Doctor Who | Season 11  | Episode : Arachnids in the UK
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KBear Recap
[Read  time: 5-7 min

“Never had a flat. I should get one. I’d be good in a flat. I could get a sofa. Imagine me with a sofa. Like, my own sofa. I could get a purple one and sit on it. Am I being weird?” The Doctor – Doctor Who

We open in a new resort hotel in Sheffield. It reminds you of the hotel in the Shining, especially the shot of the empty lobby. A bodyguard Kevin (Williams Meredith) escorts the hotel’s owner Jack Robertson (Chris Noth) to the lobby. His assistant Frankie (Jaleh Alp) joins them. [I’m going to call Jack Robertson “Mr. Big”. It was that or Mike Logan.] He tells her he wants the problem to go away. She tries to explain that it is so big and complicated that she’s afraid she can’t make it go away. Mr. Big: “Frankie, we’re family, right? I mean, you’re my… what are you again?” Frankie: “I’m your niece’s wife, sir.” Mr. Big: “Exactly.” A new person walks in, Najia (Shobna Gulati), the hotel’s manger. She came in early to make final preparations for the hotel’s grand opening. Mr. Big fires her on the spot. He tells Frankie, “You have one hour to tell me how you’re going to make this all go away.”

The TARDIS goes through colorful wormholes, space, and time finally to make it back to present day Sheffield. Yaz Kahn (Mandip Gill): “We’re actually home!” The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker): “Yes, result. See, I told you I’d do it.” Ryan Sinclair (Tosin Cole) is surprised he and Yaz live in the same neighborhood. They think they’ve been gone awhile but the Doctor tells them they’ve only been gone 30 minutes. Graham O’Brien (Bradley Walsh): “Only a half an hour since we were with you in that warehouse?” The Doctor has gotten them home and it appears it is time to say goodbye. Yaz asks what she will be doing. The Doctor sadly tells them she will be travelling alone. They all feel bad for her. Yaz: “Do you want to come to tea at mine?’ The Doctor: “Definitely. Yes, I would. Thanks. I love tea. Tea at Yaz’s amazing.” Yaz invites Ryan and Graham, but Graham wants to go home alone first.

They walk over to Yaz’s place; the Doctor sees a spider web outside the door. Yaz introduces her father, Hakim Khan (Ravin J. Ganatra) and her sister Sonya (Bhavnisha Parmar) to the Doctor and Ryan. Sonya: [to Yaz] “What? You actually have friends?” [To Ryan] “She paying you?” Her father is cooking dinner and both daughters claim he can’t cook this dish. The Doctor looks around the apartment. The Doctor: “Never had a flat. I should get one. I’d be good in a flat. I could get a sofa. Imagine me with a sofa. Like, my own sofa. I could get a purple one and sit on it. Am I being weird?” Ryan: “Little bit, yeah.” The Doctor: “I was trying to do small talk. Thought I was doing quite well.” Yaz: “Needs work. The Doctor: “Maybe I’m nervous. Or just socially awkward. I’m still figuring myself out.” Yaz complains about the trash piled up in a corner. Their father is saving it as evidence because he thinks there is a conspiracy surrounding it. The Doctor: “I love a conspiracy.” Sonja asks Ryan, “Are you and Yaz…” Ryan: “Mates, we were at primary school together.” Sonya: “Just mates, that’s good.” She gives him a sly smile. Yaz gets a call from her mother, “Can you pick me up from work?” Her mother is Najia, the fired hotel manager. The sisters make snide remarks to each other as Yaz prepares to leave. “Sisters. I used to have sisters – I used to be a sister, in an aqua hospital,” the Doctor says. “Actually turned out to be a training camp for the Quistin Calcium Assassins.” There is a notice for a parcel that went to a neighbor, the Doctor volunteers to pick it up for them. Ryan leaves with her.

“This isn’t the first incident. Something is happening with the spiders in this city.” Jade McIntyre – Doctor Who

Graham is across the street from his house, staring at it. There is a big spider web on the porch. When he goes in, the spirit of his late wife Grace, (Sharon D. Clarke) speaks to him. She is giving him basic instructions for household duties. A researcher, Dr. Jade McIntyre (Tanya Fear) is knocking on a door to check on a friend, Anna from work. The Doctor sees another large spider web and asks Jade if they can help her. She tells them that she is trying to drop a package to a friend who hasn’t been to work in a few days. The Doctor checks with Ryan and Jade before she uses her sonic to break into the apartment. Graham is holding one of Grace’s coats. Grace: “Graham O’Brien, what are you doing sniffing coats? How is that going to help, eh?” His home is nearly covered in spider webs and he finds the husk of a large spider on the floor.  The Doctor’s group finds the co-worker’s house covered in spider webs. When Ryan opens the blinds, they find her body in a web cocoon. Ryan: “Spiders don’t do that, do they?” The Doctor: “Wrong question, Ryan. You should be asking where is the spider that did this.” They begin looking and under the bed is a big spider. Ryan: “Look at the size of it.” The Doctor thinks quickly and finds some vinegar and garlic to contain the spider. [Spiders don’t like the acetic acid in vinegar.] The Doctor: “Hi. We don’t mean you any harm. You’re not supposed to be this big and you’re not supposed to harm humans.” The spider stays put while they leave the apartment. The Doctor: “Jade McIntire, who are you exactly? I saw you check those cobwebs and you weren’t surprised.” Graham runs up and tells them he found a huge spider husk in his house. Jade: “This isn’t the first incident. Something is happening with the spiders in this city.” Back at the Kahn household, Hakim and Sonya wait. Hakim: “Long time to get a parcel.” Sonya: “She always has the weirdest friends.”

Jade and Anna worked at the same university. Jade studies spiders. While at the house, Graham picked up a letter addressed to Ryan. It’s from his dad. Ryan just puts it in his pocket. The university was doing experiments on spiders because their webbing is so strong. The Doctor: “Oooh, fun fact. If you weave dragline spider silk as thick as a pencil, it’s strong enough to stop a plane in flight.” Graham: “You’re kidding.” The Doctor: “I’m not. I’ve had to deal with it. Well, me and Amelia Earhart. You’d like her. She’s a right laugh.” The experiments also were about extending their lives. The longer they live, the bigger they get. Jade has a map of the locations of all the calls in the last three months they, the police, and pest control had received about spiders. The Doctor draws lines connecting them to the hotel.

Back at the hotel, Frankie is walking alone, dictating a message in her phone about what she has done under Mr. Big’s orders. She hopes for forgiveness. Something [a spider] attacks her. Yaz is driving up to the hotel admiring it. When she sees her mother, she gives her a big hug. Her mother reminds her she saw her this morning, but for Yaz it has been awhile. Yaz wants to look around but Najia wants to leave now. She tells her daughter they fired her. Mr. Big and Kevin walk towards them, with Kevin pointing a gun. Yaz: “Put the gun down, please sir.” Mr. Big: “My hotel, my rules.” He tells them they are trespassing since he has fired Najia, and if he had seen the rooms earlier, he would have fired her then. He invites them to see the condition of the rooms. Mr. Big shows them a room covered in spider webs. Mr. Big: “It’s time for my scheduled bathroom break.” Najia assures Yaz this room wasn’t like this the other day. Yaz hears a noise; a giant spider is scratching it on the other side. Najia receives a call, it’s the Doctor, and she has arrived and needs Yaz to let her in. Mr. Big is drying his hands when he hears a noise. Something is in the pipes under the tub. It breaks through the tub. It is a gigantic spider. Kevin rushes in to save his boss. Mr. Big runs out and closes the door behind him.

“Word of advice, mate. Run now, ask questions later.” Graham O’Brien – Doctor Who

The Doctor enters with Ryan, Graham, and Nadia. The Doctor: “Hey Yaz’s mom!” Najia: “Najia. Yaz they can’t be here.” The Doctor: “Najia, you made an awesome human. Tell me what’s going on?” Before she can tell them anything, they hear gunshots. Mr. Big opens the bathroom door and the spider has Kevin encased in its web. Kevin calls for help and the spider drags him down the hole where the tub was. Mr. Big: “Holy God, it got Kevin. I’ve got no more Kevin. I’m compromised.” The Doctor arrives, shows Mr. Big her psychic paper, and tells him she’s a Crisis Investigator. She orders him to tell her everything and not to leave out any details. He distinctly tells her what happened. The Doctor leaves him with the group, and she and Yaz leave to investigate. The Doctor: “Big spider problem in this city right now, Yaz. Glad to be home?” Graham and Ryan recognize Mr. Big and are excited.

Yaz and the Doctor enter the bathroom; the Doctor goes down the hole and comes face to face with the spider. She and Yaz run out of the bathroom and rejoin the group. The Doctor tells them to run to the lobby. Mr. Big: “Who are you people?” Graham: “Word of advice, mate. Run now, ask questions later.” When they get to the lobby, the doors covered in cobwebs trap them in the hotel. Jade: “They’re trying to make the whole hotel their web.” The Doctor: “And we’re the flies.” The Doctor asks Najia where a safe place to go is, she says the kitchen.  When they get to the kitchen, Mr. Big asks does the Doctor know who he is. The Doctor: “Are you Ed Sheeran? Is he Ed Sheeran? Everyone talks about Ed Sheeran round about now.” Mr. Big: “I am Jack Robertson and this is my hotel, just one hotel in an incredibly successful chain of hotels which is just one small part of my business portfolio as featured in Fortune Global 500. Does that ring a bell?” The Doctor: “Should I look impressed right now? Is that impressive?” Graham tells her he’s running for President in 2020. Yaz tells her he fired her mother. The Doctor: “You can’t be President if you fired Yaz’s mum.” Najia: “Najia.” The Doctor tries to figure out why this is happening. Yaz: “So what do we do?” Mr. Big: “Why are you asking her?” Ryan: “Because she’s in charge, bro.”  Mr. Big: “Says who?” Ryan, Yaz, Graham: “SAYS US!” The Doctor has a plan, “We need two things, plans of the hotel and a captive spider.” She sends Graham and Ryan to capture one.

Ryan and Graham capture a smaller big spider, they look up, and a whole bunch of spiders head their way. They make it back to the kitchen, but Jade needs another sample. She joins the Doctor, Najia, Yaz, and Mr. Big. They have found the plans to the hotel. While the Doctor and Yaz look over the plans, Najia asks, “Are you two seeing each other?” Jaz scoffs.  The Doctor: “I don’t think so. Are we, Yaz?” Yaz tells her mother they are friends. The Doctor has saved her life many times. This confuses Najia. She wants to know how they know each other. The Doctor tells her they don’t have time for this. They all start walking down a hallway. Mr. Big: “You’re not going down there. It’s too dangerous.” The Doctor: “I eat danger for breakfast.” [To Yaz] “I don’t. I prefer cereal. Or croissants. Or those little fried Portuguese… never mind. It’s not important.” They reach a locked door covered with warnings not to enter. Mr. Big: “You are not authorized to go in here!” The Doctor: “Dude, I have all the authorization I ever need.” [To Yaz] “I call people ‘dude’ now.” She uses her sonic to open the door. The Doctor: “You guys stay back. Keep an eye out for me.” She finds Frankie and Kevin’s bodies hung up and cocooned for the spiders to eat later. Nadia points out spiders don’t eat humans. The Doctor says something has them acting outside their nature. They go further and find a big hole filled with trash. Najia: “Your hotel is built on a landfill.” Mr. Big confesses that his company built the hotel over an old mine and his company turned the old mine into a toxic chemical dumping ground. The company that took out the carcasses of the dead spiders from their labs is one of Mr. Big’s companies, and they dumped the spiders’ carcasses here. Jade thinks one of those spiders could have been alive. The Doctor reasons that with the experiments Jade was doing, along with the toxic stew in this landfill, it could have made the spiders mutate. Mr. Big won’t take any responsibility for what has happened.  Najia: “Do you know the worst thing? Bits of this is leaking out above here. It’s in my kitchen. My husband’s right. It’s a conspiracy. Do you have any idea how annoying it is when my husband’s right?”

“What is wrong with you people? What is wrong with this country? Why don’t you do what normal people do, get a gun, shoot things like a civilized person?” Mr. Big –  Doctor Who

Graham and Ryan are looking for another spider sample. Ryan tells Graham, “I read the letter from me dad. He said that he’s sorry for not being there for me, for us, for Nan.  He wants us to reconnect.  Says I can live with him now that he’s my proper family.  I didn’t like that he put that. Proper family. He’s not proper.” Graham asks has Ryan looked up the ceiling, because he hasn’t. They look up and a monster-sized spider is crawling down the ceiling towards them. They run and catch up with the rest of the group. They determine that the monster-sized spider is the mother spider, and the rest of the spiders are her babies. The Doctor saw a panic room in the hotel plans; Mr. Big takes them to it. The Doctor wants to treat the creatures with dignity; she wants to lure them inside the panic room. Mr. Big just wants to kill them with the weapons he has in his panic room. Mr. Big: “What is wrong with you people? What is wrong with this country? Why don’t you do what normal people do, get a gun, shoot things like a civilized person?” The Doctor ignores him to continue with her plan. The Doctor: “Spiders are roaming this hotel, searching for food. We’re going to lure them in here with the promise of food. Then deal with the spider mother in the ballroom. Ah, that sounds like the best novel Edith Wharton never wrote.” Spiders hunt through vibrations, so they’ll need sounds to lure them. Ryan has an idea, “Sheffield’s sickest grime station.” He turns on some music and the spiders begin heading towards the panic room.

The Doctor has the companions go to the spa to get peppermint and tea tree oil for the mama spider. When they get to the ballroom, they see it struggling. Jade says it is too big; it can’t absorb enough oxygen to breathe. The Doctor feels sorry for the creature. Mr. Big, who found Kevin’s gun, walks in and shoots the beast. The Doctor: “She wasn’t even a threat. She was dying anyway.” Mr. Big: “Ah well, then it’s a mercy killing.” The Doctor: “I don’t see any mercy in you.” Mr. Big says this will help him become President. Graham is afraid he is right. This ends the spider story. I’ll have more to say about the ending later.

Graham is back home and sees Grace looking lovingly at him. Yaz is back home; she volunteers to pick up something from the store. Her mother tells her when she gets back she’ll have to tell her how she knows the Doctor. Yaz says she will and looks back at her family tenderly before she leaves. She, Graham, and Ryan meet outside the TARDIS. They knock and enter. The Doctor thinks they are there to say goodbye. They ask why this has to be goodbye. They all want to continue to travel with her. Graham: “See, Doc, the thing about grief is it needs time. I don’t want to sit around my house waiting for it to go away because that house is full of Grace and it makes it so much harder. But being with you and seeing all these things, it really helps.” The Doctor [looking at Ryan]: “What about you?” Ryan: “Do you really think I want to go back working in that warehouse.”  The Doctor: “Yaz, you wanted to come home.” Yaz: “I know. I love my family but they also drive me completely insane. I want more. More of the universe. More time with you. You’re like the best person I ever met.” Ryan: “You’re pretty awesome.” Graham: “You’re alright I suppose.” The Doctor: “I can’t guarantee you you’re gonna be safe.” They tell her they understand. The Doctor: “You’re not gonna come back as the same people that left here.” Graham: “That’s alright, I think that’s good.” The Doctor: “Be sure, all of you. Be sure.” They all are. The Doctor smiles and calls them her fam. She decides that doesn’t sound right. The Doctor: “Team TARDIS. Welcome aboard. Properly.”  She invites them to pull the lever down with her, all four do, and off they go.

 Here is the song that brought the lured the spiders to the panic room.

Here is a closer look at the episode from the BBC America.

















KBear Review
[Read time: 1-3 minutes]

After arriving back in Sheffield, the Doctor meets Yaz’s family for tea. Yaz felt sorry for the Doctor travelling alone. Her family is surprised Yaz brought friends home; since it appears, she doesn’t have any. The Doctor is excited to meet them and keeps babbling away. Graham goes back to his empty home, keeps seeing, and hearing Grace. I don’t believe she is a ghost, but just a magnification of his imagination.

At the hotel where Yaz’s mother works, the owner, a famous American hotel chain owner is worried about something his company is doing. It turns out they are using an old mine as a toxic chemical landfill, and built their fancy new hotel over it. He has another company that disposes laboratory waste, in this case spiders. With the toxic waste from his landfill, these experimented upon spiders turned humongous. Their natural instincts go haywire and they begin hunting humans for food. The Doctor ends up at the hotel to stop the spiders. They use the music of Stormzy to lure the spiders into the panic room in the hotel. During all this, Yaz’s mom asks her if she is dating the Doctor, then if she’s dating Ryan. It seems mom wants her to date someone. She’s also very curious and probably concerned about her relationship with the Doctor. Maybe she can sense hanging with this strange woman is dangerous. Hanging with her is what Yaz, Ryan, and Graham plan to do when they become official members of Team TARDIS.

I rewound my recording because I thought I missed the scene explaining what happened to the spiders in the hotel and the other spiders in town. Maybe all the spiders in Sheffield heard “Know Me From” and headed back to the hotel. Maybe all the spiders died humanely. Who knows? It seems like Mr. Big escaped his comeuppance from his cowardly, devious, shady behavior. He plans to become President like his enemy Trump, and he seems to have the characteristics to succeed.

This was a fun episode; especially coming before Halloween. The Doctor and her friends have great chemistry amongst themselves. We see Graham and Ryan grow a little closer. Yaz’s family harkens back to the Russell Davies’ era. His companion’s families were important to the story. They give us someone to come back to throughout the season and can help ground the series. Jodie Whittaker gave her most humorous performance as the Doctor. Her scene at Yaz’s home was hilarious. She was funny throughout the episode. Even though she was being funny for most of the episode, she was still able to maintain the Doctor’s commanding presence. Chris Noth was great as the stand-in for one Donald J. Trump. It would have been perfect if he tried to hit on Yaz and the Doctor. I’d like to see the Doctor use some Venusian aikido on him [and the person he was portraying]. I thought the CGI on the spiders was well done. It beats the hell out of the spiders from classic Who. Too bad we didn’t also get talking spiders.

Here is the promo for next week’s episode, The Tsuranga Conundrum.




Anthony (Kbear!) Nichols | Editor-in-Chief
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