The Doctor: Not got any celery, have you?
Production Code: 1.9.
Story Number: 209b.
A continuation of the story that is both worse and better than the previous part (oh and of course, don’t read this if you haven’t watched the story yet)…
The last 10 minutes (which is sort of a coda to the main narrative) is the most intriguing thing about these 45 minutes and is what makes this part something extraordinary, but that’s not to say it isn’t woven into the fabric of the story. This Chibnall–written two-parter is, ultimately, the many-centuries-old story-type about a descent into “the underworld” to bring someone back, (which doesn’t always go to plan.)
Before the final 10 mins though more of the “new Silurians”, which provide some elements which mean this is worse and better than the previous part. Worse – the Doctor praising the scientist (for being less harsh with Elliot than he was with Elliot’s dad Mo) a little too enthusiastically, this Silurian now being presented as one of the “good guy” Silurians, in a bizarre scene. Also, this reintroduction of Classic “Monsters” is not without problems. This is a “different tribe” of the Silurians, fine. For a story with so much continuity, it’s odd that by the end of the story there’s no mention of the readymade example of a “different tribe”, the “marine Silurians” – the Sea Devils. There was even one featured in The Eleventh Hour (during the Atraxi recap of the previous 30 seasons of Doctor Who), and they got a shout-out in Last of the Time Lords – the Master says:
“Do you know, I remember the days when the Doctor – oh, that famous Doctor – was waging a Time War, battling Sea Devils and Axons.”
In the Third Doctor story The Sea Devils, when discussing the Silurians (or “Eocenes”) with Jo, the Doctor describes “the Sea Devils” as “another of their colony”, however they are “a different species, completely adapted to life under water”. With this story, the new reptile-people seem to be a “different branch of the species” (the Silurian species seemingly.) So, the question of whether “Sea Devils” are also “Silurians” remains fuzzy.
The elements that mean this is the more interesting half of the story: the serried ranks of the “warrior class” in their hibernating state in the cavern resemble the massed Chinese sculptures of The Terracotta Army – they also recall the Sea Devils, curiously, (with the mesh of the chainmail and their handheld technology), and “female warrior class” is also something out of the “pulp era” of the 1920s and ’30s, the era of the Flash Gordon serials. The soundtrack seems to be intended to conjure up the atmosphere of “classic” Sci-Fi films like the Flash Gordon of 1980 or The Planet of the Apes film of 1968, with its discordant horns. These layers to the episode are a good thing.
So, the final 10 minutes, and it’s flashbacks a go go as sequences of previous episodes feature onscreen to underscore how this is all part of the season’s ongoing plotline. Flesh and Stone and its Crack is featured, though the way the Doctor reacts to Amy losing Rory and then her memory of Rory recalls another scene from that episode that isn’t directly featured.
In this scene and the scene in that earlier story, the Doctor kisses Amy on her forehead in each scene, concerned that she should remember in each scene. That scene of a few stories ago, because of the continuity “error” – the Doctor is wearing his jacket unlike the “regular” Doctor – suggests a “Future Doctor” who goes back to reassure Amy (and this scene fills in another part of this mystery, as it gives a reason to why Amy should have to remember.)
A great last 10 minutes, but overall, a good Doctor Who story.
Rating: 4/5 (for this part of the story)
and for the whole story, 3/5