June 19, 2024

Gabbing Geek

Your online community for all things geeky.

Doctor Who “Boom”

The Doctor needs to stop a war before the landmine he stepped on goes off.

It looks like Russell T Davies wasn’t the only return to Doctor Who:  here’s an episode penned by Steven Moffat.

I’ll say it here:  this may be the best episode to date, and it is very much a Steven Moffat sort of story.  This is the guy who was the series showrunner for the Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors, so there were certain hallmarks to his stories that show through here.  There’s the paramilitary churchmen here, and the Doctor says his favorite food is fish sticks and custard, which was again the Eleventh Doctor, and I don’t see why that would transfer over since, well, it didn’t before.

But here’s the plot:  the TARDIS lands on a planet where the church army is battling…well, some aliens they’ve never seen.  Ambulances are AI machines that will terminate a patient deemed too injured to heal in a profitable amount of time for the ambulance’s corporate overlords, and there are these landmines all over the place in the foggy mess of war.  The Doctor hears a wounded soldier’s death at the hands of an ambulance and runs off to help, stepping on a mine.  It doesn’t go off right away, but it will eventually because these are AI-programmed mines.  Ruby is only so-so helpful being this is her first time on an alien world in the future and she doesn’t know much.  For example, the counterweight she finds for the Doctor so he can relax his one foot is a canister that is, in reality, the dead man the Doctor went to help in the first place.

And then the dead man’s young daughter shows up.  That activates an AI hologram that is supposed to offer condolences to the dead, but man, the Doctor spends a lot of time trying to make sure the girl doesn’t realize that.  She’s actually a devout Christian who doesn’t get all that upset over death, but the episode takes a while to get there.

Now, what else would make this a Moffat episode?  Well, there’s a strong anti-war theme here, focusing on the futility of violence and the overall problem of letting technology make decisions, with the Doctor inserting a hopeful angle of what people can do when left to their own devices to be good.  The dead man’s AI is instrumental in shutting down the entire war because, it turns out, the aliens don’t exist and the company that makes the weapons and the ambulances really have been running an algorithm to keep the fighting going with just enough acceptable casualties to keep things going.  There’s also some star-crossded love where a woman finds out too late that her colleague is smitten with her.

Besides, it turns out the mine turns the person who steps on it into the explosive, and as a Time Lord, the Doctor would blow up half the planet if the mine’s not stopped.

But it is because the Doctor trusts people, especially a father’s love for his daughter, and not only does he not set off the mine, he ends the war that wasn’t really fighting anybody anyway.

Like I said, it’s the best episode of the current run so far.