DVD Review: Quatermass II, Part 4

BBC Logo Before this episode begins, the BBC warns us that what we’re about to see may not be “suitable for children or those of you with a nervous disposition.”

So brace yourselves!

Episode 4: The Coming

The story picks up where it left off at the end of Part 3, with Dr. Leo Pugh locating the asteroid in its hidden orbit; it’s coming closer to Earth and will be at its nearest point in about 3 hours. Everybody expects that more of those fake meteorites containing ammonia-breathing entities will be launched then.

Quatermass expounds further on his theories about the “colonial minds” of these creatures and what they’ve been up. The UFO scare/meteorite shower a year ago tells him that this invasion has been going on for at least that long. The first “showers” to hit Earth were more-or-less at random, but the creatures in the little projectiles took over enough of the local population in places like Winnerden Flats to get themselves organized. Their plans are moving into the final phase now.

He tells Fowler that the secrecy surrounding Winnerden Flats must end and the danger it presents be made known to the public. Fowler heads back to the Ministry to do what he can.

Paula has also been speculating about the asteroid that’s on its way toward Earth. It’s too small to hold any kind of atmosphere, so it can’t be natural. Her dad has also figured that much out. The Quatermasses agree that the source of the asteroid and the creatures on it must be one of the outer planets; the professor favors Saturn’s moons.

Quatermass also shows his daughter and Leo the little object Rupert Ward gave him just before he died in the previous episode. It’s a sort of pocket-size version of the fake meteorites, smaller since it doesn’t have to survive burning through the Earth’s atmosphere and it’s easier to conceal and carry until it’s needed to be deployed at a person. Presumably, one of these was used on Mr. Broadhead at that zombie committee meeting. Quatermass says that these are being manufactured at the top-secret plant.

The three of them and other members of the Rocket Group then go to have a look at the prototype rocket. which we haven’t visited since the beginning of the first episode. Leo insists that attempting to use it will only cause a nuclear explosion like the one in Australia, but Quatermass sees that blast as their last resort against the invaders on that asteroid. He dismisses all of his colleague’s concerns: “I’m not listening to reason!”

He then speaks on the phone with a reporter named Conrad (Roger Delgado–the Master in some of the early Dr. Who‘s) and mentions the importance of the Winnerden Flats story. They arrange to meet at the pub in that pre-fab town just down the coast from the factory.

Fowler and the files

Fowler, meanwhile, is back at the Ministry digging up top-secret files related to the Winnerden Flats project. To his horror, but not our surprise, there are files about other projects all over the world–not just the Siberian and Brazilian plants, but at least half a dozen others.

As he’s gathering up this evidence of how widespread the invasion is, he finds something else at the back of the file cabinet drawer–one of those little containers. He tries to shut the door, but it’s jammed. And he doesn’t just leave the room to get away from it before it cracks open. So they’ve got him.

Quatermass and Conrad meet in the pub, where there’s a party going on. The local union representative for the Winnerden Flats plant construction workers is celebrating his 25th anniversary with his wife.

If you’ve been wondering what happened to Mrs. Quatermass, Paula’s mom, the professor tells the couple and the party-goers at large that he “never had the fortune to reach my Silver Anniversary” and offers to buy drinks for everyone. That puts the group in a friendly mood, until Conrad’s questions about the top-secret plant where they work draws suspicions. These people aren’t part of the alien hive-mind–they call the guards on the site “zombies”–but they are security-minded about talking too much about their jobs.

Quatermass tries to warn them about what’s really going on at the site, but they refuse to believe him. Okay, it does sound nutty if you haven’t been there to see it all happening.

While he’s talking, one of the false meteorites come down through the pub ceiling and makes a hole in the floor. The local folk call it an “overshot”. They don’t seem concerned, and ignore Quatermass when he tells them to stay clear of it. They’ve been assured by the factory management that it’s “something to do with the process. It’s been explained to us.”

A pair of security guards come into the pub to scoop the object up. They tell the pub landlord in stilted tones that he will be compensated for the damage.

Conrad, under the influence No one was harmed by the “overshot” but did Conrad get too close to it in spite of Quatermass’s warnings? After the guards leave, he seems disoriented as Quatermass pulls him out of the pub to follow them.

Conrad’s face begins to get an evil look while he’s driving, and he nearly swerves off the road at one point. Quatermass doesn’t notice.

Well, the professor does have other things to worry about. That meteorite that just hit the pub isn’t the only one coming down. Lots more are streaking through the sky and landing around them.

“This is it!” Quatermass declares. “This is the night.” The final phase of the invasion has begun.

Conrad had to stop the car when they found a body in the road; one of the guards was struck and killed. His truck is still there and, peeking behind the canvas flaps in the back, Quatermass discovers tanks of ammonia and methane gas. He posits that the guards are trying to find the falling meteorites before they open; if they can bring them back to a place where these gasses are available, then the entities within can “hatch” in a safe environment without a human host, and grow.

Quatermass takes the truck to get to the plant, while Conrad returns to the pub to phone his newspaper. The party is still going on. While he still has some control of his own mind, Conrad struggles to make a report.

As they listen to him speak phrases like, “under the influence of… something from outside Earth”; “violent infection”; “the recreation of a world 800 million miles away” and “They’re coming in thousands!” the local people are finally convinced of the danger. And, like villagers since Time Immemorial, they respond by storming the castle–or, in this case, the factory.

Quatermass in disguise Quatermass has in the meantime taken up the traditional infiltration strategy of stealing a workman’s uniform to sneak into the factory in disguise.

Without drawing attention to himself, he makes his way to that processing area he visited during his earlier tour. When no one is around, opens a hatch to look inside.

Through the round window glass, we see a shapeless monster flopping around in the ammonia/methane mists.

Monster

This has to be the thing the BBC was warning us about. There’s really been nothing else especially alarming in the whole episode.

As a person of nervous disposition myself, I would’ve said that the slimy death of Rupert Ward and the murder of the Clueless Picnicking family in the previous episode were more disturbing than anything shown here. And there’s more horrible stuff to come in the next two episodes.

To be continued…

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Author: Kathryn L Ramage

Kathryn L. Ramage has a B.A. and M.A. in English lit and has been writing for as long as she can remember. She lives in Maryland with three calico cats named after the Brontë sisters. In addition to being the author of numerous short stories, reviews, essays, and period mystery novellas, she is also the author of a series of fantasy novels set in a dukedom called the Northlands on an alternate Earth whose history has diverged from ours somewhere during the medieval period.