The cliffhanger of the previous episode is off-screen unresolved, presumably the HADS (hostile action displacement system) kicked in at the right moment. The Doc may have said this at some point but Jodie Whittakers wonderful ability to talk at the speed of thought means i may have missed it. The ‘fam’ finds themselves in the middle of a battlefield, with dead British soldiers lying all over the place. After the appearance of war field saviour Mary and the Doc’s wealth of Terran geological / historical knowledge, she reckons they’re in the middle of the Crimean War… but… dum dum dum…with the SONTARANS????
Feeling a lot more like a proper episode than the previous entry into the Flux cannon, which was more 90% setup and 10% story, this focuses on the war in point, and actually tells an A-B-C narrative, as well as contributing grippingly to the larger arc.
Its possibly my favourite Jodie episode yet. The Doc is brilliant, feeling loosed from her shackles a little and firing on all cylinders. The Sontarans, although again shown with certainly more comedy than was ever suggested in the original appearances pre-2005 revival, were still shown to be bloodthirsty maniacs who kill their own. The humour is evenly pitched – i consider myself a very, very pedantic cynic when it comes to nu-Who (i’m storing that particular bullet for the conclusion to this review, don’t worry), but even so Dan getting all Samwise Gamgee with his wok had me smiling. A wee bit so-so joke about sontaran obsession with japanese food i’ll let slide; i enjoy the fact Dan just shrugs and accepts the strangeness, vastly different to my feelings about Bill Potts, who seemed unable to let it go that the Doctor had two hearts.
Doc catapulting the Sontaran’s probic vent – oh yes.
Importantly the preachiness that was present only two seasons ago is somehow evaded here. We’re at war and war is hell, and yeah the Doc has a go at the British general (whom i only just now identify as Maddox from Casualty back when said program was an obsession of mine), but there is no in-the-face punchy morality. Bliss.
The scenes on the as-yet-to-be identified set with the five members of those people…the Mouri?… and the planet Time… well i still feel as if we don’t know enough about this for me to pass judgement. I’m not a fan of the two antagonists and their mute paintball-masked henchman, but theres no denying that having well-dressed, scene-chewing villains is deliciously Dr Who, so no complaints.
The special effects – particularly the destruction of the Liverpool docks (but with massive upside down krenim timeships / kryptonian planet eaters / sommarian battlecruisers) were astounding…well done on use of excellent CG budget, BBC animators!
In conclusion, a vastly superior entry compared to anything in Jodie’s first two televisual seasons, and i look forwards to next week.
However. (warned you).
The idea that the Sontarans, bred entirely for war, conflict and combat – have to come to a complete stop every 20-odd hours for a whole 7.6 minutes, or whatever (numbers are guesses)… is this not a really, really stupid oversight? I mean, all that war strategy and they didn’t think of including a basic shift system that would mean they have no break in the workforce efficiency? Seems a bit..rubbish. Sorry Chris, there was perhaps a better, more imaginative resolution in that writers mind of yours…surely?