Welcome back, my lovely readers! So nice to be able to watch this whole episode without my face covered! And it sure was packed with a lot of goodness, from a really cute new monster species, to a lot of classic Doctor moments, to far more touching family stuff than one would typically expect from an adventure about a space hospital under attack. Let’s jump in!
Doctor Who has always had a pretty good knack for blending exciting sci-fi fun with heartwarming moments that really connect you to the characters and this episode was no different. Without the conflict and resolution between the Cicero siblings, the ending would have really lacked punch. Sure, Eve would still have died a hero and saved them all, but the brother and sister dynamic really made it mean something. Whether you are (or have) an overprotective older sibling or you are (or have) an underappreciated younger sibling, there was a little bit of something for everyone in a thread that took up just the right amount of space in the larger story. It didn’t get in anyone’s way, it just played itself out in small quiet beautiful moments and I loved it.
Equally affecting was all the stuff with Ryan and his parents as a parallel for Yoss (the pregnant passenger) and his feelings about his imminent parenthood. The pregnant person with inconveniently timed labor is a time honored storytelling trope, as is the soon-to-be parent who is unsure about their ability to raise a child, but these were both deftly handled and tailored to make us care more by connecting them to a character we already love. Graham sort of got the 2nd banana role in this plot, but hey, with a cast this big, someone’s got to do comic relief and it was his turn. It was interesting to see this plot played out from a male perspective. It wasn’t much different than the way these types of plots tend to play out with women. I can only hope that seeing it play out for men was revelatory for some men in the audience. I have only tiny nits to pick with this bit of the show. To wit, OF COURSE a male pregnancy is only 8 days long (maybe it would be scarier to experience 9 months of symptoms within a week, but if it gets it over with quicker, BRING IT ON), OF COURSE the father didn’t have pain receptors in the area where the baby was to be removed from, and OF COURSE, even in space, people who have seen birth on TV think they are qualified to do it in real life. I get it, it’s the 67th century, things have advanced, not to mention Yoss seems to be a different species, but still, if we were going to have a pregnant man, did we HAVE to make labor and delivery easier on him than it is for women?
I know I’ve been going on a lot about Ryan lately, loving how cool and normal he is, but I think Yaz is becoming my secret fave. She’s just so cool and she is never EVER seen as a sexual object in any way (like many past female companions have), just a genuinely smart, capable person with an uncanny capacity to cope with the outlandish situations. Graham and Ryan are always a bit thrown by each new situation, but she’s always calm and ready for action, with a bit of snark on the side. I was especially impressed with her during her scenes defending the anti-matter core. Lots of people, men or women, when flung several centuries into the future and faced with the accompanying advanced technology, would just shut down and accept a super simplistic explanation from a more informed party. But not our Yaz. She connects it to her school science, knowledge most people her age might have thrown away by now as useless, and is captivated by it. It was also refreshing to see her assigned to defend the core, as would only be natural for the only member of Team TARDIS with any police or military experience. I just love what the show is doing with her.
The Doctor was in fine form this episode and with a lot of the establishing elements of a new Doctor’s tenure out of the way (the new sonic, the new console room set, etc.), her personality is really starting to shine through. I really loved her reverence for science upon seeing the core mechanism and detailing the history of its development for Yaz. It shows a real love for hard science sci-fi. The show has, rightly, taken some knocks for having gotten too wibbly wobbly timey-wimey, so it was refreshing to see something based in reality that could eventually come to exist. We also got to see the Doctor have her first light bulb moment, about the (really cute) monster’s need to consume energy. (Side note: I loved everything about this monster from his design to his motivations to how he transformed from a threat to a living being with a need to fulfill, like almost all Who monsters do.) And hooray for the Doctor having an opportunity to solve multiple problems with one harebrained solution that hinges on that revelation. This is something we’ve seen all the past Doctors do, nice for her to get her chance. The sickness she experienced in the beginning from the sonic mine almost seemed to be nothing more than a fun acting exercise for Jodie Whittaker, but now that I think on it, it seemed to be the factor that slowed her down and kept her from getting to the solution sooner (as well as a convenient way to bring all our heroes into the story).
Overall, it was a really fun, enjoyable story with some really classic moments for the show as well as some great and affecting character development. It was really packed with plot, making the setup and resolution feel slightly rushed, but something is bound to suffer a little when you’re accomplishing so much so efficiently. Next week looks to be a classic time travel trope of treading on one’s own history. Should be interesting to see it played out in the context of a non-white culture and also, yay for more Yaz! I’m pretty stoked to see more about her background. See you next week!