Doctor Who this week continues a theme from early last season; the exploration, both physical, emotional and borderline sexual (I’m sorry, but there are far too many protuberant knobs and far too many lonely nights) of the Tardis. In this episode, Clara ends up trundling around lost inside the Tardis with the Doctor pretty much impotent (let’s call it a “usefulness semi”) to help her after yet another crash landing. AND this episode comes from the heaven-blessed quill of Sherlock scribe Stephen Thompson.
Without a doubt, the stellar circular plot was stronger than last weeks, but, sadly, the periphery characters-a three-brother salvage team in space-didn’t prove as likeable as Dougray and Jessica. Though the introduction of a straight-up android was pretty cool, I couldn’t get the image of Kryten of Red Dwarf out of my head. Luckily, Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman (looking very fetching in a dress I decided relatively quickly I couldn’t pull off) just get better and better as the series goes on, especially Coleman who has to carry the brunt of her scenes alone. And the slightly abrupt advancement of the Clara/Doctor plot was actually pretty decent, Matt Smith gratefully flexing his dark-Doctor muscles once again. The episode was gorgeously filmed, too-lots of balletic cameras up corridors and off-kilter shots creating that sense of the vastness and history of the Tardis that we’ve never really been physically privy to before.
This is a proper madman-with-a-box episode -the Doctor goes all kamikaze in his quest to recover Clara, ostensibly setting the Tardis to self-destruct and then hurtling around scolding the angsty Chuckle Triplets for the rest of the episode. My tone may belay my disappointment here, and I won’t apologize for it- yeah, the interior of the Tardis lived up to expectations spectacularly and the Silent-Hill-esque monsters were really cool, but there was lots of “OOOOOOH the Tardis has FEEEEEELINGS” and “OOOOOOH don’t annoy the TARDIIIIIS” which we knew already. Gives us some motivation-why? What drove her to it? And, by the way, “The Timelords were clever” won’t do. Maybe they’re setting it up for an even longer plot strand later in the series, but this was a prime bloody episode to advance it and they just kept it as-really- a perfectly serviceable adventure romp. It’s my own fault for expecting something more, but-hang on- a rift in space and time? Sounds familiar. I’ll have you yet, Moffat.