Miserably Hot Synchronicity
Yesterday morning the air conditioning at my house went out. For those of you, my dear imaginary readers, who do not know, I live in Central Florida where on a typical Saturday in July it is roughly equivalent to the surface of the sun outside. Being a weekend, it was difficult to get a repair person out to look at it, and so by this morning it got to be well over 90 degrees inside my home. Because I would never want to disappoint you, I got on my treadmill anyway to watch the final episode of The Silurians. As it turns out the big final threat at the climax of the story was a Silurian plot to increase the surface temperature of the Earth by destroying the Van Allen Belt and thus make the climate unlivable for the human race. I'm just sayin' that as I plodded away on my treadmill, sweating away in the stultifying heat, I could viscerally relate to the story.
Let's talk about that.
Doctor Who and the Silurians - Episode 7
(TARDIS Data Core recap)
First of all let me say, I am so grateful that this morning's viewing only had one episode. I still spent 50 minutes on the treadmill (down from my usual 55), but with the extreme heat I only went full speed for the 25 minutes of the actual episode, and then walked the rest out with no incline and at a lazy three miles per hour. My amazing wife also brought in a large fan to blow some cool air on my, being as she thought I might possibly die of heat stroke before I finished.
On the other hand, my wife is also very fond of this particular meme.
As for the story, the Doctor is kidnapped by the Silurians (again) but leaves behind the completed written formula for the cure to the plague that is currently spreading like wildfire. The antidote is found by Liz and sent out to the waiting government labs for mass production, thus neatly resolving the plague sub-plot.
With their plague gambit foiled, the Silurians move on to their next dastardly idea - hooking up a machine to the nuclear reactor and using it to destroy the Van Allen Belt. They force the Doctor to take them to the research station's main control room and wire it up. The Doctor, however, cleverly overloads the reactor by having Liz dump all of the fuel rods into it simultaneously. This both destroys the machine due to a massive power overload, and sends the Silurians scurrying back to their hibernation tanks in order to avoid the coming explosion. They reason that they hibernated for millions of years already, and they can simply wait out a few millennia for the nuclear fallout to blow over, after which they will get right back to taking over the planet for themselves.
Of course, once the villains are back to sleep the Doctor is able to prevent the nuclear meltdown, thus saving the day entirely.
The interesting thing, though, is the note on which the story ends. The Doctor gives the Brigadier strict instructions to not disturb the Silurian caves, while he runs back to London with Liz to get some additional equipment. The Doctor's intention is to awaken the Silurians again one-by-one and reason with them, so that mankind can gain from their scientific knowledge and so that the two species can live together in peace. While they are driving away, however, the Brigadier orders his UNIT troops to blow up all of the caves and either kill all the hibernating Silurians or at least seal them off forever. The Doctor and Liz witness the explosions from a distance as they are driving away, and the Doctor flatly states that they have just witnessed the murder of an entire species.
I think it is very interesting that the writers have strongly established that although the Doctor and the Brigadier have an immense amount of respect for each other, and even a deep friendship over time, it is also true that they are each very different in their moral underpinnings. From a writing perspective, this of course allows for greater conflict and drama on the show, which is absolutely the life's blood of any program. It also very neatly allows Doctor Who to have it both ways. The Doctor himself is able to be all about "...the triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism" as comedian Craig Ferguson so aptly put it a few years ago, while at the same time the show can have thrilling action scenes with the Brigadier and his UNIT soldiers running about in jeeps and helicopters while firing their machine guns and pistols at the monster of the week. For a children's program, Doctor Who manages to have a surprising amount of gray area. Sure, there are usually very clear-cut villains and heroes. But there are also many moments like this ending, where you can argue whether or not the Brigadier was justified in giving that order. It is a story beat that will certainly be repeated many times over the decades of the show (I am particularly thinking about 2005's The Christmas Invasion here), and it is one of the things that makes me love Doctor Who so much.
Companion(s): Liz Shaw, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart
Episode(s): Doctor Who and the Silurians - Episode 7
Steps Walked: 5,938 today, 900,079 total
Distance Walked: 2.83 miles today, 437.62 miles total
Weight: 268.94 lbs (five day moving average), net change -38.36 lbs