Saturday, June 17, 2017

Doctor Who: Death By Scotland

Well, that episode certainly happened, didn't it?

In all seriousness, The Eaters of Light isn't a bad episode. It's just a very small episode in which nothing of any great importance happens in the main story. There's a cave, a house, a field, a dodgy CGI monster that we barely see, and about a dozen young actors, one of whom screams very loudly, and half of whom are painfully Scottish.

Oh, and Bill falls down a hole again. I can't help but feel there's some sort of symbolism there, with Bill continuing to fall into holes.

But getting back on track: while this was a decently written episode, and well-filmed (especially the spacious open field shots), the lack of scale and obvious low budget makes it clearly apparent this is a filler episode where they saved money for the upcoming finale episodes. The trade-off for any actual content, unfortunately, means that this episode has enough Noggin scenes to make up for the entire series. He's on-screen probably as much in this episode as he is in every previous episode combined.

There were some good parts:
  • The Doctor mentioning being a vestal virgin (second class) in Roman Britain (that's almost certainly the Eighth Doctor. Or maybe the Fifth. One of the pretty ones). 
  • The conversation about humans no longer having intelligent conversations with crows, so they're all in a huff and no longer speaking to us. 
  • The Doctor's brilliant popcorn maneuver. 
  • Kudos to Bill for not only figuring out the TARDIS translation circuit on her own, but also being the first person to notice that it tricks your brain into seeing lip-synching as well. 
  • The guest cast is serviceable enough for what they are: two groups of inexperienced kids. 
  • The monster is an interesting design, but I'm not sure the CGI really does it any favours.

What else can I say about this episode, though? It's an obvious budget-saver episode, either because the BBC isn't giving the show as much money as it used to, or because they're saving up for a huge finale. There's exactly one thing memorable about this episode: the ending.
What will you do, how will you feel, when your sins catch up to you?
Missy's out of the vault and waiting for them in the TARDIS. The Doctor is extending a measure of trust to her, possibly hoping that trust will rehabilitate her. Surprisingly, the most poignant part isn't where she actually cries after taking his advice; it's when he isn't sure whether it's an act or not, and which might be worse. The implication here is that if someone who has done the things that she's done - committed the most vile and evil acts that she has - actually grows a conscience, she will be utterly crushed by the weight of all of that catching up to her.
"It's hard to resist."
"That's the trouble with hope. It's hard to resist." That's a line that'll stay with me for a very long time, given certain directions my life has taken recently.

Next week: The most retro-classic Cybermen in decades, and Missy gets her own adventure, with the last frames being the startling and terrifying appearance of John Simm with the one Master-esque thing he was missing from his previous appearances: the trademark evil goatee.

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