The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Thursday, June 22, 2017

"One Day, I Shall Come Back...": The End of Tomorrow/The Waking Ally/Flashpoint

Right, if you talk about the story arc called The Dalek Invasion of Earth, this scene, usually reduced to the last bit, from "One day, I shall come back..." used as an intro to The Five Doctors, haunts the back 9 as assuredly as the suicidal Roboman opening "World's End" haunts the first three episodes. One evokes the existential dread at the core of the arc,the other--

--well, the other has been torn from its context to make it a reaffirmation of the Doctor's aspirations--a distant ancestor of the "Doctor's promise"--you know, "never cruel or cowardly, never give up, never give in."

But it's not.

It's an aging man, who has been forced by new friends crashing into his life to confront his own selfishness, his cowardice, his capacity for cruelty, his willingness to give up and flee, forced to battle once more with his baser elements.

This time, it's the Doctor fighting down his possessive love for his granddaughter--his only link to his unknown home--and letting her go when she can't achieve the life-giving separation herself, out of love for him.

The selfish old man, knowing his selfishness, does not yield to it. He does the right thing, even if it--to quote Extremis--"without hope, without witness, without reward."

Because the Doctor does not have hope (for himself); he does not consider the witnesses (Ian and Barbara are present, but even we don't see their reactions; he doesn't know if Susan understands), and there is no reward for him. He loses her. He knows he must, and the Doctor faces loss, and, for the first time in the series, does so bravely. Better still, he faces loss with grace. That's a first for Hartnell's cantankerous Doctor--think of his tantrums at Susan when she refused to leave Earth in An Unearthly Child, or at Ian and Barbara in The Edge of Destruction.

No, this moment is huge, especially in context. But it dwarfs the three episodes that precede it, so let's give it its due. And then move on.


Just as well, because "The End of Tomorrow" is almost as lame as its title (The end of tomorrow is, after all. A fancy phrase for "tomorrow night," and isn't given more meaning here.). The Doctor is out cold for the whole episode (Hartnell had been injured in shooting the prior episode); Ian makes his way toward the mines, and Barbara--

--well, once again, Barbara saves the show. Because Barbara hijacks a vintage rubbish cart, and, well, let the dialogue tell the story:
[In the truck]

JENNY: Do you think that Dalek saw us back there?
BARBARA: It must have heard the noise.
JENNY: Then we're in for trouble.
BARBARA: Yes, they're sure to radio ahead. We may have to ditch this at any moment.
(round a corner and)
BARBARA: Jenny, there's a whole bunch of them ahead of us.
JENNY: Shall we jump for it?
BARBARA: No. I'm going through.
(She scatters them like skittles)
JENNY: We went straight through them! Straight through them!
BARBARA: Yeah, it wasn't bad, was it? I rather enjoyed that. We won't be able to stay in this much longer though. They'll be after us with a vengeance now.
(My italics.)

Pity there's no clip of the moment online, because Barbara's face gets a rather manic, but still proper, smile. Barbara Wright is not to be trifled with. And is here enjoying herself a bit too much.

Later, Ian and his companion Craddock meet Ashton the profiteer on the black market, who exploits his fellow humans for profit, only to die at the paws? of the ridiculous Slyther (who wins a point for whining pitiably when it, in turn, is dispatched by Ian). In "The Waking Ally," the pattern repeats--Barbara and resistance fighter Jenny are literally sold to the Daleks for extra food by an old woman and her daughter who collaborate with them by making clothes for slave laborers.

The humanity the Doctor and his companions seek to save here is not idealized.

Meanwhile, the story of Larry Craddock's search for his brother Phil comes to its tragic end. Larry, too wounded to walk, comes face-to-face with Phil, only to discover the latter has been made into a Roboman:
PHIL: (a Roboman) Halt!
LARRY: Phil! It's my brother. Ian, it's my brother.
PHIL: Too many in working party. Dalek Supreme Control recheck. Who are you?
LARRY: Phil? Phil, it's Larry. Your brother Larry. Think, Phil! Remember me!
PHIL: You are both runaways.
LARRY: Angela. Your wife, Angela! I'll take you to her.
PHIL: You must both be punished.
IAN: It's no good, Larry.
LARRY: No, no! No, Ian!
IAN: Come on!
LARRY: Ian, get clear. Run while you've got the chance! Run, Ian. Run.
(Larry throttles Phil while Phil shoots Larry)
LARRY: Run, Ian, run.

[Phil's roboman helmet is shattered; as he dies, he groans one word]

Phil: Larry.
Meanwhile, David and Susan begin to fall in love. We are shown humanity as both loving and at its least loving--Ashton, the old woman and her daughter--while Larry, mortally wounded, fights his effectively dead brother to save Ian. Even Phil has one last flash of his stolen soul, and recognizes the brother he has killed.

Barbara, captured and forced to work in the mines, uses Dortmun's notes to get herself face-to-face with the Black Dalek. She tries to "tell the tale" of a rebellion to get a chance to sabotage the Daleks in the heart of their empire:
BARBARA: Did you see that, Jenny? That's the way they control the Robomen.
DALEK 3: Herd all humans to galleries to nine, ten and fifteen.
JENNY: Perhaps we could put it out of action?
BARBARA: We could do better than that, we could give it new orders. Tell them to turn on the Daleks.
JENNY: Yes! That's a great idea.
DALEK: They are the prisoners that reported the imminent revolt.
BLACK: Speak!
BARBARA: (reading Dortmun's notes.) This bomb is the one with which
BLACK: We are not interested in the bomb. Give your information!
BARBARA: Right. This revolt is timed to start almost immediately. As in the case of the Indian mutiny, which I am sure
BLACK: Indian mutiny? We are the masters of India!
BARBARA: I was talking about Red Indians in disguise! The plan will run parallel with the Boston Tea Party. Naturally, you already have information about this.
BLACK: Wait! Why have I not been informed of this?
DALEK 2: There has been no information.
BARBARA: Good! That means the first part of the plan is a success. Now, I warn you, General Lee and the four, the fifth cavalry are already forming up to attack from the north side of the crater. The second wave, Hannibal's forces, will of course come in from the Southern Alps. The third wave
BLACK: Attention! Attention! Mobilise defence forces!
(Barbara dashes to the Robomen control panel)
BARBARA: Robomen, this order cannot be countermanded. You must
BLACK: Take them! They are lying! Take them! Take them! Take them!
Later, of course, the Doctor and Barbara will use the Control Center to order the Robomen to turn on the Daleks, and destroy them. So this idea of Barbara's in fact turns the tide, in conjunction with as Ian's sabotage of the Dalek's bomb, David and Susan sabotaging the pit.

You'll notice that these are all moments, not essential to the plot, and that I'm not recapping it. That's because the plot is famously bizarre--the Daleks wanting to husk out the planet's core and fly the earth around the universe (yeah, and that idea actually gets another try), the to-ing and fro-ing to pad out the story to fill six episodes--no, this story lives in its moments.

Grace notes, when the dying Larry hears his name on his dead brother's lips after all;
Where Susan sees herself as loved and loving,
or Jenny sees Barbara as her hero,
and David asks for the woman he loves to stay with him.

So, in the last post, I said that the title of "World's End" was, in a sense, true.

The Doctor is alone, except for the friends he's trying to help to leave him. Susan is gone, and with her, his own roots and family, and world.

Where does he go from here?

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