Doctor Who - Episode 11.09 - It Takes You Away
I do not have a definitive ranking of episodes this season, and while I don't think anything will beat "Rosa", the penultimate episode of the season "It Takes You Away" is about as good as it gets. The way it started, I didn't think it would be. Then it slowly won me over, until I was completely enthralled. I wish more TV did that.
I'll admit - when this started, it felt like it was going to be paced like a Mark Gatiss episode. That doesn't bode well for me, as I have trouble with his episodes. But I was pleasantly surprised. Present day Norway. A cabin in the woods. An alternate dimension in a mirror. All great stuff.
The episode packs an emotional punch. It was completely unexpected. There were some big character arcs solved here - particularly with Graham. I thought that would be saved for the finale. But I guess other things will get attention next week. Or maybe that is when Graham's journey ends, and they had to tie up things now.
Graham was the emotional center of the episode. Bradley Walsh, who I hadn't had much exposure to before the show, was incredible. Him dealing with the loss of Grace head on, and then him being called "Granddad" from Ryan were both poignant and heartfelt.
It was nice that they cast a real blind actress to play a blind character. But it was still used for story purposes. Eyes were deceiving people in the mirror dimension, but she knew the alien wasn't her dead mother right away because she could feel. One day we will get to a point where people with disabilities are just characters in the story, without their disability being part of it.
The little touches are what made "It Takes You Away" so great. The shots were flipped in the mirror dimension. It is subtle and hard to tell, the part in Graham's and the Doctor's hair give it away. Next time you rewatch look at their hair parts. They will flip depending on where they are. Attention to detail can make everything better.
I am going to have to get over it, so I stop mentioning it every review, but I am disappointed at the lack of TARDIS scenes. This episode had an extra gripe though. The Doctor didn't know where she landed...again. I mean, it happens. It is actually a wonderful part of the show, where she thinks she is going somewhere and ends up getting completely wrong. But this time, it's like she had no idea. She didn't even think she was somewhere different only to be proven wrong. She didn't know, so she left her dimensional time machine with scanners to eat the grass to find out. Is Chibnall and/or The BBC so afraid of the TARDIS that they have to get more and more ridiculous not to use it?
The frog at the end didn't bother me. We've had pencil scribbles, walking fat, statues, blocks of cement and farting aliens. I think it is all about perspective though. With all of those other things, we had a ton of memorable villains to go with it. This year, not so much, so the frog sticks out more. Plus, the frog tied into Grace and the imagery the alien had taken in the first place.
It is unfair to judge this against other penultimate episodes, because most of them have been part 1 of the finale, where this was standalone. Even to compare this to the penultimate episode of season 6, which did not have a two part finale, is unfair because it was the sequel to an episode from the previous season. With that being said, Ed Hime crafted a nice story to lead us into the finale, even if it wasn't as high-stakes as we are used to.
While this could change, "It Takes You Away" would be in the top half of this season's episodes for me. The tail end of this season has had some great ones. Hopefully the finale next week will cap it off spectacularly.
Doctor Who airs Sundays on BBC One and BBC America.