You Know He's Evil, 'Cause He's Wearing an Eye Patch
At the end of the fourth episode of Inferno there is an audible countdown to when the drill is going to break through the Earth's crust. For a full two minutes, at ten second intervals, a voice announces "Zero minus one minute thirty seconds... zero minus one minute twenty seconds...", etc. During that entire sequence I was just about ready to collapse on the treadmill, and really wanted anything but to be reminded of the time remaining before I could stop. I'm tellin' ya, it was brutal. But despite that, I pushed through to the very end and completed my full fifty-five minutes because I would hate to disappoint you, my imaginary readers.
As to the story itself, it's a good'n. Let's talk about that.
Inferno - Episodes 3 & 4
(TARDIS Data Core recap)
With the Doctor vanished, both Liz and the Brigadier are very concerned. Also, things at the drill complex continue to get out of hand, with the dickish scientist still being dickish while also trying to hide the fact that he is slowly mutating into a furry blue zombie. As bad as that is, it's worse where the Doctor ends up. He wakes up and finds himself in the same location, but different. His workshop is no longer a workshop, and when he goes outside he is immediately hunted by soldiers. Not UNIT soldiers, but Republican Security Forces (RSF) soldiers -- among them
Sergeant Platoon Under Leader Benton. After a rousing action sequence featuring a couple more furry blue zombies, the Doctor thinks he has found his salvation in Liz Shaw. Unfortunately, she is no longer Scientist Liz and is now Section Leader Elizabeth Shaw, and boy does actress Caroline Shaw relish the opportunity to play evil.
Soon enough the Doctor is brought before
Brigadier Brigade Leader Lethbridge-Stewart, and we learn that in this alternate reality the British royal family were all killed in the 1940's and the entire government was replaced by Republicans. (NOTE: That is not a dig at current American politics, it's just a coincidence that the story features a bunch of fascist Republicans and I am watching this show while an actual, literal Nazi is pulling the strings of my country's President [and yes, that is a dig at current American politics.]) In this world, Lethbridge-Stewart wears an eye patch and sports a very nasty scar, and is also clean-shaven as opposed to his good-guy counterpart. It is also worth noting that the dickish scientist, who sports a goatee in the primary reality, is also clean-shaven in this parallel world. It's like the Mirror-Mirror version of the Star Trek Mirror-Mirror story, where all the evil doppelgängers sport facial hair while the good-guy versions are clean shaven.
So anyway, the Doctor quickly understand that he is in a parallel universe but none of the evil doppelgängers believe him. He still manages to save them from a drilling disaster, but winds up in a jail cell next to a furry blue zombie for his troubles. Of course he escapes from the cell when the furry blue zombie attacks a guard, which then leads to the Doctor re-infiltrating the base just in time for the afore-mentioned countdown. And of course, the episode ends just as the countdown hits zero.
The trick to making these longer serials remain engaging is to find interesting side plots to rush into. Just as The Silurians had the apocalyptic plague swerve, this story goes into real overdrive with the whole jaunt into an alternate reality. There are a few brief glimpses of the main reality, where we see that the drilling is further behind there than in the evil reality. That means that the Doctor will have time to resolve this plot swerve and probably learn a few things about it before jumping back to his own reality. Where The Ambassadors of Death was seriously sagging at this point, Inferno just keeps crackling right along and I am loving every minute of it. It is clear that all of the regular supporting actors are really enjoying the opportunity to play radically different aspects of their normal characters, and it is particularly interesting to see sparks of Good Liz showing up in Evil Elizabeth as she struggles with what the Doctor is telling her. I have a feeling she is going to be tragically redeemed (I haven't looked ahead at any of the plot specifics), whereas I think that Evil Lethbridge-Stewart is just going to go down in (literal) flames. We shall see, I suspect I will find out tomorrow before the primary reality gets sorted out on Monday.
Companion(s): Liz Shaw, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart
Episode(s): Inferno - Episodes 3 & 4
Steps Walked: 6,854 today, 940,567 total
Distance Walked: 3.56 miles today, 458.41 miles total
Weight: 268.28 lbs (five day moving average), net change -39.02 lbs