Doctor Who S05 E02 – Because the government is up to some shady shit.

Previously: The Eleventh Doctor took centre stage and met Amy Pond, The Girl Who Waited.

The Beast Below

Kirsti: The camera pans over a floating city, with the Union flag painted next to it. We pan over the buildings, many of which are illuminated with the names of counties.

Cut to a school room where all the kids are in 1950s style outfits, sitting at 1950s style desks. A robotic voice praises each of them in turn as they head out the door. One boy hangs back reluctantly. (M: Yeah, boy. I wouldn’t walk up close to that robotic voice either.) A girl gives him a “what are you waiting for?” expression before heading out. He’s the last in the classroom. He approaches the teacher, which is a lot like one of those fucking creepy old school fortune telling booths from an arcade, where it’s basically an animatronic person in a box. Creepy Teacher calls Timmy a bad boy, and its head spins around to reveal an angry face. It gives him a zero.

Marines: I hate it.

Dani: I honestly can’t decide which face terrifies me more.

K: Both. Both is good.

Outside the classroom, the girl informs him that he’ll have to walk home because “you’ll get sent below” if you try to ride the lift with a zero. He complains that it’s 20 floors to get home to London. She basically shrugs and tells him that she’ll wait for him. The lift doors close.

A second lift arrives. Timmy gets on, despite his zero. There’s another Creepy Booth inside. He asks to go to London, and the lift doors close. A little girl appears on a screen behind Timmy and starts reciting a creepy poem about a man and a horse and one of them having a smile and one having teeth. The Creepy Booth turns its head from happy to angry, and the girl’s poem ends with “expect no love from the beast below.

Have a gold star, kid.

The lift starts to drop quickly, shaking as it goes. Timmy runs to the control panel, screaming for help. The lift stops suddenly, and the floor opens beneath him. The Creepy Booth turns its head to a terrifying bared teeth grimace, and Timmy screams.

DOO WEE OOO! (I’m still not okay with the new credits, tbh.) (M: SSHHHH, I’m dancing.)

After the credits, Amy’s floating in space, her hair waving around her like she’s Medusa’s cousin.

Dani: It’s like a L’Oréal commercial, but in space.

K: The Doctor’s holding her by one ankle from within the TARDIS. Amy voiceovers that as a kid, she had an imaginary friend, except he turned out to be not so imaginary. She laughs excitedly as the Doctor pulls her back inside.

They hover over the floating city from the beginning, and the Doctor infodumps that they’re in the 29th century, when solar flares flooded the Earth and everyone left until things got better. Amy calls his name urgently. The Doctor continues happily wibbling about all the countries leaving Earth before realising that Amy’s somehow gotten locked outside the TARDIS. Whoops. He pulls her back in and says that they’re looking at Starship UK, all of Great Britain and Northern Ireland bolted together and made into a spaceship. “It’s Britain, but metal,” he says.

He looks a little wistful as he says that it’s not so much a ship as an idea, a whole country of people going about their daily lives while also looking for a new home. (D: Kind of like 65,844,610 of my friends here in America right now?) Amy excitedly asks if they can go see. He says they can, but there’s just one thing to note first: “We are observers only. That’s the one rule I’ve always stuck to in all my travels. I never get involved in the affairs of other peoples or planets.

Ha. Hahaha. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Suuuuure, Doctor. (The transcript I’m using says “Sorry, nearly spat tea over my keyboard,” which YUP.)

Mari: I can’t tell if this is his set-up for a long-style joke or if he likes to start off on the right foot. First impressions kind of thing and break the rules later. But basically: HA.

Dani: Literally my reaction:

K: Whereas Team Haterade’s reaction was an eye roll.

He looks at one of his scanner screens, which shows the girl who’s waiting for Timmy. She’s crying. The Doctor thinks that’s interesting. Amy asks if they’re like a wildlife documentary, where you have to keep filming even though adorable baby animals might die. She watches the girl crying on screen and asks the Doctor if he finds it hard to be that cold and detached. Obviously, the Doctor pops up next to the crying girl. Amy’s all “U WOT?”. He gestures for her to join him and Amy runs outside excitedly.

She has a momentary existential crisis when she realises that she’s in the future and she’s been dead for hundreds of years as far as this time period is concerned.


The Doctor tells her to stop worrying about that and to look around her and work out what’s wrong. He doesn’t let her answer though, rambling about how everyone is living in fear, in a police state.

He grabs a glass of water from a man at a table nearby, puts it on the floor, and studies it carefully. The man is like “Uhhhhh??” and the Doctor apologises that he’s checking all the nearby water for an escaped fish. He grabs Amy and they keep walking as he asks if she sees the police state yet. He points to the crying girl, sitting alone on a bench as people stream past her.

Behind them, a guy in a long black hooded coat with a wind up style key around his neck watches. He makes a phone call from a red phone booth. On the other end of the phone, an older guy with glasses says that they’re “under orders to tell her” and to keep track of the Doctor. Glasses Guy places another phone call. A woman in a long red velvet cloak answers. He tells her that there’s been a sighting on Oxford Street. “Did he do the thing?” she asks. When the answer is affirmative, she says she’ll check the monitors. She picks up a white mask and stands, sweeping past a whole host of glasses of water sitting on the floor.

Back in the market, the Doctor tells Amy that the key thing here is that the little girl is crying SILENTLY. He says children cry to get attention because they’re hurt or afraid. When they cry silently, it’s because they can’t stop. “Any parent knows that,” he says. Amy asks jokingly if he’s a parent, and the Doctor gets awkward. He says that there are hundreds of parents walking past, but not one of them is asking her what’s wrong. This means everyone knows what’s wrong, and they can’t talk about it.

The little girl rushes off and gets in an elevator. A Creepy Booth watches her go. Amy asks where she went, and the Doctor reveals her address and that her name is Mandy, both things he knows because he swiped her wallet when he talked to her earlier. Rude, bro. He sends Amy off to find Mandy and ask her what the deal is with the creepy booths, because the whole place is filthy except for the booths, which everyone gives a wide birth. He says they should meet back there in half an hour and that he’ll try – badly – to stay out of trouble during that time.

Amy goes in search of Mandy, who pops out from behind a corner and is all “Y U FOLLOW ME?” Amy returns her wallet, which Mandy says pointedly she lost when the Doctor kept bumping into her. (D: You’d think he’d be more adept at this. If I lived for a millennia, I’d totally learn to pickpocket people. And juggle.) She stops suddenly and says they have to go back, because there’s a hole in the road. Amy looks at the KEEP OUT sign and what looks like a fumigation tent, and is all “LOL SURE.” She walks straight past the sign and says “What’s so scary about a hole?” Mandy looks worriedly at the nearest Creepy Booth. Eventually she says that they’re not supposed to talk about below.

Dani: That sounds like something from Anastasia Steele’s Guide to “Down There.”


Amy sits down on the road and finds that the fumigation tent is locked. She pulls out a hairpin and starts fiddling at the lock with it. There’s some discussion which establishes that Scotland wanted its own ship (just like now!). Amy says that she’s just passing through with some guy. In the background, the Creepy Booth changes from smiley to angry. Mandy asks if the guy is her boyfriend. Amy’s all “Ew no, I’m getting married tomorrow,” then has an existential crisis that she’s getting married tomorrow, eight hundred years ago.

Just then, the lock pops open. Amy grins excitedly and asks Mandy if she’s coming. Mandy looks at the Creepy Booth, which switches to the terrifying grimace, and yells at Amy not to go in there. Amy ignores her and heads into the tent. (M: Amy is 2 for 2 episodes when it comes to going into places while people yell at her not to.) Inside, a red light is flashing and there’s a slithery sound. Amy finds a torch and switches it on to see a giant tentacle thing coming out of the floor. It strikes at her a bunch of times, and she manages to scurry backwards out of the tent. A group of Hoody Cloak men are waiting for her. One points his closed fist at her, and a gas comes out of his ring. Amy falls unconscious.

Cut to the Doctor wandering around below decks. He sonics some stuff, then spots a glass of water on the floor. He lies on the ground to stare at it, then pops up when the red cloaked woman – now with her mask on – appears and asks if he sees “the impossible truth in a glass of water.” She calls him “Doctor” and tells him to keep his voice down because “They’re everywhere.” He pleads ignorance, but she snaps at him not to waste time. She says that she saw him in the market – he placed a glass on the floor, then came straight to the engine room.

He says that there’s no engine vibration at all, and you’d definitely notice it in a ship of this size. He points out that all the couplings around them aren’t connected, and if he didn’t know better, he’d say there was… She joins him as he finishes his sentence with “no engine at all.” He asks how that’s even possible, and she says it’s the darkness at the heart of their nation. “Help us, Doctor. You’re our only hope,” she says, and NOW I HAVE CARRIE FISHER FEELINGS DAMN YOU STEVEN MOFFAT. (D: *sniff*)

She tells him that Amy is safe and hands over a tracking device that will lead him to her. He asks who she is and she says that she’s Liz Ten (TOO SOON) and she’ll find him. There’s a crashing sound and the lights flash. When he looks up, she’s gone.

Meanwhile, Amy wakes up under the gaze of a Creepy Booth. There are four small screens in front of her, along with two buttons labelled “Forget” and “Protest“. A voice informs her that all citizens have the right to know the truth. A presentation will play and then she can choose. It verifies her identity, saying that she’s 1300 years old and that her marital status is unknown. She is not well pleased.

Anyway, she’s told that if she presses the “Forget” button, her memory of the presentation will be erased. If she hits “Protest,” there will be consequences for everyone on Starship UK. No pressure though. The guy on screen finishes his spiel with “Here then, is the truth about Starship UK, and the price that has been paid for the safety of the British people. May God have mercy on our souls…

The presentation is super fast and Amy’s left reeling. She hits the Forget button without a second’s hesitation. The screen tells her there’s a message waiting. When she plays it, it’s of her. Past!Amy tearfully tells Present!Amy to find the Doctor and get him off the ship before he can start investigating. The door pops open and the Doctor bounces in. He sonics some stuff and realises that she’s lost about 20 minutes of memory.

Amy wants to know why she’d choose to forget, and Mandy’s on hand to say that everyone chooses the forget button. You’re eligible to vote at the age of 16, and once every five years after that. And everyone ALWAYS chooses to forget. Mandy asks why he doesn’t know this, and he says the presentation won’t play for him because it doesn’t recognise him as human. Amy says that he looks human, and the Doctor says pointedly “No. You look Time Lord. We came first.” (M: #hipster)

Amy asks if there are other Time Lords and he says a little coldly that there were but now there’s just him and that he wishes he could forget but he can’t, so every day he does his thing. Like bringing down governments. He slams his hand down on the “Protest” button. The door swings shut, leaving Mandy outside. The Creepy Booth switches to its terrifying grimace, and the floor opens up underneath Amy and the Doctor. He yells “Wheeee!” excitedly while she screams.

Outside, the sign above the voting cubicle changes from occupied to empty. Mandy jumps when she realises there’s someone behind her. She turns and it’s Liz Ten. “It’s alright, love. It’s only me!” she says with a smile as she takes off her mask. Mandy looks thrilled.

Meanwhile, the Doctor and Amy are sliding their way into a big ol’ gloopy mess of grossness. Again, it’s very reminiscent of Star Wars, and it makes me want to stop watching this and start watching that. But I digress. Amy says that the floor is squishy and rubbery, kind of like a waterbed. There’s a distant groaning sound, and the Doctor stops sonic-ing things and awkwardly informs Amy that it’s not a floor. It’s a tongue. Amy freaks. The Doctor gushes about the size of the beast they’re inside and says that he’d love to see the stomach. But not right now.

Dani: I call false advertising on that “Protest” button. They should probably re-label them “Forget” and “Be Eaten Alive.”


The Doctor says that the beast is being fed through surgically implanted tubes like the one they came through, and looks around for the “normal entrance“. He turns to see a huge row of teeth, which are firmly closed. Amy says they should try and get through anyway and takes a couple of steps forwards. The Doctor yells at her not to, but it’s too late. It’s triggered the beast’s swallow reflex. The Doctor does some sonic-ing, and says he’s vibrating the “eject button“. Amy’s all “How the fuck does a mouth have an eject button?”, but she trails off when she sees the tidal wave of vomit coming towards them. The Doctor yells “GERONIMO!” as it gets closer, and surely if you’re about to be engulfed by a sea of vomit, you should maybe keep your mouth shut????

Mari: Yeah, man. No catchphrase is worth alien vomit in the mouth.

Dani: I dunno… given that the catchphrase in question is racist AF, I think it warrants a mouthful of puke. 

K: I accept this logic.

We cut to a shot of Spaceship UK, accompanied by vomity noises. Then Amy comes to in a pipe, covered in sick. The Doctor tells her that she’s totally fine, apart from the fact that she’s a) covered in sick and b) smells like she’s covered in sick because she’s covered in sick. She asks if they can get out of the pipe. They can, but only if they hit a forget button. The lights come up to reveal two Creepy Booths. The Doctor asks them about the beast. They turn from smiley to angry. The Doctor keeps asking questions, mocking them at the same time. They switch to the grimace and step out of their booths. N.O.P.E.

Conveniently, Liz Ten turns up to shoot them. She asks the Doctor if he’s found out what’s going on, and he says that she’s voted and forgotten, just like everyone else. She’s all “LOL NOPE” and says that she’s not eligible to vote because she’s not technically a British subject. The Doctor’s all “How the fuck have you heard of me then??” and she grins that he’s hard to miss before saying that she and her entire family were brought up on stories of the Doctor. Because she’s the queen. Queen Elizabeth the Tenth, specifically. She’s sort of a badass. And she’s a woman of colour wheeeeeeeeee.


They all rush off, Liz Ten taking out some more Creepy Booths as they go. They rush down another corridor, and see some more of the giant tentacle things Amy saw before. The Doctor realises that they’re all part of the same organism, and Liz Ten gets pissed that someone’s feeding her subjects to it. She rushes off. Amy goes to follow, but hangs back when she sees the Doctor staring at the tentacle things, which are bashing themselves against a wall. He tearfully says that they should never have come here. Then he turns and rush off as well. Amy stays a moment longer, remembering her past self’s words about getting the Doctor off the ship before he can investigate.

Cut to the.. IDK, security room? Glasses Guy from waaaaaaaaaay earlier informs a radio – and presumably someone on the other end – that “Ten has penetrated to the lower levels.” Okay, 1) It is too soon to use “Ten” to describe a person how very dare you, (M: it’s gotta be purposeful..) and b) not a good enough reason to use the word penetrated. He tells the radio to “initiate the protocol” and God save the queen.

Back in Liz Ten’s quarters, the Doctor asks what the deal is with the glasses of water on the floor. She says it’s to constantly remind her that her government are up to some shady shit. I’m totally going to use this the next time my mother tells me to clean my room. “I can’t, Mum. The clothes are on the chair to remind me that the government is up to shady shit.”

Mari: In a Trump administration, I can legit use that for ANY mess in my life.

Dani: “I’m eating dessert before dinner because the government is up to some shady shit.” Yeah, that totally works.

K: You’re welcome.

She’s hella pissed because in one afternoon, he’s achieved more than she has in the whole ten years of her reign. She tells them that she was 40 when she came to the throne and that the government has slowed her body clock so that she still looks like the stamps because Moffat really hates it when women have authority and age. The Doctor gushes for a while about the mask she wears in public and I genuinely struggle to give even a tiny fraction of a fuck even though it’s apparently super relevant.

Their conversation is interrupted when a bunch of Hoody Cloaks stomp into the room. One informs her that as she’s interested in the inner workings of Starship UK, she needs to come with them. She’s all “Bitch, please” on account of being Queen. But surprise! Turns out the Hoody Cloaks are half human, half Creepy Booth. Their faces all turn to angry and they inform her that it’s time to go to the Tower. (D: Also maybe time to replace your security detail?)

Cut to the dungeon of the Tower. The Creepy Cloaks lead the gang in and we see some kind of electrical doohickey sparking at regular intervals. Glasses Guy appears and Liz Ten tells him he better explain what the fuck is going on pretty effing fast. She then gets distracted when a bunch of kids appear. He informs her that “Protesters and citizens of limited value are fed to the beast,” but that it won’t eat kids. Aww. Don’t that just give you the warm fuzzies.

Anyway, they’re the first adults the beast has spared. The Doctor sarcastically says that they’re super duper lucky to have been saved from the beast just to hang out in a torture chamber that isn’t but also totally is a torture chamber. Turns out the electrical doohickey is firing directly into the pain receptor of the beast’s brain, which acts as Starship UK’s accelerator. Liz Ten is all “WTF”.

The Doctor yells at her to join the fucking dots – the engines that don’t work, the ship that moves regardless, the tentacle things everywhere. The beast isn’t invading them. It’s their engine. He frees a tentacle and sonics it so that they can hear the beast’s cries of pain, which are outside the range of normal human hearing. Amy looks horrified.

Liz Ten demands to know who’s responsible for this. Glasses Guy says they answer to “the highest authority.” She’s all “THAT’S ME, DICKHEAD” and orders him to free the beast. No one moves. The Doctor looks at her sadly, and tosses her porcelain mask to her. He points out that it’s at least 200 years old, and she’s all “So? It’s an antique??” Except that it’s perfectly sculpted to her face. He tells her that she’s not fifty. She’s closer to 300. (D: Still a baby in Time Lord years, though.)

Liz Ten insists that she’s been on the throne for ten years, and the Doctor says it’s the same ten years, over and over again. They’ve slowed her body clock waaay more than she thought. And every time, the ten years ends in her going to the very room they’re in. He pulls her across to a voting booth, this time with buttons labelled “Forget” and “Abdicate“. Liz Ten asks Glasses Guy what the fuck he’s done. He insists that he works for her, they all do. He plays her a video of her past self.

Past!Liz Ten says that the beast is called a Star Whale, and that once there were bajillions of them, who according to legend led early space travellers through asteroid belts safely. But as far as they know, this one’s the last of its kind. We cut to the Doctor, sad panda-ing because GEDDIT HE’S THE LAST OF HIS KIND SO HE KNOWS HOW IT FEELS. Past!Liz Ten says she’s heartbroken by what they’ve done to the Star Whale. But Earth was burning and they had no choice but to trap it and build a ship on it. She finishes by saying that Liz can either push the forget button and continue business as usual, or choose to abdicate. This will free the Star Whale and Starship UK will fall apart and everyone will die. NO PRESSURE.

Amy wants to know why she voted for this, and the Doctor says that she knew if they stayed, he’d be forced to make the impossible choice between humanity and the alien. She was trying to save him from that. He snaps at her that it was a wrong decision and that “You don’t ever decide what I need to know.” She insists she has no memory of doing it, but he says it’s the thought that counts. She apologises, and he gives zero fucks. He’s taking her home for good as soon as they’re done. This shit right here? This is why I hate Matt Smith’s run.

Mari: It’s a really tough moment to watch, but I don’t think it’s exclusive to Matt Smith’s run, though again, I have only very vague memories of what’s to come. I mean, the times we’ve seen Ten angry yell at someone…? A LOT. And since his companions end up stranded by him in another dimension, heartbroken and with their memories erased, I don’t think we can really put Ten on a pedestal for his treatment of companions. And you might say that’s par for the course with Doctor Who (which, I think it is. I think the very idea of how companions are almost collateral damage for the Doctor is one of the most compelling aspects of his story), and I would say that so is this righteous indignation. I guess I see this as more in the same vein of Ten yelling at Wilf for getting trapped in the radiation booth at the end of “The End of Time.” 

Now, I also know that Moffat has said some misogynistic things and apparently his stories get worse. I don’t know if that means that the 300-year-old queen looking young and Eleven snapping at Amy are hints of his misogyny or if we see misogyny in them because it’s Moffat. 

My main point is: I feel like I’ve seen this kind of snappish behavior from Nine and Ten and now Eleven. It really is a sucky moment, but not one I feel is exclusive to Eleven.

Dani: I bristled at the “you don’t ever decide what I need to know” line just because it seemed so damned hypocritical, coming from the guy who regularly plays God with everyone else’s lives. And also the whole “you were a bad girl, and I’m going to punish you by taking away this incredible thing” unnecessarily infantilizes Amy. The Doctor is often patronizing and condescending, and sometimes it’s endearing. Here, not so much.

K: Yeah, it was more the “I do this all the time but you have no right to” part that I objected to more than the “The Doctor yelled at a companion” thing. Although I also kind of feel like when Nine and Ten yelled at companions, it was really more the Doctor being angry at HIMSELF than being angry at his companion. This doesn’t have the same feel to it.

The Doctor stomps across to the electrical doohickey. Liz Ten asks what he’s doing. He says he’s going to do the worst thing he’s ever done: pass a massive electrical current through the Star Whale’s brain, making it a travelling vegetable. Amy’s horrified. He says the options are that, the current situation, or the ship falling apart. This is the least shitty one. Liz says there has to be another way. The Doctor yells at them not to talk to him, not today. He starts fiddling with the machine.

A bunch of kids come in, and Mandy and Timmy reunite, only Timmy just stands there not saying anything. Amy watches in horror as a tentacle rears up behind Mandy, but it just taps her on the shoulder. She turns around and pats it. Amy hears the Doctor’s voice in her head, telling her to notice everything. We get a bunch of flashbacks of Liz Ten saying the Star Whale appeared like a miracle when all the children on Earth were screaming, and that it’s the last of its kind, then of Glasses Guy saying it won’t eat the children. We also get flashbacks of the Doctor saying he’s the last of his kind and Amy joking that he doesn’t get involved unless children are crying.

Amy yells at the Doctor to stop what he’s doing. She grabs Liz Ten and slams her hand down on the Abdicate button as the Doctor screams at her to stop.

The electrical doohickey stops pulsing. The Star Whale roars. The whole of Starship UK shudders. The Doctor demands to know what Amy’s done. “Nothing at all,” she replies. Glasses Guy says in surprise that they’ve sped up. Amy’s all “Well, yeah. That happens when you don’t torture your pilot…”

Everyone is confused as hell. Amy informs Liz Ten that the Star Whale didn’t turn up like a miracle, they didn’t have to trap it or torture it. It volunteered to save them because it was lonely and old as fuck and didn’t like seeing children cry. DO YOU SEE THE HEAVY HANDED METAPHOR YET? THE STAR WHALE IS THE DOCTOR AND HUMANITY JUST KEEPS HURTING HIM OMG IT’S SO CLEVEEEEEER. (D: Wait, I don’t get it. Can you explain it to me again in five minutes?) Excuse me while I go get treatment for my Anvil of Obvious Storytelling concussion. The Tinkly Orchestra tinkles as Liz Ten and Glasses Guy look mortified.

Cut to the Doctor standing staring out at space. Amy rushes up with Liz Ten’s mask to say that Her Majesty has decreed there will be no more secrets on Starship UK. He snaps at her that she could have killed everyone because she didn’t know how the Star Whale would react. Except that she would because all that pain and misery and loneliness just made the Star Whale kind and she’s totally seen that before in THE DOCTOR OH MY GOD WHAT A SURPRISE I NEVER WOULD HAVE SEEN THIS COMING. (D: Whew, thanks. Now I get it.) He smiles at her in a hesitant way and they hug. For, like, a weirdly long time.

They rush back to the TARDIS, Amy asking if they should say goodbye. The Doctor prefers to leave people wondering, and says that tomorrow is a big day. Amy’s all “U WOT,” but he’s not talking about her wedding, he just means that every day is a big day because he skips the boring days courtesy of his time machine. Amy stops outside the TARDIS and asks if he’s ever run away from something because he wasn’t quite ready blah blah blah she’s got cold feet about her wedding WE GET IT.

Just then, the phone rings inside the TARDIS. Amy’s all “???” and the Doctor unlocks the door and tells her to answer it. It’s the Prime Minister. The Doctor asks her to clarify which one. The British Prime Minister. The Doctor again asks her to clarify which one. It’s Winston Churchill. We cut to him in the past, saying that he’s got a tricky situation that he’ll need the Doctor’s help with. We see the shadow of a Dalek on the wall next to him. The Doctor says they’re on their way and they vworp vworp off.

We pan over Starship UK and the Star Whale underneath it as Amy voiceovers “In bed above, we’re deep asleep, while greater love lies further deep. This dream must end, this world must know, we all depend on the beast below.”

We zoom in on the side of the ship, and there’s a crack on it. Exactly the same as the crack on Amy’s bedroom wall. Dun dun dun! Fade to black.

I actually didn’t hate this episode. Well. I should clarify. I liked this episode right up until that last very clunky THE DOCTOR AND THE STAR WHALE ARE THE SAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAME OMG DO YOU SEE IT YET ten minutes, because that was awful. But Liz Ten was pretty great, and the Creepy Boxes were hella creepy. So it could have been worse. But it also could have been better. And, like, the Star Whale could have looked less like the love child of a penis and an angler fish.

I mean…

Mari: I agree that it wasn’t the worst! It helped that I wasn’t recapping, I’m sure, because it was a pretty quick one to watch. (K: It took me 4 hours to recap…) The alien itself isn’t the most nonsensical thing of the episode, surprisingly, because that’s usually how it goes. For me, this time, it was everything else aboard the ship. We never hear why everything looks so old and why those creepy fortune tellers were the teachers and why there were half-human half-creepy fortune tellers. WHY? Just ’cause is the answer, and it leaves loose threads in an otherwise effective episode. 

As a kind-of-Snow, I’m really curious about how Amy’s story will play out for me. I spoke earlier about the companions as collateral damage, and it’s interesting to me that that started with Amy since she was a child. She reminds us here again that she considered the Doctor her imaginary friend. She’s been on adventures with him before, so to speak. So far, I feel for more than I’m annoyed at Amy’s situation and the pull of this dream she’s had since she was a child versus the uncertainty of a large commitment. 

I wasn’t as annoyed at the Starwhale/Doctor parallel as Kirsti, especially in episode 2, adventure 1 of a new series/new companion. It’s kind of like having the Doctor go around with I’M THE DOCTOR, THIS IS WHAT I DO speeches, um, basically every other episode. It was a way for new viewers to get to know Eleven and for Amy to get to know what she signed up for. Was it heavy-handed? I mean, hello, this is Doctor Who. I just didn’t think it was that annoying. 

An episode that’s certainly going to fall in the middle of the pack when it comes to ranking. 

Dani: I actually liked this episode, particularly the resolution. I was pretty convinced the Doctor would lobotomize the star whale, and we’d end up with Amy learning that the whole traveling about in space and time thing isn’t always a barrel of fun. I was pleasantly surprised when both the alien and the people got to survive. 

That said, I have mixed feelings about Amy. I feel like she’s crushing on the Doctor, and that makes me uncomfortable. I’ve always likened the Doctor-companion relationship to a human-pet relationship: my dog will live nowhere near as long as I will; his IQ will never match (or even be on the same plane as) mine; he’ll never understand complex scientific theorems, like why the ball is still in my hand when he clearly saw me throw it; and even though my dog adores me (and I him), we are entirely different species. That’s why any Doctor/companion shipping is creepy to me. They may both look human, but for all intents and purposes you’re basically shipping me and my dog. And that’s just sick.

K: I’m just gonna leave this here and walk away.


Next time on Doctor Who: The Doctor and Amy head to World War II and encounter an unexpected enemy in Doctor Who S05 E03 – Victory of the Daleks. 


Marines (all posts)

I'm a 20-something south Floridan who loves the beach but cannot swim. Such is my life, full of small contradictions and little trivialities. My main life goals are never to take life too seriously, but to do everything I attempt seriously well. After that, my life goals devolve into things like not wearing pants and eating all of the Zebra Cakes in the world. THE WORLD.

Dani (all posts)

I’m a serial procrastinator with mild OCD, so instead of writing my next novel I’m probably counting the ice cubes in my drink to make sure it’s an even number. I am also low-key obsessed with Dutch painters, Norse mythology, and Canadian bacon.

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  • Raluca

    So. This is a pretty average episode for me. I didn’t really like it, because of the obivousness of some metaphors, and the lack of explanation for the creepy figures, but I liked the resolution.
    Why is Geronimo racist? Dani? Have no idea what you are referring to. I agree Moffat is kinda of a racist pig sometimes (many times) and I definitely hate it when that happens, but I have no idea why this particular word is racist. Please explain?
    Amy definitely has a crush on the Doctor. I actually do not mind that at all. Humans crushing on Time Lords or alien species, that is. 😀 I like Jack Harkness a lot as a character, and isn’t he some sort of pansexual? Is that the correct term? I never minded the age or species difference. Hell, I’d be crushing on the Doctor if I met him! 😀 I still dislike the actress and her pouty lips though 😀

    • Geronimo was an Apache leader during the nineteenth century who led many Apache people in fighting back against American colonisation of Apache land. Ultimately, he surrendered, was treated as a prisoner of war, and was removed from his land and never allowed to return. To take the name of a Native American icon and use it as a “wheeeeeee, I’m about to do something really stupid!” catchphrase for a white male character is pretty fucking racist.

      • Raluca

        I didn’t know about these particular history events. Yep, this is indeed fucking racist. 🙁

      • Raluca

        Hmmm. I read on the Wikipedia page and it says there, I quote:

        Main article: Geronimo (exclamation)
        Thanks to a 1939 movie about Geronimo, US paratroopers traditionally shout “Geronimo” to show they have no fear of jumping out of an airplane. Other Native American-based traditions were also adopted in WWII, such as “Mohawk” haircuts, face paint and spears on their unit patches.[85]

        Code name
        Main article: Code name Geronimo controversy
        The United States military used the code name “Geronimo” for the raid that killed the al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in 2011; but its use outraged some Native Americans.[86] It was subsequently reported to be named or renamed “Operation Neptunes Spear”.[87][88]

        Harlyn Geronimo, Geronimo’s great-grandson, said to the Senate Commission on Indian Affairs,[89]

        (use of ‘Geronimo’ in the raid that killed Bin Laden) either was an outrageous insult (or) mistake. And it is clear from the military records released that the name Geronimo was used at times by military personnel involved for both the military operation and for Osama Bin Laden himself.”

        As far as I see there, it is used by paratroopers to show no fear when jumping out of airplanes. That is not racist, is it? What do you think?

        The use by the US military in Osama’s case was a clear example of racism though.

        Do you think it is meant to be racist in Dr. Who? Maybe it is meant to show the 11th Doctor has no fear in the face of danger? Not trying to find excuses for Moffat/writers, just curious.

        And I mean no disrespect to Native Americans, to be clear.

        • I was going to say, “if the Doctor were using it as some tribute to the bravery of Geronimo then maybe I wouldn’t mind so much,” but, no … I would still mind, because it’s still a white person’s appropriation of non-white culture and heritage.

          White colonialism has already taken (and continues to take, see: DAPL) so much from native peoples. Taking their respected, historic figures and using them without deep reflection on how that may be perceived is a bad idea. And I think perception trumps intention here. It doesn’t matter whether the usage was meant to represent bravery (paratroopers) or just thoughtlessly used for the purposes of entertainment (fun catchphrase, various sports teams). If even one member of the group whose culture is being appropriated finds that appropriation offensive or disrespectful, then that is one person too many.

          Bottom line for me is that the casual use of phrases like that demonstrates an acceptance and perpetuation of the marginalization of native people, and I think it’s appropriate to call that out in shows we love, so they can do better (and so that we, as fans, can be aware of the messages we’re absorbing, intentional or not).

          • Raluca

            I am part of the “white culture” of course. I understand what you are saying, but it is theoretical for me. I relate better if I think of the male privilege instead of white privilege. I come from a country where “being politically correct” doesn’t really exist. Neither does respect for other non-white cultures.
            I am sorry that “Geronimo” is so disrespectful, and I wish Moffat had found a better catchphrase. I wonder if anyone thought to tell him just how racist Geronimo really was.

  • Kinglypuff

    I have a HUGE soft spot for this episode. It doesn’t make a lot of structural sense, and the metaphor was kind of really but I think there’s such a lovely heart to I didn’t really care. I’m very partial to the story-tale atmosphere of season 5 and I have a lot of love for Amy Pond, so, of course, objectivity is not my strongest point.

    I LOVED the line about children crying silently. One thing I love about Moffat is the way he writes children which shows a lot of empathy toward them.
    I didn’t get the opportunity to comment on it but I also loved The Eleventh Hour and I think it’s the best opening of any Doctor Who season. Thank god, the next episode is written by Mark Gatiss ! I still haven’t liked any episode written by him so it will give me a nice occasion to complain. Phew !

    • Raluca

      Victory of the Daleks is next. That episode has never made any sense for me.

    • I’m with you! I’m so happy to have someone to agree with in the comments, lolol. But yes, as much as this episode has some of the typical Doctor Who plot-holey-ness, I think it does a good job of continuing to introduce the Doctor and Amy. And the duality of the Doctor as it’s expressed in Eleven: goofy and kind of a dick. Kind of a dick but can’t see a kid cry. Etc.

      I agree that The Eleventh Hour is one of the best season openers. I’ll let you know if THE BEST once I’m caught up. 😉

      The next episode…. ha ha ha.

  • Steven Brown

    The thing I liked most about this at the time was the parallels to Ursula K le Guin’s great short story “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” (also recently mentioned by Erica on the Verity! podcast).
    What I like least about it is something I’ve only just figured out exactly. At the end, they may stop shocking the space whale, but presumably they’ll still have to keep feeding it “citizens of limited value” (and presumably protesters if they keep the option of protesting against using one’s fellow citizens as fuel). How much do space whales need to eat? If they run out of “citizens of limited value”, will it change its mind about eating children?

    • Oh gosh, in all the bustle of the episode, I totally forgot about the human food source. Let’s fanwank that the whale didn’t want to eat people but that’s all they gave him…? And so they won’t do that anymore…?


      • Steven Brown

        Yes, it was just eating what it was given to be polite. And now it can get back to inhaling dark energy. Or something.