Second Union

Second Union

REVIEW: Doctor Who: “The Pilot”

SPOILER ALERT!! The following article contains spoilers for the first episode of Doctor Who season 10

That’s the Doctor for you. He never notices the tears.

After being forced to spend all but one day of 2016 without Doctor Who, we were finally gifted with the return of the newest, (and sadly final) season of Peter Capaldi’s adventures as the Titular Time Lord. With new companions to be introduced, stakes to be raised, and Universes to be saved, this episode decides to take a much warmer approach to an origin story we have seen so often.

Since the beginning of the current iteration of Doctor Who we have seen the introduction of 14 separate companions before the start of this episode from what I could find. That means we have needed to see 14 new and original ways to show audiences a reveal we are already aware of – the TARDIS is bigger on the inside if you were not aware. Can the reveal to companion number 15 be just as original? And will we appreciate it when it happens? In a word: Yes.

This opening episode, aptly name “The Pilot”, does everything we have come to expect from an episode tasked with introducing us to a new companion by completely turning it on its head. In this soft reboot, even though the next season could potentially provide a full reboot given the announced exit of Capaldi and Steven Moffat at the end of this current run, intergalactic stakes are not even considered, instead, the emotional repercussions of life with the Doctor is given the brightest of spotlights.

Bill, played by Pearl Mackie, is introduced as a hapless Dinnerlady, providing chips (French Fries) to the students of a non-descript University in Bristol. Her continual appearances at the Doctor’s seemingly scriptless lectures creates a bond between the two that causes a wonderful partnership to begin to blossom on screen.

Although much has been said in the press of late regarding the sexual preference of Mackie’s Bill, it was a breath of fresh air to see a seemingly homosexual character treated with such liberty and grace. The scenes in question consider Bill and Heather, a fellow student with a defect in her left eye remarkably resembling that of a star. Their interactions result in the unfortunate demise of Heather in scenes highly reminiscent of the Waters of Mars special from a few years ago after gazing into a puddle found in an abandoned construction area of the city.

What was most interesting about the episode was the utilitarian way in which the reveal within the TARDIS was treated. The science fiction was not the feature highlighted but the figures appearing within it. Bill’s desire to find a companion feels considerably appropriate since it was The Doctor who took the decision to continue his journey alone. There was no need for world ending catastrophes, just the disparate ordeal of two unfortunate wannabe lovers trying to discover the most appropriate way to live with one another.

As this is a Doctor Who episode we are treated to the typically sharp-witted responses, extraordinary scenes and instantly memorable villains that we as an audience have become so accustomed to. Peter Capaldi brings his usual charisma and guile to the role of The Doctor with charming Easter Eggs placed throughout the episode for those more eagle-eyed viewers out there.

Overall, “The Pilot” is an excellent start to what promises to be another incredible addition to the Doctor Who lore. The chemistry between Capaldi and Mackie will bring an endearing sentiment to this tale likely to bring even the most hardened of viewers to their knees by the time it ends.

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