Doctor Who - Episode 11.04 - Arachnids In The UK - Review

The first "spooky" episode of the Chris Chibnall has come at last. What is creepier than giant spiders? It's a testament to the show that you can do something as serious as Rosa Parks one week, and then giant spiders in a hotel the next.

You can read all of this season's reviews right here.

Doctor Who is the only show that could make me have empathy for spiders. The twist here of course, is that human beings were the villains, and the spiders were innocent victims.

There is usually some sort of alien influence on every story. This one didn't have any. It was all human-caused. Like Daredevil or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, toxic sludge created something that wasn't supposed to be. In that sense it felt like this event would feel more at home on Torchwood than it would on Doctor Who.

We finally got to meet Yaz's family. I bet we will see them again, especially her mother. Russell T. Davies used to involve the family of the companions much more than Steven Moffat used to. We will see where Chibnall falls on that scale.

Sex And The City's Chris Noth played a very Trump-like business man. He did a good job too, because he was more disgusting than the spiders were. Doctor Who is good at making us see the very best and the very worst of the human race. "Arachnids In The UK" did that very well.

It was nice to see Grace again, albeit through Graham's grief. Like Yaz's family, I doubt this is the last we've seen of her either. 

Chibnall gave us another staple of the series this week - the companions signing up full time. When someone new joins, it's usually a couple of "preview" trips first. All of the checkboxes that we have come to expect have been laid out over 4 episodes. Usually we get them all at the same time. There isn't much more to do now, other than have each of the three of them get their own TARDIS key.

The other thing, is that we got to see the TARDIS traveling through the time vortex for the first time. The re-imagined time vortex looks stunning! It looks like something out of Ant-Man or Doctor Strange. I really like the look of it.

This whole spider thing seems to have been happening for a while. I didn't notice any spider webs in "The Woman Who Fell To Earth", but I should rewatch to check. Both episodes technically happened on the same day, so they would have been around. Those seeds could have been easily planted. On the other hand, the infected spiders were somewhat contained to a couple of areas, so the rest of the world wouldn't have seen or heard anything unusual.

There is a romance being teased for Yaz. She was asked about both Ryan and the Doctor, but the seeds have been planted for Ryan and her since the beginning. The best parts of the episode though was when Graham went back to the house and was grieving over Grace. Bradley Walsh did some wonderful acting in those scenes, and I can see a path where he makes peace with dying to save the others, because he will get to be with Grace again.

I hope that doesn't happen for a while, I would like this team to stick around for more than a season, but I wouldn't be surprised if it did happen eventually.

The story was shallow and thin. Graham dealing with grief and Yaz interacting with her family were the main points of the episode. The story would have had a similar ending if the Doctor wasn't there. The spiders would have been killed, and the ones who weren't would have died eventually anyway. Last week's episode was as good as the show gets. This week, while still enjoyable, was a bit ordinary.

I feel there still needs to be some connective tissue somewhere. A lot of times in Doctor Who, there are adventures they've gone on that we don't see. Ones in between episodes, if you will. But we've seen 100% of this group's adventures. That would lend itself to an arc even more! But I see no evidence of that right now.

Overall, the episode was fine. It was much better than the last time we saw spiders on Doctor Who. But it still feels like a middle-of-the-road episode for this season. Still, even an average Doctor Who episode is better than most everything else on TV.

Doctor Who airs Sundays on BBC One and BBC America.


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