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17 June 2013
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Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 168: The Faceless Ones, Episode Five

Dear diary,

I think that since The Faceless Ones lost its firm grip on my attention and interest in yesterday’s episode, it’s fighting an up-hill battle to keep me invested in events. The biggest problem, I think, is that we’ve now not seen Ben or Polly for three whole episodes (and technically, we’ve not actually seen Polly since Episode One), and they leave in the next one! Dodo’s abrupt departure half-way through The War Machines is often hailed as one of the worst ways for a Doctor Who companion to leave the series, but at least her part in the story s over, and she was sent off for a break in the country! Ben and Polly were both kidnapped… and that’s sort of it!

I have a feeling that the odd way their final adventure is being handled is rather turning me off from the story. Every time the Doctor gets into a scrape with one of his stand in companions (we’ve now got Sam, Jean, and the real nurse Pinto fulfilling the role to varying capacities), I’m left wondering about where Ben and Polly are. I’m not sure they even get their token name-check in today’s episode, but grouped in with the now-captured Jamie as being one of the Doctor’s missing friends.

It’s a shame that I’m having my opinion of the story so coloured by this, because there’s still an awful lot to love here. You can take it as read that Troughton is on fine form (I really enjoyed his first scene pretending to be one of the Chameleons, and using the opportunity to gather more information about them), and he’s just as brilliant when he’s interrogating Meadows, too. It’s also becoming just as common for Jamie to be fab, too, and that’s true of this episode. His investigation of the satellite is great – he’s really becoming a proper Doctor Who companion now.

It also means that he gets to take in some of the great dialogue which is still (for the mots part) on offer in this story. ‘You seem to know a lot about it, Inspector,’ Jamie muses as he’s told the truth of what’s happening to the Chameleon Tours flights, and learns of the intelligence of the Chameleon’s leader, the Director. ‘Of course I do, Jamie,’ comes the reply, ‘I am the Director…’. It’s a ‘twist’ that anyone can see coming, but Jamie’s innocence means that we can completely buy his surprise at the situation.

Perhaps my favourite line in the episode – possibly, in the whole story – is the description given of the Doctor: ‘He is not of this Earth or this century. He has traveled through time and space. His knowledge is even greater than ours…’. It’s a great description (and very much in the vein of the speeches we’ll hear more of in the 21st century incarnation of the programme), and it’s a brilliant reminder that we still don’t really know all that much about him at this stage in the show’s life.

Much as I've loved the Gatwick airport setting to the story so far, I'm hoping that the shift through the clouds to the Chameleon's sattelite may help to give the final episode a boost before the story bows out. My biggest hope, though? I'm hoping Ben and Polly actually turn up again to say goodbye to the Doctor! If they end up going the way of Dodo, with Sam telling the Doctor that they send their goodbyes, I may scream!

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