Doctor Who’s 10th (since the revival) series is drawing to a close, but before we begin the big finale we get one last stand alone adventures. This time it’s the old “pseudo historical”, with The Doctor and Bill seeking out the Roman Ninth Legion, who vanished without record. The pair of course find out that an interdimensional, light-eating creature is responsible… I mean, come on historians! It was obvious! Let’s take a look…
What happened to the legendary Ninth Legion of the Roman army? Bill and the Doctor both have ideas of what happened, but who is right? And what is that strange creature lurking in the dark? Why do people suddenly disappear?
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
“Don’t worry, I’ve been in worse situations…”
The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) – Happy to shirk his duties when his knowledge is challenged by Bill, although as it turns out his duty is now far more complicated that it was previously…
Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie) – Bill loves Romans, and has read all about them and is convinced there is more to the Ninth Legion’s disappearance that meets the eye… boy was she ever right!
Nardole (Matt Lucas) – Nardole has clearly given up trying to keep The Doctor in line, and is just along for the ride now… not that it means he can’t complain all the time, though!
Kar (Rebecca Benson) – Leader of what’s left of the Pict tribe after the Ninth Legion steamrolled over them. She let out a light-eating creature from another dimension as revenge, which is a bit of a “cutting your nose to spite your face” situation…
The Ninth Roman Legion – A multi-cultural group of young survivors from the Ninth Legion, most of which had already been eaten by the creature. Only the young survive because they hadn’t quite been drilled enough to not run and hide…
“*Gasp!* It’s some sort of… eater… of light!”
While Bill didn’t do much this time, I did enjoy more Doctor and Nardole interaction. The latter can be annoying at times, but the pair do play off of each other well. The guest cast all played their parts well enough as well, so a thumbs up in that regard.
They did the whole “people being taken out and mauled but we never get a clear look at the monster until the end” thing, which is always effective. The creature didn’t even look that bad in the end. The story as a whole was perfectly serviceable as well, with the Legion and Kar choosing to fight the light-eaters and protect the Earth, despite The Doctor wanting to do it himself (as per usual!) The little nods to their battle music being heard long into the future was a nice touch.
I like that Missy is now pretty much a slave on board the TARDIS, and that despite her giving off all the signs that she has redeemed herself, The Doctor is still not convinced, and quite frankly given their long, long history, that is a perfect bit of logic.
When I wake up and someone’s drawn on my face with a marker, I look the same way…
I have no problem with multi-racial Romans (makes sense, historically) and openly fine with homosexuality Romans (also makes sense, historically), but I could have done without them all being hunky young men in their late teens / early twenties. It made parts of the story seem like one of those “tween” novel adaptations that have finally died a death at the cinemas in recent years…
The whole bit with talking crows that then began to just say “Kar” in reference to the character’s sacrifice is the kind of “funny” childish stuff that kind of gets on my nerves. I’m not someone who thinks Doctor Who isn’t aimed at children, but it was never normally this silly until Moffat began to okay some of the more … stupid things, like The Doctor “talking baby” and such things in the past. Just a little eye-rolling on my end, nothing properly negative.
I loved this scene. After being surrounded by spears, The Doctor just couldn’t be bothered any more and pushed past them, then gave them a good bollocking!
Nardole is seen talking about the disappearances on the Mary Celeste, though his account is at odds with what we see in the First Doctor serial, “The Chase”, where The Doctor and his Dalek pursuers are responsible. Given that only The Doctor and his companions know the truth, it’s logical that in Nardole’s just making up or repeating old rumours without actual knowledge.
That’s it really, apart from the whole Missy thing, which has been a series-long story arc anyway, and will seemingly meet it’s big end in the next two-parter!
While this isn’t a story you’ll remember fondly, it was a perfectly fine 45 minutes. It didn’t do wrong, it didn’t amaze and astound, it was just… good. The calm before the storm, perhaps…