DR. WHO – THE BEAST BELOW (S5E02)
Let me start out by saying that I am happy. I don’t know what it is about Doctor Who, but just watching the show brings back memories from my childhood and its escapism for me in it’s purest form!
Matt Smith has definitely done a better job this week versus last week as The Doctor. He seems to be gradually finding his feet in the role and while I don’t love “Geronimo” as a catch phrase, when it’s not shouted out at you, it’s not as annoying. However Karen Gillian as Amy Pond has again done a sterling job – although I think it’s time she changed her clothes started to wear something different than a nighty and robe! I think that if they are not careful, she might end up stealing the show from The Doctor!
Unfortunately we do not really get to see any more of the Tardis this episode than we did in previous ones which is a real pity as I think some of the earlier Doctor’s explorations inside the Tardis itself were extremely memorable and the whole tesseract nature of the device is extremely interesting!
The new episode of Doctor Who has The Doctor and Amy 1300 years in the future. The Earth has been destroyed by a Solar Flare and all of humanity has taken to the stars in giant city shaped space ships looking for new homes. Again – this is a filler episode as there are no huge “earth shattering” revelations or twists thrown at us, but it is a necessary episode to give the actors a chance to truly inhabit their characters and to allow us to get to know them also.
Starship UK – the remains of the British empire is one such city ship and The Doctor and Amy go down to explore (in a very amusing statement, The Doctor tells Amy “that he never interferes in the affairs of other peoples and is only their as an observer and warns her of the same!”) … However, Starship UK is not what it seems and there is a secret hidden below the city that the people are not talking about. When a young boy does not pass his test in school, he is not allowed to use the “vator” and must walk back home – using the vator anyways, he is plummeted into the fiery depths below and his friend is left at a loss waiting for him. The little girl cries silently too frightened to seek attention and this is when The Doctor and Amy arrive. Despite what he had just said to Amy about not interfering (and if you’d seen any episodes of Doctor Who in the past, you would have almost laughed aloud when he said that!) he leaves the Tardis and goes to check on the little girl.
Once Amy sees him outside the Tardis, she joins him and The Doctor tries to explain to her that she must be observant at all times and points out that the people are frightened of something. In a strange sequence, he takes a glass of water from someone and puts it on the deck and leans down to stare into it. When Amy asks what he is doing he blows her off (in rather typical fashion) and tells her about the little girl and that she should go and speak to her while he goes elsewhere to investigate other things.
Amy follows the little girl and in another nice sequence is confronted by her. She knew that Amy was following her and also knew that The Doctor had “bumped” into her on purpose to get her wallet. It’s nice to see that she is aware of things around her and that even though she is young, she is by no means stupid. When Amy speaks to her she finds out that the Scottish people took their own city ship vs. joining up with the English but that there are parts of the city she is not meant to see. Amy being The Doctors companion though, decides to break in and take a look anyways and she is confronted by a huge tentacle that looks very much like a Scorpions tale along with stinger … which tries to slam into her. Quickly escaping from the stinger, Amy is overpowered and taken away.
While all this was happening, The Doctor in his initial actions with the glass of water had been observed and reported upon. A phone call was made to a lady who had a room full of water glasses in a similar manner. This lady confronts The Doctor outside the engine room of the ship where he has made his way. He is extremely confused as he does not understand how this ship is travelling. The actions with the glass of water had simply been to reflect the fact that engines would have caused some vibrations which were not felt at all in the ship as the water had not even rippled. Liz Ten agrees with The Doctor that something mysterious is going on and gives him a device to help him find Amy. She actually calls him The Doctor at this point even before he introduces himself and seems to know something about him!
In the meantime, Amy has been taken to a “voting” booth. Basically all members of the British Empire are given a choice after their 16thbirthday and every 5 years thereafter to know the “truth”. They can either vote to protest or forget the truth. If 1% of the population votes to protest then the “project” will be stopped automatically. Amy undergoes the procedure and is provided with the information – in an instinctive reaction, she presses the forget button and the truth is wiped from her mind … another message is left for Amy though … from … Amy! Amy, in tears, gives herself a message to get The Doctor back to his ship and to not let him explore any further or find out too much about what’s going on.
The Doctor finally catches up to Amy at this point and decides to press the protest button to see what would happen. Immediately he and Amy are thrown into the same fiery depths that the little boy was plummeted into at the beginning of the episode. However it turns out that where they end up is actually a huge tongue!!! They are literally in the mouth of beast that is large enough to transport the whole city! The Doctor and Amy manage to escape before they are devoured and end up meeting Liz Ten again – this time without her mask. A striking lady, Liz Ten … perhaps better described as Elizabeth the Tenth (Liz X) is the Queen of England, and she wants to know what is going on and what manner of creature is threatening her citizens!
The Doctor and party are now taken to the tower, which is actually in the dungeons of the city and here they learn the final, horrible truth. The creature that almost ate The Doctor and Amy is a Star Whale – a species of huge, sentient, space travelling aliens and the one they are on is the last of its kind. Humanity has been torturing this alien for generations to get it to move them through space so The Doctor is left with one of two choices. The Doctor is furious with Amy and humanity in general for their actions and he is left with only two choices. He can either destroy the city, by letting the Star Whale go free, or he can destroy the mind of the Star Whale so that it will no longer feel pain but humanity can still use it as transport.
Amy however sees a third path … The Doctor had told Amy to observe and the thing that she saw was that the Star Whale was a lot like The Doctor. Just as The Doctor came to the rescue of the crying little girl, perhaps the Star Whale had come to the rescue of the crying of all of humanities children.
Taking a great risk, Amy pushes Liz X’s hand on to the protest button and the torture immediately stops. The great Star Whale chooses to continue to help humanity in its search for a new home and survival purely out of love. While The Doctor did not himself “solve” the problem, his words did help Amy to find the solution.
Now despite what I said earlier about there not be any overarching story, perhaps the teaser to next week’s episode is the start of one. The Doctor receives a phone call from Winston Churchill and the shadow that we see beside him can only be a … DALEK!!! Wooo hooo!!!