For an episode which started out so painfully camp, it sure improved in a hurry. An episode grounded in paranoia and fear, questioning human nature, albeit a little clumsily. On the planet Midnight the Doctor rides a space truck to observe a phenomenon never seen before. But it’s ambushed by a life form never encountered before, and although noone knows whether it’s good, bad or something else, the basest of human instincts take hold. The Doctor is trusted by noone and his argument for not throwing the possessed passenger out to sure destruction is easily defeated; it only takes the unexpected heroism of the least of them to save him. The speed at which normality breaks down is probably quite a good and unnerving morale to the story. The question of course which is never answered though, other than what this life form was, is why Rose Tyler was trying to shout at him through the video monitor again. Again the message doesn’t quite get through – why not? And why does the Doctor bring the Medusa Cascade up again?
Great issues – science we know against science we don’t know, what value is intelligence when fear is paramount? It didn’t seem to move series 4 on terribly far, although it reinforced for the first time in some time just how vital a companion is for the Doctor. There’s no companion, and without someone to back him up (for almost the first time) noone believes him. Where his arrogance is often goofy, amusing or charismatic, here he’s arrogant and patronising; there’s no balance. I wonder where that theme will go in the next three weeks. Rose is back next week, the Doctor dies next week, and whatever’s on Donna’s back is revealed.
RTD is leaving the franchise of course, and with his influence now time limited, it was a great last minute treat to have Jethro. The pretty boy in episode 2 was nice, but he was nothing compared with Colin Morgan. Thank you RTD, despite your many (although not numerous) failings, the balancing of sexual orientations in this franchise, long the desire (never realised) of Gene Roddenberry has been a triumph for this sci fi legend. May Steven Moffat doff his hat accordingly once in awhile in 2010! 😉