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Yes, the Evil One does eat babies...jelly babies, that is!
on February 3, 2004
When Leela, a young huntress of the Sevateem tribe first encounters the Doctor, she calls him "the evil one" to which the Doctor disarmingly says, "Well, nobody's perfect, but that's overstating it a little. Would you like a jelly baby?"
So begins his association with one of his most memorable companions, she of the chamois leather outfit, leaving her arms and legs bare, but don't mess with her, as she knows how to use a knife and Janis thorns, weapons that paralyze, then kill.
Leela has been banished from the Sevateem for saying that their god Xoanon, doesn't exist. However, that's not all going on with the tribe. There's a power struggle going between Neeva, the shaman who claims personal contact with Xoanon, and Calib, whose belief is tenuous, but wants nothing more than to have Neeva exposed as a fraud and charlatan. The Sevateem want to liberate Xoanon from the Tesh, their sworn enemies who live beyond the wall in a mountain, however, the Evil One's invisible energy creatures prevent anything from happening.
The Doctor and Leela go to the mountain, where he says, "I must have made quite an impression," for he sees his own face carved on the mountainside like Mount Rushmore. Trouble is, he can't remember when he first came to the planet. Also, the voice of Xoanon is his own! But does Xoanon have all his marbles? At one point, it says "At last us... you, me, us, we... at last I shall be free of us!" When the Doctor asks Xoanon who he is, Xoanon asks back "Don't I know?"
Paradise comes from the Avestan (ancient Persian) word meaning "walled-in enclosure." In that vein, Leela says of Xoanon, "he dwells within the black wall wherein lies paradise." This draws on the theme of an ideal place made safe from evil by a wall.
Many praiseworthy lines come in from the Doctor. "Answers are easy. It's asking the right questions which is hard." and "The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don't alter their views to fit the facts. They alter the facts to fit their views." And in an exchange regarding faith and logic, Neeva says "We start getting proof and we stop believing." Tomas replies, "With proof, you don't have to believe."
Louise Jameson's debut as Leela is impressive here and throughout the other eight stories she comes out in. Despite the Doctor telling her off for killing people, even in self-defense, it has to be said that she saves the Doctor's life that way in this story and in those to come. After all, she's using her huntress's instinct. I'd have her as my minder anyday.
Of the supporting actors, David Garfield (Neeva) stands out. His attempts to exorcise the Doctor, whom he thinks is the Evil One, is one of the kitschy moments of the series. And his battle hat is indeed fetching, as it's a cricket glove with some odds and ends attached.
The original title The Day God Went Mad is more apropos, as the Doctor has to deal with an omniscient computer with schizophrenia. However, it was changed to The Face To Evil to ward off any potential religious objections. The ideas are creative, but the production values, such as the Sevateem's forest and a spaceship's corridors aren't much to shout home about, and only a few characters (Leela, Neeva, Tomas) stand out.