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Thoughts on “The Rescue”

“The Rescue” is the third story of the second season of Doctor Who (11th overall).  It is a short story, only 2 episodes long.  It features William Hartnell as the Doctor, with his companions Ian and Barbara.  It also feature’s Maureen O’Brien’s first appearance first appearance as Vicki, who replaces Susan as the Doctor’s young traveling companion.

The episode begins with a girl of approximately Susan’s age (Vicki) excited that the rescue ship has arrived.  She runs to tell her friend, Bennett, that the rescue ship has arrived, but he reminds her that the rescue ship will not arrive for 3 days.  He also warns her not to let Koquillion learn of their plans.  She contacts the rescue ship by radio, only to learn that it is still 69 hours away.  What she sees on her radar is, of course, the TARDIS which has materialized in a cave on the planet.  The Doctor takes some rock samples to determine where they have landed while Barbara and Ian explore the planet.  The Doctor learns that they are on Dido, a planet that the Doctor has visited before.  He is eager to get out of the TARDIS and meet with the inhabitants, since they are quite friendly.  However, Ian and Barbara meet a strange-looking creature who demands to be taken to the Doctor.  When Ian enters the cave to return to the TARDIS, the creature causes a cave in, trapping Ian and the Doctor inside the cave and throws Barbara off a cliff.

The same creature, Koquillion is then seen talking to Vicki.  He warns her not to leave the ship because his people have just killed the occupants of another ship that landed on the planet.  As soon as he is gone we see that she found Barbara and brought her back to the ship. Barbara learns that Vicki had been on a ship that crashed on the planet.  There was a meeting between the travelers and the people of Dido, but all of the travelers, including Vicki’s father, were massacred at the meeting.  Vicki was ill and unable to attend, and she found Bennett wounded when she woke up.

In the meantime, the Doctor and Ian are trying to find their way out of the cave. The first episode ends with Ian in a booby trap that is about to force him into a pit with a strange, dangerous looking creature.

This episode was the first episode after the departure of Susan.  The Doctor asks Susan to open the doors at the beginning of the episode, forgetting that she is no longer with him.  He also sleeps through the materialization of the TARDIS, something he does not usually do, probably due to the stain of letting Susan go.  I thought that these were nice touches to convey that the Doctor has found it difficult to lose Susan.  Hartnell’s Doctor does not often show emotion, so it was good that they found a way to show that he was, in fact, quite attached to his granddaughter, before she is basically replaced later on in the episode.

I did find it amusing that suddenly, in this episode, the Doctor is the understanding one.  Vicki is upset because Barbara shot Sandy, Vicki’s name for the creature in the pit.  Barbara thought it was going to attack Vicki, but really she had tamed him and trained him to come out for food.  Ian and Barbara leave the Doctor alone to talk with Vicki and comfort her, and he succeeds.  The loss of Susan must have really altered the Doctor because in previous stories, I think he would have been the last person you would want to comfort someone, with his generally brusque and unfeeling temperament.

This new and improved Doctor also decides to bring the orphan Vicki with them on the TARDIS.  In previous stories, the Doctor did not get too involved with the people he met on his travels.  It took many adventures before he even cared about Barbara and Ian.  Now, he decides that he cannot leave Vicki after a very short time with her.  Maybe Susan did teach him something before she left.

The Doctor is also turning more and more into the familiar Doctor; he is the one who figures out what has been going on.  He discovers that Bennett has been pretending to be Koquillion by wearing ceremonial garments of the people of Dido.  It turns out that Bennett was a prisoner and when the ship crashed he saw his way out.  He blew up the meeting killing both the humans and the people of Dido.  The Doctor is unable to defend himself from Bennett’s attack and needs to be rescued, but he is becoming more and more of the clever Doctor that we see later in the series.

Overall, I enjoyed this story.  It was short, but I found the story clever, and it was a good way to introduce the new companion.


One response to “Thoughts on “The Rescue”

  1. I enjoyed your analysis of this story, and of the development of the Doctor’s character in these early episodes.

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