"Ahhhh No" I cried as the last episode ended with the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Bill (Pearl Mackie) back in Victoria London, at the themes with an elephant swaggering towards them like it's nothing. My hopes for this episode went somewhat downhill when I knew we were getting another costume piece from Who. Maybe that’s the BBC trying to save money by re-hashing some of their clothes from their period dramas. So, I have to say with my hand on my heart I wasn’t looking forward to this. Come on Doctor Who, Earth history goes beyond London and the Victorian Era.
The plot to this episode is actually better than my negative mind had come up with even if it was somewhat borrowed from a previous and somewhat recent episode, Matt Smith's The Beast Below. A big fish monster is tied up beneath the icy river Thames, taking people under the ice because some human thinks he can make good money from the big creature. But this story had a subplot (almost) and that was the battle between Bill and The Doctor. As Bill witnesses the Doctor play a part in someone's death, and while it was not intentional, this makes Bill ask and even force the Doctor to answer some difficult questions, and while the Doctor is vague and cryptic with his answers, he almost goes about this episode showing Bill that he is sorry by showing her the cause and effect of his life and the choices he makes. Something he does brilliantly by giving Bill the choice of what to do with the giant space fish at the end of the episode.
Bill actually gets my MVP of the week as she does something few companions do. She forces the Doctor to admit the truth of his life and interference. And her reaction of horror at the Doctor seemed to have some weight behind it. I believed for a moment that she might not want to carry on her adventures with the Doctor and while she doesn’t fully forgive him or say as much, she seems by the end of the episode to understand it's not all fun and games and the Doctor has a difficult life that must be done for both protection and survival of all who are involved. Peter gives us his normal charm and his work is nothing short of good. Yet Bill raised her game and showed some strong independence.
So Bill was my highlight, but what was my low point of the episode? Well, being back in back in Victorian London was just not thrilling for me at all. It did help to serve as a reminder of our history with racism and slavery. I also applaud the show for bringing that up and taking it seriously before adding a bit of humor with that punch from the Doctor. It is a kids show after all. The Victorian theme and the lack of Matt Lucas for a third week in a row is doing my head in. Easy paycheck for him, but good grief he could be a welcome sight and a much needed boost, as the show isn't quite 100 percent and I am wondering if he is the missing link in the show.
This episode was fantastic and a good stepping stone for the Doctor and Bill, and a reminder that the Doctor could have or does have a dark side. That causes him to do morally questionable things even if it's for the right reason. The acting was much stronger all round and I feel this season has gotten off well. It might not be everyone's cup of tea, but I prefer this slow start, then a good action finish. It's like the old episodes of Who and not the ADHD version of Doctor Who, where everything was fast, lots of bright colours and more FX than a Zack Snyder film. Next week's episode sees us going against something that looks like it could be Groot from Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy. I don’t know what to expect, but I have to say after this good episode, I have high hopes for next week and I think adding David Suchet will bring a touch of class and good acting. As that famous Dave Chappelle meme says "ya all got anymore of them episodes?"