Roots: Invoking various religions, the Gods claim to have been Greek, Norse and Roman gods, including Mars and Ares. There are references to the New York Ranger, the Evening Standard, Play School, Volkswagen Beetles, Dixon of Dock Green, the National Scandal, "The Hallelujah Chorus", Films in Focus, the Bulldog, Robert Kennedy's assassination, NBC, The Voyeur, and Greek mythology (a Hydra and a Minotaur appear on the Gods homeworld).
Goofs: Dodo's predicament when she enters the TARDIS contradicts The Massacre [the implication is that she lies because she isn't ready to tell anyone about the obviously alien Joseph].
It is implied that the first Doctor has two hearts, which flatly contradicts The Man in the Velvet Mask, and possibly also The Sensorites.
Dialogue Triumphs: "Yes, yes, there are some evil creatures in this universe, and they must be fought. But how can we fight them without knowledge, hmm? Knowledge, my friend. To be afraid of that is a terrible thing indeed, don't you think?"
Continuity: The unnamed aliens have no physical form and can adopt human forms. They are shaped by the beliefs of other beings; on Earth, the belief of humans affects not only their appearance, but also their minds and personalities. The Doctor hypothesizes that in their true form they are virtually mindless. Their true forms are ghost-like and gossamer. They are unsure of their own origins once they become Gods. Two groups of them traveled to Earth, but one crashed: of this group, one of them was injured during the crash and is believed dead by the US military; it dies during an autopsy. The five members of the other group form the Latter-Day Pantheon, adopting the identities of Norman (the God of Order), Max (the God of Materialism), Dennis (the God of War), Jennifer (the Goddess of Free Love), and the Patriarch, their leader. The Patriarch tries to name Joseph Damien, God of Vengeance, but he prefers Joseph, God of Peace. They believe that killing is wrong, but are prepared to do so in order to protect their mission to save mankind. They can fly, even whilst in human form. They can immolate humans with a wave of their hand. They can also instantly heal wounds. Their spaceships are grey and egg-shaped and apparently organic; the one that crashes starts to dissolve when it is abandoned; they apparently create these spaceships whenever a whim to travel enters their limited thoughts. The Doctor doubts that anything can truly, physically destroy them, but humanity's belief that the military can destroy them convinces the Gods to flee back to their home.
The Doctor carries a quill pen, which he claims once belonged to Shakespeare; he gives it to a taxi driver in lieu of money. Dodo reminds him of Susan. He claims that General Marchant wouldn't be able to pronounce even the first syllable of his real name. The Patriarch's fireball singes his clothes and hair, but because he doesn't believe the God has the power to kill him, he is unharmed.
There is still some tension between the Doctor and Steven following the events of The Massacre, since Steven is still angry that the Doctor left Anne Chaplet to die. He doesn't really share the Doctor's belief that her surname is proof that Anne survived the massacre. He only returned to the TARDIS because he was afraid of trying to survive alone in twentieth century London, but is still determined to leave the Doctor and find a home. Steven visited the ruins of New York in his own time, after the Daleks destroyed it during the twenty-second century (see The Dalek Invasion of Earth, The Chase). He doesn't have a key to the TARDIS [presumably the Doctor never got around to giving him the key he intended to in The Empire of Glass]. He became a pilot because he wanted to affect social change, and ended up flying a battleship built from modified Dalek designs in a series of wars between Earth and its colonies and various alien species. He once had shore leave on the colony world of Roylus Prime, after the uprising there had been quelled and saw a soldier clubbing a woman with the butt of a standard issue laser rifle and fracturing her skull because she didn't move off the street fast enough; her death made him believe that he had been fighting for the wrong side, and he still dreams about her because he feels guilty for not trying to intervene. He vowed not to let anyone else suffer if he could help it and successfully pursued a case against the soldier in question, but lost the trust of his comrades and any hope of promotion in the process. A mugger stabs him in the belly in New York, but Norman heals him. He sees what the Gods offer as a way to ensure that nobody will ever suffer again and agrees to help them, despite knowing that he will change his own history, until the Doctor convinces him of their true nature.
Dodo's mother died three years before Dodo wandered into the TARDIS. Her parents once took her to Florida, which she remembers as being "the most thrilling week of her life." Her great-aunt, who looked after her when her mother died and her father was possibly institutionalized, is called Margaret and is a strict disciplinarian, determined to teach Dodo manners. Dodo's father has apparently died since. She got the nickname Dodo at secondary school. She has a friend named Janet who once compared her to Lisa Tushingham. Dodo listens to John Smith and the Common Men (An Unearthly Child), but thinks that they are "a bit past it". Her classmates include Shari Reynolds. Every Thursday afternoon, Dodo does the shopping for elderly neighbour Mr. Miller; he is murdered by the alien entity that assumes his shape and decides to call itself Joseph. Joseph keeps Dodo captive in Mr. Miller's house for several days, and tries to force himself on her because he believes that this is how humans normally show affection. She is fleeing from Joseph when she finds the TARDIS. Consistent with her surprise that the TARDIS has traveled in time in The Ark, she only travels in space on board it here. The TARDIS apparently provides her new outfit, a neat black dress with pleated skirt. She is later nearly persuaded to marry Joseph when he takes her to his homeworld and creates a fairytale reality for her.
The events in New York in 1965 are described in E. Coren's About Faith: Sociological & Psychological Aspects of Religion, published in 1980 by Croswell Educational Books; and Alexander Lullington-Smythe's How I Saved the World, published in 1976 by Aphrodite Ltd. The latter is discredited in 1978, but is nevertheless adapted into a screenplay for the film Prey for a Miracle; the Doctor's character in the film is played by Peter Cushing and is called "Doctor Who" [a reference, of course, to the Peter Cushing Dalek movies Dr. Who and the Daleks and Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150AD. Wonder Comics bases a comic book on the Gods when they start to become famous in 1965.
Links: Steven recalls crashing on Mechanus and his stuffed panda Hi-Fi (The Chase). Marchant has seen evidence of "metal monsters in Shoreditch" (Remembrance of the Daleks) and "strange goings on at Corman in Nevada" (First Frontier). The Doctor mentions Daleks and Tzun (First Frontier). The Gods accuse him of championing Greece (The Myth Makers) but let the French be massacred (The Massacre), burning Rome (The Romans) but sabotaging Barbara's attempt to save the Aztecs (The Aztecs), and causing the deaths of Rebecca Nurse (The Witch Hunters) and Katarina (The Daleks' Master Plan). There are references to Susan's departure (The Dalek Invasion of Earth), and Cybermen. The Doctor notes that his body is "wearing a bit thin", foreshadowing The Tenth Planet.
Location: Wimbledon, London and New York City, March and April 1965.
The Bottom Line: 'We have come here, to help.' Well-written but oddly forgettable. The moral of the story is rather heavily hammered home (a Lyons trait), but for the most part Salvation does at least succeed in its well-meaning attempt to provide some interesting characterization for Dodo and Steven.