Spoilers might eat the wiring.
Some of the best adventures of the Doctor happen when he’s caged in somewhere with something about to explode. This is where we’re going this week. After an accident with a sonic mine, Team TARDIS ends up inside a hospital ship. They’re not the sole addition. An alien creature called a Pting has managed to penetrate the hull and has started to literally eat the ship. With a sick war hero, her engineer brother and a pregnant man onboard, the Doctor has to make sure they reach the next space station, which might just decide to vaporize them before they get there.
You’ve seen this model before in Doctor Who countless times. Here’s where I think it applies as glue to a breach that much needs it. We need to see the new Doctor, the new team and specially the new showrunners handling a classic Doctor Who episode and I think we got something very close to it this week. Yes, essentially you could call it filler, but it’s also a very grounding episode. Nobody can leave the ship, the Doctor loses the TARDIS again, and the show is forced to function within the same location with impending doom counting down.
I think it works. I think we needed an episode like this to see the new team (both on screen and off) handle a typical episode and see if they can build the suspense enough to make it entertaining. Call it filler if you want, but I needed a solid story like this even if it looks like something we’ve seen before.
Highs, lows and Ptings:
- The Doctor gets caged into a situation that seems out of her control, but it very much is. It’s funny to me that the Doctor is trying to explain the problem like a medical issue that in need of a solution. This feels a lot more like troubleshooting to me.
- I liked the story about General Eve Cicero and her brother Dorcas. He thinks she’s a control freak, she doubts he’s a good engineer. He resents her sister’s android, Ronan. She keeps the real nature of her sickness from her brother. These characters not only felt natural, the actors were good in their roles.
- Mabli’s story needed a moment – a moment in which her skills as put to the test and she falters but overcomes it in the end. She deserved her mini hero’s journey if you please. She had it all but in climatic ending and I feel it would’ve been so easy to spare a minute and give the character that.
- The Pting being a terrible monster but looking adorable was also a classic Doctor Who trope. That kinda defused the suspense a little too often.
- Yoss, the pregnant man. We’re supposedly subverting the usual trope, except that we’re not. He feels insecure to be a father, and we learn through a “casual” (a bit forced) convo between Yaz and Ryan that his dad abandoned him and his mother. It’s obviously a setup for him to tell Yoss later not to abandon his child. The pregnancy gives Graham and Ryan something to do, but it’s the usual comedy moment about guys not knowing what to do.
- If you really wanted to break new ground, you could have changed the pregnancy storyline to an abortion. Now that would’ve been controversial.
- You probably saw this one coming, but the usual way that writers solve a story with two huge threats is to make one the solution to the other. Yeah, saw this one coming, couldn’t help it.
- I know it feels like filler, but it also felt like the classic episode done anew, and think it was overall a plus and a grounding episode that the show needed. What it needs now is to start the mystery wheels turning and start planting the seeds for the big bad that the Doctor should have to face by the end of the season.
That will do for now.