I have finally reached the fourth and final episode of the four parts of An Unearthly Child or 100,000 BC. Thank goodness. I really don’t think I could take much more of this story arc.
At the end of the previous episode the Doctor and his companions had escaped and were trying to find their way back to the Tardis. When they get there, however, they find it is guarded by members of the tribe. Kal and Za are still having a power struggle over who should be leader of the tribe and we discover that the old woman is dead. Part of me wishes that Kal and Za would fight to the death and let that decide the new leader. Instead it just goes on and on – The Doctor and the companions are in the midst of this and some of the tribe members still want fire. Honestly, I can’t even keep Kal and Za straight and I really don’t care. Maybe the Doctor can say something rude or Susan can scream in order to liven things up.
Kal accuses Za of killing the old woman but The Doctor knows better and produces the evidence that shows that Kal did the evil deed. Whatever. Kal admits that he killed her because she let the Doctor and the companions escape. The tribe forces Kal to leave. You know, Ian looks pretty funny in his suit and tie next to the tribe in their animal skins.
The companions are returned to the cave of skulls even though Ian offers to make fire for them. Now Za is going to try to kill them if they try to escape. It doesn’t seem like they are ever going to leave the cave or get to the Tardis in order to begin a new and more interesting adventure.
Za has a revelation about the group being able to accomplish more together than each member can individually. Socialism in action.
Meanwhile, our group of prisoners are determined to make fire. When Za comes to talk to them he asks if Ian is their leader but Ian says that no, the Doctor is. It seems like Ian has decided to give up on his power struggle with The Doctor – at least for now.
Even thought Kal has been sent away he returns when The Doctor is showing Za fire. There is a big annoying fight between Kal and Za and Za is victorious – he kills Kal. The Doctor and Ian give Za a burning torch to show to his tribe – they are hopeful that once Za shows fire to the tribe that Za will be so grateful that he will let them go. Somehow, I don’t think it is going to be that simple. And what about changing the course of history – won’t it be altered if fire is given to a tribe that doesn’t have it? Or is it ok since they had fire previously but have since lost the ability to make it?
Nope – Za doesn’t want to let them go even though they are desperate to leave. Za wants the Doctor and companions to join forces with them – for the tribes to combine.
Meanwhile, Susan devises a flaming skull, which gives Ian an idea about escaping via dying. I don’t really get the plan but the flaming skulls terrify the tribe and our group escapes. Let’s hope that this time that they run as fast as they can to reach the Tardis and don’t stop to rest and complain about how tired they are. The tribe chases them but they make it to the Tardis just in time. Thank goodness. I’m just as happy to see the Tardis as The Doctor.
Ian and Barbara assume that The Doctor will be returning them to their own time (after sort of kidnapping them) but he says he can’t – that the Tardis isn’t working properly and that he needs to know exactly when they were in order to set an exact time or place to land. Looks like we’ll be seeing a lot more Ian and Barbara.
They land in a wasteland which definitely isn’t London in 1963. The Doctor says, “it could be anywhere!” And then he suggests that they get cleaned up before going outside to explore and asks Susan to check the radiation levels. The level is normal but as they walk away the gauge moves into the danger zone and the episode ends.
Yay! I’ve managed to get through the first story arc with William Hartnell, which had a pilot episode that I loved followed by three caveman episodes that were a chore to sit through.
The next story arc is called The Mutants (aka The Daleks) and contains seven episodes. It’s our first introduction to The Daleks and I can’t wait to start watching them.
This episode is available on the Doctor Who: The Beginning (An Unearthy Child / The Daleks / The Edge of Destruction) Collection.