Alright, let’s talk about “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”, besides the fact that this is both the title of this week’s episode of Doctor Who, and the subject of my greatest hopes and dreams. In short, we’ve got a Silurian ark three hundred years in the future hurtling towards Earth because Filch has killed all the Silurians in order to try and sell off the dinosaurs without incident. The Doctor receives a distress call from Earth, which is about to send out missiles to destroy the dinosaurs and their beloved spaceship, admonishes the Earth people for their violent instincts and then runs off to save the dinosaurs that he doesn’t know are there yet. So he gathers up his “gang” consisting of famous people and also the Ponds. Oh, and Queen Nefertiti is bored with her husband.
Besides being chock full of some seriously excellent reptiles, “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” was also chock full of some seriously excellent cameos. Apparently Rory is a Weasley, Filch has gone on to much more evil goings-on than torturing school children, and Lestrade was into big game hunting in another life. All facts I can accept, more or less. But for serious—Mark Williams as Brian Pond-nee-Williams was possibly the highlight of the episode. If last week was the story of Oswin, this week was Brian’s time to shine. Between the random assortment of objects he keeps in his pockets and his transformation into traveler extraordinaire, I almost enjoyed his guest stint as much as I enjoyed Tricey. He was even given some of the best moments in the episode, including the climax where he and Rory fly the dinosaurs to safety, and his adorable cup of tea enjoyed while overlooking the Earth from space.
The episode was written by Chris Chibnall, who is apparently very fond of innuendo. In fact, he’s so fond of it that I had to look up what else he’s written and make sure he’s not secretly the author of 50 Shades of Grey. Besides “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”, he also wrote the episode “42”—which was the only episode where we got to see the Doctor work in real-time, “The Hungry Earth”/ “Cold Blood”, which reintroduced the Silurians to the series, and “The Power of Three”, which will air in two weeks. Chibnall was also the show runner on Law and Order: UK and proposed the original concept for what is now Merlin. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good innuendo—but it seems like this week they really pushed the envelope regarding what they can get away with on what is, at its core, a CHILDREN’S TELEVISION PROGRAM. Just in case you forgot—we, the whovian nation, like to obsess over children’s programming gone either terribly good or very very bad. I felt exactly like Rory covering his eyes when the “balls” joke was made, and although Amy verbally recognized the sexual overtones of every single one of Graves’ lines, I’m not sure that made up for their frequency. I’m riffing now—people usually stop me when I’m riffing.
There were a few specifically interesting aspects of “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”, not the least of which is the fact that Amy and the Doctor are separated, but this doesn’t seem to bother either of them. They’re each trying to fix the problems at hand the best they can on their own, with only a phone call about half-way through to connect them to each other. Amy even takes on Doctor-like qualities; referring to Nefertiti and Ridell as “companions”, insisting they avoid resorting to weaponry, and hacking into the computer system as soon as she finds it.
She even riffs like the Doctor once or twice, with slightly more self-awareness. Then there’s the strong sense of feminine power present throughout the episode, especially evidenced whenever Nefertiti is on the screen. In fact, coupled with Oswin from last week, strong female characters may be a recurring element of this season as a whole—though I may have spoken too soon.
One line note on this subject: the costume design this week was amazing.
Another one line note: The Doctor and Rory did, in fact, kiss. Fanservice was just burning through that moment. Otherwise…what?
And now to the meat of the episode.
We need to talk about the fact that the Doctor damned Filch…er…Solomon to his death. He has essentially actively killed the villain of the episode. Isn’t that sort of…not Doctor-like? He mentions the Silurian genocide as a motive, and it probably doesn’t help that he killed Tricey—which is another example of Doctor Who seriously pushing buttons. Solomon’s death, too, is an example of this. It’s a kill motivated by revenge, and it is definitely indicative of darker days to come.
And then there’s the Ponds. Besides the fact that their divorce storyline from last week has been, predictably, all but forgotten (only one reference to the storyline is made and only in regards to Amy’s now apparently abandoned modeling career.), we are still no closer to understanding how their end will eventually come to pass. Speaking of forgotten elements…where has River been lately?
A moment parallel to one in “Asylum” occurs where Amy and the Doctor meet over some machinery or another and discuss their SOME WORD THAT MEANS TOGETHERNESS parting of ways, but she makes conflicting remarks regarding the decreasing frequency of his visits. First she’s mad that he hasn’t shown up in almost a year, then she requests that they return home for another doctor-free spell. She’s obviously conflicted about whether or not to leave the Doctor for good—and to make matters worse he’s just as conflicted about leaving the Ponds. Before the end of the season, something is going to have to happen wherein one or both of them make a decision.
The end of this moment, where the two promise to be there until the other’s “end” (Read: Death) is foreboding, but it’s while Amy and Rory watch Brian watching the Earth that really gets me thinking: The Doctor appears behind them, briefly smiles, then watches the sky with…what? Regret? Dread at things to come? Does he know how this will all end, or just that it will?
Tune in next week when the TARDIS crew returns to America (Or something like it) in “A Town Called Mercy”.