**Following the review is a detailed recap of the episode, including quotes. Note that there are many spoilers for episode 11.02 in both the review and recap, so please don’t read any further until you’ve watched it. You can also check out my recent spoiler-free review if you prefer**
While first episode was more of an introduction about getting to know the new Doctor as she remembers who she is, I feel the second episode to some extent is along the same lines, but it’s about her finding her TARDIS, which is an extension of her character. You do get more of a feel for the new character, but I think it may take another episode to really see her in her element. That being said, I continue to like Jodie Whittaker more and more as the show progresses.
The companions are becoming more fleshed out as well, especially Ryan (Tosin Cole) and Graham (Bradley Walsh), as we get more into their relationship and continue to see Graham wanting to be closer to Ryan. I also like a lot of quotes from Graham, because many of his comments are what the audience would be thinking.
I also appreciate that the show this season is inclusive, not just in the diversity of the companions, but in Ryan who has dyspraxia. I expected it to just have been a point of the first episode and likely dropped, but the writers haven’t forgotten. It’s nice to see it not being a detriment to him being on the adventures, and the Doctor even tells him that she is proud of him. It doesn’t define him.
As for Yaz (Mandip Gill), while I’m enjoying her character, unfortunately the writers haven’t given her quite as much development. She did mention missing her family, so perhaps that will come into play.
While talking about characters, the episode had very few, but thankfully the two main guest stars, Angstrom (Susan Lynch) and Epzo (Shaun Dooley), had lots of personality, enough to carry the episode even without a bunch of other characters in the mix.
While I very much enjoyed the storyline for the episode, I have to admit it was a bit tiring in the sense that it’s been done before; the idea of the space race isn’t new. Regardless, it was well written and very entertaining, so it didn’t bother me.
This episode, like the last, does a good job of introducing concepts without bogging the episode down with exposition. For example, the Doctor mentions that the TARDIS would usually be translating alien languages.
There were really two themes this week, although they are ones that are often threaded throughout all the episodes. The first is using your brain over weapons, which is something the Doctor is known for. It was done in a fun way and gave the great catchphrase “brains beat bullets.” I did though get a kick out of Ryan running out and playing a live version of Call of Duty
The second, is the importance of working together to solve problems. If they hadn’t, they wouldn’t have all made it to the end, and the Doctor even makes the contestants split the win.
As for the antagonists of the week, there were really three: two visible threats and the alien race responsible for it all.
First, we had the SniperBots, which are just robots, but they serve their purpose as an obstacle.
The second was the Remnants (which I’m not sure were ever even given a name in the episode), which are basically strips of cloth that because of scientists have become sentient and deadly. I feel these were both successful and unsuccessful in different ways.
The first time we see them, not including the dormant ones that clued us in, they are trying to suffocate and kill Epzo. I found them creepy; they are stealthy and could have killed him easily if no one was nearby. I also appreciate that they are something new and unexpected, something that you would only see on Doctor Who
However, when they swirl around everyone and start talking to them (telepathically?), that was a little much and didn’t work as well for me.
Regardless though, I was intrigued by the information they gave, such as the idea of the “Timeless Child.” It’s possible this is just a reference for her being a time traveler and often out of time, but the fact that they said they could see what was even hidden from herself, and the reaction she gave, it leads me to believe there is more to it and that it will come up again in a later episode.
As for the unseen alien threat, it all connects back to the Stenza, who we saw in the last episode when they met Tzim-Sha. I’m not sure how I feel about that. He was a cool alien villain, but I’m not sure it’s something that can be sustained as an overarching alien threat. It also makes me wonder if the Stenza are supposed to be the new “big bad” of the show, considering Chris Chibnall has said that they won’t use any of the popular adversaries, such as the Daleks, at least this season. It was also said early on that the episodes would all be standalone this season, so I’m not sure how that fits into it. It does make it feel like a new take on Doctor Who
with all the changes, but I don’t want it to veer away from the show I love too much either. Only time will tell.
Lastly, one of the big points of the episode is the Doctor getting her TARDIS back. The outside has some small changes, but the inside is completely revamped and barely resembles the interiors of the past. Even the opening title sequence has been changed, but with a new Doctor, the change is always welcome, and I feel like the new sonic screwdriver and the interior not only go together well, but they match her personality. Both the sets and the cinematography this season has been top notch. RECAP:
The episode picks up where the last left off, with the group floating in space. Before long, Ryan is woken up by Graham on a spaceship. Confused, Ryan asks what happened, and the female pilot, Angstrom (Susan Lynch), tells him that she scooped them up with her ship. She says that it was a sneaky trick of 'his.' Especially coming out of hyper-jump, they could have been killed. Graham says that he’s been telling her he has no clue what she is talking about. She doesn’t believe either of them.
Ryan questions where they are, and she says that they are off of the "final planet," which is out of orbit and not where it should be.
Graham and Ryan want to go back for the others, but she says that she didn’t see anyone else, and if they were there, they are dead now. Ryan and Graham won’t believe it.
The ship jerks as she readies to land.
Meanwhile, Yaz (Mandip Gill) wakes up in some kind of vertical medipod on another ship. She walks to the front of the ship where the Doctor and the pilot, Epzo, are arguing. The ship is on the verge of shutdown. The pilot questions how the planet could be in the wrong place; it should be back where he scooped them up. They should be in its gravity belt by now, but they aren’t.
The Doctor sees Yaz and tells her she should stay locked in the medipod, but continues to talk to the pilot. She sees the planet, but it’s not where it should be. She questions if it has a name, but he says it only has a symbol or warning; the closest word is "desolation."
Epzo starts to activate the shield manually, but the Doctor doubts it will work, saying the ship should be on Antique Roadshow
. If he does that they are going to crash land. He stresses that he doesn’t even know if he can get them there because of the fuel he wasted scooping them up.
The Doctor says that she can get them into the atmosphere if they jettison the rear section of the ship. He doesn’t want to, because the Cerebos is the "envy of millions;" people have written songs about it. She tells him that people will be writing operas about their pointless deaths if they don’t take drastic action now.
Yaz is still freaking out, asking if they are going to die. The Doctor placates her, barely. They have six minutes of life support left.
The pilot agrees to the Doctor’s plan and comments that it’s the "last stage" anyway.
Elsewhere, Angstrom has landed the ship. They exit and she moves further out to survey the atmospheric data. RYAN:
We’re on an alien planet, Graham. GRAHAM:
Well, the three suns in the sky are a bit of a giveaway.
They follow the pilot.
Meanwhile, the Cerebos continues to crash. The Doctor tries to calm Yaz and gives her some levers to pull. She then tells the pilot that the descent patterns won’t work. EPZO:
You think you can do better? DOCTOR:
He says they are heading into the gravity belt.
The others aren’t on the planet long when they see the other ship come crashing down. They run.
After the crash, The Doctor, Yaz, and Epzo emerge from the ship. DOCTOR:
Sorry about the mess.
The Doctor tells her friends that she made a terrible mistake, but reassures them that she will get them home alive, as soon as she figures out where they are. GRAHAM:
How you going to do that? DOCTOR:
Not sure. I’m treating it as a chance to surprise myself. DOCTOR:
Oh, by the way, welcome to what, I presume, is your first alien planet. - Don’t touch anything.
As the two pilots bicker, they realize they are the only ones left in their race.
Graham complains the sand is getting in his eyes, so the Doctor gives him a pair of sunglasses that either belonged to Audrey Hepburn or Pythagoras. GRAHAM:
Eh? Pythagoras never wore shades. DOCTOR:
Obviously you never saw him with a hangover.
The group comes upon a tent. The pilots obviously seem to know where they are headed, but don’t say anything.
As they move forward, the camera pans to show a piece of ripped cloth on the ground.
The pilots enter the tent.
Graham asks how if they are on an alien planet with aliens that they can understand them. The Doctor looks at the back of his neck, confirming her suspicions, and says that the medipods put implants in them when it realized they didn’t have universal translators. Graham quips that he wants people and things to stop putting things inside him without his permission. She tells him that if she had the TARDIS, they wouldn’t need them.
The rest of the group head in the tent.
Inside, they talk to a hologram of Ilin (Art Malik), where they learn that the two pilots are the last in the final stage of a space race called the Rally of the Twelve Galaxies, vying for a lot of money for them and their clan and a way off the desolated planet. The loser will be stranded there alone. They now must survive the terrain and make their way to the other side of the mountain. The first one to get to the Ghost Monument will be crowned the winner and transported off the planet. The loser won’t.
Angstrom questions that he will strand one of them; their ships are out of fuel. He tells her that they knew the risks - biggest-ever prize, biggest-ever risk.
Graham asks about the rest of them, and Epzo just dismisses him, as they aren’t part of it. Graham then says they are human beings and to show some solidarity. Actually they aren’t. Angstrom says that she has never even heard of "Moomanbeans."
The Doctor says that it’s cruel to leave the loser stranded. Ilin just says that it is the ultimate test of survival.
He also tells the contestants that there will be no sabotage, injuries, or killing each other, or they will be disqualified. He tells them not to travel at night and not to drink or even touch the water - the planet has been made cruel. They have one full solar rotation to complete the race. They will get one piece of assistance: transport, which is provided by the water. They are to go across the water and through the ruins, and the site of the Ghost Monument is on the other side of the mist swamps. He also gives them route trackers.
The Doctor tries to get Ilin to tell her more about the race. She eventually gets him to tell her about the Ghost Monument, which was named by ancient settlers and appears in the same place every one thousand rotations.
Angstrom takes her tracker, saying she is good to go. Epzo says that he will see her at the prize, where he will finally get to light his Althusian cigar, made by his alien race, that he is saving for the win.
The Doctor asks Ilin what the monument looks like so she knows what she is looking for. He shows her a hologram of the TARDIS.
After the hologram of the tent disappears, she explains to her friends about the TARDIS. She tracked it there, but the planet fell out of orbit, and they landed where it should have been. She thinks the engines are stuck in a loop and that it’s causing it to phase in and out of time and space. If they get to it when it phases in, she should be able to stabilize it and get them back home alive. DOCTOR:
I’m really good in a tight spot, at least I have been historically. I’m sure I still am.
She tells them that they will be all right if they all stick together and trust her.
The three humans talk about the Doctor. They believe she is their best hope.
They follow the pilots, who have made it to the boat. Epzo has no intention of working together and pulls out his blaster gun. The Doctor tells him they know he won’t use it because of the rules. He tells her that maybe he doesn’t play by the rules, and she asks him if he practiced those lines in front of the mirror.
She then sticks her pinky finger against his neck, using Venusian Aikido to temporarily paralyze him until he listens.
The boat is not working. The Doctor says that they will fix it and *all* of them will travel across the water together. Graham and Ryan go off to try to get it working.
The Doctor uses her sonic to test the toxic atmosphere and the water, which is filled with flesh-eating microbes.
Ryan and Graham attempt to fix the boat and discuss missing Ryan’s grandmother and Graham’s wife, Grace, who was killed in the previous episode. Graham still wants Ryan to call him Granddad and for the two of them to be closer.
Ryan investigates and says it’s not an engine that is on the boat, it's more like a massive battery. He questions if it could be solar powered.
The Doctor is proud of them figuring it out and confirms it has solar panels on the outside. They talk more about what they have to do to fix it.
Angstrom talks a bit to Yaz about her planet, Albar, but ends up stopping, saying that she doesn’t know her.
The Doctor tells them the boat is fixed.
Once they are all on the boat and headed out, the Doctor says that the planet doesn’t make any sense, as there are no living lifeforms at all, yet Ilin talked about the old settlements.
Epzo doesn’t care; he doesn’t need other people; they are all alone. He tells a story of his mother telling him she would catch him jumping out of a tree and purposely letting him fall and break bones, in an attempt to teach him that lesson and that he can’t trust anyone. He says it’s the best thing she ever did for him. The Doctor tells him that his mother was wrong; they are stronger together.
While Epzo sleeps, Angstrom talks about wanting to win to find and save what is left of her family. Her planet is being systematically cleansed and half of her family are in hiding, the others on the run. It’s her only chance. She left her family to try to save them.
Yaz says that she is making her miss her family, even though she is usually annoyed by them and only saw them the day before. Angstrom tells her not to ever take them for granted.
The Doctor tells them all to get some rest, and she will wake them when they get there.
They arrive and get off the boat.
Angstrom sees Epzo with his cigar and says he loves it more than anyone. He explains how rare and expensive they are and that it takes half an Althusian lifetime to make one. They are also self-lighting with one click of the finger.
They come upon the ruins and the two pilots immediately run off towards them.
The Doctor and her friends are more cautious.
Epzo trips some kind of laser beam.
The three suns are starting to set. Ilin had said not to travel by night; they need to move fast.
Suddenly robot guards come out. Why would they need guards on a deserted planet?
The Doctor says that luckily, they aren’t fully active yet, so they need to slowly back out.
Meanwhile, Epzo sees one and shoots at it. It shoots back and hits him.
The rest of the robots are activated, so the others run.
The Doctor finds part of a robot and realizes they are SniperBots, and they are in the middle of a shooting range. It’s target practice.
Ryan decides that he knows how to beat them and grabs a gun, ignoring the Doctors protests. She tells them they can outthink them. Graham tells her that you can’t outthink bullets, but she says that she’s been doing it all her life.
Ryan says it’s like Call of Duty
, and he has trained for it. He takes off.
He has a blast shooting the robots, until they pop back up and come back after him. He starts screaming, “Where’s the reload?!” and runs back into the ruins with the others. DOCTOR:
Make it worse? RYAN:
Just a little bit, yeah.
They hide behind pillars and evade the robots.
The Doctor says that the answer was there, on the ground, but he reached for the wrong thing. She picks up something from a fallen robot and pushes a button. A visible wave moves out and all the robots across the ruins fall. It was an electromagnetic pulse. GRAHAM:
That was impressive. DOCTOR:
Thank you, I aim to please.
She tells them that the robots will reboot, but they have a few minutes. DOCTOR:
See, brains beat bullets.
They head to find the others.
Angstrom finds Epzo and tries to help him, but he’s not having it.
The others come into the room. The Doctor borrows Angstrom’s tracker. ANGSTROM:
How did you even do that? (About the robots) DOCTOR:
Did I not mention? I’m really smart.
She says that she also learned about the maps from the SniperBots, as they come to a hatch. She thinks the answers are down there. Ryan questions why it’s always ladders, but they all go down.
The tunnels run under half the planet.
Graham notices there are scorch marks along the walls.
They come upon a door. DOCTOR:
Big locked door. I love a big locked door.
She uses her sonic to open it.
They make their way into an abandoned lab. The Doctor wants to know what happened, but Epzo doesn’t care. Something catastrophic happened, and she wants to know more and has had enough. DOCTOR:
Fix your wound, take one of your heroic naps, and we’ll wake you when we leave, if you’re lucky.
Epzo goes to a quiet place and lies down.
Back in the lab, the Doctor discovers something and tells Angstrom to bring her the "route mappy thing."
She says that if they sync it to the lab, they can see the whole network of tunnels. They can use them to avoid the surface during the night. They find a shorter path.
Graham tells Angstrom that if she leaves now, she could get there first and win.
Yaz shows Ryan some surveillance footage while the Doctor and Angstrom move into the next room. The SniperBots have found the hatch.
In the other room, they discover inscriptions on the floor, left by the people who worked there. The Doctor translates it, and realizes what happened to the inhabitants of the planet.
The inscription says that they were scientists who were abducted, tortured, and made to work while their families were held hostage. They were forced to find new ways of destruction: poisons, weapons, and creatures. They made them the creators of death.
Meanwhile, while Epzo is sleeping, a piece of what looks like cloth starts to slither up him.
The Doctor continues on about how the scientists made the planet toxic and uninhabitable. Killing machines and creatures inhabited every corner. They had no choice but to obey the Stenza. The scientists were trying to destroy their work before it could be used against others.
The Doctor says that there are two words below that: "they’re coming."
The group met one of the Stenza, Tzim-Sha, before, in the previous episode. Graham says that his wife died because of them, and Angstrom says that hers did too. The Stenza took her planet and sent the people into hiding, cleansing millions of them.
Meanwhile the strip of cloth wraps around Epzo’s face, starting to suffocate him.
The others hear his muffled screams and run in.
The Doctor attempts to help him, but the sonic doesn’t work. Angstrom takes out a knife and cuts the Remnant off, and it lets go.
They realize the Remnants have been laying dormant until nighttime.
Yaz comes in yelling that the SniperBots are on the way.
They rush through the tunnels, the Doctor closing doors behind them with her sonic as they go.
Suddenly there’s a noise. The Remnants have shut down the life support system to deprive them of air. They need to get out, night or not.
There’s a hatch that the Doctor opens with her sonic, and inside is another ladder going up. On the surface above is Acetylene (a gas) fields. They don’t have a choice.
Ryan looks up at the ladder. It’s not his favorite thing, climbing ladders under pressure. The Doctor tells him that he is amazing, and to think of what he’s gone through to be there. She’s impressed. She tells him to focus on facts about the gas he learned in NVQ if it helps.
They make it outside, but unfortunately, as Ryan points out, the ground is moving. Suddenly, there are Remnants everywhere. The Remnants are talking to them to distract and scare them.
They apparently can smell fear and start to whisper that the Doctor can’t save them. They smell her fear the strongest of all. DOCTOR:
You want fears? I’ve got a dozen lifetimes worth.
They say they will take her first.
The Doctor questions what Ryan remembered about the gas and they discuss it. It’s lighter than air and smells like garlic. There is another thing about it - but they’ll all have to dig deep for that. She indicates to dig with their feet.
The Remnants continue, saying that she leads but is scared too, for herself and others. She’s afraid of her own newness. They see deeper though, further back. They call her the “Timeless Child,” and realizes that she "doesn’t know." They taunt that they can see what’s hidden, even from herself: the outcast, abandoned and unknown. She yells for them to get out of her head, the words appearing to possibly have meaning to her. She reveals nothing.
They say they will crush the fears from her, and she says to enjoy the feast, whatever it is. She asks if they know what some people like after a feast, and calls to Graham, looking towards Epzo. Epzo tells Graham to do it, and he pulls out his cigar.
Graham tosses the cigar into the air as the Doctor yells for them to get down. After they all jump flat on the ground, she snaps her fingers. The atmosphere ignites, burning the Remnants.
They get up and continue on to the monument and eventually make it towards the end, where they see another tent, but there is no TARDIS in site. The Doctor is worried.
Regardless, Angstrom is ready to claim her prize, but Epzo protests. She tells him that she saved his life, and that if they ran up there he couldn’t keep up anyway, because he is injured. He says that his cigar is what saved all of them.
Stopping the bickering, the Doctor tells them that she has an idea.
They enter the tent. Angstrom and Epzo tell the hologram of Ilin that it is a tie; they both won and both will claim the prize. He denies them and is going to disqualify them both, but Epzo threatens that he will hunt him down and make him suffer.
Ilin agrees to their terms and that they both will get to split the money and be taken off the planet. Angstrom adds in to also give the others passage, but he says no and snaps his fingers, disappearing the two of them.
The Doctor and her friends are left alone in the desert again when the hologram disappears.
The Doctor starts apologizing, saying that she failed. She is ready to give up, but the others convince her that all hope is not lost.
They suddenly hear a sound: VWORP VWORP...the TARDIS starts to materialize. She uses her sonic. DOCTOR:
It’s all right; it’s me! Stabilize. Come to daddy...I mean mummy...I mean...I really need you right now.
It finishes materializing. DOCTOR:
My beautiful Ghost Monument.
The Doctor rushes over, telling the TARDIS that she has missed her. She says that she’s done herself up as she touches the new letters on the plaque on the police box’s little door. She tells the TARDIS that she doesn’t have the key, but it opens its doors for her.
The others question that they will all fit in the police box.
She enters and checks out her new TARDIS, which looks completely different. She says that the TARDIS has redecorated and walks around. She then comments that she really likes it.
Everyone enters in awe, and Graham asks how she can fit all of that inside a police box, and she says, "dimensional engineering." Yaz says that you can’t engineer dimensions, but the Doctor says that she can.
The Doctor tells them that it’s not only a spaceship, but a timeship.
They all continue to stare in wonder.
She tells them that she can take them home and that she never doubted.
She turns over an hour glass and there is a small clear Tardis that spins. She pulls a couple levers, and a cookie pops out of a slot, which she eats. The TARDIS starts to dematerialize...