I have no idea what that had to do with crop rotation.
But I liked it. I liked it a lot. It was dense. I think I’m going to have to re-watch a few times, probably with subtitles, in order to pick up on all the things that were going on. The plot itself was relatively simple, so despite how much was going on, I think the writers made the right choice in making this a single-parter. I mean, I figured out what was happening as soon as Bill saw the “Watch your breath” sign posted on the wall, and I’m sure things would have suffered if they’d tried to stretch out that reveal any longer. But then again, knowing what’s going on isn’t the same as knowing how things will end.
I did not see that end coming.
(terrible pun unintentional; I tried, but I couldn’t think of a better way to phrase it)
It’s so rare for the Doctor or his companions to face physical consequences which aren’t resolved at the end of the episode. The closest I can think of is Ten getting turned into Dolby the House Elf a decade ago (seriously, that was a decade ago. Who else feels old?). It makes the Doctor vulnerable in a way that we’ve rarely seen. It’s a brave move, and one that Capaldi is, so far, pulling it off with bravado: the jokes, the refusal to accept help, the pretending, the lashing out at the end, the way he still saves the day, no excuses allowed.
Every episode this series has been brilliant, and every one also makes me sad that we’re losing Capaldi as the Doctor so soon. That fact, that we’re getting a new Doctor, also makes me wonder how long Twelve will go before regaining his sight. Under normal circumstances, I’d expect it by the end of the next episode, but with only half a dozen episodes until the regeneration reset button, I wonder if this might stick around a bit longer.
I’m also wondering how far in advance this was planned, because this is the first time the sonic specs have actually seemed relevant and not a terrible attempt at selling more Who theme merchandise.
(I’m not sad about the sonic being destroyed though; I’ve been referring to that version as ‘the sonic push pop’, and I cheered at its demise.)
My only disappointments with the episode are not getting to see more of Bill’s rescue (though I can see why it had to be cut for time), and not finding out more about Velma the space suit (I really kept expecting more of an explanation for why it was glitching, or for it to turn out to be another emergent intelligence). But, other than those two things, I’d say this episode was just about perfect.
I liked the opening Star Trek rift. I liked that this was a hard science fiction episode. I liked that it was political, or at least, topical, because the best speculative fiction isn’t about space zombies; it’s about looking at what’s currently happening in the world and where it might lead, and why, and what we can do about it.
There are two big themes I can see shaping up this series. One, is that we all have to take responsibility for our actions and realize that if we want the world to change, we are the one who have to do it. The other, is that evil is a tricky thing to recognize and define. As the Doctor said in Smile, “Most things aren’t evil, just hungry.”
So far, this series we’ve seen a Pilot hungry for love, smiling robots hungry for approval, a big fish thing hungry for freedom, and some weird alien cockroaches who were hungry for college students (and also something about parental bonds, and the UK’s housing crisis? That one was a little bit muddled). This week, we saw Capitalists, hungry for profit. Next week looks like it’s going to be examining religion.
It's heavy stuff, but that’s not a bad thing. The Doctor is saying things that need to be heard.
Unfortunately, hearing is not the same as understanding is not the same as doing.
Or, as Nardole put it, "First, you have to imagine a very big box fitting inside a very small box. Next, you have to built it."
But it is a place to start.