The last two nights’ viewing fare was “Survival,” which was the final episode of the classic series of Doctor Who. I’m going to say up front that I really didn’t get this episode, at all.
The Doctor and Ace arrive in Perivale because Ace wanted to come home and see her friends, and they discover that people have been disappearing and there are a lot of black cats running around. In a nutshell (because the actual plot is much more complicated), they discover that the cats are teleporting people from Earth to their home on a distant planet where cheetah people are hunting them for food. If a person survives long enough, then he turns into a feral cheetah person and becomes the hunter. The reason they’re on Earth looking for people is that the Master had gotten trapped on the planet and was turning into a cheetah person, and he realized that if he could get a human to become a cheetah person, he could grab onto that person when it goes “home,” which would be Earth – thus a way to escape.
Ace, the Doctor, and a small group of humans end up on the planet, and when one of them, Mitch, finally turns (using a vampire phrase, which is rather appropriate), the Master escapes back to Earth. Thus, the protagonists have to wait until another person turns, and that person is Ace. She starts to turn feral, but the Doctor is able to convince her to keep her humanity, and she brings them home to Earth, where they then have to battle the Mitch and the Master. The Doctor defeats Mitch, and then, when battling the Master, they get teleported back to the cheetah planet, where the Doctor finally gets the upper hand and is about to bash the Master with a rock when he finally resists the call to violence and refuses to kill him. He is then transported back to Earth, where he collects Ace and they return to the TARDIS.
I spent most of this episode rather bemused. The theme of the episode was “survival of the fittest,” and that’s certainly what it’s about, with a number of conflicts, on both Earth and the cheetah planet, stemming from survival on different levels. It just seemed to have a very rambling plot and a creepy half-cat Master who couldn’t decide if he wanted to be a cat or not. The end, with the Doctor rejecting the life of animalistic violence, was meant to hammer home the point that once a species becomes intelligent, there is more to life than just survival of the fittest, but the episode was a tortuous route to a rather unsatisfying payoff.
The best part of the episode was the final dialogue, which was crafted with the knowledge that this was probably the final episode of the show. It was both a fitting end to the episode about violence and to the series itself, and I leave you with it now.
“There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea’s asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there’s danger, somewhere there’s injustice and somewhere else the tea’s getting cold! Come on, Ace — we’ve got work to do!”