The Doctor sends the Chief Scientist back to the city, and proceeds alone into the cave system. He quickly discovers an Atropa belladonna—deadly nightshade—plant from Earth, and the source of the poison. But his jubilation is short lived, as the terrible roaring of an unseen monster pierces through the darkness…
So, yeah. I’ve been
a little really busy lately with work, and it seems like there hasn’t been much time to relax. I wish I could blame that on the lack of updates recently, but the fact of the matter is that I’ve been struggling with The Sensorites for reasons that are hard to define, and my apathy goes further than simply describing this serial as mediocre.
That said, Kidnap does a somewhat better job at moving the story along than some of the preceding episodes, and quite a lot happens in these 25 minutes. The time travelers are “surrounded by enemies,” as Ian observes, both on the issue of the poisoned water supply, and, perhaps more seriously, the grim realization that a Sensorite is actively working against them when Susan informs the Doctor the antidote to Ian’s deadly nightshade poisoning never made it from the lab, and that she had to go an get a second supply. Suddenly the situation is even more urgent.
Elsewhere, Carol is convinced that John is trying to warn them of a plot involving a Sensorite, but the Sensorite scientist dismisses this idea, explaining that Sensorite society is based on trust, and that “treason or secret plotting is impossible,” as these are human values, not Sensorite ones. Carol sees this as a naïve sentiment, and insists that there must be some individuals who are dissatisfied with the status quo. She’s right, of course, and it’s an interesting point to consider: can a society exist wherein no one is unhappy or dissatisfied, even under the best of circumstances? In all truthfulness, I don’t think it is, and clearly it’s not the case for the Sensorite Nation, either. Even the Sensorite scientist forelornly agrees that “to see all the time is not a good thing,” perhaps belying an experience that he would rather forget.
On the other hand, or, rather, from a different perspective, the Sensorites, like all alien societies in science fiction, are really a reflection of humanity, and therefore human values and Sensorite values are really one and the same. (Even Dalek values of extermination, destruction, and conquest are human values in many respects, perhaps even more than we often care to admit.) Furthermore, is it even possible for a (human) writer to conceive of a truly alien culture that does not, in fact, reflect humanity, even to a small degree. Again, I’m not sure it is, but ostensibly, that’s not what Doctor Who or science fiction in general is really all about.
Regardless, the City Administrator manipulates the captive Second Elder once again in order to acquire the second key to the disintegrator from the Chief Warrior. The Administrator goes to collect the key, once again wearing the Second Elder’s sash of office, banking on the hope that the Chief Warrior will only recognize him by his clothes, which he does. At the same moment, the Doctor, Susan, and Ian return from the aqueduct. They, too, mistake the City Administrator as the Second Elder, and the Doctor chases after him hoping to have a brief word, but is unable to catch up with him. Returning to the disintegrator room with the firing key, the City Administrator is annoyed that his accomplice hasn’t tied the Second Elder up again, and seising the opportunity, the Elder momentarily overpowers his captors, and breaks the disintegrator key, rendering it useless. The third Sensorite strikes the Second Elder, killing him instantly. The City Administrator is frustrated, but believes he can use this turn of events to his advantage.
Elsewhere, the time travelers are discussing their recent experiences in the caves and with the Sensorite whom they believe is the Second Elder. The First Elder is puzzled by his advisor’s behavior, and as a courtesy, presents the Doctor with a cloak to replace his destroyed jacket. The City Administrator (now donning his own collar of office) enters with the Chief Warrior, and advises the First Elder that the Second Elder was killed by the Doctor. The Chief Warrior says he saw the old man chase the Second Elder down the corridor following their return from the caves, and that he witnessed him kill the Second Elder with an implement that he took from the pocket of his coat. Ian confronts the Warrior, and tells him they left the Doctor’s coat in the aqueduct—and the First Elder has only just presented the Doctor with a replacement cloak. The First Elder orders the Chief Warrior removed, and, at the Doctor’s suggestion, makes the City Administrator the new Second Elder.
The Doctor, Ian, and Susan return to check on John’s progress, and are delighted to learn that he has made a full recovery. Susan questions him further on what he was trying to warn them about, but he admits he can’t quite rememeber, except that there was something odd about the Sensorite’s clothing. After a moment, he realizes that it was the City Administrator whom he overheard scheming; he was their enemy all along. Worst of all, it was the time travelers who helped get him promoted to Second Elder.
The Doctor and Ian plan to return to the aqueduct, but the new Second Elder is determined to sabotage their efforts by giving them an altered version of the cave map and weapons that don’t work. Unaware of the betrayal, the Doctor asks the First Elder not to tell Susan they’ve gone until they’re well on their way. Back in the lab, Susan, Carol, and John are waiting for the others so they can eat. Carol decides to go look for them. As she’s crossing the courtyard, an unseen Sensorite accosts her…
Daniel is the owner and Managing Editor of Time and The – !. He's been a fan of Doctor Who since watching Tom Baker regenerate into Peter Davison on his local PBS station as a kid. He launched Time and The – ! in 2011 after having the bright (?) idea to watch every Doctor Who story from the beginning and blog about it. (Yeah, he's way behind.)