Even though the Doctor made a big impression on three people from Sheffield, she still hasn’t really earned their trust yet. This is due to her accidentally bringing Graham, Ryan and Yaz along in her search for the TARDIS.
They find themselves in a race where they could find a way home and maybe the ship…if they survive.
It also reveals that a new alien race is determined to be the new Daleks.
The episode picks up where last week left off, with the Doctor and his friends in deep space. Fortunately, they’re saved by two pilots named Angstrom (Susan Lynch) and Epzo (Shaun Dooley). They’re rivals in an intergalactic rally for a fortune that would change their lives. Angstrom wants to use the money to save her family whose planet is being slaughtered, while Epzo just wants really fancy self-lighting cigars. He has mother issues because she taught him to trust no one….including her.
As for the new companions, Graham is more excited than Ryan about finding themselves in an alien planet, even if it happened shortly after the tragic events of last week. Yaz is rather stunned but gets acclimated to the idea.
The Doctor, meanwhile, hasn’t lost a thing. She quickly argues with Epzo over how to land the ship, and tells everyone to be careful. She also shows that she still remembers something from her third body from 48 years ago.
They find a tent which has the hologram of Ilin (Art Malik), the man who runs the rally. He tells the two pilots they’re the last two survivors of 4000, and they have to get to something called the “Ghost Monument” to win. The loser stays on the planet, apparently forever. He reminds them this is all about survival as well as finishing the race.
The Doctor and her friends, who are part of the race because they’re also stranded, want to know what this monument looks like. The answer surprises everyone:
If they get there at the right time, the Doctor can stabilize her ship, and get her new friends home. She insists that it’s all about teamwork, and they should all stick together. Epzo and Angstrom, meanwhile, just want to win to survive.
The events from last week are still affecting the Companions. Ryan still finds it difficult to call Graham “Granddad” after Grace died, but it may also be due to being disappointed by his own dad. He’s not sure yet that Graham is better, but they do figure out together how to get a boat going. They need it because the planet’s atmosphere is bad and the water has flesh-eating microbes.
They get to a deserted building which suggested an advanced civilization was around. Now, there’s no people, animals or even insects. What is still on the planet is an army of Sniperbots that Epzo accidentally activated.
The Doctor admits she doesn’t like guns, and that tricking the robots is better. Ryan doesn’t think so, and it looks like his experience in Call of Duty, and a handy alien gun defeats the robots….until they reboot and start attacking again. The Doctor beats the robots thanks to an electromagnetic pulse (“Brains over bullets”), but that’s also temporary.
They do have enough time to find a room that has inscriptions of the former inhabitants. They discover scientists were kidnapped, tortured and forced to make the deadliest weapons possible.
Their captors? The Stenza.
Apparently they want to be the new Daleks. They’re already responsible for the deaths of Graham’s wife and Angstrom’s family.
One of those weapons, which seems to be sentient cloth that strangles people to death, starts attacking Epzo but Angstron saves him. Everyone is forced to the surface, where they’re on a field that emits acetylene gas. The “evil cloth”, called Remnants, are feeding on everyone’s fear and ready to strangle them. It’s actually kind of silly, as if they’re about to be attacked by talking flying carpets.
The Remnants then taunt the Doctor about knowing hidden fears within her, even talking about the “Timeless Child”. This puts a chill in her, but only briefly. She burns the evil cloth thanks to the gas and Epzo’s cigar.
So who wins? Epzo and Angstrom do, after some firm words to Ilin.
However, it looks like the Doctor, Yaz, Graham and Ryan are the losers, and even the Doctor is losing faith….until a familiar shape finally fades into view.
It’s the TARDIS, and it’s upgraded a bit. She steps inside….
and is pleased with what she sees.
Her companions are stunned, but are hopeful she can get them back to Sheffield 2018.
But, as it always happens, there will be a few detours.
This episode was written by new showrunner Chris Chibnall, and was a continuation of the season opener. The 13th Doctor’s tenure wasn’t going to be official until she got her TARDIS.
The opening credits also made their debut. The visuals are quite different but the theme sounds more like the original than it has in years.
There’s also the occasional name dropping by the Doctor, after she lends Graham a pair of sunglasses that either belonged to Pythagoras or Audrey Hepburn.
Here’s a tweet where Chibnall gives fans a tour of the new TARDIS:
— Doctor Who (@bbcdoctorwho) October 14, 2018
Aside from the “evil cloth”, it was a good follow-up to the season opener, and sets the tone for the season as the Doctor tries to get her new friends home while dealing with a new enemy that could rival the Daleks.
Next week, they head to the 1950’s and meet Rosa Parks…and someone who wants to change history.