Many of you know that I have talked some shit about Doctor Who recently. I consider myself a lapsed Whovian, struggling with casting choices and story development the past couple of seasons. So, take that all in when I say:
This was the best episode of
Doctor Who I have seen in years,
and definitely Peter Capaldi's best episode (and by far better than nearly every Matt Smith episode). That's the bottom upfront. We may dip into spoilers from here out. So for those who haven't seen it, go. Watch it. Come talk to me about it!
Bill Potts, Pearl Mackie, is fantastic! I love that they did not shy away from her sexuality; in fact, her doomed relationship was one of the two core plot elements. The second key plot element is not the Doctor, his mysterious vault, or how Professor Chronotis (The Doctor) has taught at the university for 50+years.
The episode actually explores the horror of how a banal existence can crush people if they don't seek a journey of self-discovery.
Go with me for a second. Look at Bill: she’s brilliant, strong-willed and actively seeking something meaningful in her life (like so many of us). She literally has an interview with the Doctor (The Timelord Victorious, The Thing Monster’s Fear, etc…etc…etc.) and gets the chance to be taught by him. Then life goes on, unchanged for months, and seasons pass. It’s Bill’s love life that rips them out of that banality. The banality for Bill and the Doctor is different. Bill’s is being trapped without love and the Doctor's is how he refuses to be the Timelord, and instead chooses to be a safe keeper.
The pacing of the episode is dynamic, the chemistry between characters feels right, and it has me wanting to rewatch the episode -- something I have not done since David Tennant and a few other key classical episodes.
Despite my love for this episode, I, of course, have some issues -- Why is Bill, the only PoC in the episode, a lunch lady? Why be coy about a vault with "something" in it?
But now, this episode is my jumping on point for any non-Doctor-Who fans. Some of you may know, I had a massive video screen at my wedding, silently playing a few episodes of Doctor Who, Deep Space 9 and Firefly on repeat behind the best wedding band in Philly. Why? Well, besides the fact that sci-fi is life, that was enough to hook at least three people on the shows.
I am looking forward to the next episode. Don't disappoint me, Doctor.