TARDIS 11-04: Arachnids in the UK

Well, we can add this to the short list of Doctor Who episodes I will never watch again. It wasn’t a bad episode, not by a long shot, but I am a HUGE arachnophobe, so this one didn’t go down well with me. In fact, I was folding laundry while watching and spent half the episode with a sock stretched across my glasses and literally screamed “OH MY GOD” when I inadvertently looked up at the wrong moment, despite the young children sleeping in my house. So yeah. No thanks. We’re good. No more of this please. I probably won’t even look at this recap on the site, once our EIC adds the pictures.

I’m not mad they did this, though. It was a good episode. Proper creepy and scary, just the way good Who should be. From the beginning, the creators always meant for parts of the show to be watched while peeking inbetween one’s fingers, from behind the couch, or under a blanket. I suppose for a non-arachnophobe who enjoys a good scare, this was a lot of fun. There was great use of music and special effects to build tension. I can’t fully speak to the quality of the VFX of the spiders themselves, but the few glimpses I caught were pant-shittingly terrifying to me. Plus, if you’re not doing a scary Doctor Who episode the week of Halloween, what are you even doing?

Also scary was Chris Noth’s turn as Robertson. He was actually laughably realistic, once it dawned on us exactly whom he was supposed to be, and not just your average Powerful American Dickhead. He was Sex and the City’s Mr. Big gone mad with power and I loved to hate him. I sincerely hoped he got eaten by a spider even before he locked his bodyguard in the bathroom, and that’s saying something, coming from me. His dialogue was a bit on the nose, but keep in mind, this is being written by Brits and that is genuinely how our country is being viewed worldwide these days. The one nit I can pick was the gun. I realize that Brits have gun control and God bless them for that, but the gun carried first by Kevin and then Robertson was just ridiculous. Many in the good ol’ U. S. of A. love them a big gun, but most people, and especially not security professionals, don’t run around strapped up with gun whose kickback could knock over a small house.

It was nice to see Team TARDIS get back home and get a bit of insight into their lives. It really helped strengthen each one’s motivation for their choice to stay aboard the TARDIS. Graham’s grief, Ryan’s lack of a bright future (he reminds me SO MUCH of Rose in this way), and Yaz’s need for independence were all beautifully woven into the story. I found the scene where they all elected to stay really touching. The silent nod they shared outside the TARDIS really solidified the humans as a team. The Doctor’s hesitance to accept them was just as meaningful. She wants them aboard, that much was clear from the “tea at Yaz’s!” scene. But you could see the echoes of the fates of all her former companions in her eyes as she asked them to “be sure.” It was a really powerful moment.

The Doctor was in fine form once again in this episode. Past iterations haven’t been so keen on being domestic, but I rather enjoy seeing the companions families, even if Yaz’s sister is a bitch (and if you’re a woman and you have a sister you get along with, you know I say that with love). It’s fun to see the Doctor try on a situation that she knows isn’t for her and just play for a bit. Plus you get the bonus of seeing uninitiated humans who know the companions but not the Doctor react to her weirdness. Just as enjoyable was the authority she showed once they arrived at the Robertson hotel (and, really, just generally getting to see the strong female characters shutting down the Powerful American Dickhead). I was only glad Chris Noth didn’t get eaten by a giant spider because it meant that now I got to see the Doctor tear him a new one. The payoff on that was a bit weak sauce, but I feel like we might see Robertson again in the future and he’s now made himself an enemy to someone whose help he will inevitably need, so that’ll be fun too. (Don’t you think he looks tired?) And, although they are one of my 3 biggest fears, her compassion for the spiders *almost* made me feel for them. Like, most of the episode I was really hoping the solution would be burn down the building or somehow launch it into space, but the dignity she treated them with, combined with the sadness of the mother spider’s final moments, almost made me put down my metaphorical flamethrower. It was enough, at least, for me to begrudgingly accept the Doctor’s solution. And, even though I wasn’t watching, it did make me laugh every time I heard her encounter a new spider and she opened with “hi.”

So, a solid Doctor Who episode, but not one I’ll be rewatching, unless maybe someone releases an edit that digitally replaces the spiders with puppies or something. The next episode looks to be a good old fashioned space adventure, so I look forward to seeing that. See you next week!

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