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Some Thoughts on “Doctor Who: The Eaters of Light” *Contains Spoilers*

Before I get into the latest episode, I have to freak out about the trailer for next week’s episode before I explode.

AAAAHHHH, MONDASIAN CYBERMEN!!!!!! AAAAAAAAHHHHH, JOHN SIMM!!!!!!! WE’RE GONNA HAVE TWO MASTERS SHARING THE SCREEN, AAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

There, that’s better.

Okay, so we’ve got Picts and Romans facing off in “The Eaters of Light” as well as a wasted opportunity to see the Twelfth Doctor in Pictish war paint (Nardole indulges himself, though). Bill accomplishes her mission of finding the missing Ninth Roman Legion, but she, the Doctor, and Nardole also encountered the titular Eaters of Light. The Picts had warriors whose lifelong mission was to defend a transdimensional portal that allowed the Eaters to enter our world, but Kar, the latest Gatekeeper, decided to let an Eater through the portal with the hope that it would destroy the Roman army threatening their land (and figuring the army itself could kill the Eater). But although the Eater destroyed the army, the army was not strong enough to destroy the Eater, and now Romans and Picts alike–heck, the entire world!–are in danger.

This episode was written by Rona Munro, who wrote the last-ever Classic Who episode “Survival” with the Seventh Doctor and Ace. To date, this is the only time a writer has contributed to both old and nuWho, which I think is completely awesome, and they need to do more of it in the future. Since the Master also appeared in “Survival”, this may explain why Missy felt more like a classic Master than in other episodes.

Speaking of Missy, I am so glad the Doctor is not blindly trusting her. I know he wants his friend back, but Missy’s done so much evil that he knows he can’t blindly trust her. We’ve thought we could trust her before, and it turns out it was all part of some clever scheme. Missy’s got to try extra hard to prove herself, which is probably what leads into next week’s episode (where we see the Doctor leave Missy in charge of an adventure with Bill and Nardole to help her).

“World Enough and Time” is the first half of the two-part season finale, and can you believe it’s time for the finale already? I still don’t think I’m ready for Capaldi to leave…but I am definitely stoked about the Mondasian Cybermen and John Simm’s return–complete with a Master goatee! It will be interesting to see two different versions of the Master interacting with each other, more importantly to see how this affects Missy. Will she abandon her quest to become good, or will she ultimately prove to the Doctor that she can change? Time will tell, I guess!

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Some Thoughts on “Doctor Who: Empress of Mars” *Contains Spoilers*

Before I launch into the review, I have a rant to get off my chest. *Inhales deeply* WHY DOES BBC AMERICA NEVER SHOW THE “NEXT TIME” TRAILERS!? WHY DOES IT NEVER DO ANYTHING RIGHT!? YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO SHOW THE TRAILER FOR THE NEXT EPISODE AND NOT SOME PROMO FOR THE SHOW THAT’S ON NEXT! YOU HAVE DUTIES TO THE AMERICAN WHOVIANS! WE HAVE RIGHTS! ARE YOU TRYING TO PUNISH US FOR THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION!? WE WILL NOT BE SILENT!

Okay, I feel better now. Anyway, “Empress of Mars” is Mark Gatiss’s first episode since last season’s disappointly dull “Sleep No More”, and he totally made up for it. The Doctor, Bill, and Nardole discover that “God save the Queen” was spelled out on Mars circa 1881, so naturally they have to investigate what happened. It turns out they find a troop of British soldiers who came to Mars via the crashed spaceship of an Ice Warrior. The Ice Warrior, whom they call Friday, promised them gems beyond their wildest imagination, but, alas, there are no gems to mine. But there is another reason Friday persuaded them to take him back to Mars–to resurrect Iraxxa, Empress of Mars.

I think this is by far one of the strongest Ice Warrior stories we’ve ever had. Even in Classic Who, we really just got stories of the mighty warriors they were of old. Here we actually got to see how deserving they were of their fearsome reputations. Plus, it makes their decision to pursue the ways of peace in “The Curse of Peladon” all the more interesting (and their reversion to war in “The Monster of Peladon” not all that surprising). And speaking of the Peladon stories, it was a thrill to see Alpha Centauri again.

I’m still not convinced of Missy’s goodness, and this week’s episode only strengthened my suspicions. I can’t help but suspect that she was the one who somehow caused the TARDIS to malfunction knowing that Nardole would seek her help when he was unable to fix it himself. Rule number one is the Doctor lies; rule number two is Moffat lies, and I’m pretty convinced that rule number 3 is the Master lies.

Next week, the Romans return in “The Eaters of Light”! They probably won’t be Nestene Romans, which means no chance of Nestene Rory, but I suppose we’ll make do.

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Some Thoughts on “Doctor Who: The Lie of the Land” *Contains Spoilers*

Last week, Bill made it possible for the Monks to invade Earth through a well-meant desire to restore the Doctor’s sight and allow him to escape from a laboratory that was about to explode. This week, we see the consequences of her agreement with the Monks–they’ve tricked the entire human race into thinking they’ve always been there (when it’s really only been about six months), and life is basically 1984 with aliens. To make matters worse, the Doctor is siding with the Monks, releasing videos to encourage the humans to keep submitting to the Monks’ authority and turn in anyone who dares to suggest the Monks are unfriendly invaders. It’s bleak, to be sure, but Bill and Nardole are able to save the Doctor, who now must seek help from the only person in the universe who’s as clever as he is–Missy.

It’s difficult to gauge for certain just how sincere Missy is in her declarations of wanting to be good because if there’s one thing we’ve learned in 53 years of Doctor Who, it’s that you can never trust the Master. Never. No matter how sincere the words or actions, you always have to assume the Master is looking out for numero uno. Considering all this, it will be interesting to see how long Missy’s intentions of being good will last once she crosses paths with Simm Master later in the season.

I must say that was a brilliant fakeout with the regeneration scene. Way to freak us all out with the threat of a surprise regeneration halfway through the series, BBC–which reminds me, there’s still been no word on who will replace Peter Capaldi, and I kind of hope it stays that way. I’d love for the next Doctor to be a completely unexpected surprise.

Next week, we’re off to Mars in “Empress of Mars”! Yay, Ice Warriors! I’m so glad Moffat decided not just to bring them back but to make them recurring villains as well. Classic Who had so many good monsters that it’s nice to go back and revisit. Admittedly there were a few duds, but there were also some good ones, and the Ice Warriors were one of those good ones.

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Some Thoughts on “Doctor Who: The Pyramid at the End of the World” *Contains Spoilers*

I’m back at (more or less) my usual time! And, boy, was there a lot of stuff that happened in this week’s episode. And that cliffhanger! Ugh! A week feels like a long time to wait for a resolution.

We see the Doctor return in his role of President of the World when the UN comes to him (well, comes to Bill, actually, in the hopes she can persuade him) for help in dealing with the 5,000-year-old pyramid that appeared in the middle of a war zone overnight. It turns out that the Monks from last week’s episode have determined it was time to make their move in the invasion of the Earth, but they’re not invading in the usual way. They will not take over by force; they will assume control of the Earth only if they are asked. And the motivation must come from love, not from fear or strategy or anything else. This naturally doesn’t sit well with the Doctor, but hardly anyone listens to him–not even Bill, who is the one who ultimately makes the deal for the Monks to take over the Earth. They can have the world so long as they restore the Doctor’s sight.

I’ll be honest; I was a little disappointed in Bill for making the deal. Time and again she refuses to listen to the Doctor, and now the entire planet will pay for it. It’s sad to see just how little she trusts him, especially after everything they’ve already been through. Her stubbornness may well prove to be a point of contention between her and the Doctor in future episodes. Then again, she is more of a student-figure than we’ve seen in previous seasons, so a lot of this, too, plays into her learning curve. She must learn when to listen to the Doctor and when to make her own choices. Undoubtedly Bill will turn out stronger and wiser for this moment, but that doesn’t necessarily make it less disappointing at first.

Is it too early to put in a request for a new companion for the Thirteenth Doctor? Because I liked Erica, and I hope she gets to travel in the TARDIS either with this Doctor or the next one. She was cheerful and clever–even the Doctor thought so, and when the Doctor says someone is clever, there’s a good chance that’s true.

Just when I think I’ve accepted the fact that Capaldi is leaving, he goes and plays his guitar and does insightful monologues, and I get sad about his departure all over again. I’m going to miss our Doctor Disco. Maybe they’ll bring him back for the 60th anniversary special or something.

Next week, we see how Bill’s deal with the Monks has altered the rest of the world in “The Lie of the Land”. Missy’s back! We learn whether or not Nardole survived! And it looks as though we’ll get an answer for that regeneration scene shown in the trailers!

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Some Thoughts on “Doctor Who: Extremis” *Contains Spoilers*

First of all, I apologize for the lateness of this review. I usually watch Doctor Who on a site that streams TV shows from all over the world, but today the BBC feed decided to die smack in the middle of the episode, so I had to rewatch it on BBC America. Never come between me and my Doctor Who. Never. Grr…

As shown in the last week’s trailer, the Pope seeks the Doctor’s aid with the Veritas, a short document that drives everyone who reads it to kill themselves. The Vatican officials hope that the Doctor will be immune from this effect and be able to tell them exactly what it contains–it’s a document that’s older than the Church itself, and it clearly contains something important, but it’s hard to know what exactly that something is because everyone keeps dying! Needless to say, it’s not a truth that anyone is expecting.

We also get a subplot this week to showcase who is in the vault and why the Doctor is guarding it. Surprise, surprise–it’s Missy! Her criminal past has finally caught up with her, and she is held prisoner on Carnathon waiting for execution. According to the customs of that planet, she must die at the hands of another member of her species, and, of course, the only other Time Lord they can locate is the Doctor. Missy pleads for her life, begging the Doctor to teach her how to be good…and always willing to believe that his oldest friend can be redeemed, the Doctor chooses not to kill her, but he does vow to guard her in a quantum fold chamber for a thousand years. So there you have it, folks, the story of who is in the vault and why the Doctor is guarding it.

I have to admit, Moffat knows how to write a good twist when he sets his mind to it, and the Matrix vibes we got in this episode were pretty awesome. It truly was mind-bending, and you couldn’t help but feel sorry for the characters as they realized they weren’t real. Bill’s reaction was especially memorable, insisting to the last that she was real.

Nardole proved that he has really grown as a character, and we learned in part that it’s because River told him to keep the Doctor on the straight and narrow. Honestly, I think he’s had some of the best character development we’ve seen in nuWho (along with Mickey and Rory). It’s a shame that so many people seem to hate him; I rather like having him along, and it’s nice to see the Doctor have another male companion again. It changes the dynamic, yes, but sometimes it’s a welcome change.

As a Catholic, I feel it is my duty to point out the following two items:

  1. There was no secret female pope.
  2. There is no such thing as the Haereticum. We also don’t have the secret monster fighting laboratory that’s shown in Van Helsing, either, which does make me a little sad because I think that would be awesome. But, again, no Haereticum. Also, Van Helsing was a strange movie (but when you’ve got Wolverine and Faramir hunting vampires, can you really be surprised?).

This has been your Catholic Public Service Announcement.

The Doctor did make an interesting statement when he temporarily restored his vision, saying he was borrowing from the future and stating one of his future regenerations might be blind as a result. It will be interesting to see if they follow up with this in a future episode, but I imagine it will be several years before they do–if they even remember, that is.

Next week, the aliens running the simulations in “Extremis” move their plans into the real world in “The Pyramid at the End of the World”. The Doctor asks Missy for help! It looks as if UNIT is returning! The Doctor finally tells Bill he is blind! Lots of stuff is gearing up to happen!

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Some Thoughts on “Doctor Who: Oxygen” *Contains Spoilers*

We have a massive, massive mauve alert after this week’s episode, but I suppose I should go over the details of what happened in this week’s episode first. The Doctor may like to do things in timey-wimey order, but I think my reviews make more sense if I go linearly.

We start off we a lovely little tribute to Star Trek (“Space…the final frontier. It’s final because it’s trying to kill you.”) that probably would have made Kirk and Co. think twice about boldly going where no man has gone before, especially after the Doctor starts lecturing his class on how space kills us when he was supposed to be talking about crop rotation (as an aside, I would love to be in the Doctor’s class). In spite of these uplifting insights of his, he still manages to talk Bill into exploring deep space with him; Nardole tags along mostly out of protest, still upset that the Doctor wants to leave Earth and leave the vault unguarded. But when they arrive at a station with spacesuits that control the oxygen, their “camping trip” becomes more dangerous than ever–so dangerous, in fact, that there are actual consequences that will have lasting ramifications in future episodes. No last-minute saves here, nope. We’ve got actual consequences, people. Actual. Consequences.

What’s the consequence? The Doctor is blind. When Bill’s spacesuit malfuctioned and forced her to remove her helmet, the Doctor gave his helmet to her. But he was exposed to the vacuum of space for too long; although he didn’t suffocate (thanks, no doubt, to his respiratory bypass system), he went blind. I was half-expecting a secret-inner-eyelid save a la¬†Star Trek‘s “Operation: Annihilate!” and was pretty certain that’s what we were going to get when the Doctor said he could fix his eyes in the TARDIS, but then the end came–and he’s still blind! The procedure didn’t work! He’s currently disguising it with the sonic sunglasses! And whoever is in the vault will get very cross if the Doctor’s blindness is revealed because it means the Doctor broke his promise to remain on Earth!

What’s interesting to see is the increase of Nardole’s role as the Doctor’s conscience. In many ways, the companions are supposed to be his conscience, but Nardole really seems determined to hold him accountable. Whatever happened, it certainly made an impact on Nardole. I really don’t know why everyone is hating on Nardole so much; I think his character as grown a lot since “The Husbands of River Song”, and rarely do we see a companion stand up to the Doctor as relentlessly as he does.

Next week, the stakes are higher as the Doctor struggles to conceal his blindness, and we head off the the Vatican in “Extremis”! Have to admit, the Catholic part of me is stoked to be visiting the Eternal City in Doctor Who–two of my favorite things in one (hopefully) glorious episode. Oh, and Missy’s back next week. Sorry, got too fixated on Rome.

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Some Thoughts on “Doctor Who: The Pilot” *Contains Spoilers*

Well, folks, Doctor Who‘s tenth season is upon us, and that means the return of my Doctor Who reviews! I’ve got to admit; I missed writing these last year. The only new episode we had was “The Return of Doctor Mysterio” at Christmas, so it’s nice to get back into the swing of things. As always, spoilers await those who venture further.

“The Pilot” sees Peter Capaldi return as the Doctor (for the last time, unfortunately) and Matt Lucas return as Nardole, and we finally get a proper introduction to Pearl Mackie’s new companion Bill Potts. Bill is a university canteen worker with an unrelenting thirst for knowledge, which leads her to sneak into the Doctor’s lectures. The Doctor admires her passion for learning and offers to tutor her. Bill’s not quite sure what to make of him, but she jumps at the chance to indulge in the learning she loves so much. But when her friend Heather turns into a watery apparition that starts stalking her night and day, Bill quickly learns that the Doctor is the only one who is able to help both of them.

I’ll be honest–this was surprisingly low-key for a season premiere. I was expecting it to be energetic and manic in true Moffat fashion, but instead it was very quiet and kind of subdued. If this was supposed to be a brand-new jumping on point for new viewers, I’m not sure if they would have found anything to get them excited and wanting to see more–expect maybe Capaldi, who gets some excellent Doctor-y lines in this episode (things like poetry is the same as physics because of the rhyming and that awesome dissertation on Time and Relative Dimension in Space). The more I see of Capaldi, the more I’m going to miss Twelve.

I was a little bit disappointed with Bill as well. There wasn’t really anything about her that reached out and grabbed me, but I’m going to wait a bit before passing judgement on her. After all, I didn’t really start to like Clara until season 8, but I hope it won’t take me as long to like Bill, especially considering the rumors that she’ll only be around for one season. I will say one thing I like about her, though–they’re setting her up to be a pupil-style companion like Ace, and I am excited to see how that turns out. I think some of the Doctor’s best interactions with his companions have been with him in the role of teacher. Seeing Capaldi in the role of teacher-Doctor will be the perfect way to end his run on the show.

And I’m just going to get this out of the way now–Bill lives with her foster-mother Moira since her birth mother is dead. We don’t know who her father is, which means he’s either not important or the Master, who we already know is returning in the persona of John Simm. I have literally nothing to base this on except the fact that this is Moffat’s last season, and after seven years of him as showrunner, I put nothing past him anymore. Nothing.

We did get to see the Movellans from “Destiny of the Daleks” again, but it wasn’t nearly as long as I would have liked. Perhaps they’ll be back for a longer period of time later in the season. I don’t think they would have hyped the Movellans’ return so much if they were only going to be back for ten seconds.

Next week, “Smile” takes us to a human colony that has emoji robots. Not being a fan of emojis myself, I hope this doesn’t turn out too stupid.

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