Finally, I’m getting around to watching new episodes of Doctor Who. Let’s not waste time. And remember: ‘Smile’. …That was bad and I feel bad.

WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS FOR DOCTOR WHO SERIES 10 EPISODE 2

The Doctor and Bill travel to the future, always the first stop for new companions, where they visit one of Earth’s first colonies, a society run by tiny robots named the Vardy and an interface that communicates through emojis. The colony is being prepped for the first new refugees from Earth to arrive on the planet, but there’s no other humans on the planet. The Vardy have killed the prep crew and turned them into fertiliser, doing the same to anyone they see isn’t happy or, more vaguely, smiling. The Doctor can’t resist until he finds out why and how to stop it.

First, can we just talk about the fact that they’re robots who communicate through emoji? Of course that’s what survives thousands if not millions of years of evolution. Why chat when you can convey everything through picture. Makes perfect sense actually. I mean, we do have an Emoji Movie coming up…dear god why?

We’ve seen colonies that Earth has made after leaving their planet before and have seen what happens to Earth in the end, but (at least in the new series) we haven’t seen how a colony started. The show presents it in a realistic (ie have a prep team build it and establish a food supply before the populous starts using it) and interesting way. The emoji bots remind me of the robots from ‘The Girl Who Waited’, just smaller and with faces…and who don’t kill. The fact that the Vardy resemble a swarm of insects like wasps or bees makes it especially terrifying.

…is it cannibalism if the bodies were used as fertiliser for the food they’re eating?

This is Bill’s first official trip in the TARDIS and she takes to it very well. She’s full of questions, she takes the weird parts of the Doctor’s anatomy in stride once she confirms them, she’s eager to learn. She’ll listen to the Doctor, but won’t just stay in the TARDIS when something more exciting’s going on and trouble’s a brewin’.

Capaldi’s in full form and I have no complaints. I think the Doctor’s just glad to have someone to talk to again. His interaction with Bill is a lot different from his friendship with Clara. He’s known Clara over two faces for how many ever years they were friends. Bill’s not infatuated with the Doctor, she’s never known him with another face. They’re friendly, but not close like many other modern companions have been. He’s her wacky professor. They have fun, but they’re student and teacher first. It’s an excellent return to the old days of the series when that was what the Doctor was, essentially. Also, finally! A companion who won’t be kissing the Doctor!

(What is this cold dread that grips my soul?)

It appears Nardole is going to be a reluctant companion this season as he doesn’t join us this time. Perhaps I spoke too soon about finally having a proper male companion in the TARDIS.

For what little we see of the supporting cast (if we can call characters who have maybe ten or so minutes of screentime total “supporting”), they did well. The bit at the opening was good and sets up the horror of the situation well while building up the mystery and and the ending…seems a bit of a cop out, but it resolves this issue without resorting to violence and we’ve seen worse endings. I’m looking at you Gatiss.  Also, am I the only one who noticed that The Doctor was pretty much the only white person in this episode? No? Good. Keep doing that.

Wait, this was written by the guy who wrote ‘In The Forest of The Night’? That was one of the worst episodes of series 8! Way to step up!

I enjoyed this episode. It’s a good first outing for Bill, giving her a solid taste of what traveling with the Doctor is like while learning more about him and tells a decent colonization story on top of that. At its core, it’s about the growing relationship between Bill and The Doctor so if you liked that in the last episode, check this out. These seem to be following the olden days of the show where the end of the last story leads into the next one so keep that in mind going forward, but it gives us a nice look into what we’re in for for the next one.

…Now, let’s see what’s up with that elephant.

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