***Following the review is a detailed recap of the episode. Note that there are many spoilers for episode 13.02 in both the review and recap, so please don't read any further until you've watched it.***
On tonight's episode of Doctor Who
, written by Chris Chibnall and directed by Jamie Magnus Stone, the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Yaz (Mandip Gill), and Dan (John Bishop) end up on the battlefield of the Crimean War where they meet Nurse Mary Seacole (Sara Powell) and Lieutenant General Logan (Gerald Kyd). Only the British aren’t fighting the Russians, but the Sontarans - on horseback! Things continue to go wrong, however, when Dan and Yaz fall through time and the Doctor is stuck alone in 1855.
The Doctor must race against time to not only stop the Sontarans from turning the Earth into their outpost, but to save a captured Yaz and Vinder (Jacob Anderson) from Swarm (Sam Spruell) and Azure (Rochenda Sandall) and stop time itself from breaking apart completely and taking her friends with it.
This week’s episode of the series I felt was much more cohesive than the last. While there were some unnecessary complications that probably would have kept it more linear (such as a short scene where Yaz meets Williamson [Steve Oram]), it flowed together well. The episode was quick-paced and the pieces fell into place. I think the idea of time itself coming apart and it affecting the TARDIS is really interesting. We are so used to the TARDIS being a place of safety, and it’s a huge added danger when it’s not.
The guest cast was well chosen. I liked the balance of Kyd’s Logan and Powell’s Seacole, who was the much more level-headed one. I appreciated that as much as the general ignored the Doctor on the battlefield (not the smartest plan), taking action to kill Sontarans against the Doctor’s wishes made sense. Humans are not always as forgiving as the Doctor.
I also was happier with the Sontarans in this episode as we got to see their personalities a bit more. I wish though we had gotten more of Dan Starkey as Svild, but that’s probably just because I miss Strax.
Spruell and Azure make quite formidable foes, and I am still enjoying the villains, but I think that more detail could be given about their powers, since it’s obviously possible for them to touch without harm. I’m also a bit confused with their motivation - I wasn’t 100% sure if what Swarm did to Yaz and Vinder was a cruel way to stop time being destroyed, or just an act to hurt the Doctor.
The stars of the show, however, were most definitely Bishop as Dan and Craige Els as Karvanista. Their bickering was by far the highlight to me. Bishop in general I found delightful, from him randomly pushing buttons in the Sontaran ship, to him whacking the aliens with the wok. The only thing is, in the last few seasons I felt they have had too many companions, and I thought it might give Yaz a chance to shine. As much as I am taken Dan, they’ve definitely overshadowed her character again by adding him and she’s being wasted. I am interested in seeing more of the two interacting together and her character built upon. I do feel her character could be an asset, if given the chance.
Overall, this episode was much more entertaining than last week’s and gave the characters room to breathe. The script was fun and I have a more positive outlook at the six-episode story arc. It seems Iike they are at least keeping the aliens separated and not cramming them all in together like they did in the premiere; going by the episode titles, the Weeping Angels will get their own episode, hopefully. I can only hope that this continues, as they showed the Cybermen in the preview trailer, and I really hope their place in the story will make sense and not just be fan service. Regardless, I’m eager to see what’s in store next.RECAP:
After trying to escape the Flux, the Doctor, Yaz, and Dan are thrown out of the TARDIS into the middle of battlefield of the Crimean War in 1855 where they meet Mary Seacole, but the British aren’t fighting the Russians; they’re fighting Sontarans, who are riding on horses! Sontar-Ha!
Meanwhile, Vinder ends up landing at the Temple of Atropos, where some kind of floating glass tech pyramid type thing asks if he can help repair something and leads him into a room with a circle on the floor with a sort of pyramid in the center. It asks if he can see the Mouri. When Vinder gets close enough, humanoid aliens appear around the center of the room.
Back on the past, Dan tries to get used to the idea that he is talking to a real person from history as well as seeing aliens. His astonishment is outlived, however, when both he and Yaz start fading. The Doctor explains it’s the collision between the Flux and vortex energy and they are falling through time. She promises she’ll find them as Dan and Yaz disappear. Things go from bad to worse when the Doctor realizes that the TARDIS now has no door at all, and she can’t get in.
Dan arrives back on Earth in the present where he left - with his house still missing. The streets are empty, however, and he soon finds out why - the Sontarans have taken over the town and there’s a curfew. He runs and is almost caught by one but is rescued by his parents when his father hits the Sontaran in the back of the neck with a wok, knocking it out.
Yaz shows up at the Temple of Atropos, wishing she had universal GPS since this isn’t the first time something like this has happened. She runs into Joseph Williamson (Steve Oram), who we briefly saw in the last episode who thinks it’s still 1820. He tells her things “insist on shifting” and his fears are coming true; everything is broken. She says he will come with him but he tells her not to.
The pyramid thing finds Yaz, asking if she can help with the repairs, and she looks at the “WWTDD” written on the palm of her hand - the Doctor would help, so of course she can!
Back at Mary’s “hotel,” the Doctor meets Lieutenant General Logan who is ready to engage in battle with the Sontarans. The Doctor tries to talk him out of it, telling him about how they are a clone race and bred for war and have weapons beyond his imagination, but he doesn’t listen. The Doctor finds out from Logan and Seacole that the Sontaran have always been on Earth. History has changed. She also sees that on the map instead of Russia or China is the country of Sontar. They do admit, however, the name Russia sounds familiar, like a memory or an echo from another time.
The Doctor asks where the Sontaran encampment is and General Logan admits that he doesn’t know the direction they are coming from, but he still will not admit he needs help.
Nurse Seacole takes the Doctor to look at the wounded. The general does not approve, but she has a Sontaran (Dan Starkey) chained up who was hit with a cannonball. She believes all life is sacred. However, the alien refused treatment and healed itself. She explains to the Doctor that he rests 7.5 minutes every 27 hours.
The Doctor talks to the Sontaran, who is angry and wants to kill her and the other humans. She tells him that she will let him go, and he will tell his commander that she has valuable battle information for him about the whereabouts of their nemesis, the Doctor, which she will give him if he agrees to parlay on her signal. He accepts and say that he will return to end her life with suffering. She expected nothing less.
The two stop General Logan from shooting the Sontaran on the way out. Mary tells him that she discharged the patient, and the British hotel is her establishment.
The Doctor and Mary follow the Sontaran. The Doctor explains that Sontarans aren’t very bright, and he will likely lead them to their basecamp, which he does: it’s behind a camouflage shield. The Doctor asks Mary to stay out of sight and write down everything that happens.
Sontaran Commander Skaak (Jonathan Watson) is angry when his soldier returns, but when he tells him his source requests parlay to bring him the information on the Doctor, he tells him he has done adequately. He agrees to give him mercy of an immediate execution. Sontar-Ho!
Back in the present, Dan and his parents are hiding in a car. They explain that the world blacked out for three minutes, and then the Sontarans showed up, starting in Liverpool.
They sneak out to lead him to the Sontaran basecamp at the docks at the waterfront. Dan says that he now has some experience with aliens from the past few days and he’s going in alone. He takes the wok for defense.
The glass thing tells Vinder that Priest Triangle says “another” is coming. It’s Yaz, who follows the pyramid and meets Vinder in the main room. She admits to him that, full disclosure, she doesn’t know how she got there or what is going on. He is confused too but tells her that he did see the Flux from his outpost.
They talk about the needed repairs. There is a proximity activation which is what causes the standing Mouri to be visible. The pyramid gives them some information - the Mouri are a guardian race protecting time. Time will become unstoppable and must not be unleashed. It says time is evil.
Dan sees Sontarans execute humans who were “spying.” They say they will execute everyone who defies them.
Meanwhile the Doctor sends off a sonic blast so the Sontaran commander will come to parlay. He admits that the Flux is neither of their making or control, but their Psychic Command foresaw it coming and timed their attack on the planet before the Lupari shield went up. The Earth has defied them in the past, and it shall be the outpost of the Sontaran empire. The Crimean skirmish was the perfect place to start a conflict, and he admits it also gave him the opportunity to ride a horse.
The Doctor reveals who she is and tells him that she will give them a chance to leave peacefully: there will be no battle. She speaks on behalf of humanity.
Before she can finish, however, the general points a gun at the Doctor and says that she doesn’t speak for the British army, and they will fight. He has a solder take the Doctor away.
The Doctor knocks the soldier out with her pinky and says he will wake up in six hours.
Dan video tapes what he sees to give to the Doctor later as he sneaks into the encampment and climbs up to the ship.
Swarm and Azure show up at the temple with a third alien called Passenger. Azure tells the pyramid which once more comes to the visitor for help that she will help with the repair, but instead touches it and disintegrates it.
The soldiers battle the Sontarans, and humans are dying. The Doctor finds Mary at the deserted basecamp. She wrote everything down as she asked. The Doctor says now that the camp is empty they will take advantage. Meanwhile, the general pretends to be dead.
The Doctor and Mary board one of the ships. Inside, when they come upon a Sontaran turned the other way, the Doctor pulls out a sling shot and hits it in the back of the neck, knocking it out.
Back in the present in Liverpool docks, Dan has snuck onboard a similar ship. Talking to the video he says he hasn’t seen a “potato head” yet and wonders if it’s bad to just press buttons on the console. He does so and it turns on, sending a video feed of himself to the Doctor.
The two talk at once and Dan tells the Doctor he heard the Sontaran talking about Tempura, Japanese food, and she realizes his means temporal – time, which he realizes makes more sense. She has him put his phone up to the screen so she can access all the videos he’s been taking. The Doctor realizes the Sontaran are going to launch a huge wave of attacks through time, building time ships to invade Earth’s history. Earth will become their outpost from the dawn of time and history will be erased. They need to get them out of Crimea, but she tells Dan he meanwhile has to stop the ships in the present from leaving.
Dan is surprised by a Sontaran who is about to kill him, but Dan tricks him into turning around and then hits him with the wok, knocking him out. He makes a joke about “pan-fried Sontaran” and “wok”ing right out. Unfortunately, a bunch more soldiers show up.
Yaz asks how can fix something that can’t be touched. Swarm shows up with Azure and Passenger and says he knows how. When she says they haven’t met he calls her a “linear creature” and mentions the letters written on her palm, which he clearly shouldn’t know about. He asks why the Doctor chose her or any humans as she is so unremarkable, and then he grabs her.
Vinder tries to shoot Swarm, but he moves too fast. He tells them they will listen and take five steps to the left unless they want to upset Passenger. Moving sets off the Mouri again, and Azure says they have been quantum locked against them after last time. She then says it’s a good thing the two of them were there and to stay there. The pyramid thing starts saying they are forbidden in the temple, but Azure disintegrates it. Swarm says that the Mouri underestimated them, and their deluded pointless lives only led then there to their painful powerless deaths. Two of them are broken. Swarm disintegrates one of them, and when Yaz yells that he doesn’t know what he is doing, he says not to worry, that he’s getting to her.
Dan is about to get shot for treason, when Karvanista shows up and shoots the Sontarans. The two banter a bit.
The Doctor and Mary are attending to the casualties who are all human. General Logan comes in and says the Sontarans are coming back for another attack at first light. He admits to the Doctor he doesn’t know what to do and needs her help. She tells him she’s going to need a pointy stick.
The Doctor talks through their plan with Mary and the general. The Sontaran need a rest cycle for 7.5 minutes every 27 hours, during which they return to their ships, because they can’t cope with the Earth’s atmosphere over an extended period. Their armored suits filter out harmful Earth’s gases and replace them with gases from their own planet, but they have to be refilled through the hole in the base of the necks of the suits from the supplies in the ships. They have 7.5 minutes to go into their ships and drain those supplies. The Doctor explains to them how to do that, and they set off.
The Sontarans can’t refill their armor. The commander knows the Doctor is to blame.
Karvanista asks Dan about his weapon and says he looks ridiculous, but Dan mentions he’s the one with the floppy ears. He tells Dan he is helping because it’s partially the Lupari’s fault that the Sontaran snuck through right before they sealed the shield, and it’s his responsibility; he’s the one being blamed. Dan starts to tell him what is going on, but he already knows that the Sontaran are about to launch time ships into history because he intercepted the Doctor’s transmission.
Sontaran Commander Skaak comes to confront the Doctor about the sabotage. She said she warned them and now they will retreat. He says that the word will never pass his lips, however, they will make a “strategic withdrawal” but will return. She says they won’t while she’s around and tells Skaak to hit the road.
Meanwhile, Karvanista explains to Dan that he’s going to use the ship they are in as a battering ram against the other ships to create a temporal reaction while they leave in the escape pod. Karvanista, however, ends up shoving Dan through a tube.
The Doctor tells Mary and the general that they are leaving without further bloodshed, but he says that he must abuse her of that notion. He sets a trail of gun powder on fire and tells them to run. He says the Sontaran deaths are for his lost men. The Doctor says that it’s for his guilt, and men like him make her wonder sometimes why she bothers with humanity. Mary, however, tells her that she is grateful for all she does, whoever she is.
The TARDIS shows up. The Doctor says she has to go find her friends and heads to the TARDIS and says she hopes she meets Marry again. The door reappears. The Doctor still doesn’t know what’s happening to it.
Dan and Karvanista have made it out - through the waste tube! All the ships are gone thanks to his temporal implosion.
The TARDIS appears and Karvanista quips she shows up after all the hard works been done. Dan boasts that he worked out getting rid of the Sontarans by himself until Scooby Doo took credit.
Karvanista agrees that he and the other Lupari will continue to shield Earth until it’s over, but she tells him that she isn’t done with him.
While he’s protecting the Earth, the Doctor has to look for Yaz. She asks Dan if he wants to come. Karvanista warns her the universe is in a bad way. Dan tells Karvanista he hopes to never see him again, but the feeling is mutual.
Back on the TARDIS, it’s leaking black stuff again. The Doctor says something is corrupting it.
The TARDIS then starts moving, being hijacked as it’s brought to the temple. The Doctor checks the readings with her sonic and says the spatial temporal readings are at zero which doesn’t make sense. She knows it’s a trap, but they have to get Yaz.
Swarm says he has something of hers and explains to the Doctor about the remnants of the Mouri. They are in the Temple of Atropos on the planet Time. The Doctor says there isn’t a planet called Time, but Swarm just says, “Yet, here we are.” The Temple is broken and the Mouri are failing. He continues that the creatures hold time in the universe together. They are broken and now time is beginning to run wild, which is hurting the TARDIS, so he made a short-term repair. He has put Yaz and Vinder in to take over as placeholders for two of the Mouri. Azure says that if she tries to rescue them he will reduce them to ash. When he clicks his fingers the full force of time will blast through them. How many seconds can they take before they die? The Doctor pleads for him to stop and tell her what he wants. He just says “All in good time,” and he snaps his fingers...