Second episode of Doctor Who season seven, and there are mother-frakking dinosaurs on a mother-frakking ship, so let’s dive right in!
The Doctor, in the midst of his usual Magical Mystery Tour, gets word of impeding danger to Planet Earth. Wanting to save his adopted homeworld and simultaneously escape the amorous attentions of Queen Nefertiti (yes, that Queen Nefertiti), he follows the distress call to the Indian Space Agency, who are tracking a ship on a collision course with Earth. They’re giving it about six hours before they blow the stone snowflake-looking thing out of the sky, but if the Doctor wants to take a look, he’s welcome to do so. I have to give this one to the ISA, here. The ship looks derelict and it’s about seven hours from destroying the planet. I’d be wanting to destroy the thing, too.
En route to the Stone Snowflake, the Doctor picks up a game hunter in the 1900s named Riddell and the Ponds plus Rory’s Dad in the form of Arthur Weasley, because why not? It’s been a while since the Doctor has had a “crew,” so he’s giving it another try. Thorough investigation of the ship leads them to a number of discoveries: one, the titular dinosaurs on the spaceship; two, that the ship is an ark created by our old friends and planetary cohabitators, the Silurians; three, that said ark is powered by
Bad Wolf Bay a random beach that looks nothing like Bad Wolf Bay or the Byzantium planet, and as such cannot be stopped in time.
After having escaped from the pterodactyls that now inhabit the engine room, the Doctor, Rory, and Dad are captured by a pair of Laurel and Hardy-esque robots, voiced by the British comedy duo, Mitchell and Webb. The robots bring the group before their master, Solomon, played by none other than David Bradley, also of Harry Potter fame. Solomon, it turns out, has killed all of the Silurians onboard and plans to sell the dinosaurs for fun and intergalactic profit. Learning of the incoming missiles and his own inability to steer the ship, Solomon decides to trade the dinos for a greater prize, Nefertiti. He transports her back to his own vessel, leaving our adventurers to go down with the ship.
The Doctor, pulling one out of his hat as is his wont, rescues Nefertiti, has Rory and Dad pilot the ark away from Earth, and switches the missiles’ target to Solomon’s ship. Earth is saved, Solomon is destroyed, and the historical mystery of Queen Nefertiti’s disappearance is solved, as she evidently decided to shack up with the game hunter in his own era.
To be honest, this was far from my favorite episode. I’m all in favor of a good gimmick in the service of the plot, but this episode seemed to be mostly gimmicks for the sake of gimmicks. Neither Riddell nor the Laurel and Hardy bots served much purpose, really. Solomon himself was so one-dimensionally evil that he could have been plucked from the scripts of Captain Planet and the Planeteers.
Plot incoherency aside, there were some fantastic moments to be had. I love that the Ponds, and Rory especially, seem to have really grown into their own as both companions and adults. They were each given the opportunity to lead in this episode, and I felt that it worked to their advantage as characters.
I also felt that Matt Smith did a superb job this episode. For someone who, at the time of this writing, has not quite hit his thirties, he does impossibly old and sad very well. I admit that I don’t understand Chibnall’s decision to have the Doctor leave Solomon on his ship, but Smith’s delivery sent chills down my spine.
I’m giving this episode only two and a half stars. Despite the awesomeness of the cast itself, it just wasn’t a solid episode for me. That being said, I’m beyond excited to see next week’s episode with sci-fi hero Ben Browder joining the cast!
Solomon: You’re very observant.
Doctor: I’m a Sagittarius… probably.
Things to Ponder:
- There seemed to be a lot of foreshadowing of the Pond’s departure this episode. Is the Doctor feeling his “Curse of the Time Lords” angst again, or does he sense a storm coming?
- Doctor Who does older characters very well. Did anyone else feel shades of Wilf in Brian Williams?