Mission to the Unknown

Hello everyone, the Historian here, welcoming you to our special Bonfire Night post! Well, it’s 5 November as I type this (though it may not be when I post this and almost certainly won’t be when you read/listen), so that’s good enough, yes? Anyway, since this episode of Doctor Who is a bit different, we decided to try doing something a bit different ourselves–welcome to our first podcast! I’m not completely certain how this post will look, but you should see a link to the audio file somewhere. Click and listen, or right-click/control-click (PC/Mac respectively), download and enjoy! And hey, if it doesn’t work, tell us in the comments and maybe we’ll be able to figure it out. Anyway, one thing didn’t make it into the podcast, so let’s get to the summary!

Episode Summary: First aired 9 October 1965. On the floor in a clearing in the strange jungle lies a man in what looks like a military-style uniform. He is covered with dirt and is clearly wounded and unconscious. Slowly, he wakes up as one of the jungle sounds seems to come closer. His eyes show his terror and he cries out, clutching his temples. Then, suddenly, he seems to recover from his pain. He stands, takes out his gun and says, “I remember now. I must…I must kill. I must kill. I must kill…”

Elsewhere in the jungle, two men are trying to repair a crashed spaceship. One of them, Captain Lowery is doing the actual repairs while the other, a man named Marc Cory, helps as best he can. Lowery complains, wondering why Cory wanted to land on this planet in the first place as the jungle noises grow even more disturbing. Cory snaps at Lowery to get on with the job and the Captain turns to his passenger. “Just you listen to me, Cory.” he says. “I know my orders were to let you have full reign, and you’ve certainly taken advantage of that. But as Captain of this expedition, my first responsibility is to get this ship off the ground. So just…cut the chat. Some other time, hmm?” He continues working, worrying that if they don’t get off the ground soon, they might miss their rendezvous with a freighter. Suddenly, Cory wonders where the third member of the expedition, Garvey, disappeared to.

Garvey, meanwhile, is hidden in the bushes watching. He is the man we saw at the beginning and he continues to mumble “kill…”

Cory heads into the ship to get a tool while Lowery continues to work. Suddenly, Garvey leaps out to attack, gun at the ready! But before he can fire on Lowery, Cory appears and shoots! Garvey falls down, dead, as Lowery reacts with shock. He rounds on Cory, angered at the death of his friend, but Cory tells him he had no choice. Cory reaches down and pulls out a large thorn from Garvey’s arm–a “Varga thorn,” he says. He warns Lowery not to let it prick his skin and suggests they both go back inside the ship. Lowery stops to collect Garvey’s personal affects and follows him.

Inside the ship, Cory begins to explain his real reason for being there to Lowery. Cory is an agent of the Space Security force, licensed to kill. He officially deputizes Lowery and begins to fill him in. “Have you ever heard of the Daleks?” he asks. Of course, Lowery says, they invaded Earth a thousand years ago. Cory explains that, although the Daleks haven’t been active in their galaxy, but they have conquered numerous worlds elsewhere. But, about a week ago, a freigher captain spotted a strange ship in this area; the description corresponds to that of a Dalek ship!

Outside the ship, Garvey’s body lies still. Suddenly, the hand begins to twitch! He begins to rise up, and we see he is covered with white hair, and cactus spines! His humanity entirely lost, he stands–a Varga plant!

Cory is trying, possibly in vain, to use the ship’s radio to call for help. Lowery says there’s no way he can repair the ship with their limited resources. Does Cory really believe the Daleks have a base on this planet? Cory says that this is the “most hostile planet in the universe.” Everyone avoids it, so Cory had a hunch that this might be the perfect place for the Daleks to hide and prepare. After Lowery asks, Cory reveals that he told no one of his hunch, merely requested Lowery’s ship. He is only telling Lowery all of this because of the Varga thorn. A Varga is a creature, half plant, half animal. The poison from the thorns attacks a person’s brain, causing an overwhelming desire to kill and then eventually transforming them completely…into another Varga plant. What’s that got to do with Daleks, Lowery wants to know. The only place Varga plants grow naturally, Cory tells him, is Skaro! If Vargas are there, then Daleks are too.

In the Dalek control room, elsewhere on the planet, the Dalek Supreme takes reports from its subordinates. One reports that the emissaries from the seven planets will arrive as arranged. Security reports that the Earth craft crash site has been found. The Supreme orders the ship and its inhabitants to be utterly destroyed!

Cory looks out from the ship and sees Vargas in the distance, but coming closer. He ducks back inside, where Lowery is assembling a signal rocket. Cory tells Lowery that the Vargas are advancing. Lowery is alarmed that they can move, but Cory reassures him that they only advance very slowly, dragging themselves with their roots. The two turn back towards the rescue beacon. Lowery holds up a small tape recorder, explaining that you record a message on it, stick it into the rocket and fire it off. Cory says they might not have much time, as the Daleks undoubtedly know they’re there. Lowery, trying to be sceptical, says just because the Varga plants are here…well, couldn’t they just grow here? No, Cory says. The Daleks grow them in laboratories as watchdog-like protection. Lowery continues to work, as Cory stares out into the jungle.

In the jungle, the Dalek patrol has located the ship. They split off to attack in two directions.

Lowery continues to work, but sees that the Vargas have come nearer. He makes to shoot at one of them, but Cory stops him, telling Lowery it would be futile. There are too many of them and they’ll only grow as fast as he can shoot. Lowery turns back to the beacon, explaining its operation to Cory. He hands Cory the recorder and explains that once it’s up, the signal should get picked up easily. Cory replies that, with what they know about the Daleks, they must be picked up! Suddenly, there is a rumble and Cory and Lowery look up to see a huge spaceship landing elsewhere in the jungle. Cory identifies it as being from an outer galaxy and speculates that, whatever’s going on, if the Daleks are involved, the whole galaxy is in danger!

In the jungle, two Daleks on patrol also see the new ship landing. “The ship from the planet Gearon…” one says, and the other replies, “…and the beginning of the Great Alliance.”

Lowery is just about finished and is about to take the recorder from Cory when the latter sees something moving in the trees. Not Vargas, far too quick for that–they have to get away! What about the signal, asks Lowery. Take it with us, says Cory, and warns the captain to watch out for Varga thorns. They manage to duck out of the way just in time to be missed by the Dalek patrol. The patrol approaches the empty ship and destroys it!

Cory heads off into the jungle and Lowery follows. He pushes aside a bush to move through, and suddenly recoils–sticking out of his palm is…a Varga thorn! He pulls it out and tries to suck out the poison, but quickly removes his hand from his mouth as Cory returns to urge him onward.

The Dalek patrol reports that the ship has been destroyed. They will now seek out and destroy the crew.

Back at the Dalek center, the delegates from the outer galaxies are assembling. Trantis, a human-like creature with strange tendrils on his face. Gearon, featureless, wearing a visor. Sentreal, who is a black creature with two bright, burning eyes. Beaus, a creature wearing a helmet with its visor. Warrien, a humanoid in a cowl and cloak. And Malpha, a creature with a strange, patched face, almost stone-like. The Supreme Dalek announces that, with Malpha’s arrival, they can begin, but Malpha demands an explanation for the hostile presence on the planet Kembel. (Which is, by the way, the first time the name of the planet’s been mentioned in the episode!) The Supereme explains that its patrols will destroy the human incursion. “They will be exterminated! Exterminated!”

Cory and Lowery continue making their way through the jungle. Cory is far too intent to see the worry and fear Lowery is exhibiting.

In the council chamber, the aliens have agreed. The seven groups will together conquer the galaxy, starting with the solar system! Mars! Venus! Jupiter! The Lunar colonies! But first…the first to fall will be…Earth!

In the jungle, Lowery rests. He looks at his arm, seeing the white spines begining to grow, and sobs. Cory returns from a quick look around, telling Lowery he has seen a Dalek city! He got close enough to hear an announcement over a loudspeaker–the whole galaxy is to be invaded and destroyed! They must get word out! Suddenly, Lowery begins to succumb to the Varga poison. He tells Cory that soon he’ll be one of them and asks him to kill…but he can’t get more out beyond kill…Cory whips out his gun and shoots Lowery. Realizing that the shot will bring the Daleks down on him, Cory grabs the recorder and begins to speak into it: “This is Marc Cory, Special Security Service, reporting from the planet Kembel. The Daleks are planning the complete destruction of our galaxy. Together with the powers of the outer galaxies, a war force is being assembled…”

But the Dalek patrol has found his location and is closing in…

Cory continues his message: “If our galaxy is to be saved, whoever receives this message must relay this information to Earth immediately. It…it is vital that…defence mechanisms are put into operation at once! Message ends.” He turns to put the recorder into the rocket…but the Dalek patrol arrives. He either drops or tosses away the recorder and the Daleks fire! Cory falls, dead. The Daleks leave the body to return, not noticing the recorder, lying in the underbrush…

Back in the council chamber, Malpha declares, “We at this table pledge our allegiance to the Dalek cause. Our armies will reduce the galaxies to ashes, their people to dust and Earth we will conquer first. Victory! Victory!” The Daleks and the other aliens join him in calling for “Victory! Victory!” The Daleks’ Master Plan has begun…

Whew! Between getting the podcast (hopefully) working and typing up the summary, this has gone a little later than usual. I hope you enjoy it! Please feel free to let us know if you liked the podcast or any other thing. And, since I’m not going to do a wrapup post for one episode, here’s the Brief History of Time (Travel) page and the BBC episode guide entry for the story.

Until next week, I remain