Doctor Who - Episode 10.03 - Thin Ice - Review
This week's episode of Doctor Who brought the female touch. Sarah Dollard returned to write her second episode. Continue on to read my thoughts on "Thin Ice". (Beware of slight spoilers ahead).
This episode hit the mark on almost everything. Fabulous new costumes? Check. Endearing character development? Check. Fun sci-fi? Check. A real world lesson taught? Check. Those ingredients always make for a very tasty episode!
Let's start with the character stuff. Bill continues to shine and is quickly becoming one of the best companions in the shows history. One of the best moments with her this week was when she was upset over the death of a kid and the Doctor's subsequent reaction to it. It was was very reminiscent of Donna in "Fires of Pompeii" (which coincidentally was Peter Capaldi's first appearance on the show). The sweetness in her came out again, which is the most endearing thing about her. Another moment that stood out to me about her was when she cursed - the camera cut away before the full word came out but you knew what she was going to say. Off the top of my head, I can't remember if we've ever heard a companion curse before. If it was anyone, it would have been Donna Noble, but I don't recall a moment where that happened. It made her character more real. If you went over 200 years in the past with an alien to find a giant fish eating people, you'd be cursing too.
Disco is back baby! Or, at least, the Doctor's nickname "Doctor Disco" is. A nice callback to season 9, but I am indifferent about the nickname. He hasn't used "John Smith" in a while, perhaps he should alternate them.
We were able to check two more boxes in the "Things the Doctor's Companions Experience for the First Time" checklist this episode. Bill got to ask about the sonic screwdriver and the psychic paper. Both of those things are absolute staples of the companions experience in Doctor Who. They aren't as fun as the TARDIS reactions, but still entertaining in their own way.
There was a moment in the story where The Doctor and Bill met the bad guy. Since the episode took place in 1814, and since Pearl Mackie is black, you would think there would be some moment or reference to the state of black people in that time period. However, going off of Doctor Who's history, I thought they would gloss over it. The closest they ever got was with Martha Jones in "The Shakespeare Code" and that was candy coated and not really dealt with. So imagine my surprise when the show actually went there. The bad guy was not only evil, he was racist too, and the show didn't shy away from it. The Doctor punching a racist might be the best violent thing he has ever done. There is no better lesson for a child to learn than to not judge someone based off of skin pigment. The Doctor even admitted he didn't stay calm, and that he lost his temper afterward, to show that violence is never right. In these tense times, it is nice to get that important, positive message across.
Shortly after that moment, The Doctor gives a wonderful speech, and Bill gives him this look that said everything without actually saying a word. He was completely redeemed and forgiven for their fight about dead people in her eyes, and I think that is when things clicked. She understands the Doctor much better than she ever used to.
Being that this episode was from the writer who killed Clara, there were some serious issues to deal with (and rightly so) but there were a lot of fun moments too! Pete for example - Bill was worried that if she "stepped on butterfly" that she would completely change history. The Doctor quipped that she already did, and made her friend Pete disappear. It was very funny and you could tell Capaldi was having fun with it. In today's world, don't be surprised if we get a Pete novel, Big Finish audio adventure or animated web spinoff some time in the future....
Nardole popped up at the very end of the episode. I wonder how many episodes he's properly a part of, and how many he just book ends. I am actually enjoying his character, and would like to spend a bit more time with him. The show is so much fun right now that he will fit right in. Can you imagine Nardole in season 8? Yikes. The point of Nardole appearing at the end of this episode was to reiterate the importance of the vault. The vault is the arc of this season and one of the more intriguing ones as of late.
I always thought of a vault as something you used to keep things safely inside. But from what I gathered, it sounds like they are using it to keep someone or something from getting out. Whatever it was seemed to be knocking very loudly. Knocking has been important in Doctor Who before. It could be a giant coincidence or maybe not. I am open to all options though, because after all: "Only idiots know the answers."
This was another very strong episode. I enjoyed it even more than last week. It has been a while since a season of Doctor Who has started out this strongly! Let's hope the streak continues next week in Mike Bartlett's (Doctor Foster) first ever episode "Knock Knock".
Hang tight. Laters.