I’ll admit that I was a bit apprehensive about this week’s Doctor Who episode. The title and the clips I’d seem suggested that this episode would be on the silly side, and I wondered if the premise of dinosaurs on a spaceship would be a gimmick or if there would be an actual engaging story involved. I was pleasantly surprised by the episode, even though I thought it had some weak points.
The premise is quite simple: about 300 years in the future, an unidentified spaceship is traveling towards earth. The Indian Space Agency (I might be a bit off on the name) is going to launch a missile at it, unless the Doctor can divert its course. He decides that this calls for a gang, so he recruits Queen Nefertiti, Riddell, a turn of the century (twentieth century , that is) big game hunter, the Ponds, and, quite by accident, Rory’s father Brian. The Doctor brings his gang on board the mysterious ship, which they quickly realize is carrying a cargo of dinosaurs.
From here on out, spoilers abound. The gang ends up being divided into two smaller groups: the Doctor, Rory, and Brian get teleported down to the engine room (by the way, the ship is powered by ocean waves, so it looks like they were sent down to a beach) and are chased by some pterodactyls into a cave. They are then captured by two very comical robots, and taken to their controller Solomon. Solomon is basically a space pirate who boarded the ship and needs the “doctor” to fix his injured legs.
In the mean time, Amy takes over the Doctor’s role with her two “companions” (yes, she even calls them that) Nefertiti and Riddell. She uses the ship’s computer to discover that they are on board an ark, created by the Silurians. She also learns that the ship used to contain many Silurians as well, but they are all gone now.
By the end of the episode, it is revealed that Solomon and his robots killed the thousands of Silurians on board so that he could steal the precious cargo of dinosaurs and sell it. He attempts to escape with Nefertiti to replace the dinosaurs that he can’t fit on his ship, but the Doctor manages to get Nefertiti off of the ship, destroy the robots, and send the missile after Solomon and his ship (plus, throw in a ride on a stegosaurus that likes to play fetch).
Overall,I enjoyed this episode, but I didn’t think it was a great episode. It was a fun story. I don’t feel like every story has to be dark and linked to a multi episode arc (for example, I loved “The Lodger” in season five), but I felt like the story could have been stronger. Sometimes it felt like there were too many characters. It didn’t feel like Riddell and Nefertiti were able to be developed very much in this story. I wasn’t even exactly sure why Nefertiti was there at all, except that she was a valuable historical figure for Solomon to try to steal. I would have like to see more of those two, but I felt they got lost in all of the things that were going on in the story.
I did, however, enjoy Amy in the Doctor’s role with her two companions. I felt that this episode provided more evidence of how far the characters of Amy and Rory have come since they first started traveling with the Doctor. Amy seems every bit as competent as the Doctor, and Rory has really come into his own. He is able to look after his father, and even displays some of his nursing training. I loved the interaction between him and his father (although I would think that his father would remember the Doctor from his dramatic entrance at their wedding). I wished the episode could have been a bit more focused on Brian rather than him just being one of many pieces to the story.
I’ve read some reactions to the episode where they were surprised that the Doctor would send Solomon off to his death. I didn’t think this was surprising at all. He basically murdered thousands of Silurians in cold blood (no pun intended) and was clearly established as an evil man (he even has his robots kill the friendly, puppy-like stegosaurus). The Doctor has killed (or stood by while someone was killed) before, even though he would prefer not to. Just off the top of my head, I’m thinking of Abzorbaloff, the Racnoss, the plasmavore in “Smith and Jones,” not to mention the countless Daleks and Cybermen.
Of course, I can’t end this review without mentioning the moment of foreshadowing. We learn that before this adventure, the Doctor hadn’t seen Amy and Rory for 10 months. Amy confesses that she has difficulty keeping a job (or basically getting too involved in anything) because she’s always waiting for the Doctor to come. She worries that he’s trying to ween her off of him, to which he assures her that he is not. He promises that she will be around until the end of him, to which Amy replies, “or vice versa.” And then there is a long pause, with the Doctor looking concerned. He has the same expression on his face later, when he watches Brian, Rory, and Amy look down on the Earth from space. Does he know something about Amy’s fate? Or did he finally realize that he is going to have to say good-bye to Amy at some point, either for her own good or out of necessity? I guess the next three episodes will have to answer that question.