Welcome to the ninth instalment of Who Review, my ongoing column reviewing, in chronological order, every storyline from TV’s longest running SF series, Doctor Who. This week, The Doctor visits an alien world and gains a new companion in the 11th storyline in the series, The Rescue,
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The Rescue (2 episodes)
January 2 – January 9 1965
Still feeling the emotional effects of Susan’s departure in The Dalek Invasion of Earth, the Doctor, Ian and Barbara travel to another world, arriving in a cave within a mountain. The Doctor soon identifies the planet as Dido, one he has visited in the past.
This is the first time we see a planet the Doctor has visited before. It’s also acknowledged that the Doctor visited the planet “years ago”, giving us a clear indication that his journeys through space and time have been going for much longer than what the series has shown us.
There is a definite sense of emotional loss in The Doctor early in this episode. At one point he even calls out to Susan before realising she is no longer aboard the ship. It’s a touching scene, simple but effective, and one that helps inform the Doctor’s decision at the end of the episode.
They soon discover a crashed ship nearby. Inside the ship are Vicki and Bennett, the only survivors of the crew, who are awaiting the arrival of a rescue vessel 3 days hence. Bennett is injured and unable to walk, spending all of his time in his room. Both are fearful of Koquillion, an alien inhabitant of the planet.
Koquillion encounters Ian and Barbara on the mountain and pushes Barbara over a cliff before causing the cave housing the TARDIS to collapse, temporarily imprisoning Ian and the Doctor within. Vicki finds Barbara and hides her from Koquillion within the crashed ship. She reveals that she left earth for the planet Astra in the year 2493, that her father died in the crash and that the rest of the survivors were lured away and killed by Koquillion.
The Doctor and Ian manage to escape the cave-in and make their way to the crash site, where they reunite with Barbara and meet Vicki. Suspecting that something is amiss, The Doctor makes his way into Bennett’s room, confirming his suspicions; Bennett is missing, his absence hidden by a recorded message. The plot thickens when the Doctor finds a hidden trapdoor leading outside the ship.
Following the trail, the Doctor makes his way to a temple carved from the surrounding rock. There, he encounters Koquillion and unmasks the villain, revealing him to be Bennett in disguise. Bennett divulges that he murdered one of his fellow crewmates before the crash, but that his crime was not reported to Earth before the ship landed on Dido. To cover his crimes, he killed the rest of the crew and the Dido natives then created the Koquillion identity so that Vicki would support his story when the rescue ship arrived.
There’s a simple mystery here but a relatively effective one, and it’s always good to see the doctor’s deductive reasoning in play. To preserve the mysterious identity of Koquillion, the production team went so far as to create a false credit at the end of the first episode, listing the role of the alien as being played by “Sydney Wilson”. This name was made up by the production team to honour two of the creators of Doctor Who, Sydney Newman and Donald Wilson.
Little does Bennett realise that his efforts to kill all of the natives of Dido has failed. Just as he is about to kill the Doctor, two Dido natives arrive and force him over a cliff. Bennett plummets to his death. The Doctor falls unconscious from the attack.
He later awakens back on the TARDIS. Ian and Barbara explain that they found him unconscious outside the cave. He asks about Vicki and is informed that she is waiting outside. The Doctor goes to her and invites her to join him on his travels. Vicki agrees, becoming the first new companion added to the series since the first episode.
It is implied in the episode that The Doctor asks Vicki to accompany him because he’s still feeling the loss of Susan. He certainly takes on a paternal role very quickly, adding weight to the idea that he sees Vicki as a substitute for Susan.
The multi-faceted Doctor has truly established himself now. The sadness the Doctor experiences early in the episode comes across as genuine, but is coupled with his excitement at discovering himself on Dido and his incredible deductive reasoning is quickly unlocking the mystery of Bennett/ Koquillion.
The introduction of Vicki, while making for an interesting story, doesn’t really do her justice. We see that she’s an orphan but learn very little more about her. I have no idea how capable she is, what skills or personality traits she brings with her, or how valuable she’ll be to the TARDIS crew. For a storyline clearly designed to introduce a new regular cast member, The Rescue falls a little flat and Vicki really doesn’t get a moment to shine. Hopefully she’ll take the spotlight in the upcoming episodes and we’ll gain a greater insight into her character.
Bennett is clearly a clever, manipulative psychopath who devises a rather cunning plan to hide his crime of murder. What makes his plan so despicable is that he not only kills his crewmates but tries to wipe out the entire Dido race to cover up his crimes. Unfortunately, he’s really just a plot device to introduce us to Vicki and doesn’t really get much of a chance to stand out as a villain. It’s a shame, since I feel there was greater potential in the character than was realised in the story.
The Rescue is a relatively entertaining two-parter designed more as an introduction to Vicki than a full-fledged storyline. Unfortunately, the introduction of Vicki as a character falls a little flat, detracting in some ways from the enjoyment of the episode as a whole.
It’s another trip back in human history as The Doctor and his companions visit The Romans.