Pay No Attention to the Crab Behind the Curtain
One of my all-time favorite pulp novels is The Captive City by Daniel Da Cruz. In it, an entire city of American oil workers in the Middle East are cut off from the West for nearly two decades. (I am now going to spoil the ending of this obscure forty-year-old pulp novel that you will never read.) Ultimately it turns out to be a long-term plot to breed an entire generation of Americanized janissaries who can be sent into the U.S. as completely undetectable and un-suspicious terrorists under Arab control. They spend a lot of time walking around saying, "Obey Control!" and waiting for orders. Today's episodes of The Macra Terror made me think of this book, because of all the times that characters in the story walk around saying, "Obey Control!" Unfortunately, I liked that book an awful lot more than I liked this Doctor Who episode.
Let's talk about that.
The Macra Terror - Episodes 3 & 4
(TARDIS Data Core recap)
If I followed the story properly, the basic back story of The Macra Terror is that, at some point after setting up a functioning Earth colony, the colony's control room was invaded by hyper-intelligent crabs the size of a Range Rover. These hyper-intelligent crabs managed to place Control under their sway, unbeknownst to the general population. They did this, despite the fact that the control room's only entryway is a normal human-sized door that would in no way fit a giant hyper-intelligent crab the size of a Range Rover.
These hyper-intelligent crabs then induced the humans to install hidden hypnotizing electronics packages and gas emitters next to every bed in the colony, again without the colonists ever noticing. Presumably they must have at least initially had some quislings to assist with their crustacean invasion. The chief white hyper-intelligent crab continues to occupy the control room, issuing Big Brother type commands under the guise of Control, although it is never quite made clear whether it is the crab itself speaking through some kind of interface, or if they have a mind-controlled human under their sway, or what. In any case, these hyper-intelligent crabs the size of a Range Rover are now in full control of the colony, having turned it into an absolute Utopia for all of the humans involved. The humans happily drill for the poisonous gas that the crabs need to survive, and dance around the colony singing cheerful songs about how wonderful life is in the colony, and how Control always knows what's best, and that they should "Obey Control!"
Those are some mighty crafty crabs.
My personal theory, never even hinted at in the story as broadcast, is that the colony was already a dystopian nightmare under the thrall of the original Control long before the crabs came along. They just took advantage of a messed up situation and turned it into a nightmarishly bizarre messed up situation.
Be that as it may, along comes the Doctor and crew to throw a spanner in the works. Yeah, Ben gets hypnotized for a while and turns traitor. But in the end, Ben follows the Doctor's shouted instructions to reverse the polarity of the whatzit in the utilities room in order to blow up the hyper-intelligent giant white crab sitting in the control room, thus handing over the future of the colony back to the humans. Then the Doctor and Jamie literally dance their way out of the celebration before the colonists can enact their bright idea of making the Doctor the new Control.
And there we are, off to the next adventure. One can safely assume that I put more thought into this story than the actual script writer did, more's the pity. Hopefully The Faceless Ones will be better.
Companion(s): Ben Jackson, Polly Wright, Jamie McCrimmon
Episode(s): The Macra Terror - Episodes 3 & 4
Steps Walked: 6,804 today, 535,122 total
Distance Walked: 3.33 miles today, 253.77 miles total
Weight: 282.72 lbs (five day moving average), net change -24.58 lbs