Disney’s Doctor Who – Season 1 Episode 3 “Boom” Recap & Review


Episode 3 of Disney’s Doctor Who is titled Boom and marks the return of Steven Moffat to the show. We start with a blind soldier, John Vater, being led through a minefield alongside a guy called Carson. There’s fog covering the place and the blind man rings his daughter, telling her to brush her teeth and go to bed. When she hangs up, we cut back to the battlefield. There’s a massive problem though. Right ahead happens to be an ambulance – and not the safe, conventional type either.

Unfortunately Carson finds himself stumbling over and onto a mine. When he dematerializes, this ambulance shows up and kills John Vater for not being combat ready.

Just as this occurs, the Doctor shows up in his Tardis alongside Ruby. He rushes out, realizing someone is in trouble… and steps on a mine. Thankfully he has his trusty screwdriver… oh, he’s left it in the Tardis and nobody has bothered to mention it once in the episode? Oh, okay then.

Ruby heads out from the Tardis and follows the ominous singing to where the Doctor is located. He tells her to watch her footing. Notably, he doesn’t ask her to get his screwdriver or use the Tardis in any way to help him out.

Anyway, the Doctor hasn’t dematerialized as the mine happens to be on a live sensor. He needs to stay incredibly still because one wrong move and the Doc will go boom. They’re in the middle of a battlefield and after Ruby explains what the mine looks like, the Doctor gives us some exposition to explain further. These mines were created by Villengard, the biggest weapons manufacturer in recorded history.

So forgetting that the Doctor has a sonic screwdriver that could help given the landmine is presumably metal (it doesn’t work on wood remember), he instead tells Ruby to check on the screaming – and also find a big rock too. She doesn’t find a rock but does find a rather suggestive item that’s very veiny and cylindrical. Apparently it’s a dead body, compressed and smelted down. And then the Doctor asks her to toss it.

Ruby refuses to throw it over though and instead wanders down, using her blind faith in him to try and save the Time Lord. The adrenaline spike for passing over the “body” causes the landmine to continue blinking through the limited time he has left. Thankfully, there’s enough juice left to prevent the Doctor from going boom just yet.

The “body” happens to be voice activated and after activated it, the Time Lord realizes that there’s a big business for war here and although blindness isn’t actually fatal, it is in this conflict. However, things take a turn for the worst when Splice, John’s daughter, shows up at the battlefield. She recognizes the AI construct of her dad and rushes over.

Ruby stops her though and that’s when Mundy shows. She’s an Anglican Marine who’s watching over Mundy. Ruby is shocked that she’s a soldier. Of course this isn’t the first time in Doctor Who that the Doc has encountered religious soldiers. And that episode was also written by Moffat.

The Doctor speaks to Mundy, who explains that they’re fighting a war against the Kastarions. They’ve never actually seen them but apparently they’re akin to “sentient mud”. This chatter is interrupted by Ruby and Mundy, who decide to create a fake combat scenario to distract the ambulance. Unfortunately, Ruby is shot by one of the soldiers. The ambulance scans her, but it doesn’t recognize a next of kin.

With Ruby passed out, the Doctor tells the soldiers that the only way out of this is to surrender. In giving up, it’ll turn off all the landmines. The thing is, there’s nobody on this planet and the only thing here is the algorithm. They’re fighting their own shadows.

The Doctor has some choice words to say about faith, including how it “keeps you from never having to think for yourself”. At this point, it’s worth noting that faith itself, when used in a constructive way, can seriously empower your own thinking. It allows you to smash through barriers that others have put up before you, and believe in yourself when others don’t. Given this is supposed to be a kid’s show, and as someone with kids myself, it’s a bit of a negative message to give. Especially as this mantra is basically “Never have faith in anything and give up”.

Anyway, only the Bishop can trigger a surrender. They need to use the Ambulance to show off the algorithm and only then, can those words be uttered and save everyone. With 3 minutes and counting until the end of time, the random soldier who shows up, Canto, dies. Oh no. We almost got to know a bit of his personality but he dies right here and turns into another body.

The Doctor’s plan seems to backfire as a whole bunch of Ambulances show and decide that John Vater is going to be deleted from the system. The landmine looks set to go off… and then it doesn’t. It turns out the AI of John has infiltrated the Villengard system. The landmine is deactivated and the Doctor then takes John’s “body” and sniffs it deeply.

After this, the war is finished and the Doctor breathes a sigh of relief. He says goodbye to the humans and as he steps back in the Tardis with Ruby and prepares to leave, we see a single snowflake drifting lazily through the air. 

The Episode Review

A lot of people like Boom and it’s hard not to disagree. This is definitely a better episode than we’ve been given recently… but it’s nowhere near the echelons of Who’s best written episodes. As we know, the shockingly bad writing from Jodie Whittaker and the first 2 episodes of Disney Doctor Who would elevate even the weakest eps from the 2005 version of Nu Who (which is segregated from this one for some reason).

The episode itself is okay, but there are a few niggling issues that definitely hold this back. The Doctor has always relied on his Sonic Screwdriver… and unless I missed something, it’s not even mentioned here. Even something as simple as “my sonic is no good with Villengard equipment” would have sufficed but instead, it just stands as an annoying plot hole instead.

Meanwhile, we get a few pot-shots at faith – even blind faith. It shows Moffat’s complete lack of understanding in this given there’s actually no emotional resonance from the human characters toward John’s death. It just… happens. There’s no fallout and not seeing any sorrow or tears – even from his own daughter – feels like a weird omission.

Gatwa’s Doctor also doesn’t have much of his own personality yet. A lot of the dialogue here feels like it was reworked from Matt Smith’s doctor instead, and Gatwa doesn’t have the same gravitas to carry the show. I’m glad people have enjoyed this one but given how amazing some of the episodes have been in the past, this one is passable at best.

Previous Episode

Next Episode

Expect A Full Season Write-Up When This Season Concludes!
  • Episode Rating

Leave a comment