Ah, now this is the Second-Doctor-announcing-himself story I was after! We now know what to expect of him: unpredictability. He bounces around and always stays one step ahead of the audience, but two steps ahead of the other characters. His character will veer wildly from one extreme to another, just to keep everyone on their toes, and he breezes through the plot with the viewer in his slipstream. He’s brilliant, and he’s everything I believe The Doctor *should* be.
That said, he does seems to have a penchant for guns all of a sudden, which I’m going to chalk up to an attempt to make him as different from Hartnell’s incarnation as possible. On the plus side, he also suddenly loves a good disguise, popping up throughout the story as a German doctor, an old maid and an English soldier. Sometimes it’s for important plot reasons, sometimes it’s just for the lols. Either way, I approve.
And the great thing about this era of the show is that all the characters are pretty well defined. Ben has always been great, but Polly seems to take a level in badass during this story – getting her hands dirty, blackmailing some poncey soldier, and bemoaning the role of women in a patriarchal society. She’s great.
This, combined with Ben’s quick wit and military skills, means that all three characters are capable of sustaining plot threads by themselves, which in turns allows more intricate and compelling stories to be told. They can all split off and enact individual parts of a plan, and none of them feel like they’re in the B team. As such, The Highlanders zips along with such gusto that it almost feels like they wrote off historical stories a bit too hastily – this is the last of its ilk.
Of course, this excellent dynamic within the TARDIS team makes it a curious decision to add a third companion, for the first time since Ian and Barbara’s double exit. I love Jamie, obvs, but I fear that he’ll cross over with Ben a little too much – with the Doctor no longer a frail old man, you don’t really need two strapping young lads to do the legwork. I’ve no idea how long Ben and Polly will be around for, but I hope they’re not gone too soon. Here’s hoping they can make the sausage fest work…