The Mara may be somewhat malevolent, but it’s clearly only as effective as the person it currently occupies. So maybe Aris wasn’t possibly the right person to jump into (had it chosen Hindle, no doubt the world of the Kinda would have ended up as a smoking ruin in double-quick time).
Although the possessed Aris talks a good fight (“The Not-we must be driven out and their dome destroyed!”) it’s plain that he doesn’t have a clue how to achieve this. His solution – to build a fighting machine out of wood – makes this plain. This is another part of the story which some have found fault with in the past, but it makes complete sense – Aris is operating strictly under his own terms of reference. The Mara may possess him, but apart from granting him the gift of voice it doesn’t seem able to furnish him with any insight or knowledge.
Meanwhile back at the Dome, Hindle hasn’t got any saner. When the Doctor returns, he’s told by Sanders that they’ve been having fun. Davison’s delivery of the line “Have you? Oh, good. There’s nothing quite like it, is there?” is immaculate.
Hindle’s madness culminates in one of Simon Rouse’s signature moments (one of many throughout the four episodes). After the Doctor inadvertently breaks one of his cardboard figures, Hindle is inconsolable. Sanders tells him that it can be repaired with a spot of glue, but Hindle thinks otherwise. “You can’t mend people, can you.”
The DVD production subtitles then help to explain why (as Hindle lunges for the destruct button) the Doctor wraps his hands around Hindle’s mouth (in the original script, Hindle was going to issue a verbal command to one of his pliant Kinda servants). Quite why they didn’t change this I’m not sure, but it doesn’t really matter as it makes the melee rather messy (as it should be – the Doctor shouldn’t be that good a fighter).
The Box of Jhana then becomes a healing device (which it hadn’t previously). Once Hindle opens it, the balance of his mind is restored (an “everyone lives” moment of redemption which the original series didn’t often tend to in go for). This again poses some unanswered questions though – if Hindle had been sane, would the box have driven him mad? And since the effect on Sanders was only temporary (by the end of the story he’s quite his old self too) why didn’t the missing members of the team regain their senses? Or maybe they did, and they’re still wandering dazedly around the forest, hopelessly lost.
This final installment is where the wheels (of life, sorry) start to come off slightly. The fact the episode was underrunning somewhat meant that several filler scenes had to be shot later and inserted into the completed material. They’re not a bad fit, but the sight of Adric and Tegan standing in a corridor talking isn’t terribly dramatic.
During S18 Christopher H. Bidmead was ruthless in cutting any flab out of the scripts, meaning that often they didn’t get much beyond twenty minutes. But possibly that was more acceptable for a Saturday timeslot (where traditionally programmes had never started on the hour or half-hour) than for weekdays (where they always tended to).
We then have the appearance of the snake. I don’t think it’s that bad, although giving Matthew Waterhouse the line of wonder (“It’s fantastic. Where does it draw its energy from? It’s incredible.”) doesn’t help. If you want someone to sell a slightly dodgy effect, then Mr Waterhouse might not have been the best choice.
Provided you can disregard some of the production missteps (and if you can’t, then Doctor Who 1963 – 1989 really isn’t the show for you), Kinda is impressive stuff. It may have nonplussed many younger fans (and possibly the rest of the audience) back in 1982, but it’s a story that’s only got better with age. I’d certainly take it over the whizz-bang antics of Earthshock any day.