Chris Chibnall (who also wrote Dinosaurs) is really growing as a writer this series. His work on this episode is a vast improvement from his work on the first series of Torchwood, where he was the co-producer. When I heard he had written 2 of the 5 episodes we were getting this year I must admit my heart sank a bit as I was worried we’d get something on the level of Torchwood’s Cyberwoman or Doctor Who’s 42. However, he’s written a couple of crackers this time round.
The episode really should have been a 2-parter. I think this may be the first time this has happened in Nu-Who – usually you have what would have been a perfectly entertaining episode stretched into a slightly flabby 2-parter (The Rebel Flesh – I’m looking at you). However, in this one you had almost an episodes worth of plot and resolution shoved into the last 5 minutes. Ideally everything after Rory's dad was kidnapped by the aliens would have been saved for a second part.
Speaking of Rory’s dad – it was wonderful to see him again. It was something I’d hoped for after his first appearance in Dinosaurs On A Spaceship, and this episode delivered in spades. Hopefully Rory departing won’t stop the Doctor checking in on him again every now and then.
It was also nice to have the Brigadier's daughter Kate Stewart, played by Jemma Redgrave, turn up. He cast a huge shadow over the old series and it is a really nice touch that his daughter is continuing his work. She’s also helping to redeem UNIT who were somewhat shabbily treated during RTD’s run and relegated to army grunts rather than the force for good they were during the 1970s. Or the 1980s if you believe Jon Pertwee’s episodes were set slightly in the (then) future – but I’m not getting into that old Who chestnut!
I’ve heard a few people saying the alien threat was underwhelming. As far as I’m concerned this was intentional. The threat to the Ponds wasn’t the aliens - it was the Doctor.
The biggest threat of travelling with The Doctor isn't that you'll die - it's that you'll lose your life - abandoning all friends, career, hopes and dreams to run across the universe with a madman in a box.
The Doctor is a drug – travelling with him is dangerous, but it's also very addictive. There's adventure, excitement, mind-altering experiences, and a hint of danger but everything works out well in the end. So you do it again and again.
The Ponds know of the dangers, but they aren't quite ready to give him, or the TARDIS life, up . However, things are coming to a head and as we all know their journey is coming to an end next week...I just hope it's not as abrupt as this episode.