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[personal profile] selenay
Non-spoiler reaction: Not quite as good as last week's, but still a lot of fun. Two thumbs up! 👍👍


I don't think this is an episode that will age well. Like Bad Wolf, it relies heavily on current popular trends (game shows like What Not To Wear in Bad Wolf, emojis here) and that kind of thing dates fast.

BUT.

Bill and Bill's relationship with the Doctor raise this from a fairly uninspiring episode into a fun forty-five minutes that I enjoyed even on a second viewing. I think it's the combination of Bill being so excited and happy about everything and the Doctor enjoying his role as teacher/mentor that really works for me. That Ace-Seven vibe comes through strongly every time Bill asks something and the Doctor answers.

Which happens a lot, because Bill is a person who can't resist asking questions, and I love it. I think it's because Bill's questions are weirdly sensible and obvious, and you can't help wondering why people haven't asked those questions before. Why are the seats so far from the console? Why is he allowed to blow things up and generally take charge and sort stuff out?

I was surprised by how much I loved that idea of the Doctor never getting the chameleon circuit changed because he likes the police box shape and, specifically, the message on the outside. He hates the idea of being a policeman, you can hear it at the end, and it's never been about the Doctor being an intergalactic bobby on the beat (although you can argue that he acts as though he has that authority a lot of the time). That old-fashioned, 1950s image of the policeman as helper and provider of assistance and advice, though, that is what the Doctor does to a degree. It's not inaccurate, even though he tries so hard to rage against the establishment and defy the rules most of the time.

He's more like that one incorruptable policeman who sees what his fellow corrupt officers are doing and decides to go rogue and take his oaths seriously, even if it means (maybe especially if it means) he has to go up against his former colleagues to keep everyone safe from them. Maybe I'm pushing this metaphore to far?

Speaking of oaths, now we know he's protecting the vault! And wow, Doctor, that was a fine example of answering truthfully without telling anything. Who did he swear an oath to? What's in the vault? Why does it need protecting? Why did it look like he was breaking into it if he's protecting it?

Why is Nardole being such a mother?

I think the reason the plot of this episode didn't entirely work for me was that the interface bots were too cute to be intimidating. The idea of robots that view sadness as the enemy and try to destroy it--even if they have to slaughter everyone--should be scary, but the tension was completely absent due to the robot design. It's a shame, because there were some interesting ideas there trying to get out about happiness, grief, and understanding the nuances of human emotion.

I'm also not entirely convinced by the reset button resolution. Maybe the Doctor did need to know why they went wrong in order to make that work, but it felt too easy at the end and I couldn't help wondering why that wasn't the first thing he tried in the early stages of the episode.

But there were so many other things I liked that I can forgive it for not being perfect. Brief notes of things that I loved or was intrigued by:

- Bill's excitement at being on a real spaceship!
- Bill's excitement at having a proper trip in the TARDIS!
- Bill's joy when the Doctor explained about the walls and the spaceship!
- Bill's everything, she's so great.
- The Doctor asking questions all the time and either answering them himself or, even better, getting Bill to answer them and encouraging her to think things through.
- The Doctor wants to keep Bill safe, but she wants to help and do things, which is lovely.
- I'd ask if that's a reaction to Clara, but he doesn't remember Clara, so is it?
- The Doctor describing himself as a scary handsome genius from space, which is simultaneously hilarious and lovely.
- The Doctor being a mentor to Bill. Have I mentioned that enough yet?
- The magic haddock!

There are some definite plot holes. For example, if the wake-up sequence was triggered by the Doctor and Bill entering the ship, how did the shepherds get the dead body onto the ship without triggering the wake-up? How did the pendant get into the garden, when I was sure its owner wasn't killed in the garden and it should have been crushed if it went through the mulcher?

On the other hand, there was so much lovely Bill and Bill-and-the-Doctor stuff that I don't care. This may end up being my favourite Moffat-era pairing, and I really loved the Amy-Rory-Doctor triplet, so that's saying something.

Bill may even join Donna and Ace in my top companions bracket if she keeps being wonderful.

In conclusion, I am still a very happy Doctor Who viewer and I can't wait for next week's episode.

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