This story is juggling two interesting subplots, and at a decent pace for a six-part story: the Doctor and Jo visit a prison where a controversial new (seemingly psychic) machine is being used to rehabilitate criminals, and the Brigadier has a dead Chinese delegate on his hands with all suspicions on Captain Chin Lee, but she may be under the influence of the same force attacking the Doctor telepathically.
Filed under The Doctor’s age: when arguing here, the Doctor in a rage notes that he has “been a scientist for several thousand…” before cutting himself off. Previously the Second Doctor had claimed to be 450 in Power of the Daleks. The Fourth Doctor will later claim to be around 750 in Pyramids of Mars, and we’ll see the Doctor’s age jump around a bit between the Sixth through Ninth Doctors. The show’s never directly addressed the inconsistency beyond stating that the Doctor lies (which is true). I like to think he had years of his life literally shaved off during the Time War, but that’s just me.
The Kellar Machine itself is also an incredibly interesting device. The show does a great job of setting up this moral dilemma using a machine to seemingly remove the evil thoughts from criminals, and then to put the Doctor on the opposing side of this debate. The way it’s seemingly attacking people psychically with their greatest fears is a great device, either drowning and rats, and seemingly fire in the Doctor’s case in the cliffhanger. It has established exactly enough to keep the audience intrigued for the next part. Which is where we’re at currently.
I was initially a little nervous about Captain Chin Lee, the Communist Chinese attache to the Chinese Delegate under UNIT’s protection during his demise. I was worried at her introduction, where she comes across a bit overly aggressive, she was going to be presented as a modern take on the “dragon lady” stereotype. However, the story quickly takes a turn, and Chin Lee appears to be under some kind of mind control: burning documents she claimed were stolen, and apparently killing the Delegate she was protecting under a trance. The potential for a bit of nuance here is high, and I hope the show goes with it.
7/10, even though not a lot happened, I really like the pace at which it didn’t. We’re already at good basic set-up places for both whatever’s really inside the Kellar Machine, and the dead Chinese delegate, and what will eventually link them together. Very much looking forward to Part 2, hope you are too! See you then!