We’re back in the Tardis for another week! Bill’s first proper trip with The Doctor was full of twists and turns and robots. While not my favorite episode, it definitely kept the fresh tone that The Pilot started for the season and left on quite a cliffhanger for next week.
Warning: here come the spoilers!
We meet Bill and The Doctor where we left them last, in the Tardis about to embark on an adventure.
Just as they are about to fly off, Nardole appears and grumpily reminds The Doctor of “his oath” (what’s up with that?). After telling Nardole that they are returning to his office and sending him away, The Doctor gleefully reveals that they are going on an adventure and that it will be no trouble at all if they pop off for a bit because this is a time machine and they can simply return to the moment that they left. He asks the age-old question, “Past or Future?”, and Bill requests the future so that she can see if it is happy.
They land on one of the first human colonies after Earth has become inhospitable, and are met by little robots who communicate via emogi (aptly named Emojibots). The Doctor and Bill are given mood indicator circles to wear, and they wander around the gorgeous city that is entirely made of teeny tiny robots called the Vardy. Wondering aloud where the colonists are, The Doctor speculates that they have not arrived yet. However, upon finding a garden and examining the calcium-based fertilizer being pumped through the greenhouse, they realize that the garden is being fed with the bones of the crew that was tasked with building the city for the colonists’ arrival. Through flashbacks, we see what happened:
It turns out that the Emojibots and The Vardy were made to serve as companions for the human colonists, but also to ensure their happiness. The mood indicators would let the Emojibots know how the humans were feeling, and they would work with the Vardy to remedy any negative emotion. Things were working out well for the arrival team until the oldest member died peacefully. The rest of the crew were understandably grieving, which the Vardy and Emojibots did not know how to process. Their solution was to simply eliminate the negative emotion or to kill those who felt it. Which, obviously, caused more grief. We find out that they managed to wipe out the entire population in a single day.
However, it appears that the Emojibots can be fooled if one smiles. The physical act of smiling tricks the brain into releasing endorphins, which thanks to Legally Blonde we all know make you happy.
The Doctor and Bill, grinning maniacally, escape to the Tardis where The Doctor leaves Bill while he returns to blow up the city and thus prevent the future colonists from being massacred the moment they arrive.
Bill obviously doesn’t listen (yay Bill) and the two find the original spacecraft, which happens to be the only object not made out of Vardy. As they wander through the ship Bill finds out that the colonists are already there asleep in cyrochambers. In addition, the two’s presence on the spaceship has begun the process of waking the colonists up.
Bill and The Doctor confront the few waking colonists. One, a boy named Praiseworthy, is distraught because his mother was a member of the arrival crew and runs away. The others, upon learning what happened, immediately decide that the best course of action against a city made of tiny robots that could kill you is to grab a bunch of guns and attack. This plan obviously does not go well.
A very tense stand-off ensues, with the Emojibots holding Praiseworthy hostage while Vardy swarm overhead. Just when things seem hopeless, The Doctor resets the Vardy and Emojibots, erasing their memory and also revealing to the group that the two species of robots are apparently sentient and now wondering what the humans are doing on their planet. Bill and The Doctor leave the colonists to make their peace and negotiate rent, while Praiseworthy shares juice with an Emogibot.
After hopping back into the Tardis, zipping back to the moment they left, they emerge… definitely not back at the moment they left (when has that plan ever really worked out for The Doctor anyway?). Apparently they are in a very foggy London… with an elephant.
I liked this episode.
I thought it was fast-paced, there were interesting twists, and it was a great first proper adventure for Bill. The cliffhanger at the end was great, and I’m curious to find out what Nardole was talking about.
I do think, however, that Praiseworthy got over his mom being dead just a little too quickly. I know that if I were in his situation, I certainly would not be sharing my juice just yet (and where did that come from anyway?).
This episode was a great showcase for one of my favorite things about Bill: her ability to be so completely enthusiastic and yet still question what is around her. She marvels at the new experiences, but still wants to know why things are the way they are, and she refuses to entertain the notion that The Doctor’s opinion is automatically the correct one. For example, she thinks the Tardis is wonderful, but why are the chairs all the way back there? Eating little gelatinous food cubes in the future is wild, but hey why does The Doctor get two and what’s in these anyway? The Doctor said to stay in the Tardis, but you know what that’s a bit rubbish let’s not. The Doctor works best with companions who question him, and as a viewer I love companions who enthusiastically embrace the mystery that The Doctor presents them with but don’t treat him like a god.