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2x3. The Rescue
Writer: David Whitaker
Director: Christopher Barry
Script Editor: Dennis Spooner
Producers: Verity Lambert & Mervyn Pinfield

Synopsis: The TARDIS lands on the planet Dido, where only two members of a human spaceship crew remain: Bennett, who is wounded and can barely use his legs, and Vicki, a young woman who has been an orphan ever since an explosion killed the rest of the crew. The two of them are being threatened and controlled by Koquillion, who claims to be the last surviving Didoan but is actually Bennett, who has been manipulating the situation to cover up for past murders.

Review: After the high-stakes adventure of "The Dalek Invasion of Earth," Doctor Who dials it down a few notches with this low-key drama in which the Doctor unmasks a murderer and gains a new companion. Like "Planet of Giants," it's not very ambitious and thus less prone to major missteps, but it also doesn't leave much of an impression when it's over.

The one area in which "The Rescue" distinguishes itself is its handling of Susan's departure. The Doctor hasn't yet adjusted to her absence, as we see when he calls for her upon preparing to leave the TARDIS, and William Hartnell effectively lets us see that the Doctor misses her without going for an uncharacteristic outward display of emotion. Vicki's situation clearly plays to his protective instincts, and his gentle demeanor towards her is . . . well, grandfatherly. He has a perfectly good reason for bringing her aboard the TARDIS at the end, in that the Didoans will probably not allow the approaching rescue ship to land. But as Ian gets him to acknowledge indirectly, he does it more than anything because he likes her and her company alleviates his sadness over parting ways with Susan.

Unfortunately, most of what happens in "The Rescue" doesn't amount to much. The plot functions only at the most literal and simplistic level: a mass murderer schemes against the Doctor and his companions, and at the end he is defeated and dies fleeing from two previously undiscovered Didoans who have survived. Aside from a nicely atmospheric scene in which the Doctor confronts Bennett/Koquillion in an underground chamber, this is little more than a pedestrian murder mystery, with no motivation ever supplied for Bennett's behavior. The Doctor's slightly loopy and whimsical behavior in some of the early scenes (sleeping through the TARDIS materializing, chattering to himself while conducting tests on a Didoan rock) is an amusing change of pace, but it doesn't tie into Susan's absence in any clear way. There's also some tension between Barbara and Vicki when the former mistakenly kills the latter's pet, believing it to be a dangerous monster. This also doesn't really go anywhere, offering only the most obvious insights into their characters.

There just isn't much else to say about "The Rescue." One could certainly do worse (cue up episodes 3 and 4 of "The Keys of Marinus" if you don't believe me), but ultimately it's a mostly inconsequential episode that seems to have no real point other than getting Vicki into the TARDIS by the end.

Rating: **1/2 (out of four)

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