Doctor Who has covered a wide range of topics and genres per episode, but this past week’s episode is one of the largest leaps between genres I have seen. We go from the topic of racism and the genre of history with the civil rights movement to comedic sci-fi humor complete with giant spiders in a single TARDIS trip. (In case you haven’t guessed Sweetie’s – Spoilers Ahead!)
While the leaps between genres that Doctor Who makes have, I believe, helped it become the massive success that it is this week’s leap from such an emotional episode as “Rosa” to this past week’s episode “Arachnids in the UK” seems like almost a massive and abrupt left turn.
While it is had to keep up an emotional message each week in each episode, and sometimes you need something jumpy and funny like this week’s episode, but there were some missteps in the flow of things. Not to mention, I feel like we continue to have so many unanswered questions about the Doctor’s past, and the Doctor herself.
The gang arrives back home, and Yaz checks for messages on her phone – she has none. To which the Doctor explains that they have only been gone for 30 minutes. Here is where my first question comes up. In past seasons, the Doctor has said that they will be back in 30 minutes, and they are gone for much longer – a prime example of this is the premiere episode for Matt Smith as the 11th Doctor. The Doctor tells a young Amelia Pond that he will return shortly to help with the crack in her wall, but when he finally does return it is many years later after she is all grown up. So, my question is Has this Doctor finally figured out the timing for landings or was this just a lucky landing?
One of my favorite parts of this episode was in the beginning, the wonderful (and emotional) contrast that was perfectly executed by the cast. We see the humor and the laughing when the Doctor and Ryan go for tea at Yaz’s house with her family, which is perfectly contrasted by the grief and heartbreak that Graham is feeling returning home to where he and Grace and Ryan lived. In continuation of last weeks emotional performance from Bradley Walsh, I love how director Sallie Aprahamian used the imagery of Grace rather fuzzy and unfocused until Graham comes to terms with his feelings and the grief that he is still struggling with. One of the more poignant scenes for me was when Graham and Ryan are talking and Ryan airs his feelings about his father who hasn’t been around and the letter that he receives from him saying that Ryan should go live with him since his father is his “proper family”. These emotional scenes bring forth one of the best parts of this series, and that is the emotion that has become the backbone to the adventures of a mad person with a box.
Now, once you are past the emotional parts, if you have a fear of spiders and I mean a deathly fear that will cause you anxiety for weeks – this might not be an episode for you. Of course, if you are scared of spiders, but were able to make it through the spider scenes in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets or the spider scenes in The Lord of the Rings, you will totally be able to enjoy this episode. From a giant spider jumping out of a bathtub to the visuals of humans being suffocated by spiderwebs as they are stored for food and even a hoard of large spiders scurrying through abandoned coal mine tunnels this episode does deliver some jump worthy scenes.
The supporting characters in this episode are all good, but the one who stands out the most is Chris Noth (you might know him from his roles on Sex and the City, The Good Wife, and Law & Order). Noth plays Jack Robertson, a brash US business tycoon who takes abandoned locations and repurposes them into resorts. Poised as almost a Trumpian caricature, with lines like “Why don’t you just do what normal people do – get a gun and shoot things like a civilized person?”, the character of Jack Robertson is prepping for a run for US President in 2020 – he even yells “Don’t even say his name” when one of the others mentions Donald Trump. So clearly there is no love lost with this character towards his potential opponent.
In fact, Noth lives up to what the character of Jack Robertson is saying in the final scene, the Doctor and Team Tardis are all in the resort’s ballroom with Yaz’s mom Najia and arachnid expert Jade facing the main spider, who they have now realized has grown too big for her respiratory system and is dying. As they try to figure out what to do, Jack Robertson comes barreling in and shoots the spider, killing it. When to Doctor yells at him that the spider is already dying he simply says “Then it was a mercy killing” and walks away. His ending is far from what we have normally seen in past season when it comes to people of authority getting what’s coming to them by the Doctor. Of course, this could definitely be seen as a commentary on what is happening in the world today and how a person with all of the authority in the free world can do something horrible and just simply walk away. This is actually echoed throughout the episode as we learn more about things and why there are giant spiders Jack Robertson refuses to take responsibility claiming that nothing that is happening is his fault, cause he didn’t know.
The ending for Jack Robertson’s character not only felt very odd to me, but it also seemed in complete contrast to the optimism of what we normally see in a Doctor Who episode. It was also this ending that raised another question with me about how the Doctor handles things. What has happened to Doctor during this regeneration that she can go from how the 10th Doctor handled Harriet Jones Prime Minister after she ordered an alien ship that was leaving to be blown up?
To see how that all went down, check out the clip below:
All in all, I did enjoy this episode. However, much like the two questions, I posted above, I was left with a few more questions after this episode – questions based on things that the Doctor said in this episode.
When the Doctor meets Yaz’s father and sister she says “I used to have sisters” – so what happened to them? In all these years, there have been mentions of the Doctor’s family, but never anything specific about who they are or what happened to them. So, is she referring to Missy or were there other siblings – or is she referring to the sisters that were her colleagues at the aqua hospital.
With the open-ended ending that the character of Jack Robertson had, is there any chance that he will return in a later episode? Much like Harriet Jones could we see Chris Noth’s character come back in a later episode to face his true fate?
To go through all of these questions would take time, and without any clear answers, all we can do is wait and get ready for tonight’s episode.
Thanks for checking out my review of Doctor Who Episode #4 – Arachnids in the UK – what questions did this episode leave you with? Do you think Jack Robertson will make another appearance later on this season?
Leave your comments below, let me know your thoughts on the episode or if there are any questions that this episode has left you with!
Time to get ready for tonight’s episode! Have a great #TARDISSunday Readers!