This was the last official appearance of Victoria Waterfield on Doctor Who. She somewhat accidentally saves the day here, but this serial did something that a lot of other serials haven’t done when it comes to a companion’s departure.
They actually built up to it over multiple episodes.
So, to finish off the plot, Jamie and the Doctor do manage to rescue Victoria from the seaweed zombies, in part because Victoria has been accidentally saving herself from these things all along. There’s a good reason they never got her despite multiple efforts, and the Doctor finally realizes what that is in time to get her and Jamie away from the way station and then onto a helicopter to fly back.
If you thought this show would go without this Doctor piloting a helicopter, man, you must be new.
So, what was the secret weapon? What did Victoria have that no one else could quite pull off?
Simple: the seaweed was vulnerable to certain high pitched sounds, and Victoria supplied some every time she got scared and started screaming. Since that happened pretty much every time the seaweed came after her before finally sending Robson to clamp a hand over her mouth when her back was turned, she kept warding off the seaweed. She even cured the one seaweed zombie that Jamie got in a fistfight with. So, really, getting a recording of her screams, sending them through special speakers, and then blasting the sound through the gas pipes drove away or destroyed the seaweed and cured all the seaweed zombies.
Yes, no humans died in this serial. Even Robson is a jollier man once he’s back to normal.
But then Victoria basically decides she doesn’t want to travel with the Doctor anymore. It’s too stressful and frightening. The Harrises let her stay with them in what was then present day England, about a century after she was born, and Jamie for one really wishes she wouldn’t. The last line of the episode, as Victoria waves a goodbye and the TARDIS fades away, is the Doctor confiding to Jamie that he was fond of her too.
Now, given how many serials I probably missed with Victoria in them, I can’t say I have a good grasp on the character, but I did like the way the series built to her departure. I’ve seen many companion departure episodes, and even some of the good ones are awfully sudden. A serial will end, and a companion will either A) opt to stay behind for some reason or B) something will suddenly happen that might force the issue. Many of these departures still work. Tegan’s declaration that traveling with the Doctor wasn’t fun anymore after a brutal Dalek storyline or Sarah Jane finally having enough of the Doctor’s disconnectedness were both powerful moments, and they weren’t exactly telegraphed much unless you consider Sarah Jane was always like that. Then there’s, say, Ian and Barbara lucking out with a path back to their own time as the end of their particular journey. About the only time I think there was that much foreshadowing off the top of my head was when Susan was the first companion to go, and there were moments that made it clear she was falling for the rebel leader that her grandfather ended up leaving her with.
But then there’s Victoria who had a moment in at least four episodes of her last six part serial got to express how much the stress and fright of traveling with the Doctor was wearing her out. This didn’t come out of nowhere, and unlike some cases, like Clara for the current series, there’s no sense that she’ll just change her mind and be back for the next serial after all.
Besides, the next serial introduced Zoe, the companion from the future who would hang around until the end of the Second Doctor’s tenure.
So, it was a nice change of pace to really let the audience know it was coming. I have a couple more Second Doctor recreations in the wings, so I am hoping I see more of Victoria again, but for now, well, that’s it for her.