So, here we are with the Brigadier’s last appearance on Doctor Who. Now, the character as played by Nicholas Courtney did reappear on the Sarah Jane Adventures spin-off series, and he was referenced plenty of times on the new show as well as in various other media, but this was it for the original, classic series.
And I think they did right by him this time.
The Brigadier has always been something of an oddity on Doctor Who. He was a friend to the Doctor, appearing in more episodes than any other supporting character, but he was never quite a companion. The Doctor trusted him, though only so far as the Brigadier was more of a military man and the Doctor as a rule has little patience for those types. True, they both earned each other’s respect over time, and he’s an important part of Who lore, but he occupies a unique position on the show.
And through it all, he was always played by the same actor. I don’t think any other supporting character that wasn’t a companion can claim that. Besides, the companion to appear in the most episodes was Jamie, and the Brigadier still appeared in more episodes.
That said, this may be the first time he was actually outright heroic. Brave? Sure. But more often than not, UNIT’s personnel and the Brigadier were only so-so effective against whatever threat they needed the Doctor to defeat.
Not this time. The Doctor’s joke about needing silver bullets was taken seriously by the Brigadier. And when Morgaine got Excalibur, a move Ace made when it was turn it over or die, there really was only one thing to do: follow Morgaine and the Destroyer of Worlds to her lair and fix things. And it turns out, silver is the Destroyer’s weakness, and when Ace brings the ammo, the Brigadier knocks out the Doctor and then goes in and unloads on the thing while tossing off the badass line of “Get off my world.” Sure, he says it in a rather upperclass sort of way, but he still said it. And why him? Because the Doctor is less expendable than he is.
Granted, that was why the Doctor wasn’t upset that Ace gave up the sword since there’s only one Ace, but it was still a good moment. In the past, the Brigadier just about never got to take out anything more than an underling while the Doctor handled…whatever. This time, not only did his weapons work, but he took out a major threat.
As for the other major threat, Morgaine and Mordred took over the nuke Bambera was delivering and were gonna just set the thing off when the Doctor showed up and essentially talked Morgaine out of it because there was no honor in nuclear war. And…that worked. UNIT arrested the two of them, and everyone went back to the Brigadier’s home to relax in his garden.
Well, the men did. Ace, Bambera, Ace’s friend whose name I never mentioned, and the Brigaider’s wife Doris decided to take Bessie off for a girls’ day in town.
What an odd foursome.
Anyway, good start for the final season. And good ending for the Brigaider. What’s next?