Half a week late, but this is what you get when you’re me and trying to pull the rest of a novel together behind deadline!
Picoreview for this one: I’ve seen some very positive reaction about this one, and I’ve seen some outright disgusted reaction too. (The Doctor Who Podcast, which I listen to, had dramatically different opinions on it!) For me, it was one of the better episodes I’ve seen in a while–but shaky on the final dismount.
Don’t turn around and look at the spoilers!
Okay, one of the big things I liked about this was the further development of the building relationship between Clara and Danny–but I really hope Moffat’s not going to make a habit of important scenes with these two being chopped up into little slices and then thrown at you out of order, presumably to let you know right out of the gate that “LOOK LOOK THERE IS TENSION HERE”. It was interesting once. It made me go o.O this time. And I don’t want to see it again.
And yet again we have snark about Danny being a soldier. This needs to stop. Or at the very least it needs to have some actual explanation. I got into thinking about it and realized that both Clara and the Doctor, after everything that went down on Trenzalore, could legitimately be in a position to be really goddamn tired of the sheer notion of war and therefore hostile towards anybody with a military profession. But I want to see this actually called out, since this is only conjecture on my part and hasn’t been actually shown as character development yet. It could be a very effective scene if, say, Danny blows up at Clara for getting on his case about being a soldier, and she finally reluctantly has to admit that she once had to watch someone she cares about nearly destroy himself because of war. Even if Danny doesn’t yet realize the full scope of what Clara and the Doctor do, it could be a great way for them to understand one another better.
I really did quite like how the Doctor went and found Danny’s descendant Orson, though. It was strangely charming how he didn’t seem to quite realize how a guy a hundred years in the future might not necessarily have a connection with Clara–OR, and this is the fun part–maybe he absolutely did and didn’t want Clara to know yet. We’ve been talking in my household about how Twelve is throwing off a BIG Seven-ish vibe, about how he may well absolutely have a Plan and he’s blithely arranging things to that Plan all this time.
The visit to the children’s home where young Rupert/Danny is was great. I liked that the TARDIS picked up on that when Clara was “distracted”, and yet again, the TARDIS of course knows where she needs to go. <3
“Once upon a time…” *tap* *snooze* “The end. Dad skills.” Great short moment. 😀 And a fun contrast to Clara’s skillful reaching out to young Rupert. It will be really interesting to see how long it takes Danny to realize that he remembers Clara from that incident in his childhood. Or whether he tells Clara in the present day that he was drawn to her because he feels like he knows her.
The entire scene with the Thing Under the Blanket was super creepy, but it also set up the eventual fail at the end of the episode, so looking back on it, I feel like it was setting up for a payoff we never actually got. I’ve heard people talking about how the blurred shape in the background might actually have been the Doctor, but I dunno. They were saying on the podcast that the episode comes across as if the whole idea is that it’s SUPPOSED to be ambiguous. But if it was, and if there wasn’t supposed to be a monster at all, then as a viewer, I found it unsatisfying to have an actual moving blanket right there on screen.
All the sequences in the spaceship were nicely creepy and it was a great dramatic contrast to have the Doctor blowing up at Clara and yelling “DO AS YOU’RE TOLD”–only to have her throw that right back at him. Which needed to happen.
And I LOVED how they actually wound up on Gallifrey and the initial fakeout of “is this young Rupert again?” Though I started getting suspicious as soon as I saw the feet of the grownups coming out to find him, and realized that they weren’t wearing things you’d expect to be worn by people in England in the 80’s.
And Clara’s cluing in that the Doctor was reacting to HER under HIS OWN BED all this time–good, but I really didn’t like the conclusion from that of “there was never a monster all this time, it was just the Doctor reacting to that whole incident.” It’s unsatisfying, given how the earlier majority of the episode played out, and given that we not only saw the blanket moving, but we ALSO got a glimpse of alarming things happening to the Doctor on the TARDIS viewscreen.
Still though, of the episodes that have aired so far this season, I did actually like this one the best. And given that it was in fact written by Moffat, fair play to Moffat there.
Onward to next week’s heist story!