I approached this episode thinking it was going to be too flashy: One local episode with Clara followed by her seeing a whole-new-planet? I thought it’d be too big for its boots and fall, but yet again I was pleasantly surprised. Thee episode struggled for a whole new set of reasons. Not to say it was a bad episode, of course. In fact on face value it was quite brilliant. The bold colours, some slight humour, some touching scenes, kids singing and being sacrificed: a nice soup of episode gold. What brought it down was its… well content?
I should explain. Let’s start from the beginning. So, the Doctor and Clara decide to go on a trip to see a far, distant planet (Clara’s first other-worldly encounter). She steps out into a market street full of various aliens. She’s not all that shocked to see the swarms of creatures she’s never seen before… why? Even with the TV and movies I watch about aliens, I think I’d be a little more shocked to see one. In fact I’m amazed enough to see something I recognise from Earth, say a giraffe at the zoo. Anyhow, ignoring that small touch, a short while later and we’ve had a touching scene between Clara and a little girl, the little girl has gotten in trouble, and the Doctor and Clara try to save her.
Here’s the first problem. The doctor makes a speech. He says an awesome speech that’s full of emotion, images of Clara looking proudly on (despite being miles away and not hearing, huh…), powerful music behind powerful words, an insight into the Doctor’s thoughts and all the things that makes for a good Doctor speech. The problem here is that the writers seem to be coming to the conclusion that because the speeches are gladly welcomed, that they should include them in more episodes. These grand speeches are meant to make the end-of-series and the special, dramatic, episodes more powerful. They’re meant to be one-off things the Doctor does to warn off enemies and show that he is there to protect all that’s holy and good in the universe. Him making strong speeches everyday just makes them ‘normal’, like giving me an excuse to buy Easter eggs every day of the year because chocolate makes the day better.
Ah well, there’s been a speech… I guess it was really powerful and it settled the problem, I guess I could let it slide. But then… the Doctor’s wasn’t good enough! Clara has to get in on the action and add to the speech. She brings out her backstory in a neatly (leaf wrapped) package and adds her own piece. No Clara… while, again, it’s quite nice… we didn’t need more. We don’t need metaphors to say that the doctor isn’t strong enough alone. We don’t need that bit of loveliness added to add to the impact. It was just… tagged on the end so Clara could have her starring role.
I don’t know, while I can complain, I did like this episode. While the speeches are annoyingly frequent, this one was very emotional. We also learnt a lot about Clara, which is nice as her character needs some padding out. It wasn’t flashy or too big for itself, and we saw a new cultured planet. So, while I hope the writers stop trying to make each episode epic by just adding in a speech-formula, I also rate this episode quite highly.
Extended(SPOILERS): . Oh, I forgot about the other annoying parts.. like how they just went ‘well this is fairly bad… oh wait.. it was just the alarm clock for THIS THING HERE RAWERRRRR…. and what did it do?.. destroy things? Kill the doctor?!?!… oh… it ate the doctors memories and then ate a leaf. The leaf that that idiot at the beginning pledged his soul to…. riiiight.