In episode one The Doctor finishes regenerating in front of the astonished eyes of Ben and Polly into a much younger man and, despite, this happening in front of their eyes neither Ben nor Polly are convinced that this is still the Doctor. Ben in particular is very sceptical. Now this is the first time that we had seen regeneration in the new series and it wasn’t even called regeneration at this point either so absolutely no one actually knew what the hell was going on, all they did know was that the Doctor from the last episode was not the Doctor anymore and you can just imagine the viewers and how their reactions but have been quite similar to Ben and Polly’s.
The Doctor suffers for a little while with his head but is soon over it and starts rummaging around and finds a recorder which he starts randomly playing, and a five hundred year diary that we had never seen before, which he then starts reading. Ben and Polly meanwhile are just trying to work out what the hell just happened but as they were in the TARDIS what else could they do but go along with it. The viewer could have switched off but Ben and Polly were stuck with this different man who they were not sure of.
The Doctor then decides to go for a walk and opens the door and leaves the TARDIS to go off exploring, which certainly is a very Doctorish thing to do, leaving Ben and Polly utill they were ready to join him outside the TARDIS. The TARDIS had landed on a planet that looked rather barren, with rock formations and steaming pools of what turns out to be Mercury which the Doctor manages to not to fall into as he was reading his diary at the same time as walking around not looking where he was going which is never a good idea at the best of times. He then does a very Un-Hartnell like leap over rock, which the previous Doctor would never had done, and is disturbed by a man’s voice calling out to him.
When he goes to find the man, the man is shot and killed by someone unseen. On the man’s body he finds a badge which reads VULCAN / EARTH EXAMINER / ACCORD EVERY ACCESS. Whilst scrutinising the badge, the Doctor is knocked unconscious but manages to pull a button from his attackers clothes.
Ben and Polly eventually exit the TARDIS but are soon overcome by the fumes of the Mercury pools. Two men arrives and find the Doctor, Ben and Polly and take them back to the colony base nearby and take the Doctor to be the Examiner from the badge he was carrying, and that he must have come to examine a space capsule found nearby, which the doctor does not argue with and explain that they are on the planet Vulcan. It is also noticed that he had a button very similar to those worn by the colonists.
Lesterson, a colony scientist is told by his assistant, Janley, that an examiner has arrived, which he states that he was not aware of. She asks him if she can hold her meeting there that evening and he agrees but warns her about what she is doing.
The Doctor is introduced to the Colony’s leader, Hensell, and is given free run of the place. The Doctor is told about the capsule which had been fished out of the Mercury swamps, where it had been for hundreds of years. The Doctor however is more interested in finding out who asked for the examiner to come to the colony, murdered him, and why he was murdered in the first place.
One of the men who rescues the Doctor from the surface, Quinn, is informed by Janley that he is missing a button, which makes him the first suspect to be the murderer of the examiner as the Doctor pulled a button from the person who attacked him which certainly looked as though Quinn could have been the one responsible.
Hensell, Quinn and Bragen the other man who rescued them from the surface take them to the lab where Lesterson and Janley are studying the capsule intently and the Doctor notices a piece of metal which is exactly like a piece he found in his jacket after he had regenerated, extremely conveniently at that point in the plot.
Lesterson asks for permission to open the capsule which they give him but after opening it they find it is empty. However the Doctor notices a thin opening in the capsule which no-one else seems to notice. He decides to not let them go any further at the moment and Hensell accuses Lesterson of sending for the examiner, but Lesterson insists that he didn’t as why would he want to jeaopardise his project, which does seem like a decent point to make under the circumstances.
Under the cover of darkness the Doctor secretly (well not so secretly that Ben and Polly didn’t notice and decide to follow him anyway) enters the capsule and uses the opening that he had noticed to discover an inner chamber which, to his shock, but not to the audience given the title of the story, contains two apparently dormant Daleks but an indication that there should have been three, which he assumes must be around somewhere. Polly screams as a creature scurries over the floor. The Doctor now has another mystery to unravel other than the murder of the examiner: where is the other Dalek, what are they doing, with and do they realise what they are dealing with?
Only time would tell.
I thought this was a good start to the new Doctor’s era. We had an event which bought them straight into the story and build up nicely to a cliffhanger which, though effective, was not as surprising as it could have been but was still a decent way to end the episode. Patrick Troughton is excellent as the Doctor and is very much his own person, most unlike Hartnell characterisation. Ben and Polly are not sure what to make of the new Doctor and we don’t really know about the other characters by the end of the episode, other than Janley (who appears to be the only female in the colony) is a member of an underground organisation, Quinn might be the person who murdered the examiner and knocked the Doctor out, and that Lesterson knows a lot more about the capsule than he is letting on.