Today I started a new story written by Terry Nation, of The Daleks fame. Unfortunately, thus far The Keys of Marinus does not live up to the same standard. The overall thrust of the six-part story appears to be "setup, then spend one episode recovering each of these four objects, then resolution". It's exactly the same kind of grinding mission that makes me completely uninterested in gaming these days. But even beyond the overall story structure, each of today's episodes in their own way addressed the notion of Free Will -- although I think not intentionally. Oddly, the first episode seems to posit that Free Will isn't necessary. The second episode does the reverse, but not in any kind of knowing way.
Let's talk about that.
The Sea of Death
The TARDIS arrives on the shores of an Acid Sea. I wasn't very concerned, in that at that moment I was covered in extremely Alkaline Sweat so I figured I was pretty safe. Not long after, several one-man submarine craft arrive with scary guys in wetsuits with horned heads called the Voord. The bulk of the story involves the characters going off to explore the one large monolithic building nearby, and then disappearing one-by-one. By the end of the episode three of the four Voord are dead, and the Doctor and companions have befriended the old man living in the building. His rather on-the-nose name is Arbitus, and he is the keeper of
Deep Thought the Conscience of Marinus. After a bit of exposition we learn that the Conscience is a supercomputer that was initially developed to be a fair, just, and merciful judge. Later its power was expanded so that it didn't just make judgments after the fact, but rather prevented the people of Marinus from making an bad choices to begin with. For hundreds of years, the people of Marinus lived under law and order provided (imposed) by the Conscience, until the leader of the Voord discovered how to be free from its control. At that point, to protect the Conscience, it's key circuits were removed and scattered across the globe until such time that the Voord were defeated.
Now, here's the thing: The Doctor and company all seem perfectly chill with the idea of the Conscience, and seem completely on board with the Voord being evil and despicable for removing its influence. In effect, they all agree that the removal of Free Will on a planetary scale was just peachy-keen. I kept waiting for any of them to recoil in horror, or to have a huddled conversation away from the Keeper, but it never happened.
Anyway, the Keeper puts up a force field around the TARDIS, says he will turn it off if the Doctor and friends return with the four missing keys, and then provides them each with a
plot device to send them off to each of the locations.
The Velvet Web
Stop number one in the quest for keys is the, again rather on-the-nose, city of Morphoton. What are the odds that the people in the city will be trapped in a dreamlike state? The group is welcomed warmly by a Dionysian society where every want is fulfilled. Beautiful robes, delicious food, an elaborate and fully-stocked laboratory for the Doctor, it's all there. Fortunately Barbara, who is a true goddess, sees through the deception and learns that everything is an illusion. The city is being run by brain-things in jars, using hypnotism to placate the human populace and turn them into willing slaves. The beautiful robes are rags, the delicious food is rotten, and the laboratory is an empty room with bare tables and a single dingy mug. The people have been robbed of their Free Will unjustly, and must be released! Barbara smashes the brain jars and the machinery, and everyone begins to see reality.
"Kodos and Kang? Never heard of them..."
Along the way, they also of course found the first key, and are ready to grind through the next step of the quest. The Doctor elects to jump ahead to key number Four while the others search for key number Three, for reasons which can only be described as "William Hartnell needs a week off". It is worth noting that Hartnell flubbed a great many lines in these two episodes, much more so than in any other story so far. It is a sad foreshadowing of what I know is coming, and it's hard to watch and surprising to see it so soon.
Companion(s): Ian Chesterton, Susan Foreman, Barbara Wright
Episode(s): The Sea of Death, The Velvet Web
Steps Walked: 6,584 today, 80,064 total
Distance Walked: 2.87 miles today, 34.94 miles total
Weight: 302.38 lbs (five day moving average), net change -4.92 lbs