The Doctor’s meeting with Dojjen is this episode’s key scene. Dojjen explains exactly how the Mara can be vanquished – the Doctor needs to find the still point. “The still point is within yourself, nowhere else. To destroy the Mara you must find the still point”.
Earlier we were told that Dojjen had set off for the hills some ten years earlier to prepare for the day that the Mara would return. Given this, why didn’t he go back with the Doctor? Presumably he was confident that the Doctor was the right man for the job (and it also saved having to pay Preston Lockwood to appear in the studio scenes).
Although this episode was subject to some considerable editing, particularly at the end, the ceremonial section drags somewhat (even though it was originally much longer too). This is not necessarily a criticism though – the ceremony should be somewhat tedious and formal and the longer it’s dragged out, the more tension is created.
Eventually we get some acknowledgement from the Doctor that he’s concerned about Tegan. When mentally conversing with Dojjen, his priorities are saving Tegan first and destroying the Mara second.
Janet Fielding sits out a portion of this episode, as she did in the previous one. With Lon acting as the main conduit for the Mara’s plotting since the start of episode three, Tegan was left with little to do except pop up occasionally to menace the unfortunate showman Dugdale (Brian Miller). But she does get a nice scene at the end of this episode, pleading with the Doctor to help her. “Help me, Doctor. What’s happening to me? Please, look at me, Doctor. I need your help”.
But the Doctor know this isn’t Tegan – it’s still the Mara speaking through her – so continues to press until (apparently) the Mara is destroyed once and for all. The story ends with a distraught Tegan being comforted by the Doctor (a rare example of Davison’s Doctor having a brief moment of physical contact with one of his companions). Sadly, this moment is rather curtailed due to the overrunning issues – which is why it was decided to carry the discussion about the demise of the Mara into the first few minutes of the following story, Mawdryn Undead.
Snakedance is a slightly more conventional and a little less compelling story than Kinda, but it’s still full of interest. It has a stagey and unreal feel at times – for example, both the cave interior and exterior don’t look at all convincing – but it’s the story concepts (the notion that evil is contained within us all) and the performances which matter the most. Unlike the Great Crystal, Snakedance has a somewhat flawed beauty, but a beauty nonetheless.