Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...
Day 107: The Abandoned Planet (The Daleks' Master Plan, Episode Eleven)
Within a minute of Mavic Chen arriving back on Kembel and reporting to the Dalek Supreme, proudly boasting about the return of the Terranium, the Dalek asks him a - very sensible - question, which I can't quite believe Chen hasn't yet thought to ask himself: 'Are you sure it is the real core?'.
It's a valid point, if you think about it. Right back in Coronas of the Sun, the Doctor managed a bait-and-switch, with he and his companions handing over a replica so perfect that it was only when the Time Destructor failed to operate that the Daleks realised something was amiss. On this occasion, the Doctor has dropped the core into Chen's hands and darted off back into the pyramid to make his escape… and Chen didn't even question it. I was almost willing it to be fake again, just because I quite like the idea of the Doctor managing to keep fooling Chen and the Daleks time and time again with the same trick.
And so, here we are. Via the police station and 1920s Hollywood, a cricket match, a volcano world, Christmas and New Year's eve, Ancient Egypt and all, we're back on Kembel for the big final showdown. Except, we're not quite. Not yet. The Doctor's gone AWOL (Hartnell on Holiday again?) and most of the episode is spent moving the pieces into place for the big finale tomorrow. I'm guessing (?) that the delegates from the Galactic Council will be returning with their armies to wipe out the Daleks, while the Doctor slips away quietly, unseen. I'm just hoping that it's spectacular. It certainly deserves to be.
So, here we are. Eleven episodes into (debatably) one of Doctor Who's longest ever stories. Eleven whole days I've been withering on about this tale. And in all that time, I've not once managed to muse on the identities of to delegates. I thought that was going to come up early on! 'Which Delegate is which' is one of those questions that crops up in several forms in Who fandom, and I thought I was going to be able to make my own opinion. I was all set to give my great idea to the world, my version of who's who.
But as it transpires, the Delegates aren't really all that important, are they? We witness their first meeting right back during Mission to the Unknown, where they gather together and agree to do some evil things. We then watch them thump the desk a bit during a council meeting, and run around trying to point the finger of blame at each other when things start to go wrong. In today's episode, they get a bit ratty with Chen again and then find themselves locked in a cell.
I wonder if it's because I'm listening to the story via audio. My entire notion of what the delegates look like comes from the Mission animation and the surviving Day of Armageddon. I know what they look like for the most part (my favourite is 'Christmas tree'. It's a shame he doesn't turn up in the Christmas episode, really), and that's enough. The one with the raspy voice in this episode is in my head as the chap with the cracked face. One of the others is 'pebble guy'.
Unfortunately, that means I've nothing witty or new to say about them, or the way in which we can identify them. Sorry. Thought I'd better bring that up, in case you read through all my thoughts and figured I was just ignoring it. Mind you, I sort of am.
That said, I must confess a real love for Mavic Chen. The moment when his spaceship explodes really did take me by surprise. I think I may have actually gasped out loud. I listened to today's entry while I was painting a wall (it's spring - not that you'd know it to look outside - and time to freshen the place up!), and that was the moment I physically stopped and took it in. I thought it was a terribly sudden way to get rid of the character, but a fantastic one, and very in-keeping with the dark tone the series has been developing.
And then, like all good panto villains, he turns up again! Wielding a gun and making threats. Of course! I hope he doesn't die in tomorrow's episode, because it's never going to have the impact that this moment did.
Next Episode: The Destruction of Time