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Non-spoilery reaction: Frost Fair! Bill! Squeeee!

And the spoiler-laden version:

I liked this much better than last week's :-) There were just so many lovely little details and comments, and so much wonderful Bill stuff to digest.

Just the beginning, where Bill points out that in 1814 slavery is still a thing and she's the wrong colour, and the Doctor actually takes that on board (unlike Ten) was great. And then later, when Bill notes that Regency Londn is a lot blacker than the movies, the Doctor makes a quip about so is Jesus and white-washing and...look, I know Doctor Who hasn't always been great at this. It's problematic at times. The Shakespeare Code makes me cringe a bit. So seeing this, where it's noticed and acknowledged that Bill's skin colour makes parts of history a problem, is good to see.

And it's not forgotten later, because Lord Sutcliffe is a racist arsehole (proving he's human, sadly) and that's a normal reaction for a man of his time. It's not excused, though. The Regency London here isn't whitewashed and it's probably a bit closer to the real racial mix than we're used to.

Anyway, I'm a white woman pontificating about race, so I'm going to shut up now. I'm sure they didn't do it perfectly, there are subtlties that I missed, but it's noticeable that they made an effort this time and I appreciate that.

Bill delighted me again in this episode. It's going to be a running them. Going back to the pre-credits, I adored the moment when Bill declared "likes dresses, likes getting into trouble...I'm low-key in love with her" in reference to the TARDIS and the Doctor agreed and they had that lovely mutual "we're both in love with our beautiful lady in a box" moment and it was perfect. A very tiny little reminder that Bill is not straight, but mostly a lovely moment between her and the Doctor.

That made what happened later, with Bill's horror at seeing someone die and the Doctor's dispassion, so much worse. I adore the friendship between Bill and the Doctor, so seeing them fight over something so important was painful. And the worst part is that they're both right! Bill hadn't seen someone die before, it was horrific. It was something she'll always remember. But the Doctor is two thousand years old. Keeping count would be self-destructive, I fear.

There was a hint of a return to the harsh Doctor of season eight, but he did mellow a bit. His admission that he had indeed killed, after trying to justify it and Bill not letting him, was much sadder version of that conversation than he would have been capable of with Clara, I think.

And he was the War Doctor. He doesn't know how many people he's killed because of the things he did as the War Doctor. The hints we've had...he was involved in huge battle actions. It would be impossible to know the exact count in those circumstances.

That fight is one of the moments when it's brought home that Bill is a human, a young student, and the Doctor emphatically isn't. He asked her how it was different to stand in a garden where people had died, see their skeletons, and I could immediately understand why it's different. The garden in Smile was dusty remains, Spider was a living boy she met and then had to watch as he died. It's different.

And even though they resolved that difference--or at least, Bill understands him even if she doesn't like this side of him--she was still horrified at seeing her second death. I'm glad they aren't trying to show her losing that horror. It makes me wonder what kind of nightmares she'll have later.

The Doctor's comment about the luxury of outrage...that wasn't just a dig about Bill's reaction to death, was it? It was a dig at the current climate of people being outraged from a position of privilege and never actually doing anything more than feeling outraged. Never taking real action, which is what the Doctor does instead. Interesting.

On a lighter note, I adored Bill's questions about the rules of time travel. Again, she's asking the questions that should be obvious but nobody has ever asked before! Her fear of changing history, her assumption there had to be rules...look, Bill is just the best, okay?

And her hearts-eyes at the Doctor as he makes the speech to Sutcliffe about the value of life. She's never going to be in love with him, obviously, but she loves him and admires and respects him. That's why his coldness about Spider's death made her so upset. Seeing your hero's flaws is always hard.

I do love that the Doctor keeps trying to teach her. Are the lights organic or electric? Yeah, he can't get out of teacher mode now. It's great :-)

I think part of the reason I enjoyed this episode is that the plot worked better. I'm sure it's got holes in if I shake it too hard, but even on a second viewing, nothing jumped out as a huge hole that made me suspend my disbelieve. The effects of the Doctor and Bill under water were a bit naff, but the technique of showing only parts of the creature worked well at making us understand its scale. I wasn't trying to be afraid of something cute this time. It was something lurky and awful, and of course the Doctor saw its sadness. It's the space whale all over again. Except with pilot fish.

It wasn't a new plot, but the trappings attached--Frost Fair, frozen London, Bill and the Doctor--made it fun and fresh, which is all I need.

Bill's assumption they'd gone to a parallel London--priceless. Wonder if the Doctor is going to add history to her syllabus now?

I'm not sure what to make of this idea that the Doctor serves at the pleasure of the human race, and I really don't know how I feel about the Doctor making Bill choose what to do with the creature. That was the moon egg thing again, and I didn't much like it then. Hmm. Something to ponder.

When they got back, I loved Bill's delight at their plan with the children working, and of course humans always forget things like giant monsters. The human capacity for rejecting what they don't understand, so true.

Which brings me to the final scenes. Nardole knows what's in the Vault and it's a who, not a what. He lost his bet, the Doctor will be wandering off, but why does he care so much about the Vault anyway?


Okay, that gave me shivers. This is going to be bad.


Next week's trailer...I am excited :-D
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