OK, first off, I’m sorry that this one took so long, I’ve been really busy over the weekend; and this is still going to be quite a short review, but I am so glad that I have Tuesday evenings off, because, oh my God, I LOVE THIS.
What Chris Chibnall, this week’s guest writer, has created here is brilliant. It is funny, clever, with great comedic moments as well as serious undertones, and just that bit of heartbreaking emotion that makes you smile sadly and want to give the Doctor a hug. The script and the dialogue are incredibly tight, fast-paced, and everything slots together perfectly. With that many supporting characters, and dividing them into teams, it can be difficult to keep track of them and give each of them enough material in the space of 45 minutes, and this one worked out very, very well; while also being one great adventure. In short, it’s a romp.
I just got finished watching, and I am practically on a high right now, which hasn’t happened in a while after watching an episode, not even in Series 6, which I loved to bits. This was truly exhilirating, and the characters were amazing. I mean, Rory’s dad? Wonderful! We’re riding on the back of a triceteratops, in space, playing fetch with it! Flying a spaceship! No big deal! It’d be a big fat lie if I said I wasn’t clapping my hands and squealing in delight, because: being magnificent, you’re doing it right.
The Doctor’s companions are always resourceful and quick on their feet, but this episode has done an especially great job at showcasing it. Of course they pick up how stuff works—Amy’s got the board computer skills the way Rory keeps an eye out for cool nursing supplies. Oh, and inventive threats:
Rory: “I will take you apart cog by cog and melt you down when this is all over!”
Robot: “Ooh, I’m so scared! (beat) Actually, I might be. A little bit of oil just came out.”
Really, I just want to quote half the episode at you, because, ugh, all those brilliant one-liners! The Doctor, so quirky and dark at the same time, Chris Chibnall, I may have knocked your stuff in the past, but I am offering you the last of my Cheerios right now!
Things to take away from this episode:
- Never mess with Egyptian queens, it doesn’t pay.
- Never, ever incur the Doctor’s wrath by treating creatures of the universe like objects to be traded, it will get you killed. This is one of those moments that quietly display the dark side of the Time Lord. What Solomon did to the Silurians was disgusting and beyond cruel, it was genocide—and the Doctor leaves him on his ship, to be killed by the advancing missiles, with a cold smile. The Tenth Doctor once offered Davros to come aboard the TARDIS to escape the flames, in Journey’s End. Eleven might be too far gone; and this is where this episode brilliantly mixes the adrenaline rush of a great escape with the chilling knowledge that this man is not just a goody-two-shoes with a bow tie and a Sonic Screwdriver.
- Just this once, the Doctor might have a chance of his companions outliving him, and it breaks his hearts that Amy fears otherwise, and that her fears might come true.
Mark Williams is perfect as Rory’s dad, the only glitch being that, for the first time in a while, the addition of a character wasn’t planned two series in advance: apparently, Brian wasn’t at Rory’s wedding, or he would have remembered the Doctor—after all, the good Gallifreyan danced with everyone, even though the men were a bit shy. Ah, well, let’s let that one slide, shall we, I’m having too much fun. The way Brian quickly adapts to what’s going on is much like Rory’s on-going pragmatism, and at the same time he displays a sense of wonder and excitement that’s quite the gem. Just… sitting in the door of the TARDIS, cuppa tea, sandwich, just watching the Earth below. Marvelling at the universe, at the planet we inhabit, is what Doctor Who loves best, and that simple moment just makes me very, very happy.
Also, let’s appreciate for a moment that Who finally made a joke about balls. Let’s just… yeah.
Let us furthermore appreciate that Amy, Nefertiti, and Riddell make a great team—Riddell, chauvinist idiot that you are, we’ll make a decent bloke of you yet. Amy and Nefertiti: BAMF status confirmed, a hundred times over. The Doctor makes no move to save Nefertiti on Solomon’s ship, because he knows she can easily overpower the man herself—and she does, within the blink of an eye. She decides her own fate, even if that means sacrificing herself to save the others when Solomon demands her as bounty and the Doctor refuses. A great woman, and a great queen, and the Doctor is a better man for having met her; Riddell even more so.
Rupert Graves on the TARDIS. I’m just going to bask in the thought of that for a minute.
David Mitchell and Robert Webb as two sliiiigthly camp robots. Webb said on twitter, they weren’t written that way, it just happened. As you do, when voicing robots on Doctor Who. It just does.
Sadly, this is all I have time for, but I hope I’ve done the episode justice. Onwards!
Next: A Town Called Mercy.