Synopsis: Trouble is occurring at an inactive coal mine in the Welsh village of Llanfairfach. UNIT has been dispatched to investigate, but the Doctor is uninterested because he has finally ironed out all the problems with the TARDIS. While Jo and the Brigadier head off, the Doctor finally successfully travels to Metebelis III. Jo, in particular, is concerned because she reads in a newspaper that a local corporation is doing something new that will create a lot of pollution. She hopes to meet famed Professor Clifford Jones while out there.
Jo is dropped off at the Nuthutch, where Jones and his group work on eco-friendly projects. The only one inside she finds is an eccentric man who patronizes her and getting angry when she bumps into things. He is busy working on a new type of fungus that is rich in protein. Jo initially hates this man, but the two get to talking and finally become agreeable. It is then that Jo learns who this is; Jones himself.
Jones berates the local company, Global Chemicals, accusing them of using up tons of oil and causing pollution and gallons of waste. Things are especially suspicious as a miner has recently died after being subjected to an unusual illness. When Jo suggests they go down into the mine to see if Global Chemicals is pouring pollution into it, Jones disagrees and the two start arguing again. She heads off on her own, meeting a friendly miner named Bert who goes down with her, especially after discovering that another miner has gone down and hasn’t come back up.
The Brigadier meets with Global Chemicals to investigate the death, but finds their testimonials suspicious. He tries to contact the Doctor, and it takes multiple calls before the Doctor finally picks up. He’s been on Metebelis III, where tons of fauna and nature have been doing everything possible to kill him. He finally agrees to travel out to Wales and meet them. When he arrives, he insists that no-one go down into the mine. When they learn that Jo is in the mine, they shout at the employees to bring the lift back up. Frighteningly, however, the lift’s brakes are broken!
The Doctor and the Brigadier manage to jam the lift just in time, but Jo and Bert are trapped in the mine. They find the other miner, whose skin is glowing green just like the previous death. They head off to find their way out. On the surface, no-one can go down into the mine until the lift lines are cut and no-one seems to have cutting equipment. They ask Global Chemicals for some, but the company says they don’t have any. This seems pretty hard to believe, so the Doctor sneaks in and easily finds cutting equipment to steal. Guards catch him and he fights some off, but is eventually stopped by guards with rifles. For some reason, though, the head of the company Mr. Stevens decides to just let him go.
Luckily, the Brigadier has come across a local man with cutting equipment, and the team goes down into the mine. They find the miner at the bottom of the lift dead. Up ahead, Jo and Bert had encountered some odd green slime and Bert touched it. Soon after, he finds that his skin is glowing green as well. When he becomes too weak, Jo goes ahead alone. The Doctor catches up with Bert, and then heads forward to find Jo. There, he discovers what she’s found; a huge cave crawling with gigantic maggots. Worse, the tunnels caves in behind them with more maggots crawling through the rubble.
The two barely manage to escape by using an old mine cart as a boat and paddling through the maggot-infested green slime. Still trapped in the mine, they find that the only way out is a large pipe. While climbing up, vibrations start happening and they fear that they’re about to be smothered by something. As they keep climbing, they find themselves back in Global Chemicals, where an employee named Elgin helps them escape just before waste is pumped down. The Doctor and Jo’s suspicions are confirmed. They return to the Nuthutch, but unfortunately find that the Brigadier has been ordered by the Prime Minister not to intervene.
Bert has died, which saddens Jo. Also, on the way out of the mine, the Doctor had picked up a giant maggot egg. Having brought it back to the Nuthutch to examine it, no-one noticed when it hatches and approaches Jo. Before she is killed, however, it instead kills an employee of Global Chemicals that had snuck in to destroy it. The maggot escapes, and the Brigadier receives orders to seal off the mine with explosives. The Doctor realizes this will only make things worse, and goes to plead with Stevens to allow an investigation, but Stevens says no.
Thankfully, the Brigadier still doesn’t trust Stevens or his company, and so enlists Yates to go there undercover as a Ministry official. After having been thrown out, the Doctor gets back inside Global Chemicals by disguising himself as a milkman and a cleaning lady. He learns from Yates that Stevens isn’t in charge; he takes his orders from someone on the top floor. Meanwhile, Jo has made Jones angry with her by accidentally ruining one of his experiment slides by spilling powder all over it. She is starting to have powerful feelings for him, and feels terrible for making him cross. She decides to head off on her own and capture a maggot for him, so he can analyze it.
The Doctor sneaks upstairs, where he finds out who the true boss is. It’s a large computer, who identified itself as the Biomorphic Organisational Systems Supervisor, or ‘BOSS’. It controls the company, and has even been hypnotising its employees to do its bidding. This is because it was linked to a human brain and developed highly advanced artificial intelligence, unexpectedly becoming similar to an eccentric megalomaniac. He tries to escape, but is caught by Stevens. They try to hypnotise him, but he resists it and manages to escape. Back at the Nuthutch, Yates has returned. However, he pulls a gun and is about to shoot the Doctor.
He’s been hypnotised just like the other employees, but the Doctor is able to reverse the process. He does this using a shining blue crystal that he picked up on Metebelis III. Jones learns that Jo went off on her own and rushes off to save her before she is caught in the bombing of the mine. He reaches her and they hide away in a cave away from the maggots, but one is inside and it bites Jones in the neck, infecting him with the 'green’ illness. He and Jo are rescued by the Doctor and the escape, but Jones is unconscious. He can only deliriously mention the word 'serendipity’.
The Doctor sends Yates back to Global Chemicals, having him pretend to still be under hypnosis. He tries to remedy one of the company’s top employees using the same crystal, but is caught by Stevens. He is locked up, but barely manages to escape when they try to escort him somewhere. Meanwhile, Benton has discovered the empty husk of a maggot chrysalis, meaning that some of them are changing form. They also discover another maggot in the Nuthutch, dead. Nearby, they see a meal made from the protein-heavy fungus. They realize that it’s the answer to destroying the maggots.
After the Doctor and a freshly-escaped Yates drive around in Bessie and spread as much of the fungus as they can, all of the maggots die. They are briefly attacked by a giant moth, the one from the chrysalis, but they kill it too. They also realize that Jones’ 'serendipity’ is in reference to Jo “ruining” his test slides, as the powder with the fungus ends up being the cure to the green illness. While Jones is cures, the Doctor heads off to confront BOSS. He finds Stevens hooked up to the computer, with BOSS setting forth his plan to dominate the world through the company. The Doctor breaks Stevens’ hypnosis with his crystal, and Stevens tells him to escape while he corrupts the computer and destroys it with an explosion. The Doctor escapes, but Stevens dies in the process.
Jones has been perfectly healed, and Jo couldn’t be happier. Everyone celebrates in the Nuthutch. When the Doctor gets ready to return to UNIT HQ, Jo informs him that she’s decided to instead join Jones on an expedition up the Amazon to find more rare fungus, especially since she’s fallen in love with him. Jones takes it a step further by asking if Jo will marry him, and she says yes. Everyone celebrates the new couple and Jo bids the Doctor a fond farewell. While everyone else remains to enjoy a good time, the Doctor slowly slips away and silently drives off into the night, upset at the loss of his close friend.
Thoughts: It’s the finale of Season 10, and it’s a meaty serial even for only six episodes! A lot happened in this one, as you can see.
After quite a few adventures in space, it was nice to go back to see UNIT and the Brigadier for an adventure on Earth. This was a very interesting story with a lot of twists and turns. Though veiled as a message against pollution, it wasn’t ham-handed and we both found it very enjoyable.
The fear of the “green death” and the maggots proved to be a very dangerous opposing force. They had a presence, despite just being a disease and a group of bugs. This was further helped by the corruption of Global Chemicals and BOSS. There was a lot of action and suspense that we really enjoyed.
Our problems with this serial lie in two places. Firstly, the ambitions and goals of BOSS were a little difficult to follow. It wasn’t quite clear how the company and the maggots were connected, and at first we thought that the maggots were part of the plan when in fact they were an unintended side effect. Also, the special effects in this one were quite lacking. The green screen effects were the worst we’ve seen so far, also being a little overused, and the gigantic moth was about as realistic as a stuffed animal. The maggots looked cool though.
After a long stay, this is also the departure of Jo. We both found her to be a wonderful companion. She was smart, insightful, but also questioning and vulnerable. Sometimes she had the answers to save the day, but sometimes she asked the questions that the audience would ask. She filled a role as someone to rescue from time to time, but wasn’t much of an annoying screamer. Mostly it was her charming personality that we liked. The only thing we didn’t like was her reason for leaving. She fell in love with someone she had met a few days ago and got married. What is this, a Disney princess fairytale?
Synopsis: Injured from his confrontation with the Master, the Doctor collapses in the TARDIS. Having sent a warning to the Time Lords, the TARDIS takes off on its own. He then enters a healing coma, as he had done so twice before. Jo watches over him anxiously as he recovers, and then the TARDIS lands. Concerned about the Doctor, she exits into the thick jungle outside to look for help. She finds that the plants nearby are spraying sap and some of it gets on her.
Not long afterwards, the Doctor wakes up. When he tries to leave, he finds that the TARDIS doors are jammed shut. The plants have been spraying his craft with sap, which has hardened into a shell and is cutting off the oxygen. He starts to suffocate. Jo, meanwhile, finds a spacecraft and explores inside. Two men show up, Taron and Vaber, and she tells them about the Doctor and the TARDIS. They tell her to hide in the spaceship while they go and tend to him.
Another man, Codal, joins them and warns of an approaching ‘patrol’. While waiting in the spaceship, something invisible breaks inside but doesn’t discover her. The men find the TARDIS and break through the shell, rescuing the Doctor. He recognizes that the men are, in fact, Thals and he tells them that he is the very same Doctor from their legends.
The Doctor is informed that he has been infected by a deadly fungus and must be cured with a spray the Thals have. Said fungus is spread when the plant life sprays sap. Indeed, back at the spaceship, a fungal growth has appeared on Jo’s hand and she is suffering maladies. The Thals tell the Doctor they’re on Spiridon, inhabited by invisible creatures. They make their way back to the spaceship, but come across something invisible and immobile. Using some special spray, they are able to reveal what the invisible thing is. It’s a Dalek.
At the very least, the Dalek is dead. They realize that the Daleks are trying to learn the ability of invisibility from the local Spiridons. The Doctor learns that the Spiridons are enslaved, but there are only about 12 Daleks on the planet. Continuing along, a Spiridon patrol intercepts them and Codal is captured while trying to make a diversion. They return to the spaceship, but see that the Daleks have gotten there first and are about to destroy it. The Doctor leaps out and begs for them to stop, but they completely destroy it anyway.
The Doctor is taken back to the Dalek base and imprisoned along with Codal. Unable to escape, he tries to rig up a device to disorient the Daleks at close range. Jo, however, is not dead. Before the Daleks had arrived, a Spiridon had found her passed out in the spaceship and carried her away. He cures her fungal infection and tell her what happened to the Doctor. The Spiridon’s name is Wester. Meanwhile, the other Thals retrieve explosives they had hidden earlier. They are interrupted as another Thal spaceship lands, bringing three more Thals. Latep and Marat, two more males, and a woman named Rebec who is Taron’s lover. She informs Vaber and Taron of what they have learned; there are not 12 Daleks on the planet, but ten thousand!
Jo and Wester watch the enslaved Spiridons enter the base. They are wearing purple fur coats to protect them from the cold. Jo decides to sneak into the base by hiding in a supply crate. Meanwhile, the Doctor and Codal use his device to escape their cell, and meet up with Taron, Marat and Rebec. The Thals had been trying to sneak in through the ventilation shafts, but encountered danger. The planet contains a core of molten ice, and an ice eruption flooded the shafts and nearly engulfed them. The Doctor manages to rescue them and then they all flee from approaching Daleks.
Marat is killed while trying to buy them time. Unfortunately, he was carrying a map of where the explosives are hidden which the Daleks now have. Jo, now on the base, overhears orders to destroy the explosives and sneaks out to follow the patrol. The Doctor and the Thals end up trapped in a room with a large refrigeration unit, and they see the army of ten thousand Daleks through a window. With nowhere else to go, they rig up a makeshift hot air balloon and rise up through a ventilation shaft.
A Dalek uses a gravitational disk to chase them, but they escape in time. Waiting at the top are Vaber and Latep, who drop a rock on the pursuing Dalek. A few moments later, Jo happens across them. She and the Doctor are overjoyed to see each other, having thought the other was dead. Jo has also managed to retrieve two of the explosive devices.
Night is approaching. Though tropical and humid during the day, Spiridon is subject to sub-zero temperatures at night. The group travel to the Plain of Stones, an area full of rocks that absorb sunlight and discharge it at night, to wait until day. Vaber and Taron start arguing, having been at odds for a while about whether to take immediate action or not. Their fight is broken up, but Vaber steals the two bombs and runs away during the night. Taron and Codal run to find him. They knock out Spiridons and steal their coats as a disguise when they find Vaber is kidnapped by the Daleks. They try to interrogate him and then kill him when he refuses, but Taron and Codal are able to retrieve the bombs in the confusion.
Back with the group on the plain, Wester shows up. He tells them that the Daleks have developed a bacterial weapon that will wipe out all life on the entire planet, aside from those who are immunized. He leaves to try and buy them time, and then the Dalek patrol catches up to them. The group lure them over to a pool of molten ice and manage to toss them inside. This kills them instantly and gives the Doctor an idea.
They head off to the base with Taron, Codal and the Doctor dressing as Spiridons, while Rebec hides in an empty Dalek casing. Jo goes with Latep to try and enter through the ventilation shaft. Once inside, the Doctor’s group watch as the some of the Daleks are immunized, seeing that Wester is with them. While they are distracted, Wester dives forward and released the bacteria into the room. Wester is killed, but the room must remain sealed or many of the Daleks will be killed as well. Thus, the bacterial threat is eliminated.
However, the rest of the group is outed when a Dalek spies their not-invisible feet. They flee, returning to the cooling chamber and barricading the entrance. The Doctor discovers a crevice in the ice walls of the underground chamber containing the Dalek army and believes that planting a bomb there will destroy the whole cavern. However, as they work, the refrigeration unit is turned off and the Daleks start coming to life. Jo and Latep arrive and use their bomb to destroy the Daleks breaking through the barricade.
With everyone together, the Doctor detonates his bomb. At first nothing happens, but then the walls break down and molten ice starts flooding in. All of the Daleks are completely consumed in the ice, which spreads through the base and affects all but the three in charge. This includes the Dalek Supreme, who had recently arrived. Once back on the surface, the Thals decide to steal the Dalek Supreme’s ship so they can return safely to Skaro. Latep has fallen in love with Jo and asks her to come with him, but she declines and asks the Doctor to be taken back home.
Thoughts: The Daleks are back in a big, long adventure. The Thals are also back, and it’s cool to see them again! This was a very good serial with an interesting setting and exciting action.
The serial was rather similar to the first Dalek story, but with a lot of changes and improvements. The Thals were all well defined characters, even though they looked quite similar in design and were hard to tell apart. They all felt like individual characters and I enjoyed their presence on screen.
The Daleks were just as intimidating and vicious as ever. For reasons that I’m not completely clear on, all but the Dalek Supreme were coloured black. This was unusual, but it was kind of neat to see them all in a dark, intimidating colour. The Dalek props were able to move through rougher terrain this time, making them more of a threat.
One thing stands out to us as not making any sense. When the group push two Daleks into a small pool of molten ice, the Daleks are killed instantly. However, when the ten thousand Daleks are engulfed in a huge flow of molten ice, everyone says that they have just been frozen and can be 'dug out’. This is in fact what the remaining Daleks plan to do. This is a big contradiction and a big plot hole.