4 out of 5 Koalas
“The entire planet has been made cruel.” Ilin – Doctor Who
We pick up with the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Ryan Sinclair (Tosin Cole), Yasmin [Yaz] Khan (Mandip Gill), and Graham (Bradley Walsh) out in space. A spaceship appears and Graham is standing over Ryan. Ryan is confused, one minute they were in a warehouse, then out in space, and now a spaceship. An alien pilot named Angstrom (Susan Lynch) rescued them. She thinks they are faking their confusion. She tells Ryan, “You are a funny little bonus.” She informs them they are about to land on a planet; they refuse to go anywhere unless she looks for the Doctor and Yaz. Angstrom didn’t see them when she picked up Ryan and Graham, and she thinks if they are still out there, they are dead. The men offer each other encouragement that the women are still alive. On another ship, Yaz wakes up, she hears the Doctor arguing with a man. The ship’s pilot Epzo (Shaun Dooley) and the Doctor are arguing about his ship crashing on the planet that just appeared. The Doctor asks the name of the planet, Epzo says it’s called Desolation. The Doctor suggests he blow the back off his ship to improve their chance of landing. He finally consents to her plan and they take his ship in. The ship nearly crashes into Angstrom, Graham, and Ryan who have already landed. The Doctor and her friends are relieved to see each other alive. She apologizes for the situation they are in. The Doctor: “Oh by the way, welcome to what I presume is your first alien planet. Don’t touch anything. Come on.” Angstrom and Epzo immediately begin to argue, they are competitors in a race. They picked up the Doctor and her friends because they thought they were bonuses. They hear an alarm and head towards a tent in this desert. Graham begins complaining about sand getting in his eyes, the Doctor hands him a pair of shades. The Doctor: “I can’t remember who I borrowed them off of. It was either Audrey Hepburn or Pythagoras.” Graham: “Pythagoras never wore shades.” The Doctor: “Obviously you’ve never seen him with a hangover.” Graham wonders why they can understand the aliens; the Doctor looks at their necks and tells them the two ships’ medipods installed universal translators in their necks.
They enter the tent; the race sponsor Ilin (Art Malik) is waiting for them. The Doctor puts her hand through him; he and the tent are holograms. The Doctor: “I love a good hologram. I was a hologram for three weeks. The gossip I picked up.” He gives his final instructions to Angstrom and Epzo and tries to ignore the Doctor, but she is persistent. She explains their situation and adds, “These three have been very good about not going on about it.” He explains that the race they are in is The Rally of the 12 Galaxies. The grand prize is 3.2 trillion krin. Angstrom and Epzo are the last two contestants left from a large field. His instructions to the contestants, they are to trek across the desert to the final destination, the Ghost Monument. They shouldn’t travel at night and neither drink or touch the water. Ilin: “The entire planet has been made cruel.” The Doctor demands more information, he shows a hologram of the Ghost Monument; it is the TARDIS. The Doctor is relieved; she and her friends will follow Angstrom and Epzo. She explains the situation to her friends, her calculations weren’t wrong when they ended up in space, the planet fell out of orbit and wasn’t where it should have been. She believes the TARDIS is phasing in and out of time and space because of faulty engines. Yaz asks can she get them home. The Doctor: “Yaz I promise. I will keep you alive and get you back home. I’m really good in a tight spot. At least I have been historically. I’m sure I still am. If we stick together, if you trust me, we can get out of this. Right, let get a shift on.”
“See, brains beat bullets.” The Doctor – Doctor Who
They are all heading towards a boat to carry them across a body of water. The Doctor scans it with her sonic screwdriver; the water has flesh-eating microbes. Epzo pulls his gun on Angstrom; he doesn’t want her on the boat. The Doctor tells him he isn’t going to do anything because Ilin told them they couldn’t harm each other. Epzo: “Yeah, well maybe I don’t play by the rules.” The Doctor: “Did you practice those lines in the mirror?” The Doctor: “See this?” She puts a finger to his throat. Angstrom: “Nice move.” The Doctor: “Thanks. Venusian aikido. Grand Master Pacifist. Temporarily paralyzes while also being fundamentally harmless. Very clever those Venusian nuns.” She takes her finger off him. Graham volunteers himself and Ryan to examine the boat’s engines. It turns out it doesn’t have an engine but a big battery that runs on solar power from the planet’s three suns. They only need to adjust some panels. Yaz is talking to Angstrom, when she asks some questions about her planet Albar; Angstrom shuts down since she doesn’t know Yaz. The Doctor is proud of the work Graham and Ryan have done to get the boat started. As they float across the body of water, Epzo reveals, “I don’t need other people.” Graham: “We all need other people mate.” Epzo disagrees and tells them the story about his mother telling him to climb high up a tree, and then jump into her arms. He does it and she doesn’t catch him. As he laid on the ground injured she tells him never trust anyone. Epzo says we are all alone. The Doctor: “Your mum was wrong. We’re all stronger together.” Angstrom explains why she’s in the race, “I left my family to try to save my family.” An alien race invaded her planet and the invaders started cleansing the population. Half of her family is in hiding; the other is on the run. She is going to use the prize money to rescue them and take them to a safe world. This makes Yaz think about her family, she lives with her father and sister and they run her crazy. It’s clear she misses them.
The party arrives at some ruins. The Doctor takes some readings; the readings are all over the place. The Doctor wonders what happened to the planet’s inhabitants. Angstrom and Epzo leave them to finish the race. Epzo walks through a lazar trip wire. Armed robots soon surround the Doctor and her friends. The robots are Sniper-bots, and the Doctor suggests they slowly back away from them before they activate. When Epzo sees one, he fires upon it and it shoots him in the shoulder. This activates the other Sniper-bots and they fire at the Doctor and her friends. She tells them to run. The Doctor: “Don’t run straight they’re predicting our path.” They run inside a building and discover they are in a shooting range and are the targets. Ryan picks up a weapon. The Doctor: “What are you doing?” Ryan: “Fighting back.” The Doctor: “No! Guns never use them.” Ryan: “They’re shooting at us.” The Doctor: “I know.” Ryan: “They’re going to kill us with their guns.” Graham: “He’s got a point Doc.” The Doctor: “Put the gun down Ryan.” Ryan: “What’s your better idea?” The Doctor: “Outthink them.” Graham: “You can’t outthink bullets.” The Doctor: “Been doing it all my life.” Ryan: “Unh –unh. Sorry. ‘Call of Duty’ man. Been training all my life.” He runs out and happily guns down the Sniper-bots. Unfortunately, for Ryan they immediately self-repair and chase him back inside. The Doctor figures out the Sniper-bots energy source and uses an electromagnetic pulse to take them out for five minutes. She looks at Ryan and says, “See, brains beat bullets.” The Doctor finds an opening to a hatch door to the building’s tunnels. The injured Epzo and Angstrom join them as they climb down the hatch to find answers.
“Afraid of your own newness. We see deeper, further back. The Timeless Child.” The Remnants – Doctor Who
They walk down a darkly lit tunnel into a room that was a lab. The Doctor still wonders what happened to this planet. Epzo doesn’t care; it was in the past. The Doctor: “There was a catastrophic event here. And as hard as it is for you to understand, you are not the only lifeform in this universe. Some of us feel a duty to others who might be in trouble.” She sends him off like a misbehaving child to take a nap while they investigate. They find some symbols on the floor. The Doctor reads the inscription: “We are scientists abducted, tortured, and made to work while our families are held hostage. We are forced to find new ways of destruction, poisons, weapons, creatures, we gave them our minds, and they made us the creators of death. This planet is left scorched and barren from our work. The atmosphere and water are toxic. Killing machines and creatures inhabit every corner. We had no choice but to obey… the Stenza. We are trying to destroy all of our work before they use it against others. They’re coming.” Graham says they are the same race who killed his wife, Angstrom tells him they are the race who invaded her planet and killed her wife. She tells Graham she is sorry for his lost. One of the weapons the scientists created rises up and begins to smother a sleeping Epzo; it looks like sentient, homicidal, torn bedsheets, the creatures are called the Remnants. Angstrom uses her knife to cut the Remnant off Epzo. They all run down the tunnel to an opening. They have to climb up a ladder and Ryan looks apprehensive. The Doctor: “You okay?” Ryan: “It’s not my favorite thing…climbing ladders under pressure.” The Doctor: “Can I just say you are amazing.” Ryan: “Am I?” The Doctor: “Think of what you’ve been through to be here, and you’re still going. I’m proper impressed.” Ryan: “Thank you.” She gently reminds him they have to go. When they get to the top, they are in an acetylene field. The Remnants surround them. Remnants (voice Ian Gelder): “Finally a feast of life.” The Doctor responds to them. Remnants: “You can’t save them. We smell your fear too.” The Remnants float around them like eels. Remnants: “You lead but you’re scared too. For yourself and others.” The Doctor: “Yeah well who isn’t?” Remnants: “Afraid of your own newness. We see deeper though, further back. The Timeless Child.” The Doctor: “What did you just say?” Remnants: “She doesn’t know. We see what’s hidden, even from yourself. The outcast, abandoned and unknown.” The Doctor: “Get out of my head.” She directs everyone to get down and tells Graham to get the self-lighting cigar out of Epzo’s pocket. [Epzo has been bragging about it throughout the episode.] She tells Graham to throw it in the air and the Doctor snaps her finger causing the cigar to light. The lighted cigar causes the acetylene above them to ignite, burning up the Remnants.
When they arrive at the finish line, the Doctor doesn’t see the TARDIS, just the hologram tent. Angstrom and Epzo begin arguing about who won. The Doctor suggests they claim the prize together. They walk in the tent and tell Ilin that they are dual winners and the Doctor offers to be a witness to the fact. Ilin says they can’t do that and tells them he’ll call the contest null and void. Epzo promise to hunt him down if he doesn’t declare them the winners. Ilin changes his mind and calls Angstrom and Epzo co-winners. He is ready to teleport them off the planet. Angstrom asks him to bring the Doctor and her friends with him, but he declines to do it and snaps his fingers; they are gone. The Doctor is devastated believing she failed her friends. She believes they are doomed to die on this planet. Her friends won’t hear of it, they tell her they still believe in her and she should too. Just then, we hear a familiar sound, Yaz wonders what it is. They all look up and see the TARDIS trying to materialize. The Doctor: “Come to daddy. I mean mummy. I really need you right now. [The TARDIS finally stabilizes.] My beautiful Ghost Monument.” The Doctor’s friends aren’t impressed by a police box. It looks too small to contain all of them. The Doctor looks at the small changes of the TARDIS’ exterior and she approves. She warns her friends the interior might look a mess, but she walks in and sees the major redecorating the TARDIS has done. The Doctor loves it. Her friends are amazed at what they see. No one says ‘bigger on the inside’, but they do wonder how all of this can fit in a police box. The Doctor tells them she can take them home now.
Here’s a look inside the TARDIS.
In the last episode, the Doctor and her new ‘Friends’ were stranded in space, fortunately for the show, they didn’t die. Instead, Angstrom picked up Graham and Ryan, and Epzo picked up the Doctor and Yaz. They are the last two competitors in The Rally of the 12 Galaxies. Epzo crash lands on a desolate wasteland planet called Desolation. [How fitting.] Angstrom, Graham and Ryan were already on the planet. The group walks to a large tent, where a hologram of the race sponsor, Ilin waits for them. He gives Angstrom and Epzo their final instructions, trek across the desert to find the Ghost Monument. After questioning from the Doctor, they find out the Ghost Monument is the TARDIS. He warns them not to travel at night, nor drink or touch the water. Along the way, we get the back-stories of Angstrom and Epzo. She is from the planet Albar. Someone is cleansing the population of her planet, we find out it is the last episode villain’s race, the Stenza. She needs the prize money from the race to rescue her family and take them somewhere safe. Epzo’s reason for trying to win the race isn’t as worthy; he just wants the loot. He is in it only for himself, something his dear old mom cruelly taught him.
When they reach the ruins where the Ghost Monument should be, they don’t see it. They come upon some Sniper-bots, which Epzo accidently activates. The Sniper-bot fire upon them. Ryan wants to fight back but the Doctor is against it. The teen won’t listen to reason and takes a weapons and goes out to shoot them. At first it seems like he destroyed them, but they repair quickly. The Doctor fries them using an electromagnetic pulse. They’ll be out for a few minutes, allowing the Doctor to investigate. She knows something is very off about this planet. The water had flesh eating microbes in it, and what was once a civilization on the planet no longer exists. They enter a lab where on the floor, the lab’s scientist leave a message explaining what happened. Under duress, the Stenza made them develop new dangerous weapons. One of those weapons were sentient homicidal bedsheet looking things called the Remnants. The creatures try to smother Epzo in his sleep but Angstrom rescues him. The Doctor has them all go outside in an acetylene field. The Remnants get inside the Doctor’s head, try to use her fear against her, and mention the Timeless Child. [I don’t know if the Timeless Child is the Doctor or someone else.] The Doctor has everyone get on the ground and has Epzo’s self-lighting cigar light itself and explode the acetylene, destroying the floating Remnants. The Doctor convinces Angstrom and Epzo to march into Ilin’s tent, declare themselves co-winners, and split the lucrative prize. Ilin is against it, but threats from Epzo changes his mind. Being a dick, Ilin teleports Angstrom and Epzo off the planet but leaves the Doctor and her friends to die on this hostile world. The Doctor momentarily gives up hope, but her friends encourage her not to. The Doctor hears a familiar sound, the TARDIS. After she stabilizes it, she and her friends enter. The TARDIS has redecorated its interior, looking like the Ninth and Tenth Doctor’s, except its coral and has hexagons and a biscuit [cookie] dispenser. The Doctor tells them the TARDIS is a space and time machine and they materialize off the planet.
At the beginning of every new Doctor’s story, the Doctor takes their companions out in space, and into the past. The Doctor accidently took her new friends into space near a planet called Desolation. It turns out the Doctor wasn’t wrong, her TARDIS is there, just in another dimension or something. It eventually shows up near the end of the episode. We finally get to see the TARDIS and it made a few minor exterior alterations, but major interior ones. The TARDIS is probably the second most important character in the series after the Doctor. With her TARDIS back, Jodie Whittaker is ‘officially’ the Doctor. She gave another strong performance, and without the regeneration confusion, gave us a clearer take on her Doctor. She is inquisitive, and apparently not as egotistical and haughty as her predecessors. She doesn’t act like she knows everything and is willingly to let her friends add in their two cents. I don’t think she’s going to be the Lonely God type. She still acts alien, but not as alien as the Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors. The only thing new we learned about the Doctor’s friends is that Yaz has a father and sister back home. We don’t spend a lot of time with her, but she did have a nice conversation with Angstrom. Ryan and Graham are still grieving over Grace; Graham is still trying to get closer to Ryan, but his step-grandson still resists. The show hasn’t forgotten he has dyspraxia and shows the trouble he has climbing the ladders. The cinematography of their South African filming location was gorgeous. I’m getting use to the new score and I like the new theme.
It was a good standard Doctor Who adventure. Here’s a teaser for next week’s episode, Rosa.