Back in their underground city, the Daleks have duplicated the sample of Thal anti-radiation medicine they took from Susan a couple of episodes ago, and are testing it on a small number of their own. Monitoring the escaped prisoners in the radioactive forest, they have also observed that the Doctor and his companions have met up with the Thals. After their ambush on the Thals who came to the city for peace negotiations, they expect a retaliatory attack.
Not that the Daleks are wrong about the anticipated attack, but it’s not the Thals who are making battle plans.
The Doctor’s group need the help of the Thals to retrieve the fluid link, a little piece of machinery that makes the Tardis run, and which Ian had taken away from him when the Daleks captured him. They must go back into the Dalek city for it, but they need reinforcements. The Doctor is certain that the Thals “will triumph, with me to lead us,” and doesn’t see why he shouldn’t use them for his own ends. Barbara agrees that they need the Thals to fight to aid them in leaving this planet. Ian, on the other hand, is against asking these people to sacrifice their lives for a little gizmo that means nothing to them. There’s much debate on the subject.
The Thals have become firm pacifists since they wiped out nearly all life on Skaro with their neutron-bomb war 500 years ago, so they’re going to be tough to convince to go back to their old warrior ways.
Ian does eventually talk the Thals around to the idea of fighting–not for the selfish reasons the Doctor and Barbara have put forward, but for their own self-preservation. The Daleks are bent on their extermination, after all. He makes his point by grabbing the arm of a young lady whom Alydon, now the Thal leader, is sweet on, with the claimed intention of handing her over to the Daleks.
Alydon knows Ian isn’t going to do any such thing, but all the same he gives Ian a good sock in the jaw to make him let go. He concedes that some things are worth fighting for, like protecting the people you care about.
Romance is also brewing for Barbara and one of the other Thal men. The two sit talking that night about the glow that comes off of the lake behind the Dalek city. Barbara’s new boyfriend says that the lake is full of deadly radioactive monsters, and then he has a sudden burst of strategic insight. He realizes that that side of the city is defended only by the natural barriers of the mountains and the lake, and the Daleks won’t be guarding it. They won’t expect anyone to attack them from that side.
A small army of Thal volunteers including Barbara’s boyfriend, head out to reach the city via this undefended back way. Ian and Barbara go with them. For the arduous hike through the swamp and crawl through the mountain caves, Barbara has changed into a pair of Thal men’s slacks (although on her pair, the open holes on the sides don’t go all the way up to her hips).
While this group is making its trek, another group lead by the Doctor will attempt to sneak into the city from the front.
Meanwhile in the Dalek city, we are treated to the amusing sight of a Dalek yelping “Help! Help! Aaahh! Aaaaahh!” as it spins around, out of control. The Thal medication has had an adverse effect on the Daleks who’ve taken it, and the Daleks in charge conclude that they need the radiation to survive.
“Is this the end of the Daleks?” wonders their leader as he observes a comrade-Dalek spinning helplessly.
The solution to this problem, the Daleks decide, is to set off another neutron bomb; this will not only Exterminate! the surviving Thals, but make the environment “hot” enough for them to go out of the city and reclaim Skaro.
To be continued…
Note: I was watching The Magician’s Apprentice and The Witch’s Familiar this afternoon, two episodes from the Peter Capaldi era in which the Doctor returns to Skaro; in the latter, his companion Clara also hides inside a Dalek as Ian does here.
Watching these just after viewing the first Dalek episodes, I was struck by how closely the newer show kept to the design elements for the Dalek city on Skaro, introduced 50 years earlier. The bulbous architecture, the slanty corridors, and even the mountains behind the city and the desolate plain–I could believe that this is the same city the Doctor and his companions visited in these first episodes, allowing for improvements in special effects technology and a much bigger budget.