Sunday, April 23, 2017

Doctor Who, Season Ten, Episode Two: Smile

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The Doctor is reminded by Nardole that he made a vow to stay on earth and guard whatever the hell is in the vault which means no unnecessary travel. Given that the Doctor has a Tardis, this isn't really a big deal because he can arrive back moments after he left.  I'm not sure that the Doctor had that in mind when he made that vow but with a new companion after so long, he simply cannot stay put and the chance to give Bill a peek at the universe is compelling to him. 

Bill has gotten used to the idea that the Tardis is larger on the inside but that doesn't mean that she thinks that it makes sense or constitutes what she deems to be a proper space ship.  For instance, why are the chairs so far away from the console?  The tenth Doctor explained that the Tardis was actually meant to be controlled by six people, so perhaps the chairs are so far away so that one can get an actual break when a rest is needed.  The Doctor also reveals that he stole the Tardis but if you recall in The Doctor's Wife, the Tardis claims that it was she who in fact stole him because she wanted to travel and see the universe. It's then that the Tardis reveals that she takes him where he needs to be which explains why wherever the Doctor lands, there's a problem which needs to be solved and why he sometimes misses the mark so badly when he tries to return to a specific point in time. 

Bill like Rose chooses to go to the future first and akin to Rose is disturbed by the idea that humans have fled earth. Sure, Bill isn't seeing the end of the world; however, the very idea that humanity felt the need to leave earth is disturbing to her.  Bill and the Doctor land on an new outpost built by humanity and find it devoid of life.  The Doctor may not have been there before but he's not surprised by its existence given that he's run into human life preservers before in The Beast Below. Similarly to Ark in Space, humanity has made the trip in suspended animation, a factor the Doctor learns just before he can destroy the new habitat because of robots run amok. 

The Doctor may change every time that he regenerates but some things always remain the same.  The Doctor very strongly believes that he has a duty of care when it comes to his companions, even though he routinely places them in dangerous situations when it comes to his various adventures.  It's certain that wherever the Tardis lands that there's going to a mystery which needs to be solved.  Bill is initially amused by the robots who sport emojii faces.  I think that there should be a shaming tax on the Japanese for burdening us with emojiis in the first damn place.

The robots have been programmed to make humans happy and take that job very seriously.  When the few humans who awake early experience unhappiness in the form of grief because a member of their party has passed on, the robots respond by turning them all into fertilizer. The robots don't know how to handle or understand grief and therefore decide that the solution is to simply remove the humans which are unhappy. The Doctor and Bill race back to the Tardis where he decides to leave her behind in order to keep her safe.  Left alone with the Tardis Bill takes the time to really focus on the outside and in particular the sign which says call if you need help.  This I suppose is the moment when Bill concludes that the Doctor is some kind of interstellar policeman whom the universe calls when it needs help.  Though this isn't technically accurate even though the Doctor has been contacted various way over the years for help, it feels right. 

Of course when the humans find out that the robots have killed others who failed to be happy, their response is to grab some guns and try to kill the robots.  It's a stark reminder why humanity finds itself in so many problems because the first answer is always violence, rather than negotiation or understanding. When the humans inevitably pass out, the Doctor reprogrammes the aliens so that their first response is no longer pleasing the humans thereby ending the problem that got them there in the first damn place. 

The Doctor realises that the robots aren't merely robots any longer, nor should they necessarily be servants for humanity. The humans, like all humans the universe over have a strong sense of entitlement and don't realise that their new settlement is actually built not by the robots but is comprised of robots.  Because the robots constitute a new life form, the doctor suggests that the humans and the robots need to find a way to work together to share the same living space.  This isn't actually a case of interdependence because the humans  need the robots far more than the robots need the humans.  The doctor offers to negotiate on the side of the robots and this produces yet another emoji - one that appears as the British pound. This is when the Doctor and Bill head out and unfortunately, they do not destroy the emoji robots.  Bill of course wonders if everything is going to be okay and the Doctor admits that he doesn't know but believes that this is out of his hands now that the immediate threat has passed. 

The previews from next week prove that despite the Doctor's belief that he negotiates with the Tardis to take him where he wants to go, it really doesn't seem to work that way. The Doctor and Bill land in what appears to be Victorian London and something is living below the Thames and Elephants are wandering around freely. Yes, I'm certain that hi-jinks will ensue.  

I can say that I enjoyed this week's episode of Doctor Who, even if it didn't have as much fan service as the season opener. Yes, there were call backs to other Doctors and beloved episodes but they were far more discreet. Smile did however remind us of the fact that the Doctor has been tasked with guarding something, even if it gave us no clue as to what it is.  I cannot help but wonder if it will have anything to do with twelves regeneration? Will they draw this out until the end of the season?  

Bill is still very much learning who the Doctor is and about time travel.  I still find her loads of fun and I love that she seems to have a geek reference for everything.  I am still absolutely in love with her magnificent fro and I cannot stop talking about it.  It shouldn't be such a big thing to see a Black woman on television with her natural hair but it is because it's such a rarity.  This choice had to be intentional on her part and it makes me love Pearl Mackie all the more.