Doctor Who Sunday: The Rescue
Before this: Dalek Invasion of Earth
Season 2, Episode 3: The Rescue
The Rescue is the third episode of the second season of Doctor Who. Released in two parts, it was produced in a block with upcoming episode ‘The Romans’, and is the first appearance of new companion Vicki (Maureen O’Brien).
Those who watch Doctor Who are familiar with one of its most central themes: change. After the last episode, in which we said goodbye to Susan (Carol Ann Ford), we meet a new character that becomes a companion. In ‘The Rescue’, we’re not the only ones who miss Susan. At the beginning of the episode, the time travellers land on the planet Dido in the future, which the Doctor has visited before. Without thinking, he asks Susan to open the doors. It’s just a few lines, but it’s a moment that resonates. The Doctor has lost his granddaughter, and that short scene really hits home.
In any case, life goes on and they explore the planet, which is much more deserted than the Doctor remembers. However, they do find Vicki and Bennet, the two survivors of a space crash awaiting a rescue ship. The planet is also a lot more hostile than the Doctor remembers, and the three are attacked by Koquillion, an inhabitant of Dido. He pushes Barbara off a cliff, but luckily she is rescued by Vicki. We find out that the natives of Dido killed the survivors of the space crash, including Vicki’s father, which makes her an orphan. The lonely Vicki has managed to befriend a Sand Beast, which unfortunately has a bark worse than its bite – Barbara kills it under the impression it will attack them – and Vicki doesn’t take well to it.
[SPOILERS AHEAD] It’s at this point the Doctor and Ian arrive at the ship, quickly realising things aren’t all that they seem – Bennet is missing, and the Doctor eventually unmasks the Koquillion to reveal the two are the same. Bennet is not an innocent survivor, but rather the instigator of the deaths on Dido. After killing a crew member on board, he was arrested. Luckily for him, their spacecraft crashed before his crime could be reported, and he killed the remaining humans and the Dido natives to cover up his crimes.
Eventually as Bennet is about to kill the Doctor, two surviving Didonians arrive and kill Bennet. The time travellers reunite, and the orphaned Vicki is welcomed aboard the TARDIS. [SPOILERS END]
This story is much more character-driven than previous stories, which I actually am a fan of. As it is only a two-parter, it’s much easier to watch in one sitting than say, the previous episode, ‘Dalek Invasion of Earth’. It’s also got other elements that make for a great Doctor Who episode: intrigue, a puzzle to be solved, a scene that isn’t what it seems, and morally ambiguous aliens. Aside from introducing a new character (Maureen O’Brien is a fantastic choice: smart, lively, and sweet), ‘The Rescue’ brings us some great moments, such as Ian and Barbara playfully bantering. The format of these older episodes allows much more room for natural progressions and quiet, sincere moments, rather than throwing audiences headlong into each new action-filled scene.
All in all, an engaging, intriguing episode that is well worth the watch (especially because it’s only two episodes!
After the excitement and sadness of the ‘Dalek Invasion of Earth’, ‘The Rescue’ had some pretty big shoes to fill. That being said, the two-parter was brilliant – it managed to fill its role spectacularly and had a fantastic amount of character development and plot intricacies for something so small, and basically highlighted the way even a short story can have a big impact on the world. Also, Vicki is adorable, wonderful and fun, and introducing her as a companion was a spectacular choice. All in all, a great little story, and something that any Whovian out there would enjoy as a quick story to watch. Also, a good one to introduce friends to early Doctor Who, as it is both enjoyable and short.
The story basically has the TARDIS landing on some strange planet, in a cave system. From there, the companions are tormented by some menacing alien, as well as several traps set up by the mysterious Koquillion, an enigmatic and dangerous alien who seems to have an abusive relationship with the adorable orphan Vicki and Bennet, the latter whom is a cripple. Treachery, murder and cynical manipulation all form the basis of the plot, which revolves mainly around characters, although there are a few unexpected but titillating twists that certainly make this a very strong story. Also, there is a giant monster, which turns out to be not so much evil as just a little hungry and territorial, and one of the ugliest villains to grace Doctor Who‘s screens (both in physical appearance and in character traits).
The story had some cool character development. The Doctor is obviously deeply troubled by Susan’s departure in the previous story, and spends the beginning of the episode sound asleep. He also calls out for her to open the doors, but then remembers she is gone, and is quite saddened by the fact. However, he is almost overjoyed when the trio discover Vicki, a small and naïve orphan who is under the thumb of the oppressive Koquillion. He takes her under his wing, and adopts her as Susan’s replacement, and she adopts him as a substitute parent (along with Ian and Barbara of course). Barbara and Ian, being the adorable couple they are, have a very human interaction when Vicki attempts to work out Barbara’s age (Ian chuckles when Vicki overestimates Barbara’s age, which earns him a playful punch in the arm). Koquillion makes a foul bad guy – he is a mean bully, who intimidates Vicki and Bennet for personal gain. Although he doesn’t attack them openly, the threat of violence hangs around the alien like a bad cloud. He makes a brilliant bad guy, especially once his role in the cynical murder of humans and Didonians becomes apparent.
Not much to say for the graphics – still laughable, but they certainly have improved a great deal since the original episode. The sand monster that attacks the Doctor and Ian is actually quite creepy, even if it is just a cardboard model. The sets are quite well constructed, aside from a few mishaps, and the costumes are pretty awesome, although the cardboard headset was pretty amusing, albeit ugly, to look upon.
All in all, The Rescue is a fantastic example of a solid science-fiction story. Strong characters, both on the good side and bad, with understandable and relatable goals make the foundation of the story. A dastardly and vile villain who gets their just desserts; a gigantic sand beast which is Vicki is rather fond of; hilariously dated costumes and sets (although they do represent the continuing expansion of the BBC’s budget allocated to the show); and a much more human Doctor and his reliable and good companions make this a great watch.