Doctor Who: The Eaters of Light
June 18, 2017 7:16 AM - Season 10, Episode 10 - Subscribe

A hunt for the lost Ninth Roman Legion leads the Doctor, Bill, and Nardole into the middle of an ancient battle that could cast humanity into the dark forever.
posted by Thorzdad (34 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
* Was hoping for a bit of an Ogri return there for a minute.
* Bill is a fine character but Mackie is making her better.
* I don't understand why they're making a special effort to make the Doctor a patronizing git.
* Matt Lucas is fun. I bet there are some glorious outtakes.
posted by hawthorne at 9:27 AM on June 18 [2 favorites]


I don't understand why they're making a special effort to make the Doctor a patronizing git.

I agree he's been more of an asshole in this series. It's almost as if he's become tired of his pet human race.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:39 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]


Was hoping for at least a reference to Rory the Roman even if the Doctor couldn't meet him again.
posted by scalefree at 10:30 AM on June 18 [11 favorites]


Was written by the same woman who wrote the final story in the old skool series (the one with the Master and some duff looking cat-people)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:30 PM on June 18 [3 favorites]


Nardole is rapidly becoming my favourite companion. Is he even considered a companion ?
posted by Pendragon at 2:49 PM on June 18 [3 favorites]


Nardole is my favorite, but I love him and Bill together. Honestly I like them much better than the Doctor at this point and would happily watch the Bill and Nardole spin off.
posted by miss-lapin at 2:57 PM on June 18


Mostly liked this, but the bit with the Doctor volunteering makes less than no sense in light of him letting Missy out of the Vault. If he decided to guard the gate for all of time, that left... what? Missy, free with the TARDIS?

Sloppy.

I liked the rest pretty well though: Bill and Nardole were especially great. Liked the Roman and Pictish kids. The monster of the week was pretty neat too.
posted by mordax at 3:57 PM on June 18 [2 favorites]


If he decided to guard the gate for all of time, that left... what? Missy, free with the TARDIS?

Remember, he had Missy bio-locked-out from the TARDIS controls. So, had he gone in to guard the gate, everyone would have been stuck in ancient Scotland.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:33 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]


Remember, he had Missy bio-locked-out from the TARDIS controls.

I remember. I also remember that Missy's as good at all this stuff as he is. (Maybe even better - I don't recall the Doctor ever making a gun out of leaves.) Whatever technical solution he has to keep her off the controls, it's working mostly due to her willing cooperation.
posted by mordax at 4:54 PM on June 18 [2 favorites]


I was gonna say Missy doesn't strike me as someone who would let a biolock stop her. If she's a prisoner, it's because she allows herself to be so.

I also think this may be a case of the Doctor telling Nardole something to ease his mind. This Doctor 1 not at all trustworthy 2 seems to want to make unnec. dangerous sacrifices A LOT 3 about the only redeeming moment was when he said not ALL human being seems like babies to him implying Bill (as he rejects Nardole's "Thank you"). Of course, the Doctor also speaks Baby.
posted by miss-lapin at 5:11 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]


It's a matter of evaluating the scale of the risks involved. Missy may or may not still be evil but you have to weigh that against a swarm of trans-dimensional monsters that eat stars.
posted by scalefree at 5:53 PM on June 18 [3 favorites]


There's a million better ways to solve the problem than 'I will stand here myself for all of time,' among them:

* Permit the people who used to stand guard do it. (Trying to talk them down from that was pretty arrogant, even for a character sort of defined by it.)

* Use super-science to seal the rift on a more permanent basis.

Also: Missy may or may not be evil... *with the Doctor watching*. If he feeds himself into a woodchipper, her Heel-Face-Turn is definitely snapping back, and he knows it. She's clearly only doing this for him, and clearly doesn't really know how to do this without some outside help.

Her without him is clearly more dangerous than any non-sapient transdimensional star-eaters. (They were a credible threat to the universe on one occasion. For her, that's just Tuesday.)
posted by mordax at 6:07 PM on June 18 [3 favorites]


Mordax, they dealt with that argument in the episode. Somebody (Nardole, IIRC, although it may have been Bill) pointed out to the Doctor that he was supposed to be guarding the vault, and he made the argument that these creatures potentially getting out and devouring all the stars was a bit more important.

This Doctor is certainly a departure from the last few! Even Eccelston's Doctor was a friendlier fellow. (This Doctor seemed annoyed by the whole idea of "ingratiating yourself" with the locals, which is about as far as it gets from Matt Smith.) And once again this version of the Doctor seems to somehow know less about our pop culture than his last few incarnations did. I've always had the impression that while his personality changes in a regeneration he retains all of his memories, but his bafflement about stuff like Alien and The Terminator makes me wonder about that. David Tennant's Doctor DEFINITELY spent a lot of time at the movies!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:12 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]


Mordax, they dealt with that argument in the episode.

It was Nardole, and that's not precisely correct. The argument the Doctor raises in the episode is 'Only I can do this,' which is qualitatively different from 'Star Eaters are more threatening than Missy.' The 'only I can do this' thing is so wrong everybody picks up on it, which leapt out at me as a weird choice.

You guys might be right about that being a deliberate choice in the story rather than just sloppiness though. I suppose we might see next week, since whatever's up with him probably has to do with Missy in the first place. (Maybe he's worried he will be unsuccessful rehabilitating her, and that'll make this All His Fault or something.)

This Doctor is certainly a departure from the last few!

Yeah. I mostly like that about him. I really dug his popcorn gambit, and him chewing out Nardole for fitting in. They just take it a bit far sometimes - The Lie of the Land was too much, and I was offended enough to take a break from watching after Kill The Moon. Here, him trying to talk the Gatekeeper out of doing stuff felt like too much. The Doctor normally appreciates a good heroic sacrifice.

I've always had the impression that while his personality changes in a regeneration he retains all of his memories, but his bafflement about stuff like Alien and The Terminator makes me wonder about that

I'm pretty sure he does remember, but I think he remembers some stuff better than others. Matt Smith's Doctor was really fascinated by the human experience, while - as you note - Capaldi-Doctor doesn't really care. Time Lords shouldn't map to humans 1:1, but I know that my own interest in a topic has an impact on my recall of it.

Something else: Capaldi's Doctor seems to want to relate to non-humans more, although he's not doing a very good job of it. Like, in this episode, he was more sympathetic to the ravens in theory, but he never stopped to actually speak to them. And his first appearance involved trying to talk down a T-Rex, IIRC.

Wonder if there's something behind that? Maybe a strong reaction to Matt Smith-Doctor's experiences? (Maybe he's just sort of burnt out on people, after Trenzalore?)
posted by mordax at 6:43 PM on June 18 [2 favorites]


The argument the Doctor raises in the episode is 'Only I can do this,' which is qualitatively different from 'Star Eaters are more threatening than Missy.'

I don't have a transcript available, but I'm almost certain he said something like, "If we don't stop this, there won't even BE a vault!"

Also, I'm surprised people aren't making a bigger deal out of the Doctor claiming he'd once been a vestal virgin. Weren't the vestal virgins all women? Unless he was disguised and in drag, it sounds like he's saying he had a female incarnation at some point. (I also recall Missy once saying the Doctor had been a little girl, but her adding that it may have been a lie.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 12:18 AM on June 19


I really hated that the girl gatekeeper walks in and he immediately starts insulting the hell out of her. Like, she doesn't even get 3 steps in the door before being berated. If he had harsh things to say once it was discovered that she let the beast out on purpose, then yea, fair enough, but the first onslaught was precipitated by her being young and female and fuck that. I officially dislike this iteration of the doctor.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:53 AM on June 19 [4 favorites]


Weren't the vestal virgins all women? Unless he was disguised and in drag, it sounds like he's saying he had a female incarnation at some point.

Which would also imply that he had had a previous set of regenerations before the twelve we know of.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:32 AM on June 19 [2 favorites]


Or that Time Lords can remake their bodies to a substantial extent without regeneration, which we already know to be the case ('Human Nature' / 'The Family of Blood').
posted by Major Clanger at 3:55 AM on June 19


I kind of like the cranky belligerent Doctor - it gives the companion a chance to be assertive and provide a bit of a moral compass for the Doctor. Instead of the past few seasons where it felt like the Doctor was stopping for every last dang Intergalactic Space Hangnail and going massively overboard in his reaction to it.
posted by Kyol at 7:42 AM on June 19 [4 favorites]


So I guess one of the SFX guys watched Outlander* recently, huh?
*(the 2009 sci-fi film about an alien with bioluminescent tentacles harassing Vikings, not the time-travel book-series-turned-TV-show)

I don't understand why they're making a special effort to make the Doctor a patronizing git.
>I kind of like the cranky belligerent Doctor

I like cranky Doctor, but he was harsh as fuck on the Picts. "Oh no, you were being slaughtered by colonialist invaders, why the fuck did you unleash the alien - which you had no understanding of but should somehow have known was too powerful to control - you morons?!"

Loved the "I only like women"/"Oh, that's cute that you restrict yourself, I like both" conversation.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:36 AM on June 19 [2 favorites]


There was some squick in the Doctor condescending to Kar, yeah. I'm pretty sure the intent the writer had was for him to be disdainful of her strictly​ for being young and incompetent, with a healing helping of fury at her unleashing something terrible for selfish reasons. But at the same time, the Doctor more commonly makes a point of not underestimating people, particularly people who don't tick the normal boxes for being obviously formidable. And usually the writers have more sense than to wade into something that gives off that kind of whiff of sexism.

I think the argument about the Doctor wanting to take on the rift creatures himself had to less to do with the logic of the situation itself than it did with them setting up his tendency to want to take on everything himself as a theme in preparation for whatever they have going on with Missy/The Master.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:09 AM on June 19


can someone remind me of the metasocial norms surrounding discussing the spoilers contained in the next week preview?

because !!!
posted by mrjohnmuller at 1:32 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


I also noticed he was harsh to Kar mostly because she's young and inexperienced rather than because she's female. He was generally harsh on everyone in this episode. But I think when he realized what they unleashed that's when he actually got upset at things.

yes next weeks' preview also had me internally declare several exclamation marks.
posted by numaner at 2:24 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


There was something that bugged me about the Doctor's insistence that only he was long-lived enough to hold the gate, and I figured it out.

If every second that passes on the other side of the gate is a day here, then there is absolutely no reason to need someone long-lived to guard it. Every day over there is 237 years over here. In the present-day bits with the two children, Kar and the Romans have been guarding the gate for about a week, from their point of view. If they last a month, they'll have held the gate for over seven thousand years. Why does an immortal need to take that job, exactly?
posted by nonasuch at 3:19 PM on June 19 [3 favorites]


can someone remind me of the metasocial norms surrounding discussing the spoilers contained in the next week preview?

I think the rule is: don't. (but I KNOW, RIGHT?)
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:09 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


Seven thousand years is something of an eyeblink on the scale of the universe. I'd want sometime who's be around for a million years at least.
posted by happyroach at 5:22 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


A million years here works out to eleven and a half years there. Honestly I think Kar and the Romans can handle it as long as they don't run out of food.
posted by nonasuch at 6:51 PM on June 19


What was Nadir story about the Mary Celest?
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 2:59 AM on June 20


He was telling about a ship that was discovered completely abandoned, only instead of everybody abandoning ship, he was explaining how they all got eaten by an alien ambassador who was just trying to make friends. Bit of a cautionary tale, that, as the Doctor then popped out of the caern to confront the locals. Luckily, the Doctor wasn't interested in making friends.
posted by Mogur at 6:10 AM on June 20


A million years here works out to eleven and a half years there. Honestly I think Kar and the Romans can handle it as long as they don't run out of food.

Other way around. I want someone who can watch in there for a million years, giving us a nice, safe, 86.5 billion years to think of something to do about them.

And while Dr. Grump is watching things, Bill, Nardole and Missy can take the Tardis and go have fun adventures. Everybody wins-especially the audience.
posted by happyroach at 9:15 AM on June 20 [1 favorite]


I think the rule is: don't.

As a different Time Lady has said, "Spoilers." We'll get there.
posted by scalefree at 8:11 AM on June 21 [1 favorite]


Y'all made me look up the preview and !!!!
posted by Ruki at 9:22 PM on June 21


Speaking of spoilers, maybe this is the place where I can complain about how much I HATE the BBC America thing where in the middle of an episode they show you a scene from the end of the episode. It spoils the episode while you're watching it! And every time it happens, I don't realize what it is in time to flip away and avoid the spoilers. I'll be like, "Wait, they escaped the monster that was just chasing them? And why is everybody sad now? Did I miss a scene or... Oh, god damn it, BBC America!"
posted by Ursula Hitler at 12:37 AM on June 22 [2 favorites]


Speaking of spoilers, maybe this is the place where I can complain about how much I HATE the BBC America thing where in the middle of an episode they show you a scene from the end of the episode.

BitTorrent. No commercials, ever. And if you can't wait there's always services like Popcorn Time that make torrents available for streaming as soon as they've been transcoded & pushed out to seedboxes, usually an hour or two after the show ends.
posted by scalefree at 8:29 AM on June 23


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