The Doctor has once again lost her Tardis - but purely for plot convenience.
After accidentally stepping on a sonic mine, the Doctor, Yaz, Ryan and Graham find themselves on The Tsuranga - a medical vessel heading for a hospital in a distant galaxy. The ship is automatic, so there is no crew other than two medical officers. There's a famous general with a secret she's hiding from her worried bother. Another patient on board, the frankly adorable Yoss, is pregnant and hours away from delivery. And in the middle of all this, the ship is infiltrated by a vicious alien who is systematically destroying the ship. The stakes are high!
I have to get this out of the way first. This is a very Chris Chinball type episode, as he rarely has out and out villains. As with Dinosaurs in Space, 42, Power of Three, The Ghost Monument and Arachnids in the UK, the villains are often either 'somewhere out there' or antagonistic without understanding i.e. the spiders.
But unlike the spiders of Arachnids in the UK, was genuinely hard for me to see the P'Ting as menacing or threatening. Frankly, other than the fact it was trying to destroy the ship they were on, it was far too cute to be terrifying. One review I read in theIndependent described this episode as "a Disney remaking of Alien." While I agree, there was actually another Disney movie which I couldn't stop thinking of throughout the episode...
This was a generally okay episode and I don't feel as though I have much to say about it. The lack of the villain wasn't so much of an issue for me as I found the characters intriguing and relatable.
As mentioned above, the complicated and heartrending relationship between the dying war hero General Eve Cicero and her younger, engineer brother Durkas isn't overdone in the episode and feels very natural. I liked Mabil's journey as she steps up to the plate after Astos's death. The moral, of course, is the very children friendly message of bravery doesn't mean not being afraid. It means being afraid, but still doing what you have to do.
While it would be easy to dismiss the subplot of Yoss's pregnancy as the very Doctor Who method of 'let's flip this on its head and see what happens', it allows for Ryan and Graham to develop their grandfather, grandson relationship. And, of course, brings in some comic relief. I actually found myself chuckling a lot in this episode, though especially the Doctor and Yaz's manic conversation while the bomb is ticking down, then the Doctor's cajoling of the P'Ting into the airlock.
I think it's worth mentioning, while I'm sure we were all delighted by the Hamilton references, we weren't the only ones:
Again, my only real issue is the number of characters. I still believe three companions are a crowd! And it's always going to leave me wishing for more - more in-depth scenes, more development, more space to breathe in scenes. But, that's a personal preference more than anything else.
But so far, I'm happy with the way things are progressing. Given the time of year, I would have liked an episode about the gunpowder plot but alas, as that's already been done as a Doctor Who game, I doubt it'll be done on the series.
If you would like to read my Arachnids in the UK review, click here!