Doctor Who: Native Species

Doctor Who | Season 12 | Episode 3: “Orphan 55”
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Kbear Rating

2 out of 5 Koalas



For a quick read, go to Review. For a complete summary, go to Recap.

KBear Recap [Read  time: 5-7 min]

“Me, too. So long as there’s plenty of sun and absolutely no deep-space squid.” Yasmin Khan

The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Yasmin Khan (Mandip Gill), and Ryan Sinclair (Tosin Cole) are busy moping up space squid on the TARDIS. Graham O’Brien (Bradley Walsh) runs in with some free coupons for an all paid expenses trip to a vacation spot called Tranquility Spa. Ryan is all for it. Yaz: “Me, too. So long as there’s plenty of sun and absolutely no deep-space squid. Might get you out of your mood.” Doctor: “My mood’s fine.” Ryan: “That’s you told.” Graham puts six perfect squares together; the Doctor tries to stop him because those are teleportation cubes, before Graham can get his speedo [don’t worry he already has it on] they teleport down to the resort. The hostess Hyph3n (Amy Booth-Steel), a human cat hybrid welcomes them to the spa. It looks like it should be fun, Graham plans to sit around until cocktails, Yaz joins an elderly couple by the pool, Vilma (Julia Foster) and Benni (Colin Farrell). Before she joined them, Benni was preparing to propose to his long-lived love before Yaz interrupted him. [I’m sure he’ll have plenty of time to propose to Vilma.] Ryan goes inside and tries to get a snack out of the vending machine. He receives a shock, the Doctor tells him he received a virus from the machine and she gets a bag of chips, empties it, grabs his ear and pulls, a hopper virus falls in the bag. She tells him to suck his thumb to help him with the hallucinations. Ryan meets another guest sucking her thumb, her name is Bella (Gia Lodge-O’Meally). Ryan clumsily tries to hit on her, Bella quickly shoots him down, but acknowledges later she is interested. Graham meets the spa’s mechanic Nevi (James Buckley) and his son Sylas (Lewin Lloyd). It’s obvious Sylas is a mechanical genius and knows far more than his father.  The Doctor finds Hyph3n and tells her the vending machine was infested by a hopper virus, it appears to be sabotage and other systems could be affected. Meanwhile, the head of the spa, Kane (Laura Fraser) gets an intruder alert and sends out her second in command Vorm (Will Austin) out to investigate. They are in an armory and they arm themselves with machine guns. The Doctor tricks Hyph3n to take her to Kane. The Doctor knows something is wrong, because the armory is inside the linen closet. The Doctor asks Kane what is going on. Kane doesn’t want to tell her, but Vorm reports ‘they’ got one of the guests. An alarm is sounded and the Doctor gets on the intercom to tell everyone this isn’t a drill and head for the linen closet. Nevi knows it’s real when he hears gunfire. Guests are killed throughout the spa.

Doctor Who Tardis Rucksack Backpack

Graham and Yaz join the Doctor in the linen closet, but Ryan is still with Bella hiding in the steam room. One of the creatures kills a guest in front of them. The ionic membrane is down, if working it would keep the intruders out. The Doctor begins repairing it. Doctor: “I got it – – ionic membrane, reinstate DNA filter. It’ll exile any life form not pre-approved if I’ve built this right.” It works and it seals the monsters away from the survivors. Now the Doctor can find out what is happening. Tranquility Spa is a Fakecation, they are actually in an indoor structure made to look like a vacation spot. Tranquility Spa is located on an orphan planet and the intruders are called Dregs. Vilma realizes that Benni is missing. The Dregs have him outside the structure. The Doctor forces Kane to form a rescue party.

“Come on! This is not the way to resolve a family dispute. How about good, old-fashioned passive-aggressive discussion?” The Doctor

Everyone in this episode [aside from Benni] gets in a truck and drives out of the spa’s structure into a hostile desolate environment. Yaz: “This whole planet looks dead.” Doctor: “It is. It’s an orphan planet. It’s a grading that means it’s become too toxic for life. We’re not safe out here.” This planet, Orphan 55, was abandoned, the people who could not leave died, or so it appeared. Kane created the Fakecation so she could earn enough money to purchase the planet and through terraforming make the planet habitable again. It would make her rich. The Dregs are the native species who have survived in this toxic environment. The Doctor discovers the Dregs are apex predators who are hunting them. The path of the truck is blocked. They hear Benni from outside, he has two things he has to say. He asks Vilma to marry him, she joyfully says yes; his second request, he asks someone to kill him. The Dregs attack the truck, so they have to abandon it, everyone escapes except for Hyph3n who is grabbed by the Dregs. They are on foot and can’t stay out long in this environment, the direct sunlight will hurt them, they are running out of oxygen and the Dregs of course. Kane tells them there is a tunnel nearby, it has a teleport that can take them back to the spa. They make it to the tunnel thanks to Vilma sacrificing herself. The Doctor and Yaz find a sign in Russian. They realize that Orphan 55 is Earth. To complicate matters, Bella grabs Kane’s gun. She is the person who sabotaged the spa. She wants to destroy the spa to punish her mother for abandoning she and her deceased father. The deadbeat mom is Kane, she didn’t even recognize her daughter. Kane grabs another gun and the two have a Mexican standoff. Doctor: “Come on! This is not the way to resolve a family dispute. How about good, old-fashioned passive-aggressive discussion?” The teleport works but it only takes Bella and Ryan back to the spa. The rest of the party has to go through the tunnel back to the spa on foot.

Everyone is running out of oxygen, they need to refill their oxygen cannisters, especially the Doctor [must be the two hearts using up her oxygen quicker]. She walks by a sleeping Dreg. Doctor: “It’s so strong without oxygen because it doesn’t need it – – it breathes carbon dioxide in and oxygen out, like a really angry tree.” She refills her canister and decides to read its thoughts, she sees ecological collapse, and nuclear war. This awakens the Dreg and it calls out for the other Dregs. It looks like it’s going to get the Doctor but Kane comes back to save her. She stays to fight the other Dregs, giving everyone else a chance to get back to the spa. She tells the Doctor she did all this so she could give it to Bella. Back at the spa, Bella shows Ryan the bomb she made. He wants to rescue his fam, she could care less, she tells him if he isn’t with her, she’ll shoot him. He tells her to go ahead, she can’t do it. The rest of the party make it back to the spa.

“It’s so strong without oxygen because it doesn’t need it – – it breathes carbon dioxide in and oxygen out, like a really angry tree.” The Doctor

Ryan joins the returning party. The Doctor tells them they have to barricade the openings, and Nevi needs to fix the teleport so they can get off the planet. Ryan: “Made in China? Hey, how did this get here?” Yaz: “We never left.” Doctor: “Orphan 55, it’s Earth, your future.” Ryan: “If this is Earth, then what are the Dregs?” Yaz: “They’re us, mutated.” Doctor: “Yes. The few that didn’t die.” Graham: “On, no, they can’t be.” Ryan: “How did Earth end up like this?” Doctor: “You had warnings from every scientist alive.” Yaz: “Global warming. Huh?” Doctor: “The food chain collapses, mass migration, and war.” Nevi can’t fix the teleport because he needs Syrillium IV, and they only have Syrillium III. Sylas tries to tell his dad what to do, but Nevi tells him to shut up, he’s only a child. Sylas runs away. The Doctor tells Ryan and Yaz to keep working on the barricades, Graham is to help Nevi, and she and Bella are going to look for Sylas. Bella asks why should she, the Doctor reminds her all of this is her fault. Ryan and Yaz use Bella’s bomb on some of the Dregs. The Doctor and Bella find Sylas, but the head Dreg is there. They distract the Dreg so Sylas can get back to his dad. He helps his father make Syrillium IV using the hopper virus to turn the Syrillium III to Syrillium IV. The Doctor traps the Dreg in the room with them and turns up the AC to put more oxygen in the room. The Dreg can’t breathe the oxygen, it needs the carbon dioxide she and Bella produce. If it wants to get out, it has to let them escape. It goes into a cage so they can leave. They make it to the teleport but they are surrounded by Dregs. Sylas and Nevi teleport out first. Bella decides to stay and fight the Dregs to allow the Doctor and her companions to teleport out. Kane, who didn’t die joins her and they fight together. It allows the Doctor and the companions to teleport back aboard the TARDIS.

Back on the TARDIS, they are feeling guilty about what happened on the planet and fearful about Earth’s future. Doctor: “Look, I know what you’re thinking, but it’s one possible future – – it’s one timeline. You want me to tell you that Earth’s gonna be okay. Cause I can’t. In your time, humanity’s busy arguing over the washing up while the house burned down. Unless people face facts and change, catastrophe is coming. But it’s not decided, you know that. The future is not fixed – – it depends on billions of decisions and actions and people stepping up. Humans. I think you forget how powerful you are. Lives change worlds. People can save planets or wreck them – – that’s the choice. Be the best of humanity, or…” The last shot is a growling Dreg.

KBear Review [Read time: 1-3 minutes]

The Doctor and the companions go on vacation to a vacation spot called Tranquility Spa. It looks great at first, but appearances can be deceiving. It’s actually a Fakecation, on Orphan 55. Orphan planets as the Doctor explains are planets too toxic for life. The spa they are in is in an enclosed structure. Outside the structure is the native species called the Dregs. The ionic membrane keeps them out, but someone is sabotaging the spa’s systems, causing the teleports to go offline, and the iconic membrane to turn off. This allows the Dregs into the facility where they begin killing off guests and staff. The Dregs grab an elderly guest, so the Doctor makes the proprietor form a search party. The Doctor, companions, and guest stars go outside the structure and find the environment inhospitable. More of the staff are killed. The Doctor and the companions find out Orphan 55 is Earth in the future, and the Dregs are the mutated humans who were left on the planet when the elites abandoned it. The saboteur turns out to be Bella, who is the estranged daughter of the spa’s proprietor Kane. The two finally reach a resolution as they fight together to allow the Doctor and her companions to teleport off the planet.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t like this episode at all. The main problem is the script, it took the basic base under siege storyline and didn’t add anything to it. What usually make these episodes good are the characters we meet, when written correctly, they are characters who have an inner life who we are grow to like, sympathize with and become concerned for. The characters in this episode were one note, their only purpose was to die. There was no characterization to any of them. All of them annoyed me, some more than others, I’m looking at you Bella and Vilma. Even when they were making noble sacrifices, I didn’t feel anything. I was pulling for the Dregs to take them out. It felt like the writer of this episode was hurrying through the story so he could get to the end when the Doctor lectures her companions, or really the audience about the climate crisis. Humans didn’t listen to the scientist and allowed the planet to get into disrepair, and once it was too toxic to live here, our elites abandoned the planet and left the rest of humanity to die, or become the Dregs. It is a timely message we need to hear and heed, but the story wasn’t good enough to support it. The discussion between the Doctor and the companions about what happened to Earth was more effective than her final speech. Doctor Who is no stranger to giving a message, but they are usually more eloquent about it.

I didn’t care for any of the humans, but I did like the Dregs design. The costume designers and make up people did a great job. In the beginning of the episode, we learned the Doctor was still moody about what she found out in the first two episodes of the season. So, we know it will be a theme throughout the season. This wasn’t Doctor Who’s worse episode.  I’ve seen worst episodes from both Classic Who and NuWho, but whenever I’m watching Season 12 on HBO Max in the future, [They’ve taken it off Amazon Prime] I’ll skip this one. In case you’ve wondered what I think is the worst episode of the Jodie Whittaker era, this one and last season’s The Battle of Rans Koor Av Kolos are tied. I hope there isn’t another episode this season that join them.

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