No, seriously. After last year’s misleading Let’s Kill Hitler!, which only featured a brief appearance of Der Fürer, this time the action was exactly what was promised: Dinosaurs! On a spaceship! Yes it was a touch flimsy but then again the second episode of the season is usually the time when they do something slightly silly bordering on camp but, and it’s a big but, Chris Chibnall’s script is surprisingly strong (especially when you consider he manages to turn a one-joke premise and spin it across the length of the episode). And there were some fun performances from the regular cast and the guest stars. And there’s a huge development at the end that I have to call into question.
But enough of this, we need to get going before we crash and burn…
- I would like to state here and now that I would love to see Riann Steele’s dazzling (and downright letcherous) Queen Nefertiti return as a guest in another episode. She brought a heap load of sass that was fantastic to the episode. Plus it always tickles my heart when Doctor Who brings in historical figures; as you may or may not know, Doctor Who was conceived as an out and out children’s show that used time travel to explore specific scientific developments and historical figures. And there’s actually a nice nod to history with what happened at the end; Nefertiti actually did disappear according to historical record around 1334 BCE. Likewise Rupert Graves is fantastic as big game hunter John Riddell. His chemistry with everyone was fabulous (and on a side note, he’s been looking good).
- One of the big things that I loved about this episode is the fact that The Doctor assembled a bigger group to help him this time. It felt like the comedic equivalent of the gang that he formed for last season’s “A Good Man Goes To War.” It also was a throwback to the times when the Doctor had more than one companion (like the First Doctor with his granddaughter Susan and her teachers Barbara and Ian, and of course the Four Musketeers that were Adric, Nyssa, and Tegan with the Fifth Doctor). It’s a vastly different dynamic from the hermetic nature of the doctor and his one companion (and yes Amy and Rory count as one in this case) and it’s fun seeing everyone at cross purposes at times.
- Speaking of cool things to see, how awesome was it to see the dinosaurs. Kudos to The Mill, the special effects arm of BBC Television for making the dinosaurs look amazing, along with the rest of their usual technical wizardry.
- One thing I am concerned about is Amy. True it was awesome to watch her basically be the Doctor while Neffi and Riddell served as her companions, and it was amazing watching her piece everything together regarding the arc and the connection to the Silurians. At the same time, in the ten months since “Asylum of the Daleks” (in show time, not real time) she has been restless and not able to hold a job down. Has she become addicted to time travel? After all, she did say last week “Is it wrong that I’ve missed this.)
- Meanwhile it was lovely to see The Doctor having to deal with not only Rory but his father Brian as well. Major kudos to Mark Williams who turns in a pitch-perfect performance that shows how easy it is for someone to be swept up in The Doctor’s schemes. And it was thrilling to see how Brian truly changed through the episodel from being a man with a small world view to one filled with travel (and it harkened back to my comment last week how the show also clocks The Doctor’s effect on the people in the companion’s lives as well). Also, the chemistry between Williams and Arthur Darvill is fantastic; aside from the physical reference, you actually can buy into the idea that they are father and son.
- And if you didn’t giggle at Brian’s “Balls!” line, you have no soul. Related: playing fetch with a triceratops sounds like the most awesome thing ever!
- In terms of Solomon, this week’s villain, it was interesting to have the Doctor face someone like himself; a space traveler just gallivanting all around the cosmos. However, unlike the Doctor (who is mostly altruistic in his motives and methodology) Solomon is only trying to find things of value; be it the dinosaurs (who he had no issues killing), to the Doctor (who his records state has no value, in keeping with the Doctor trying to keep a low profile), to Neffi.
- And then the rather dark ending. Rarely have we seen the Doctor let someone die so cavalierly condemn someone to die, and even though Solomon deserved it, it was kind of shocking to see the Doctor take such a dark turn. I have a feeling this will be addressed the next episode, but it’s been shown before (as in “The Runaway Bride”) that the Doctor needs his companions to keep him from going too dark.
- Finally, this episode is setting up something dark to befall the Ponds. There were some dark overtones in the exchanges between the Doctor and Amy. He either knows something or has an inkling.
And before we go, I leave you with this little bit of salaciousness…