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(Review) Doctor Who: Orphan 55

Welcome back, everyone!  It's time to check in again on the Doctor and her friends.  Last time we saw her, the Doctor was reeling from the fact that the Master returned and apparently destroyed Gallifrey.  That's a lot to take in, even for a Time Lord.  Where do we go from here?  Let's discuss...

 

Plot:

The Doctor, Graham, Yaz, and Ryan go on an impromptu holiday at an all-inclusive resort called "Tranquility Spa."  Of course, the peacefulness doesn't last long, because the spa is not what it seems.

 

Observations (Warning: spoilers ahead)

  • As we mentioned, when we left the Doctor, she was processing the return of an enemy and the destruction of her home planet.  We go from that crisis to...a deep space squid that was apparently feeling frisky in the TARDIS?  That's one hell of a jarring transition. 

 

  • The set-up to this trip feels rushed.  Graham comes racing in, talking at a 100 words per minute, makes a crack about his speedos (which no one needs to hear), and before we know it, we're already at the spa.  Turns out, pacing will be an issue this week.

 

  • The gang splits up as soon as they arrive at Tranquility Spa.  Can't see how that could possibly go wrong.

 

  • According to our math, the chaos came to Tranquility in the first four minutes.  The threat obviously has to be introduced to the episode, but maybe give the spa just a few more minutes to establish a peaceful setting before beginning the invasion?

 

  • We meet an elderly couple named Benni and Vilma who have been together for 46 years, and Benni is finally ready to pop the question.  Don't rush into anything, Benni.  You know things won't end well for these two.

 

  • No matter the time or place, those automated voices will always be unnerving.  You know, the ones that say in a calm voice, "Please don't panic, but you're probably about to die," like they're announcing the weather.

 

  • Ryan picks a weird time to start hitting on Bella.

 

  • This week's villains look pretty nasty.

 

  • The resort shouldn't be there, and the locals (the Dregs) are attacking the guests.  It's a variation on the tried and true "base under attack theme" that the show loves so much.  

 

  • Tranquility Spa is on an orphan planet.  Those are planets made inhabitable, but the elite get to leave while everyone else is left behind to die.  We're suddenly having visions of Elon Musk's plan to establish a viable city on Mars in the future.

 

  • The point of the spa is to fund a program to revitalize the planet and make Tranquility's owners rich.  What's Kane's role here?  If she's just security, who's going to execute that plan?  Are we talking about the elite who left in the first place?  Again, the characters race through their conversations so quickly, we're losing some of the details.

 

  • Ryan's still hitting on Bella while the group is stuck in an armored car traveling a toxic wasteland.  This is weird.

 

  • Sorry, Benni.  You were doomed from the start.  (Side note:  Why did the Dregs keep Benni around in the first place, and how were they transporting him all this time?  Was he riding piggy-back on one of them?)   The show can't seem to figure out if it's a bad thing that Vilma keeps yelling while they're in the vehicle.  They tell her to be quiet, but then she's free to loudly answer Benni's marraige proposal.

 

  • We find out that Bella is Kane's daughter, and now she's going to blow up Tranquility to...get back at mom for being gone?  What?  You weren't there for me, so now I build bombs?  First Daniel Barton kills his mother during "Spyfall," and now this.  Why do this year's villains have mom issues?

 

  • Turns out this is Earth in the future.  What happened?  Nuclear war?  Global warming?  Alien invasion?  That means these Dregs are mutated humans. 

 

  • Nevi and Silas are getting annoying.  Do we need them?

 

  • Why does the Doctor think it will be okay if she does the "Time Lord mind meld" with a (temporarily) dormant Dreg?  Why is she then  surprised when said Dreg lifts her off the ground?  (We'll admit, we enjoyed the description of the Dregs being like "angry trees."  Big tree fans here.)  Kane runs in to save the Doctor, and that seems to be it for her.  Bye, Kane.

 

  • What is the point of this scene with the Doctor, Yaz, and "Wheezy?"  Let's go into this room, so we can lock ourselves in, but then you let us come out while you lock yourself in, and then we can continue running. 

 

  • Turns out global warming caused this whole mess, so that's this week's lesson.

 

  • Nevi and Silas finally do something useful and fix the teleport system, but why did we need two characters here?  Between these two, Kane and Bella, and maybe Barton and his mother, are we having some discussion about children and parents this series?

 

  • Turns out Kane survived her last encounter with a Dreg without a scratch, and now she and her daughter will have one last stand together...as Bella and Ryan make one last thumb-sucking gesture to each other.  Sure.  Let's wrap this up.

 

  • The Doctor ends the show with a big speech about how everything they've seen is just one possible future, and the Earth might still have a chance if humans finally address the damage we're doing to the planet.  She's not wrong, but the speech is heavy-handed, and we wouldn't blame Graham, Ryan, or Yaz if they said, "Okay, got it, but there are just the three of us here.  What are we supposed to do with that?"

 

  • The show then awkwardly cuts to the closing credits.  It's probably just as well.

 

Final Thoughts:

This week was a disappointing step back from the fun first two episodes of series 12.  "Base under attack" stories are usually good, and we don't mind the climate change explanation in theory.  However, the entire show had a forced frantic feel that was counter-productive.  We didn't have enough time to get our bearings, get attached to any of the supporting characters, or feel immersed in the plot, and then the episode just ended.  Here's hoping the next adventure gets things back on track.

See you next week!

 

Doctor Who Orphan 55Not the most relaxing holiday of all-time.  (pic via bbc.co.uk)

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