Doctor Who: The Long Way Round: The Edge of Destruction – Part 1

The Edge of Destruction: The Edge of Destruction

So what is going on here? This a mystery where we have not reached the end and a character piece where people seem to be acting out of character, so it’s hard to talk about directly. As a mystery let us stick with what we do know.

First of all, something strange is happening to the ship. In spite of the insistence of the fault locator that there is nothing wrong somewhere:

1. There was a big explosion of light which knocked them unconcious and appeared to have affected their memories and personalities

2. The doors are opening and closing without anyone apparently touching the controls

3. The control panel is giving some sort of shock to The Doctor and Susan but not to Ian and Barbara (possibly a psychic one?)

4. The scanner is showing images from the memory banks, not from outside the ship

On top of this there appear to be further strange goings ons, not directly related to the ship:

5. The food machine is showing it is empty of water but dispensing food

6. The clock faces everywhere appear to have melted

7. Outside the ship is a loud roaring sound.

Then we have the characters themselves:

Susan: She definitely seems the most affected, attacking like she is trying to fight against something and suspicious of both Ian and Barbara. Whilst she holds the scissors as a weapon she does not appear to want to hurt anyone, instead she tries to stab the bed

Babara: She seems to come back to herself quicker than everyone else although she lacks her usual familiarity and empathy. When dealing with Susan she seems to be doing it as one might a child you are worried about hurting themselves, but this makes sense for both what we know about her and the way Susan is acting.

Ian: He seems to be very emotionally cut off, originally not even realising the situation, apparently thinking he is still at Coal Hill School1 He also has a tendency to say slightly odd things, like asking if The Doctor is Good or Evil or noting Susan’s apparent psychic ability.

The Doctor: Originally he starts out as the least affected once he has awoken from unconsciousness. But he becomes even more cold and calculating as the story develops, eventually apparently going to the extent of drugging his fellow travellers. Now is this simply to give himself more time to think or is he planning something more malevolent?

So what are the likely reasons for this. Well two are presented in the story:

1. A mechanical or electrical fault, assumedly one that is skipped by the fault locator or affecting it some how: The problem with this is that it seems to be affecting more than just the TARDIS machinery. Now the food locator could be due to the power source and the roaring outside could be a coincidence, but the clock faces is harder to fathom. How can a mechanical fault affect the watches of two twentieth century Earth teachers? And what kind of fault would it be?

2. A foreign intelligence has entered the ship: This seems more likely but only due to the fact that it is so mysterious; it could possess powers that could be unparalleled and unseen motivations. It seems to explain more the strange responses of people if it is jumping about between them. In particular how Ian seems to indicate he knows Susan has psychic powers subtly and The Doctor’s claim he has mentioned the memory banks when I do not believe he has. But so much remains unclear; the clock faces and breaking of the food machine still seem odd.

Further, a third scenario seems possible:

3. Some form of psychic attack: Now Susan is acting the strangest and we know that she has the strongest psychic ability. Also the things affected are memory and some of the things seen could be the result of this. However, again we come down to the question of motivation. Why would something want or cause the food machine to appear empty and the clock faces to melt?

Too many questions and not enough answers make this a tricky part to really get your teeth into. As The Doctor is already being attacked by someone at the end of this episode it looks like everything is coming to a head quickly and we will have more answers very soon.

1Although this may well fit his personality given we saw his attempts to normalise the extraordinary in his earliest appearances.

GS Blogger: Kris Vyas-Myall

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