Doctor Who has covered a wide range of topics and styles per episode, but in this episode, we go from the topic of racism and the history of civil rights to comedic sci-fi humor, complete with Harry Potter style giant spiders in a single TARDIS trip.
While I believe the leaps between genres that Doctor Who makes, have helped it become a massive success. This leap from a really emotional episode as “Rosa” to this episode, “Arachnids in the UK” seems like almost a massive and abrupt left turn, leaving a feeling like there was a piece missing.
Each week the episodes try to keep up with current events and add an emotional message, but every now and then you need something that will make you laugh and make you jump, to lighten to mood. However, there were some missteps to the flow of things. Not to mention, I feel like each week we continue to have so many unanswered questions about the Doctor’s past, and the Doctor herself. Infact, with how many questions that are added each week compared to how many are actually answered, I am worried that we might never get all of the answers we are craving.
More on that later - In case you haven’t guessed Sweetie’s - Spoilers Ahead!!
Team TARDIS has just arrived back home, and the first thing that Yaz & Ryan do is check for messages on their phone... they have none. To which the Doctor explains that they have only been gone for 30 minutes. Here is where my first question of the episode slams into my brain.
In the past, the Doctor has said that they will be back in 30 minutes, and they are gone for much longer - a prime example of this is from the premiere episode that features Matt Smith inaugural debut as the 11th Doctor. The Doctor tells a young Amelia Pond that he will return shortly to help with the crack in her wall, but when he finally does return it is many years later after she is all grown up. So, has this regeneration of the Doctor finally figured out the timing for landings or was it just a lucky landing?
One of the things that I think this episode did exceptionally well was the incredible balance of the emotional contrast of the characters, which was perfectly executed by the cast. We see humor and fun when the Doctor and Ryan go for tea at Yaz’s house with her family, but then we see perfectly contrasted by the grief and heartbreak that Graham is feeling returning home to an empty house. In a continuation of the emotional performance in “Rosa” from Bradley Walsh, I love how director Sallie Aprahamian used the imagery of Grace rather fuzzy and unfocused.
One of the more poignant scenes for me was when Graham and Ryan are talking and Ryan airs his feelings about his father who hasn’t been around and then he receives a letter from him saying that Ryan should go live with him since his father is his “proper family”. These emotional scenes bring forth one of the best parts of this series, and that is the emotion and real rawness that has become the backbone to these adventures of a mad person with a box and his/her friends.
Once you are past the emotional parts, if you have a fear of spiders and I mean a deathly fear that will cause you anxiety for weeks - this is probably an episode you might want to skip. Of course, if you are scared of spiders, but were able to make it through the spider scenes in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets or the spider scenes in The Lord of the Rings, you will totally be able to view and enjoy this episode. From a giant spider jumping out of a bathtub to humans being strung up and suffocated by spiderwebs and even a hoard of large spiders scurrying through abandoned coal mine tunnels this episode delivers some truly jump worthy scenes.
The supporting characters in this episode are all good, but the one who stood out the most, for me, is Chris Noth (you might know him from his roles on Sex and the City, The Good Wife, and Law & Order). Noth plays Jack Robertson, a brash US business tycoon who takes abandoned locations and repurposes them into resorts - hmm, who does that sound like? I feel like there is someone like that who plagues the news a lot these days? Poised as almost a Trumpian caricature, with lines like “Why don’t you just do what normal people do - get a gun and shoot things like a civilized person?”, the character of Jack Robertson is prepping for a run for US President in 2020 - he even yells “Don’t even say his name” when Yaz mentions current president, Donald Trump. So clearly there is no love lost with this character towards his potential opponent.
In fact, Noth demonstrates the true nature of the character of Jack Robertson in the final scene.
The Doctor and Team Tardis are all in the resort’s ballroom with Yaz’s mom Najia and arachnid expert Jade facing the main spider, who they have now realized has grown too big for her respiratory system and is dying. As they try to figure out what to do, Jack Robertson comes barreling in and shoots the spider, killing it. When to Doctor yells at him that the spider is already dying he simply says “Then it was a mercy killing” and walks away.
His ending is far from what we have normally seen in past season when it comes to people of authority getting what’s coming to them by the Doctor. Of course, this could definitely be seen as a commentary on what is happening in the world today and how a person with all of the authority in the free world can do something horrible and just simply walk away. This commentary can actually be seen throughout the whole episode. As we learn more about what is going on, where the resort is now located and why there are giant spiders running all over, Jack Robertson refuses to take responsibility claiming that nothing that is happening is his fault, cause he didn’t know.
To me this commentary speaks volumes about how so many people will refuse to claim responsibility for an action because then didn’t know about it. When in reality it is every bit their fault because they chose to be uninformed and not do anything, and that is just as bad as knowing about something and doing it anyway.
The ending for Jack Robertson’s character not only felt very odd to me, but it also seemed incomplete contrast to the optimism of what we normally see in a Doctor Who episode. This ending, or lack thereof, raised another question with me about how the Doctor handles things.
I know that each regeneration of the Doctor is different, but I also know that characteristics of the Doctor’s previous regenerations are still there, so what happened to Doctor during this regeneration that she can go from how the 10th Doctor handled Harriet Jones Prime Minister after she ordered an alien ship that was leaving to be blown up?
To see how that all went down, check out the clip below:
I did enjoy this episode, however, much like the two questions, I poised above, I was left with a few more questions after this episode - questions based on things that the Doctor herself said in this episode.
When the Doctor meets Yaz’s father and sister she says “I used to have sisters” - so what happened to them? In all these years, there have been mentions of the Doctor's family, but never anything specific about who they are or what happened to them. So, is she referring to Missy or were there other siblings - or is she referring to the sisters that were her colleagues at the aqua hospital.
With the open-ended ending that the character of Jack Robertson had, is there any chance that he will return in a later episode? Much like Harriet Jones could we see Chris Noth’s character come back in a later episode to face his true fate?
Thanks for checking out my review of Doctor Who Episode #4 - Arachnids in the UK - what questions did this episode leave you with? Do you think Jack Robertson will make another appearance later on this season?
Leave your comments below or leave me a comment on my blog LoveGeekyMe!