Ordeal? Well, this is the point where the story does become something of a slog.
It’s been lively up until now, but the end of the last episode saw Barbara, Ian, and their new Thal friends off camping out in the swamp by the radioactive, glowing lake as they made their way toward the mountains to sneak in the back way to the Dalek city. The swamp and the mountain caves take up this entire episode, and go on into the next. Did they really need to spend so much time on all that hiking and spelunking?
The high points of this section occur when this group lose one or two unimportant Thals along the way.
The first extra Thal disappears when he’s sent to fetch water from the lake.
I can’t believe that they intend to drink that nasty, glowing stuff that mutant monsters swim around in, but perhaps they trust their anti-radiation medication to protect them from the bad effects.
A whirlpool forms in the water. The others off in the swamplands hear him scream. When they get to the lake’s edge, he’s gone, leaving scattered water bags all over the place. Presumably, he was dragged down to his death by the giant, flattish, tentacled swamp mutant that Ian saw rising out of the water earlier.
At the far side of the lake, Ian and the gang discover that this body of water is where the Daleks also get their drinking water–which really explains a lot about their mutancy and their general attitude. The plan is to try and trace the water pipes through the mountain and into the city.
The other Thal’s death occurs while the group is crawling around inside the mountain caves. He and Ian are tied with the same rope and, when he falls off a cliff edge, his dangling weight nearly pulls Ian off the cliff as well. This man nobly cuts the rope and drops, and the others are able to pull Ian back up to safety.
A similar rope-climbing accident occurs when Barbara’s new Thal boyfriend falls into a cavern when the rope Barbara tied around a rock slips loose. But in his case, this turns out to be a lucky accident; tunnels lead out of the cavern, and finding the right one puts them on the correct course.
Meanwhile in the Dalek city, the Daleks have determined that it will take 23 days to construct a neutron bomb, and that’s too long. They start to work on another way to irradiate the area around the city.
While Barbara and Ian are out cave-climbing, the Doctor and Susan sneak back into the Dalek city from the front entrance, after the Thals who remained back at the camp wave around some large solar reflectors to confuse the scanners the Daleks use to monitor outdoors movements.
The Doctor has just enough time to screw up the Daleks’ static electric power sources before he and Susan are recaptured. Since they have a little time to kill while waiting for Ian and Barbara, they sit down on the floor for interrogation.
During this questioning, the Dalek leader, like a Bond villain, gives away their evil plans for the “Total Extermination of the Thals!” by re-radiating the outside environment. Once they can safely go outdoors again, the Daleks will become the “Masters of Skaro!”
All the Daleks say this last part, but not in unison, as they raise their plungers in a salute.
The fluid link gadget needed to run the Tardis–the thing that brought the Doctor back into the city–is sitting on top of a monitoring station in the interrogation room. In sight, but for the moment out of the Doctor’s and his granddaughter’s reach.