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[personal profile] capriuni
(Much [not all] of my commentary on Episode One ["The Pilot"] I posted to my Tumblr, first)

Things I loved about "The Pilot":

That Bill is a fan of sci-fi… and that’s why it took her longer to grok the true nature of the TARDIS – she knows sci-fi is make-believe, and she also knows that what she’s experiencing now is real, so therefore, she finds all sorts of different explanations for the TARDIS interior.

Photos of River and Susan on the Doctor’s desk. …And the way he looked at Susan’s picture when Bill asked “Why me?” (The feels!)

That she challenged the Doctor on “TARDIS” – if he’s an alien, why did he pick English words for his acronym? (The answer is, I think, that Susan did, when she fell in love with Earth England, 1963)

That the Doctor made the distinction between “Evil” and “Dangerous.”

And– most of all– how Bill insisted on her autonomy, and refused to let him mind-wipe her.

Other things I liked:

  • She knew what a Police Telephone Box was! This means she has educated herself about British history/culture from before her time. Is she the first companion of the Modern Era to know what it is? I think she is. A nice little detail that fleshes out her character. I know Amy had to have it explained to her in this between-episodes scene from Series 5. And Rose, too. What about Donna?

  • Also: The Doctor asking why she never applied – another, subtle, clue that he really has no idea how Earth Money and Poverty work (Q.V. Eleven showing up with a bag of cash in “The Lodger”). Again: a single line that fleshes out/confirms his character.

  • Moira’s cell phone convo with Bill – and the follow-up scene where Bill goes to confront whoever has invaded the bathroom. Shows that Moira has a habit of hooking up with dodgy partners, and that “Barry” is a violently jealous type. Despite technically being the Child, between the two of them, Bill has probably lived her whole live acting like the Grown-Up (a fate common among foster kids, unfortunately).

  • “Everything Rhymes” (there are many more types of rhyme than “Fat Cat Sat Hat, BTW).

  • I’ve seen a few review videos that thought the story was weaker, because the threat was “small.” But I liked that. Sometimes, saving one person is as important as saving a planet full of people.

  • When Bill asked what changed his mind, he said: “Time … and Relative Dimensions in Space.” His (first) wife “talked” some sense into him! ;-) … As she has from nearly the beginning.

Things I wonder about:

  • Who is the woman who keeps eyeing the Doctor, and he eyeing her back? Bill interpreted that as “perving.” But that’s not in Twelve’s character. I suspect she will come up again as a Baddie later in the series.

  • At the end, when the Doctor says: “I can’t! I promised!” Who did he make that promise to?

  • Apparently, the Intelligent Space Oil absorbed the dalek when it tried to exterminate “Heather”… Does that mean that the Dalek is now the “Passenger”? And if so, will that alter the Dalek’s personality (as with “Rusty” in "Into the Dalek" in Series 8)?

A couple of things that made me uncomfortable:

  • When Bill said, of a student in the canteen: "I fatted her." Setting up a dichotomy between being fat and being beautiful struck me as being unnecessarily petty. OTOH, we later see the two of them exchanging winks and grins. So it's clear that "beauty" is irrelevant to Bill.

  • When Bill asked: "Are we safe?" and the Doctor said: "Well, it's Nardole, so probably not." That bothered me far more. It's obviously a line written for the audience to laugh at. But the Doctor is talking about someone he's chosen to be his partner and helper. So it strikes me as out of character for him to express his disrespect, like that.

Thoughts I've had since posting these thoughts on Tumblr:

Did you notice that, when Bill asked: "Can we save her (Heather)?" the Doctor did not say: "No. She's gone. She's beyond saving."? And when Bill said: "Goodbye, Heather." Heather said: "Goodbye, ... Bill." (Not echoing the exact words back)? That means the human mind is still in there, somewhere... And when the Doctor invited Bill onto the TARDIS, he said: "It's a big universe, but maybe we'll find her."

...I really hope Pearl Mackie stays on the show for more than the 12 episodes of Series 10 -- so we get to see her for at least one adventure with whomever Peter Capaldi regenerates into. But if she has to leave at the end of this season, I hope that's why. I hope she gets to help rescue Heather, and decides to leave the Doctor, and settle down with her new-found love.

I've only watched "Smile" once, so far, so this section will be brief.

First off, when I saw the trailers/introductions for this episode, I had a sinking feeling, because "Robot Apocalypse" is a trope I wish would die forever. But the story was saved by how the conflict was resolved: Yes, the A.I. have become sentient -- therefore, stop treating them like your slaves/property -- and treat them as members of an alien civilization, instead.

Yes. Good. My point exactly.

Second: I got a very strong Ark in Space vibe from this -- And there was a line where the Doctor said he'd seen other colonies. So I wonder if that was deliberate callback to the Tom Baker story. I really liked the memorial altar to the old woman who had died -- and the implication that she was Storyteller of the colony -- so much more organic than files of microfilm (!! How much further we have actually come **Into the FUTURE** than we could have imagined in 1975!).

And did anyone else notice the other main difference between the story from 42 years ago and today's story? ...In "Ark," the catastrophe that drove humans off Earth was an impending asteroid strike. But those images that came up when Bill looked through the "book" that was laid at the old woman's feet certainly looked like a recording of the rise of a violent police state, and the outbreak of global war and genocide.

Steven Moffat and other official spokespeople can make all the protestations they want about how: "Our show is a fantastical science fiction romp! We're not out to make Statements about politics!"

But if that's the way the pudding whistles in the copper... More power to them! If art and pop culture can't save us, now, I don't know what can.

And finally, I loved how, even after Bill learned that she and the Doctor were under serious threats to their lives, she was still genuinely happy -- that she didn't have to put on a fake smile -- because she was out in the universe learning something new.

So Yes: Good. Two strong episodes in a row.
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