April 5: The Enemy of the World Episodes 3 & 4

Episode 3 of The Enemy of the World was for the longest time the only episode surviving from this story.  This is rather unfortunate, as this episode is almost pure filler, featuring comedy characters such as Griffin the chef and bizarre moments such as the decision to guard Alexander Denes (under arrest, remember, for failing to warn the population about the impending volcanic eruptions) in a corridor rather than a room.  "It's easier to guard him here," a guard states, rather illogically.  The reputation of this story used to hinge on this episode, and the result was deemed to have been lacking.  Director Barry Letts insisted it was the worst episode of the serial, but people figured the rest was just like this.

In context, however, this episode makes more sense.  It's a pause between bouts of action, and writer David Whitaker has chosen to fill up the time with character moments.  Griffin the chef barely has a line that isn't some deadpan joke, and he's massively entertaining as a result.  And Deborah Watling seems to also play up Victoria's ineffectiveness in the kitchen, as she describes a recipe for a pudding involving "lots of almonds, eggs, lemon peel, candied peel, oranges, cream and, oh it was lovely!"  When asked how to make it, Victoria replies, "You sort of, whoosh it all up together."  Griffin's expression upon being told this is a recipe for Kaiser pudding suggests this isn't the sort of thing one simply "whoosh[es] up".

A couple other moments worth mentioning: Fedorin tries and fails to poison Denes's food, which leads to his apologizing to Salamander.  "Don't worry!  You try, you fail, so what, huh?  The moon doesn't fall out of the sky," Salamander replies, in a line I've now found myself repeating from time to time, before poisoning Fedorin with the same stuff intended for Denes.  "One chance, my friend.  I said one chance," Salamander says, standing over Fedorin's body.  And the Doctor, who only has a limited scene this episode (since Troughton's busy playing Salamander), hides in a chest while Salamander's deputy Benik comes to Kent's trailer and smashes things up.  "Sad really, isn't it?  People spend all their time making nice things, and other people come along and break them," the Doctor says sadly once Benik's left, looking at a piece of broken crockery.  But he's still not ready to help Kent take down Salamander.

And then at the end of the episode, Denes is killed in a botched escape attempt and Jamie and Victoria are taken prisoner for trying to aid Denes.  And then Donald Bruce (Salamander's security chief, remember) spills the beans about there possibly being more than one person who looks like Salamander...

Episode 4 gets back to the action, as Astrid returns to Kent's office, only to be followed by Fariah, Salamander's food taster ("What on Earth made you take a job as a food taster?" Fedorin asked her in episode 2.  "She was hungry," Salamander replies simply on her behalf, which leaves a heap of possibilities open to the imagination).  But Benik has followed them, which leads to a shootout in Kent's office and the surrounding grounds, leading to Fariah being shot by a guard.  "What do you think you're doing?" demands the guard captain to the one who shot her.  "We had orders to kill," the guard replies.  "Do you always obey orders?" the captain replies bitterly.  So it seems not everyone here is as "evil" as Benik -- a nice touch.  But Fariah is dead (though not before she gets a final slap across Benik's face -- but she dies before Benik can respond.  "She's dead," the captain says.  "Good," Benik replies impotently), and the Doctor, Astrid, and Kent are on the run.

Salamander in his underground bunker. (The Enemy of the
Episode 4) ©BBC
Then the story takes a bizarre left turn.  Up to this point we've had a spy thriller story, with lots of political machinations and things, but then Salamander locks himself inside the records room in his base and takes an elevator deep into the earth, where it turns out there's a small group of people living underground who are causing all the natural disasters (not sure how a group in Australia can create a volcano in Central Europe, but never mind) -- Salamander's convinced them that there was a nuclear war almost five years ago, and that they are fighting "the enemies of truth and freedom" with their natural disasters.  (And it's so tempting to think that the people hid underground because of the Mayan apocalypse thing, but alas, the dates are a year off, as they would have had to have gone down in 2013, not 2012.)  Patrick Troughton here delivers a tour de force performance, as he has to convince the people in the bunker not only that his intentions are good, but also that he's suffering from radiation sickness from the surface.  Troughton has done his "charmingly devious" turn as Salamander in the last two episodes, but now he turns it up a notch as he smoothly manipulates these people.  It's quite wonderful to behold.

But the Doctor is finally ready to impersonate Salamander -- not so much because he believes Giles Kent, but rather because Jamie and Victoria are being held prisoner by Salamander's men.  Although as they're putting the finishing touches on the Doctor's transformation into Salamander, someone unexpected walks into Kent's trailer; we don't see who it is, but the expressions on the Doctor's, Kent's, and Astrid's faces suggest this isn't exactly a welcome visitor.