This episode starts with captivity and the strange shaman/witch/cavewoman/Old Mother wanting to kill The Doctor and his companions and ends with a scream. Guess who screams. That’s right, Susan. I don’t care for the character but she does excel at screaming.
The Doctor and companions are captives in a cave killed with skulls that have all had their heads bashed open. They are determined to cut their bonds and escape. They all seem to be shaking with the cold or maybe it is fear. The tribe sleeps on the floor with only their clothes and no blankets – maybe they are more accustomed to the cold even though they will die of the cold if they don’t rediscover fire.
The Doctor and his companions attempt to cut their bonds with bones, Old Mother goes after them with a knife, two members of her tribe follow her, and Susan screams. Old Mother DOES NOT want The Doctor to make fire – she is absolutely anti-fire. Is she afraid of fire? Or is she afraid of change?
Ahhh … Old Mother does not want to kill them – she says she will set them free if they don’t make fire. We thought the knife was to kill them but instead it is to free them. Of course, two tribe members have different plans and after Old Mother frees them they give chase. Maybe the Doctor should just give the tribe a lighter and be on his way.
While The Doctor is escaping through the forest we learn that although he is brilliant and a time and space travel, he is also an elderly man who is frail. He has a hard time keeping up and he can’t catch his breath. This is not something that is a constant throughout the Doctor Who series. The current Doctor, Matt Smith, is very very young.
Although they have escaped they are terrified of the forest and hear the roars of wild animals. And now, Barbara is the one stressing out rather than Susan. You know, if I were Ian or Barbara I would be totally freaking out – so many strange things have happened to them in such a short time. They went to Susan’s house because they were concerned teachers, discovered her home was a weird sort of spaceship, were basically abducted by the Doctor and traveled back in time, were kidnapped and help prisoner by the tribe, and are now lost in a forest. This is not everyday London in 1963.
My favorite part of this episode comes in the middle. They are resting and Ian decides that the Doctor and Susan should lead them out of the forest and that He and Barbara should bring up the rear. This causes a tiff with the Doctor who says that he’s not going to let Ian make himself the leader and he is not going to follow Ian’s orders. It ends with Ian calling the Doctor a “stubborn old man”. This really is the best part. Plus the Doctor becomes distant and sulks when he doesn’t get his way.
In this episode we also learn of Barbara’s empathy. The tribesman tracking them is attacked by a wild animal and even though the tribe wants to capture her and her friends, she goes to help. We also have more glimpses of how not very nice the Doctor is – he wants to leave Ian and Barbara behind and go back to the ship – Susan, however, won’t let him. Sounds like they are all about to become prisoners again.
And really what is the lesson learned in this episode? If you are being tracked through the forest by a prehistoric caveman who wants to capture you and force you to give him fire, you really shouldn’t scream at every single thing you encounter in the forest. Susan and Barbara would make the worst ninjas ever.
I still don’t care for this story arc. Plus there is too much screaming and the Doctor isn’t very nice at all. Where is the David Tennant Doctor who cared about humans so much?