Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...
Day 485: Image of the Fendahl, Episode Three
I feel a little bit silly in admitting it… but I genuinely don’t have a clue what’s happening in this story. I mean, I understand that there’s a scientific research station set up in an old house to investigate this mysterious skull, and I get that the skull is really alien, and is drawing power in an attempt to live again… but I’m not sure what’s actually happening.
When the giant worm creature appears round the corner at the end of the episode… Is that a Fendahl? Where did it come from? Did the skull grow into that thing when it had absorbed 100 hours worth of energy (I’m guessing that it’s drawing this energy from the time fissure)? Or did the group of people in the catacombs manage to summon this creature up somehow? Did Thea turn into it? Or Max? Or one of the others? I just don’t know what’s going on.
Part of this comes back to the problem that I described yesterday - I’m struggling to follow the direction of the story. I can’t tell if the Doctor and friends being rooted to the spot by the sight of this creature is happening at the same time as the clock reaching 100 downstairs. There’s a point earlier on in the episode where we witness a conversation in the TARDIS between the Doctor and Leela, switch back to the Priory to see a van of people unload, then return to the TARDIS to find Leela out cold on the floor. Why? Was she asleep? Unconscious? Did I miss a bit? I’m not sure what was happening there, so it’s cast doubt on my ability to follow the plot in the cliffhanger.
I’m hoping that everything becomes clear in the the final episode, because I’m really rather keen to enjoy this story more than I am. There’s so much great dialogue for the Doctor and Leela to share (I expected nothing less of a script by Chris Boucher) - a particular highlight has to be the savage freeing the Doctor from the Fedahl’s grip early in the episode, and them both rousing on the floor and asking in unison if the other is all right. I wondered how I’d feel about the fact that so many Big Finish adventures for the pair have been set in the gap between their two seasons in the last couple of years - but these two have obviously been travelling together for a very long time. There’s something rather nice about that.
There’s also the fact that we’ve not got an actual monster to focus our attention on. I never really thought of myself as being one of those kids who loses interest in a Doctor Who story when there wasn’t something big, green, and slimy to keep me invested, but it’s felt like this story has been lacking one up until now - I’m really keen to see what George Spenton-Foster does with the creature, because it’s a really nice design, and I’m sure that his artistic - if tricky - direction could make it look stunning…