Doctor Who: Arachnids in the UK
October 28, 2018 12:59 PM - Season 11, Episode 4 - Subscribe

In Yorkshire, the Doctor and friends meet Yaz's family - and uncover a creepy mystery at the heart of the city. What is happening to the spiders of Sheffield?
posted by fearfulsymmetry (67 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Yeah, bits of that were pretty creepy and spiders don't normally bother me!

I expect Not-Trump will be back.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:02 PM on October 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


Nice to see more actual Sheffield this time around.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:24 PM on October 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Not sure about the Doctor dancing mind, and I thought none of the classic monsters were coming back this year?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:41 PM on October 28, 2018


The fact that the actors playing Yasmin and Ryan are so much older than the characters is still bothering me a bit — I know they’re supposed to be teenagers, but they just come across as slightly odd adults.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 2:44 PM on October 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


Local knowledge: the fact that they walked across that bridge to the scientist's lab almost certainly means that she was working at Sheffield Hallam University and not the University of Sheffield. (You can still walk to the University of Sheffield, but it's a much longer walk and it's a lot easier to take the tram, which is just down the hill from that apartment building.)
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:16 PM on October 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Although now I take a closer look at the map around that apartment building, they may have taken the bridge to the Fitzalan Square/Ponds Forge tram stop and headed over to Sheffield University from there. Still, though.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:27 PM on October 28, 2018


I suppose it's nice that this wasn't yet another plot where aliens land in England again and cause havoc, but the explanation for the spiders was straight out of a 50's B movie. The thing that bugged me (no pun intended) the most about this episode was that if you removed the Doctor and her companions from the plot, things would have turned out pretty much the same.
posted by runcibleshaw at 3:28 PM on October 28, 2018



The fact that the actors playing Yasmin and Ryan are so much older than the characters is still bothering me a bit — I know they’re supposed to be teenagers, but they just come across as slightly odd adults.


Tosin Cole (Ryan) is 26 and Mandip Gill (Yasmin) is 30.
I'm not quite sure what age their characters are but they're definitely early/mid 20's. Yasmin is a police officer, so she's at least out of highschool and has been through whatever schooling is required, potentially with an additional university degree.
"slightly odd adults" is exactly how they're meant to come across.
posted by FallowKing at 5:30 PM on October 28, 2018 [13 favorites]


After this horrible, horrible week, it honestly felt amazing to have the Doctor giving the business to Donald Trump, even if he didn't get eaten by spiders in the end. (I really really want Donald Trump to get eaten by spiders.)
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:28 PM on October 28, 2018 [9 favorites]


Can I ask if this is one that mild arachnophobes should skip? Lots of close-up and/or abnormally large spiders?
posted by acidic at 7:21 PM on October 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


The Doctor Who Wiki reckons Ryan was born in 1999. So he's supposed to be 18. Yasmin is a trainee police officer, so she could also easily be 18.

Lots of close-up and/or abnormally large spiders?

I'm not any sort of arachnophobe so I can't really evaluate this for you but: there's some very very large spiders and the characters spend all the time talking about how unusually large they are.
posted by BungaDunga at 7:24 PM on October 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


oh yeah if you have even just mild arachnophobia i would skip this one and read the synopsis. i'm not scared of spiders at all and this freaked me out slightly when they show how big the giant one is with the human-sized characters standing next to them.
posted by numaner at 7:51 PM on October 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


Lots of close-up and/or abnormally large spiders?

They’re all abnormally large. Like anywhere from large dog to horse sized, and the mother spider is roughly the size of a large suv. At that size, you see a lot of the wiggly mandible bits.

...........
...if you removed the Doctor and her companions from the plot, things would have turned out pretty much the same.

That was really the weakest part of this one. There wasn’t anything about the story that required a timelord to figure out. Other than breaking open a couple door locks with the sonic, she was mostly an organizer.

This episode seems to pretty much finalize the gathering-up of companions, so hopefully the rest of the series will be given up to more bona-fide Doctor shenanigans.

And that console room is definitely far too cramped.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:52 PM on October 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


if you removed the Doctor and her companions from the plot, things would have turned out pretty much the same.

On one hand, I dunno, they might not have survived a couple of times because the Doctor basically told them how to protect themselves and coming up with an overall plan. On the other hand her plans were to humanely get rid of the spiders, like trapping the smaller ones in the panic room until they starve, and on the whole if the Doctor wasn't there they would still be killed off, but less humanely. What I think the Doctor was most effective at was working with Jade to figure out the origin of the giant spiders and figuring out how to contain them. Sure Jade might have come to that on her own but it might have cost more lives if they took too long.

It's been a while since I've seen Chris Noth in anything since I don't keep up with Law & Order, and it was nice to see him here.
posted by numaner at 8:01 PM on October 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


I liked this one, it reminded me of one of the classic Third Doctor stories from when he was still Earthbound... like the Green Death or Inferno (but blissfully much shorter, ha). Human greed/curiosity creates a monster, the Doctor provides a bit of help taking care of it and a lot of speech-making about the various follies of humankind.

Didn't really know what to make of hotel magnate guy... he was good comic relief, I guess?
posted by lefty lucky cat at 8:14 PM on October 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


On the other hand, Dudely McEvilington just sorta sauntered off? I mean I know we don't need to wrap up everything every episode, but... That felt like sort of a miss, although I don't know what would've been right.

I'm enjoying that every episode isn't somehow a planet killing decision where the Doctor is the only one who can save the world though.
posted by Kyol at 8:19 PM on October 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


Shadow puppets.
posted by dumbland at 8:55 PM on October 28, 2018 [16 favorites]


I like the fact they actually acknowledged that you couldn't have giant spiders in 'real life' as arachnids have a breathing method without proper lungs that won't scale. I've def had drunken conversations with nerds about that before.

I'm assuming without the doctor's intervention the smaller spiders would have eventually spread out and kept on breading... yeah they'll die/get killed eventually but they'll cause a lot of mayhem before that happens
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:27 AM on October 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


I quite liked this episode, it felt solid, like an older episode of Doctor Who. The spiders really creeped me out, though, so would not recommend for anyone who is properly terrified of spiders (which i almost am).

Is anyone getting a Yaz has feelings for the Doctor maybe vibe? Just a little crush. I love it!
posted by liquorice at 2:20 AM on October 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


Urgh, you know, the relationships all work in this episode. Any time the Doctor talks is great, any time the characters interact is terrific. But the plot of this episode was such a hot mess. Let me count the issues

1) So they turn up half an hour after the last episode. How come we didn't notice any spiders before hand then?
2) They deal with the spiders in the hotel. But what about the one left in the apartment?
3) There is just never a sense of real threat to them, and they are incredibly easy for the team to escape.
4)Frankly, the Doctor's obsession with a "humane" death for the spiders was straight out weird. Why is starving them to death, or suffocating them, better than shooting them? It comes to something when I agree with the Donald Trump analogue more than the doctor. What actually WAS her plan for the biggest spider when they went into the ballroom? I am all for the Doctor being opposed to guns, but the way they are doing it just comes across as really dumb.
5)Speaking of the Donald Trump parody, it was really on the nose, to the point of the "you're fired" and "hows this for fire and fury" lines. Also making Trump exist in the world and be president is a really weird choice to make. And again, while he clearly wasn't a hero, blaming him for creating mutant spiders seems a little much given they are, you know, impossible.
6)While I enjoy the companions, the insistence of including characters of the week again makes it really busy. There were several parts of this episode where we had 7 characters all involved in a conversation which didn't really work at all.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 3:21 AM on October 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


blaming him for creating mutant spiders seems a little much

I think the notion was more blaming the concept of corporate irresponsibility.
Like, all these things happened but it wasn't anyone's fault it was the corporation.
The classic "It is to be regretted that..." type corporate language.


I'm really liking the change in scale of disaster. Like with Tennant everything was "as old as the universe" or "could destroy all of reality" and even in the jokey timecrash they were going to blow a hole in spacetime as big as Belgium and the fact that it was "only" the size of a small country was treated as ridiculously small stakes.
By contrast, this episode was "There's something wrong with the spiders in south Yorkshire!"

I'm thinking so far that the writing of all these episodes have been basically fine. Like decent 7 out of 10 episodes.
(10/10 on Whittaker and on the effects team and directing and so on. I'm talking specifically about the writing) and I'm wondering if what we're going to get out of Chibnell is a run of solid 7/10ers.
And additionally that that's ok. Because with Moffatt you got a few 10/10 episodes and then quite a lot of 4/10 episodes.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 3:43 AM on October 29, 2018 [10 favorites]


Tosin Cole (Ryan) is 26 and Mandip Gill (Yasmin) is 30.
I'm not quite sure what age their characters are but they're definitely early/mid 20's.


According to the BBC website, they’re both supposed to be 19, fwiw.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 3:46 AM on October 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


I loved the movie Eight Legged Freaks so I loved this episode :-)

So they turn up half an hour after the last episode. How come we didn't notice any spiders before hand then?

Because all the big spiders were under the hotel ? Normal people wouldn't really notice the weird spider behavior of the regular sized spiders.

Starving the spiders is a weird plan though. Can't spiders live along time without a meal ? I think it would have been a better plan to trap the spiders and use some kind of gas on them to kill them humanely.
posted by Pendragon at 4:17 AM on October 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


Yeah, starving the spiders would just lead to them eating each other in that room. I was with hotel guy. Shooting them would have been much more humane. Everyone agreed the spiders had to die, and a quick death is more humane than the alternative.
posted by fimbulvetr at 4:24 AM on October 29, 2018


To be fair, Tosin Cole appears to have no pores in his skin at all which makes him look like an ageless being.
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 5:40 AM on October 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


And great, they locked up all the living spiders and hatchlings in the panic room, do we really think there are no egg sacs in the toxic hellbrew still? Harumph.

But yeah, it's a nice, serviceable 7/10 type episode. We don't need the cloister bell every 4-5 episodes. It only rang 4 times in classic Who (on TV, anyway - the extended canon is excitable), we're up to something like 18 in NuWho?
posted by Kyol at 6:15 AM on October 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


I watched most of this episode with my laptop turned to face away from me, because spiders, but it was actually a reasonably effective audio drama. So that's okay. Would prefer fewer spiders going forward, though.
posted by nonasuch at 6:50 AM on October 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


Wait, aren't you supposed to milk the giant spider corpse? Oh, right.

I liked this a lot. It's more a kids' thing (although mine skipped this one due to aargh spiders) than recently and that's fine. I dunno how the Ed Sheeran gags will age but it's funny now. Bit of character development in the companions. Loved the shadow puppets. Actors seem up for it. All seems very confident in its place in Who.
posted by hawthorne at 7:41 AM on October 29, 2018


And great, they locked up all the living spiders and hatchlings in the panic room...

Did they? I assumed that was just the spiders in the hotel, and not any of the others out-and-about the town, like the one in the apartment. Also...Did I correctly hear a quick, hand-wavey line that the police were cleaning up all the spider bodies?
posted by Thorzdad at 7:45 AM on October 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


I realize they are starting fresh and not recycling any characters yet, in the interest of letting 13 stand on her own feet. And I think this is a great decision.

BUT... how much better would this episode have been if, instead of having Not Trump guy, it featured the return of Henry van Statten, the know-it-all gajillionaire from "Dalek," the Eccleston ep that re-introduced the Daleks?

I know he was mind-wiped or whatever, but they could have explained that away. And his character (Rose: "Don't be stupid. No one 'owns' the Internet." HvS: "And let's just keep the whole world thinking that way, right kid?") was an infinitely more original take on uber-rich assholery.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:58 AM on October 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


I found myself imagining that Chris Noth was reprising his character from The Good Wife. The personality wasn't a 100% match - Peter Florrick tended to be more brooding - but close enough, and Peter did have a brief Presidential campaign.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:29 AM on October 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


I have thoughts, but I'll start with a quote from Dan Martin's Guardian review: "Stormzy saves the day! With the Doctor needing bass pressure to bring the spiders out, Ryan steps up by jacking up Raze FM. So here’s the track in question, Know Me From"

(But I'm a bloke from across the pond, so I have no idea if Raze FM is really "Sheffield's sickest grime station")
posted by filthy light thief at 8:58 AM on October 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


I've liked the way the episodes so far have all had a nice moral that's designed to outrage online arseholes

Episode. 1) being a woman isn't awful
Episode. 2) competition is awful
Episode. 3) racists are awful
Episode. 4) donald trump is awful
posted by dng at 10:24 AM on October 29, 2018 [18 favorites]


It was a bit of a shame the cure to the problem of giant human eating spiders emerging from toxic coal mines wasn't feeding them quorn, though, like the cure to giant flesh eating maggots emerging from toxic coal mines was, in the 70s.
posted by dng at 10:28 AM on October 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


I've liked the way the episodes so far have all had a nice moral that's designed to outrage online arseholes

I was about to post the same thing!

I'm on board with the lady Doctor besting a bunch of male villains without resorting to deadly force or guns. Doubly so bad guys who are each channeling some thread of toxic Trumpist masculinity:
- Uber-warrior, who is willing to cheat to win, and has no concern for his victims/ prey
- Reality-TV host who dangles fantastic wealth before desperate contestants, and has no concern for the players
- Racist Time Dick, who tries to nudge history and "keep people in their place"
- Uber-businessman, aka "slightly more competent Donald Trump," who puts profits and his own skin before any concerns of others, and brushes off issues by saying "that was someone else's job"

This was the episode where The Doctor's companions had a chance to save their town, and get the chance to think about going back to their lives as they were before, more or less (R.I.P. Grace). The focus is less on what the Doctor did (thought more quickly than her human companions, showed off general knowledge and the fact that there's no need to rely on guns, even if the solution was "let them die a slow, 'natural' death, except for the little ones that get eaten by their siblings") and more about giving Team TARDIS a chance to say "no," instead of just pulling them off into otherworldly adventures.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:34 AM on October 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


Is anyone getting a Yaz has feelings for the Doctor maybe vibe?

I hope not. The Moffat run pretty much did all the companion-loves-the-Doctor stuff already.

There was a running gag of people trying to ship Yaz: her mum asks if her and the Doctor are "seeing each other" and then a while later someone else asks if her and Ryan are "y'know".
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:08 PM on October 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


I yelled "hey, it's the square-cube law!", got distracted by something else, and then they were all on the TARDIS. Apparently I didn't miss the wrap-up; there just wasn't much of one. Huh.

I enjoyed its B-movie-ness -- way to leverage some TV-decent sfx! -- but also thought the "starving is more humane" bit was odd. Not that bad, overall.
posted by cage and aquarium at 12:12 PM on October 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


Frankly, the Doctor's obsession with a "humane" death for the spiders was straight out weird. Why is starving them to death, or suffocating them, better than shooting them? It comes to something when I agree with the Donald Trump analogue more than the doctor. What actually WAS her plan for the biggest spider when they went into the ballroom? I am all for the Doctor being opposed to guns, but the way they are doing it just comes across as really dumb.

Yeah, starving the spiders would just lead to them eating each other in that room. I was with hotel guy. Shooting them would have been much more humane. Everyone agreed the spiders had to die, and a quick death is more humane than the alternative.


Yeah, that was just glaringly stupid. The big spider that got shot ending up suffering a lot less than the rest of them. If the writers were trying to make an anti-gun statement, they failed.
posted by homunculus at 1:39 PM on October 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


" and then a while later someone else asks if her and Ryan are "y'know".

That was also her mum.
posted by Pendragon at 2:28 PM on October 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


I enjoyed Chris Noth in this - I'd only ever seen him on Law&Order, so it was nice to see that he could do comedy. There was one bit of business where he washes his hands and then glares at them like he's Sam the Eagle. I can almost hear him say "Wet hands are really disgusting, when you look at them, aren't they?", maybe channeling a bit of Howard Hughes.
posted by Mogur at 3:42 PM on October 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


That was also her mum.

And her sister, but more because her sister fancied Ryan.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:55 PM on October 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


I missed the shadow puppets. What scene were they in?
posted by LeftMyHeartInSanFrancisco at 5:59 PM on October 29, 2018


What if the real monster was the Not-Trump not-friend we met along the way?
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 6:26 PM on October 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


Is this the first time the Doctor has ever insisted on enthusiastic, informed consent from companions before they sign on? After watching that "Be very sure," scene, I did get to thinking about whether and how much the previous (NuWho) Doctors had manipulated their companions on board in service of their on emotional needs. This was a very different feeling for sure, and I liked it.
posted by ourobouros at 8:15 PM on October 29, 2018 [9 favorites]


I'm getting a very old-school Who vibe from this series, and I dig it. Like others said, it's a really nice change of pace to not have the very fabric of reality in danger every. Fucking. Week.

Also, there's so much less SHOUTING, and a lot more thinking. This doctor works things out, rather than just yelling at the bad guy until he monologues.

I dig it a lot.
posted by coriolisdave at 10:52 PM on October 29, 2018 [13 favorites]


It's funny, a lot of people are saying they could hardly watch this one because of all the creepy spiders but to me they weren't very creepy at all. I have a healthy fear of brown recluses and other spiders that can really fuck you up, but in general I actually kind of like spiders. The spider effects in this one were quite impressive, especially for TV, but I kept seeing the spiders as just weird, potentially dangerous animals more than monsters. I felt bad for the spiders long before the mama spider started suffocating.

This was the second episode in a row where I agreed with the politics but found the execution clumsy. The Trump parody was simultaneously a bit much and not enough. On the one hand he was SO Trump, the caricature was super on-the-nose, but on the other hand he wasn't as caricatured as the real Trump and if anything he wasn't rotten enough. Like, this guy seemed more nuanced and competent than Trump, and he had some dim flickers of conscience. The episode was clearly goofing on Trump, but it's weird to do that with a caricature that's not quite as awful as the real guy!

I did like the character stuff with the companions and this Doctor definitely seems solid, but once again the plotting was iffy at best. As others have pointed out, just shooting the spiders would actually be more humane than just letting the poor creatures starve and/or suffocate to death... and we've still got all the spiders at Yaz's apartment. The whole spider threat seemed to just get dropped, while the not-Trump guy just kind of went off in a huff without anything feeling resolved. The plot was this whole sci-fi action B-movie thing that just seemed to kind of sputter to a stop, like we were missing some scenes.

I'm getting kind of an early RTD vibe from Chibnall's run so far. Like, remember all the awkward pop culture parody stuff, Anne Droid and all that, back before Russell really figured out what he was doing? Or the one with Simon Pegg and the boss monster in the ceiling? I feel like the show has devolved in some ways, back to that kind of lumpy storytelling. There was some really good stuff in RTD's early days, and there's good stuff now, but the show is clumsy and under-cooked in ways it hasn't been for a long time. I just keep having to adjust my expectations and remind myself that when this show regenerates it sometimes takes a while to find itself.

It was surprising hearing the Doctor gush about how neat it would be to have an apartment, when the idea of ever settling down like that has been horrifying to other incarnations. I was also puzzled when the Doctor seemed unsure if she and Yaz were an item; that seemed really out of character. The Doctor's sexuality is rather enigmatic and does seem to shift a bit from one incarnation to another, but he/she never just stumbles into a romance with a human. It's always a big, dramatic thing if it happens and the Doctor will often spend several seasons denying it's happening at all. Is she still addled from the regeneration? Was she trying to play into a cover story for Yaz?
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:06 AM on October 30, 2018 [3 favorites]


Yeah, my expectation was that after Moffat we were going to get another RTD-style showrunner, where the writing's not great and you're mostly waiting for a couple of episodes that knock it out of the park. I remember being excited to hear Moffat was going to be showrunner because his episodes were always really good so it promised openings and endings that were actually going to be proper good (and boy did that not turn out the way I wanted).

I'm real concerned that Chibnall wrote all four of these episodes we've seen so far. Rosa was the strongest, it was the one where he had a co-writer, and RTD was never able to both showrun Doctor Who and deliver strong capper scripts, although later on he had his moments (both Midnight and Turn Left are his, plugging a hole in the schedule with what are two genuinely fantastic episodes). This series has spent four episodes easing people into Doctor Who and only two of those episodes have been actually good.

(Yeah, I didn't like this episode, and this new Doctor's starting to grate. A bit of 'I don't know who I am or what I want, do I like fish? Do I like apartments? Do I like suspenders?' is reasonable for a bit of comedy after a regeneration but at this point it's just making me cringe.)
posted by Merus at 3:37 AM on October 30, 2018


I missed the shadow puppets. What scene were they in?

When the Doctor and Jade are looking at the map of spider activity, behind them Ryan is playing shadow puppets with a screen. I have no idea if that was scripted or ad lib. I feel the latter, as it was seriously underplayed, but who knows?
posted by Mogur at 4:26 AM on October 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'm trying to figure out how to say this - it's not that I'm glad to see Graham grieving, it's that it feels like real grief, which I rarely see in genre TV, and it's a good thing tat they're dealing with it. Not only is he periodically knocked back on his heels, but we also see him trying to figure out what to do next, almost moment to moment, feeling his way forward in a way that feels quite real.
posted by Mogur at 4:30 AM on October 30, 2018 [16 favorites]


I love the cheesy pun title. I loved the B movie plot. I loved Yaz’s family and the slow quiet bonding of Graham and Ryan. I love Grace remaining in the picture. I love having continuity without a gimmicky arc. I love Whittaker’s performance as the humblest Doctor since Davison’s, probably (while still often proudly claiming to be amazingly smart and talented, “probably”). God help me, I even think I love the plasticky Tardis interior. Doctor Who needs to have sets that look like they’ll fall over if you push on them, dammit!

Thing is, Chibnall could have gone with a much more self serious tone. Broadchurch took itself very, very seriously. Moffat’s Who took itself more and more serious every season. But a right proper Doctor knows how to pack all the good stuff (philosophy, scares, high concept sci fi, historical education, politics) into a light entertainment package that gets people to watch because it’s fun.
posted by rikschell at 4:55 AM on October 30, 2018 [6 favorites]


While Rose, River, and Clara were the relationships where writers ended up re-writing the rules every other series, there's Martha's bit of infatuation, the running joke about Elizabeth I, the Marilyn Monroe relationship, and plenty of one-off gags that The Doctor got around. And there are the "ships pass in the night" flirtations and subtext with one-off characters like in "Voyage of the Dammned." (Oh, and then there's the "Family of Blood" story.)

So I think that line about the Yaz/Doctor ship serves two purposes. For the viewer, they're trying to establish some boundaries and expectations that ship isn't on the table. But I think for this Doctor it's part of establishing that she cares about human norms that she doesn't quite understand. The apartment door scene is another example. Previous incarnations would have screwdrivered the lock and explained after using psychic paper or something. This Doctor takes the time to build a consensus that it's necessary. So I saw that line as more, "Oh no, did I accidentally misread you?" And she didn't, but she still wants to check in to confirm.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 5:59 AM on October 30, 2018 [9 favorites]


It's the same sort of thing as the Doctor/Donna sychronous "nahhh" when someone thinks they're a couple.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 6:24 AM on October 30, 2018 [4 favorites]


For the viewer, they're trying to establish some boundaries and expectations that ship isn't on the table.

I don't understand that. If the Doctor thought they were maybe already in a relationship, how does that line establish a relationship won't happen?

It's not rare for the Doctor to be baffled by human customs and emotions, and his/her level of social awkwardness does vary quite a bit between incarnations, but even so this "I don't even know if we're in a relationship" thing does seem unprecedented and really out of character to me. The more I think about it, the only explanation that makes sense to me is that the Doctor was trying to provide Yaz with a cover story. (That's not to say it's definitely what Chibnall was going for, just that it's the most logical explanation I've thought of so far.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:25 PM on October 30, 2018


Only semi related: I watched this episode today and then drove to work. When I was waiting peacefully in my parking spot in the dark when OMG GIANT SPIDER ON STEERINGWHEEL.

I dove out of my car screaming. I required emotional support to retrieve my things and legit consideration was made to retrieve the car after we're sure it had starved to death. I'm now at work, so I'll see what happens during daylight hours.

Soooooo, on review : highly realistic of exactly what I would do in this scenario.
posted by AlexiaSky at 9:32 PM on October 30, 2018 [3 favorites]


After watching this episode, driving around the neighborhood and seeing houses all done up with fake spiderwebs for Halloween was extra scary.
posted by mogget at 9:39 PM on October 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


The more I think about it, the only explanation that makes sense to me is that the Doctor was trying to provide Yaz with a cover story.
I think that's probably right but the whole "Awkward Yaz has brought some mates home / are you boyfriend/ girlfriend" vibe jars with the highly socially competent Yaz in the first episode who deftly defuses the parking rage situation. I suppose families can be like that. But they can't quite seem to decide whether the younger companions are late teens or mid 20s.
posted by hawthorne at 6:52 AM on October 31, 2018 [1 favorite]


Character interactions were all good, Doctor was good. Episode was pretty good until the last quarter when it sortof stopped making sense. Spent too much time explaining why the spiders (although I appreciate it was the fault of a mega-corp) and then its time to trap them in a safe room using Stormzy. And what _was_ the plan with the big one? If its suffocating anyway then shooting it doesn't seem so bad. You could shoot it more politely, I suppose. I did learn a lot about spiders. I suppose that must be a deliberate part of the script.

The anti-gun thing (as I mentioned before) is a bit arbitrary if things like suffocation, incineration (ep 2) and melting dna-bombs (ep 1) are still on the table. So it boils down to guns just not being to the Doctors taste or not seen as being clever enough. Its not like the doctor is a pacifist.

There's a bit in every series where the companions have to decide to stick with the Doctor. Its always a bit unconvincing* that anyone would sanely choose a series of terrifying adventures with a madman in a box. Like they clearly have no idea where they're going next and its always very very dangerous. So its better to just get that bit over with quickly. They took a bit too long over it here.

(* although Amy Pond had a pretty convincing psychological reason)
posted by memebake at 3:51 PM on October 31, 2018


TBH sitting here, staring down the barrel of a no-deal Brexit, Daleks and Cybermen seem a doddle in comparison... I'd be straight on the Tardis.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:06 AM on November 1, 2018 [9 favorites]


It was weird to see Trump kind of normalized here. The show's piss-take was "Trump is an obnoxious, selfish, corrupt, responsibility-avoidant ass, but by gum he gets things done." Completely glossing over Trump's overt white suprematism and racism struck me as weak tea so soon after "Rosa."

Are shadow puppets going to be a thing? In addition to Ryan's fooling around in the background, Fake Trump's exit scene had his shadow sweep across the wall and assembled characters. Trying to remember any significant shadow moments in the previous episodes but failing.

The Doctor asking the crew to be absolutely sure they wanted to travel with her might have gone differently if she had listed what had happened to her previous companions:

"Well, the last one was excruciatingly converted into a cyborg until a sentient spaceship made of water turned her into another sentient spaceship made of water. The one before that, I don't really remember, but I've heard she's stuck in time forever between her last heartbeat and death. The two before that died of old age but they were trapped in the past, and oh, I married their daughter after she sacrificed herself to save a bunch of people who'd been eaten by tiny bugs in the shadows, but don't worry—she was uploaded to a computer. One's banished to a parallel universe with my clone, and well, we don't talk about Donna. [Mimes head exploding.] So where to?"
posted by ejs at 6:58 PM on November 1, 2018 [7 favorites]


"Also, hanging out with me is what got a loved one of yours killed quite recently, and there's three of you, so at least one of you is expendable for when the writers run out of ideas"
posted by BungaDunga at 7:39 PM on November 1, 2018 [5 favorites]


It was weird to see Trump kind of normalized here. The show's piss-take was "Trump is an obnoxious, selfish, corrupt, responsibility-avoidant ass, but by gum he gets things done." Completely glossing over Trump's overt white suprematism and racism struck me as weak tea so soon after "Rosa."

I didn't get much sense of him 'getting things done', his hotel was a shambles. The way they wrote him was puzzling, he was obviously Trump-ish, washing his hands and saying 'youre fired' etc. But he was able to speak in whole sentences and seemed intelligent enough to be vaguely menacing. And then there's this:
"I've heard you're only running cos you've hated Trump for decades."

"Please don't mention that name."
I guess they made him smarter than Trump because to have a literal Trump caricature in the script would derail everything. A character who literally can't speak in proper sentences without rambling on into never-ending word salad is not much use in fiction. So the script got a higher-functioning trump-a-like rather than a man-baby. In the UK there's a kindof archetype 'rich american mogul' character that dates from the days of 'Dallas' and this guy was somewhat that.
posted by memebake at 9:43 AM on November 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


Yeah, the “get ‘er done” aspect was how at the end he unnecessarily shot the mother spider to death and left on a triumphant note. He “solved” a problem that was solving itself to look like a badass and injected gun violence into the situation over the Doctor’s protests, making her look ineffectual.
posted by ejs at 11:36 AM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


In the UK there's a kind of archetype 'rich american mogul' character that dates from the days of 'Dallas' and this guy was somewhat that.

Yeah, I kinda think the guy was meant more to be a sort of generic "Cowboy American Businessman helicopters in and fucks things up" because the show wanted to make a point about corporate irresponsibility - only, of course, the problem is that Trump is sort of the ur-example of this (as the saying goes, Trump is America's unleashed id), so comparisons are inevitable.

injected gun violence into the situation over the Doctor’s protests, making her look ineffectual.

Not so sure about the "ineffectual" part. I suspect there's a bit more of a long game going on here, where "NO GUNS" is going to be a major element to either the season story arc and/or this Doctor's character in general. So Chibnall went with "NO GUNS" at the (possible) expense of plot/ethical plausibility.

he/she never just stumbles into a romance with a human. It's always a big, dramatic thing if it happens and the Doctor will often spend several seasons denying it's happening at all.

I mean, there's a fair point or two to be made about May-December relationship complexities between a near-immortal universe-hopping TimeLord and an ordinary human, but tbh making less of a BIG. DRAMATIC. THING!!1!!! PLUS DENIAL!!!11!! about romance with humans would be a welcome change at this point. . . .
posted by soundguy99 at 8:55 AM on November 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


Not an arachnophobe but this episode did inspire me to go rewatch all the Lucas the Spider clips on YouTube, which I highly recommend. What a cute little fellow!
posted by Coaticass at 4:13 PM on November 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


In terms of the writing - the show runner has always extensively rewritten episodes (largely for reasons of character consistency and arc management, I think, but I could be wrong), and it's only over the last few seasons that he's had a co-credit on some episodes. Seems a bit petty to me, but I'm sure there's a reason. My impression was that some writers needed less rewriting (for example, Neil Gaiman, coming out of the world of comics, would be used to picking up a pre-existing characterisation and running with it, similarly ex-soap writers. Authors like Malory Blackman or Richard Curtis less so).
posted by Grangousier at 2:34 AM on November 4, 2018


I don’t understand why Graham is grieving but Ryan is not? How much time has passed for these characters anyway?
posted by iamkimiam at 5:56 AM on January 1


Different people grieve differently. Ryan strikes me as an intensely private person - maybe stemming from his abandonment, maybe from his dyspraxia - and maybe keeps it inside when he's around people, which is most of the episodes. When we saw him alone (in the videos at the start of the pilot), he looked shaken to me, like he was trying to process.
posted by Mogur at 6:00 AM on January 1 [2 favorites]


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