Wrack's ship for a reception and a bit of terror.

REVIEW: One of the things I like about Enlightenment's Eternals is that they don't all act the same. They might all have been like Striker, unemotional and detached, but Marriner is wide-eyed and too interested in Tegan (who finally shows some fire and denies him access to her thoughts - I wonder if the Doctor gives his companions courses in mental resistance after a while), and Captain Wrack is a huge personality, lusty and sadistic. Lynda Baron is, in fact, a major presence, and really makes the episode. Wayyyy better "captain stunt casting" than Beryl Reid. Wrack is so big, she can't be confined by the rules of either the Eternals or television. She cheats to win Enlightenment, and she breaks the fourth wall. All in a day's work.

This is also the episode with Tegan in a ball gown, and that's going to have its fans. Almost insultingly, no reaction from the Doctor. And people worried about hanky-panky in the TARDIS. Piffle. Or is that kind of moment calibrated as a response to those who worry about such things? Marriner does find Tegan beautiful, but because of the confusion in her mind! She can't catch a break. Even the jewels Wrack gives her are poison. (Or a focus that draws the destructive power of the CBS eye. Same difference.) The Doctor makes a bit better, replacing his celery from the buffet table. Neat bit.

Turlough's moments are a mixed bag, but good when important. Obviously, in all things Turlough during the Trilogy, we have to endure the Black Guardian. This time, he tells Turlough he's going to diiiiiiie, so apparently, he didn't mean it when he threatened him with an eternal life of torment before. Sigh. And his death via strange spinning starfield effect is one of director Fiona Cummings' few real failures in the serial. We're just not sure what's going on or why, if the vacuum shield is off, Turlough can breathe. But this episode is surely a turning point for the treacherous companion. In the cliffhanger, reprised here (a sad and well-made image of him floating away, at least until the CSO cuts in), he commits suicide rather than murder, merely an extension of what's been his stance all along. However, when he's about to be sucked out of an airlock (or whatever's happening there), he stops pleading for the Black Guardian's help, and instead starts shouting for the Doctor's. This is the moment where he stops being a pawn and becomes a companion.

THEORIES: Have we seen Eternals before or since? We may have. Being from outside time, they normally reside in the Void (a word actually used in Part 4), and references to Eternals in the new series would also have it so. For example, in Army of Ghosts, we learn the Eternals call the Void the Howling. So any character that comes from the Void and who shares similar powers might be an Eternal. Some have surmised the Trickster from the Sarah Jane Adventures might be an Eternal outcast, and Adam from Torchwood seems to have his roots in Marriner's quest for existence through ephemeral minds. That's as maybe. The most convincing Eternal attribution I've heard is the Celestial Toymaster. Here's a character with power over matter who seeks amusement by torturing Ephemerals. Though god-like, he still poaches ideas from human minds - his games, his clothes, his props and minions. Other god-like beings who need to be amused by humanity include the Gods of Ragnarok from The Greatest Show in the Galaxy, and whatever powers the Land of Fiction in The Mind Robber (which has definite links to the Void). Of course, there's no reason all Eternals should seek the same thing, as they were once apparently more heroically active, being responsible for the banishment of the Carrionites according to The Shakespeare Code.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - Between Wrack and Tegan, there's a vivacious female presence on screen, though Turlough does get to advance his arc and participate in all manner of special effects, both good and bad.


snell said...

Of course, since the Doctor's first celery came from an artificially-created world in Castrovalva, and this one from what may be an Eternals-created artificial environment, we allowed to consider whether he ever did have actual celery,,,

Siskoid said...

Imaginary celery is the only remedy for Spectrox Toxaemia.

snell said...

So, do all Doctors' incarnations have the allergy to Praxis gasses? If so, why didn't they wear celery? If not, how does the 5th incarnation know he has that allergy?

Siskoid said...

Finely tuned bioconscience?


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