selenak: (Equations by Such_Heights)
[personal profile] selenak
This was good, not solely for the dynamics, but for the overall episode content. Also, is this shaping up to be the most overtly leftist season since Seven's day, or what?



For starters, it was was truly scary. I mean, yes, we knew Bill and the Doctor would survive, and Nardole most likely, but as opposed to last week, I cared about the episode guest stars as well, and the Doylist knowledge that our regulars would survive didn't change the Watsonian fear on their behalf. The fear of vacuum in space, the flipside to the wonder of space, seems to be a surefire button to press for me, it works on the big screen, too, when a movie bothers to employ it. (Mind you: while the episode was more scientific than many, it couldn't resist employing sound to heighten the fear - the clicking of the magnetized boots in space where no one should be able to hear it. But there was a moment when they showcased the utter silence before going back to the sound effects, which I took as a nod to reality.)

Making the villain not a person but the system, capitalism carried out to the ultimate conclusion, worked really well here, and I think we're now five for five this season in episodes that lack the traditional menacing monster of alien origin. (The probably-alien-lice last week don't count because the main antagonist was the Landlord, not them.) It employed the "machines turning against us" fear but in an untraditional way - the machines don't become sentient, or suddenly evil, they still follow their programming, and it's the humans who programmed them who are the bastards (and as opposed to 10.02 not unintentionally so). The selling oxygen concept, the counting of breaths - I completely bought into this particular world building, and all lin the space of one episode.

As last week, the biggest punchline came at the end, with the reveal that the Doctor didn't magically heal due to nth use of Gallifreyan biology as an explanation, but is still blind as a result of giving Bill his helmet. If this happened in a normal season, it wouldn't be very effective because we'd know it won't stick for long. But this is Peter Capaldi's last season, and this means the Twelfth Doctor may well stay blind until he regenerates. (Or not, I'm not excluding a cure earlier, but my point is, because of the nature of the season, it's entirely possible for me to believe Twelve won't see again, and that is gut wrenching.)

What else: Nardole gets a bit more fleshed out here; we see he's truly worried and scared of what will happen if Person in The Vault gets out, and that the Doctor when this whole vault guarding began explicitly told Nardole to stop himself from doing what he's doing now, adventuring away from Earth. In other words, Nardole has the most thankless of Companion tasks, Doctor-wrangling, while Bill gets his good side, which makes a bit of an uneven dynamic with potential trapfalls, but by now I'm optimistic enough to wait for more, and for evening out this unevenness.
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