I’m happy to see a ship in the bottle episode in the TARDIS. Last season’s Doctor’s Wife was more psychological while this was more action oriented I thought. It is the one type of episode that could easily be stretched out into a multiple episodes and I wouldn’t bat an eye since Doctor Who has been around for 50 years and after 900 years the Doctor must have an metric ton worth of baggage and possibly even a stowaway civilization on board.
The set designers pull off some nice rooms: the observatory, the aforementioned pool, the library, a giant tree that can manufacture anything you want and the TARDIS’s engine room which impressed me more than her center.
Unfortunately, it’s the leaps in logic that’s making me re-watch the last five minutes and I’m starting to agree with my mother: Is this half of the season sucking.
The episode is fairly straight forward: the Doctor tries to teach Clara to fly the TARDIS and lowers the shields to ease her into it until a salvage ship picks them up and in doing so sends the TARDIS so much out of whack the Cloister Bell starts a ringin’ and the Cause and Effect portion of the episode begins.
Cause and Effect is named after the Star Trek: TNG episode of the same name when the Enterprise and her crew are stuck in a temporal loop and every single act the Enterprise t-bones an oncoming ship and blows up. Different things happen but with the same effect, camera angles change just enough, characters learn or forget and a remnant from the previous loop appears in the nick of time.
Only in a science fiction show involving ships can this type of trope happen and Doctor Who uses all of them: characters walking out of frame down a corridor only to coming back into frame from the opposite side having not moved. Shifting rooms. Oh, and the past and future looping around each other. Burnt creatures that are filmed rather well with the hurky jerky camera angles and filters.
The Doctor and Clara being separated means the introduction of the three bother salvage team begins. As much as I like the supposed family dynamic and aside from one brother having had an accident requiring cybernetic eyes and a new voice box everyone is interchangeable. I think having a mother with her two sons would have been better than just three sons.
Clara stumbling across the library is probably one of the better moments of the episode because it’s a call back earlier episodes with River Song’s baby rocker and to the reason why the Doctor is a alone: Time War. Yep. Those lovely two words that brought an end to Tennent’s run that was handle so well it raised the Doctor Who mythos up a peg in my book that they haven’t reached since.
One of the tropes that Moffat’s seasons have relied on has been time and the use of it. While this trope of science fiction is old and worn out it’s the use of a the reset button or in this episode’s case: big friendly button that I have a problem with. Forty minutes of lead up to drop the ball five minutes before the end just makes no sense.
I think the whole River Song debacle has caused the the writers set this whole: who is Clara? plot a little lower this season. And in doing so they’re making this season more episodic in nature. I don’t mind episodic. I think I’m missing the plot threads to the Who is John Saxon/Bad Wolf/TARDIS go boom/Donna Noble can’t remember/Amy baby maybe-type of recurring plot that is not grabbing me this half of the season.
It’s information on this Great Intelligence plot I’m yearning for because I want to know more about this enemy and so far I’m getting zilch. I shouldn’t have to wikipedia a Doctor Who villain to figure out who/what/when/why I should care.
Can we just recast The Master and be done with it?
Or just bring back the Time Lords?
I realize the Neil Gaiman episode of the Cybermen isn’t for another two weeks but some mythology episodes wouldn’t kill it for us.
Good news is the Lizard Woman from the dawn of time, her wife and the Sontaran Nurse re-appear next week. Yay!