Doctor Who 4.2: The Fires of Pompeii review


The Fires of Pompeii

From Doctor Who: The Aztecs
Barbara: Oh, don’t you see? If I could start the destruction of everything that’s evil here… then everything that is good would survive when Cortez lands.
The Doctor: But you can’t rewrite history! Not one line!
Susan: Barbara, the high priest is coming.
The Doctor: Barbara, one last appeal: what you are trying to do is utterly impossible! I know, believe me, I know!

Episode star rating: **** (out of a possible five) for The Fires of Pompeii (not The Aztecs! Although it’s very nice too.)

Okay, so the mystery of The Aztecs is solved then?  The Aztecs were a “fixed point in time” rather than being “in flux.” Or something.

I enjoyed this episode on two levels.  One on the level of the references to various previous Doctor Who stories, and the level of drama of the episode itself.

Even though this was a very good episode, there were some quibbles I had on both these levels.

I’m not sure, it seemed to take away some of the mystery of the programme to define these “fixed point” or “flux” situations. Perhaps. Maybe some groundwork is being laid for future episodes’ plotpoints with these concepts? Also, wasn’t there a reference to a Pyramids of Mars-style alternative future that “existed” but was averted? (Or something.) This kind of clashes with the “fixed point” thing. Phew. It was simple when it was just timey-wimey.

On the other level, the drama, the quibble I had was that the crux of the episode, the choice the Doctor had to make: the scene was rushed without explaining clearly the situation.

On the whole though, very good, very glossy, but it could have had more dramatic oomph to it for such a momentous moment in Doctor Who history.


One Response to “Doctor Who 4.2: The Fires of Pompeii review”

  1. frillyshirtcyberman Says:

    I felt kind of “uh?” at the end of the episode. I loved the set up, the silly “celt” joke and dug the creepy CGI baddies (I had flashbacks of Davison’s story The Awakening…weird!!).

    The moral dilemma saw it coming from a mile away, but what I didn’t was the quickly resolution. That was verily my problem with the story: they had the setup for the dilemma and then, just like that, it was gone! …. say what? :|

    Regarding fixed and flux points, well, I liked that, it would certainly help explain some old stuff and i think it’s a setup for the last episodes… There are fixed points that can never be moved (the massacre in paris, Cortez doing his nastiest, pompeii, etc) and there are other that can be changed a bit, without bringing a whole disarray in the universe (changing the location of death of Peter Tyler in Father’s day, 2 versions of the Doc, 4th and 9th, in the Titanic). I liked how they ptu it out clear that there’s things he can change and things he cannot. Felt real tragic there.

    (start of crazy coffee-fueled speculation)
    If Davros comes back (I really dont know, Im just speculating :P) by Dalek time meddling (or fluxing), he’ll get his arse kicked around (obviously), but I think the Doc will be tempted about changing the outcome of the time war. He can’t undo the Time War, since that is a fixed point, whereas Davros existence was in flux (hopefully it’s the last appearance, though).
    (end of crazy coffee-fueled speculation)

    It was another fun romparound, with a few more bits of Season Arc Seasoning (TM). Looking forward for the Ood!

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