March 11: The Power of the Daleks Episodes Three & Four

It's interesting; we've seen Daleks be deadly, and we've seen them be heartless, conquering dictators, but we've never seen them behave this deviously before.  These two episodes show us the Daleks acting with great cunning, seemingly helping the human colonists, but really just trying to get them to give the Daleks power and materials to use for their own ends.

But what's perhaps more fascinating is how David Whitaker manages to keep the Daleks in the front of the audience's mind while focusing on the human interactions and the power struggles going on in the colony.  The rebels, being led ostensibly by Lesterson's assistant Janley (who makes herself thoroughly unlikeable by the end of episode four), are much more concerned with seizing control of the colony (for reasons never made explicit beyond power for power's sake), while Lesterson wants to be left out of the politics.  Bragen, the colony's security chief, has his own agenda.  And meanwhile the Daleks are gathering strength...

Another interesting thing to note comes in episode three.  Once the Doctor realizes that no one is going to listen to his order to destroy the Daleks, he decides to take matters into his own hands and creates a device to kill them off.  He's unsuccessful, of course (or else this story would be over), but it shows how this new Doctor is more concerned with doing what he thinks is best without trying to convince others of his position, as one might imagine William Hartnell's Doctor doing.  And the end of that scene, where the Dalek futilely clicks the spot where its gun was, is quite powerful.

The Doctor realizes the Daleks must be reproducing. (The
Power of the Daleks
Episode Four - from Doctor Who Photonovels:
The Power of the Daleks - Episode Four
) ©BBC
Really though, it's to Whitaker's credit that he manages to keep the Daleks as a ticking bomb in the background of this story while making the human characters' interactions sufficiently compelling to sustain interest. Lesterson undergoes the best development, as he begins to get nervous about what he's done at the end of episode three, only to descend into a full-blown panic by the end of episode four.  He does consider destroying the Daleks sooner, but Janley blackmails him, telling him that Resno was killed by the Daleks and that she'll say Lesterson murdered him.  She wants the Dalek project to continue, so that the rebels can take over the colony.  It's a petty, human reason, but it ends up being a driving force behind the subsequent events.  But it's what Lesterson witnesses at the end of episode four that ends up being the most important factor, as he sees the Daleks' production line, creating more and more fully operational Daleks.  Their chant of "We are the new race of Daleks!" ends up being a chilling one, and one can only imagine how Lesterson must feel, as his world crumbles around him and he knows it's his fault.