The Timeless Child?
Episode 2 of Doctor Who’s latest season ditches the parodical spy suits and instead, delivers a more authentic slice of sci-fi that finally feels a little more like Doctor Who. There’s still the odd politically charged joke here and a couple of the plot points move along at such breakneck speed in a bid to cleverly disguise some of the slight plot holes in the logic. Having said that, the show feels a lot more consistent and energetic, especially with the hints of a season-long arc set to return.
The episode itself begins in the ethereal realm, with The Doctor talking to herself while we see our companions scrambling to survive on the plane. As we cut back and forth, we see Ryan follow instructions on-board for how to survive while the Doctor follows an echoing voice to a strange woman called Ada. As she speaks a word, one of the ghosts materializes infront of her and it’s here the Doctor learns the truth of where she is.
Graham manages to shut the cockpit door while Ryan taps furiously on the new “piloting app”, which seems to have installed itself on his phone following the Doctor’s instructions. Thankfully, they manage to stabilize the plane for now. At the same time, The Master teams up with Barton, flying away as he mutters nonchalantly “a little chaos is a wonderful thing.” Barton however, receives a notification that the plane is en-route to its scheduled location, prompting him to tighten his plans after letting Barton go, who immediately tries to track down the location of the companions.
The Doctor awakens in London and after another joke regarding her gender (two episodes in a row now, mind), she learns she’s marooned in the 19th century. Only, The Master soon arrives and begins using his shrink ray to turn people into miniature figures. When The Doctor asks what he wants, he tells her to kneel and call him Master. As he talks, she learns that he’s not in control of the alien race which are actually the Kasaavin, and also that she’s in the company of Ada Lovelace, a woman who seemingly has a connection with the creatures. These aliens happen to be spies through history, and using her sonic she manages to use her wits and teleport herself through time using a special item known as the Silver Lady.
Barton meanwhile, plays his hand and forces the trio of companions into going dark. There, they discuss the Doctor’s past and her regenerations, not fully understanding the big picture and what’s happening. Outside however, the spy gadgets come in handy as an army of Kasaavin creatures arrive.
Meanwhile The Doctor plunges through time with Ada, ending up in 1943 Paris alongside female spy, Noor. With The Master posing as a Nazi, intent on finding the Doctor, our time lord uses the familiar code of four beeps to communicate with the Master through Morse code. Having caught his attention, she meets him at the Eiffel Tower after communicating telepathically.
It’s here we learn he was responsible for killing C and rigging the car, before he divulges his “win-win-win” plan. He then mentions Gallifrey and how someone has destroyed their home. The Doctor manages to escape after outsmarting The Master, using his own Tardis to find a way back and save humanity in the process.
While The Master is forced to live through 77 years to get back to his plan, The Doctor arrives and thwarts his every move, tracing the Silver Lady through time and causing a virus to shut the machine down. The Master meanwhile, is tricked into being taken to the alien dimension as we see the Doctor’s plan laid out before us.
With everything tied up for now, she flies to Gallifrey and sees with her own eyes the destruction of her planet; The Master was telling the truth, only it turns out he was the one who destroyed it. As he mentions the Timeless Child to her (something also mentioned last season), the Doctor puts on a brave face and talks to her companions before they fly away, the sprinklings of a consistent season arc teased throughout where we leave things for now
Between the frenetic action, for the second week in a row Chibnall throws some sexist jokes into the fold; a slight blemish on an otherwise pretty good episode. Admittedly, Lenny Henry is not a particularly convincing villain either but aside from that, there’s some good stuff here that feels very Doctor Who-y.
There’s a lot of throwbacks to classic Who and early nu-Who seasons here that are a lovely nod, with plenty of Easter Eggs dotted throughout. From telepathically speaking to The Master, the four beeps and the recorded message acting as a throwback to Blink, all of this combines with some nice banter between the companions to deliver something that feels like Doctor Who again.
Even if the jokes and political agenda stuff is still bubbling away in the background, the inclusion of a consistent storyline feels like a step in the right direction and leaves things on a promising note for the season ahead. Whether Chibnall can keep this up though remains to be seen.
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