Now we reach the episodes that Maureen has limited recollections of, which is weird, coz ya know, the episodes I don’t remember include the finale and all… Anyway good old Boom Town continues on The Slitheen storyline, but with more panache and better acting. Too bad it cops out in the final third…
Ben: Between the little recap of our previous encounter with the Slitheen and the scene with a nuclear expert meeting an unfortunate fate, it’s pretty clear the direction this episode is headed. Bring on Cardiff!
Maureen: Ah Cardiff… I remember back in 2010 at Cardiff Bay, tourist information actually gave you a free sheet of Doctor Who filming locations you could wander around and take pics outside of. Do they still do that? What a great tourist activity that was… but ahem… reviewing the episode… yes. Where was I?
Ben: Urgh. Rose doesn’t really do anything except treat Mickey badly. It’s like she never remembers he exists until they’re back on modern day earth.
Maureen: Well yeah, Ben. That’s one of the reason’s Rose never works for me. She comes across as superficial and naive at best and as callous and heartless at worst. She is a seriously annoying companion and I say that as someone who LOVES Billie Piper.
Ben: Plus, the bit with her calling Trisha Delaney “a bit big” is pretty gross.
Maureen: Yep. I say no to fat-shaming, RTD! Also, I hate that Mickey is only dating Trisha to try to forget Rose, like Trisha is some kind of second-rate Rose.
Ben: It’s so telling that the only time on Mickey and Rose’s date that Mickey gives any details of his life is when he offers these details himself. Rose is fine to go on about her adventures in space and time, all take and no give. The final insult is that when the real trouble starts she runs off without him, heading straight to The Doctor without a thought for poor Mickey. It isn’t until the crisis is resolved that she remembers she abandoned him.
Maureen: My final note on Rose in this episode is, ‘and Rose says she’s fine to go on without Mickey… well fuck you, Rose.’ In other Rose Tyler news, I liked her cute braids this episode, her strangely similar to Amy Pond outfit and her Mary Poppins-esque joy when she says big alien words. More of this Rose please. Also, final note: I swear at the start of this episode Rose groped the side of the TARDIS. That was some weird tea-time porn 😉 Now where’s that fan fic?
Ben: As to Jack, he doesn’t really do anything but look handsome and flirt with everyone. Which is fine by me, really.
Maureen: I got nothing written about Jack except that the Jack/Doctor/Rose chemistry is a bit cute as they bounce off each other telling Mickey about their adventures.
Ben: Ah yes, Mickey. Poor Mickey can’t do anything right. First off, he bungles their plan to corner the Slitheen, then he asks Rose out on a date involving pizza and sex, during which he admits he’s seeing another woman? Classy! At least by the end of the episode he’s realised how bad Rose is for him and has walked away from the whole mess.
Maureen: Yes, Mickey and the guy who’s stuck playing him sure have a raw deal this season. I really hope when he comes back next season he gets more to do and less harshing on by the script. I’ve forgotten most of Season Two to be honest so this shall be unexpected.
Ben: Right off the bat we have the Doctor calling Mickey Rickey (booo!) and flirting with Jack (yay!). The scene with the Doctor and Rose realising Bad Wolf is following them is very emblematic of how this episode ends up playing out: a lot of interesting build up culminating in a fizzer of an ending. The episode is filled with the Doctor doing general Doctor stuff, solving mysteries and kicking butt. We get some good truths about the Doctor and his God-like powers from Blon during the dinner scene, but otherwise this episode is pretty light on good Doctor moments. Having the TARDIS return Blon to egg form felt like more of a cop out than anything, to me. Especially after the dissection of the Doctor Blon gave us during the dinner scene, I felt like there was an opportunity to delve deeper and darker about the dangers of The Doctor by actually having the Doctor take her to her death. But alas, it was not to be…
Maureen: I think that Nine is at his best in his comedic moments and his darkest moments as in Dalek. I love Nine’s face when he hear’s Margaret drop her tea cup and the follow up of ‘she’s climbing out the window, isn’t she?’ Nine also gets dark when he says no one should worship him as a God. Damn straight, Doctor. It’s why the lonely God trope that surfaces from season two onwards never ever works for me. Also, The Doctor describing a planet called ‘women wept?’ Link me to that fan fic stat.
The Alien of the Week
Ben: Ahhh, the last of the Slitheen is up to her old tricks. That is, until she gets soft and can’t follow through with killing the pregnant, soon to be wed Cathy Salt. Being all alone in the world is clearly weighing on her.
Maureen: I love this little scene. I felt sorry for Margaret as she cried in the toilet and said she was cursed. What an actress!
Ben: Her acting is excellent, isn’t it? Margaret’s rightly the focus of this episode. After the Doctor and his companions handily capture her, she beings her mind games to the dinner party (literally) as she torments The Doctor and his companions with the fact that they’re taking her to her death on her home planet. It’s clear she has the full measure of the Doctor with lines about how the Doctor is always the first to leave, and often avoids the full consequences of his actions. Throughout playing these mind games (“dinner in bondage, works for me” Maureen: God, how I snickered at this line) it’s pretty clear that she has every intent of escaping the Doctor. The in depth detailing of the execution she will face, of the pain she will go through, the pleading for one last chance, all have the intent of helping her to escape. It wasn’t until that final speech she made to the Doctor that I really started to feel bad for her, which is unfortunate because immediately after that final emotional plea she showed her true colours.
Maureen: I found Margaret to be a surprisingly funny character too. I loved this exchange:
Margaret: What did I ever do to you?
Nine: Tried to kill me and all of earth?
Margaret: Apart from that…
I also laughed at her ‘I sound Welsh. I’ve gone native,’ comment.
Otherwise, the centrepiece of the episode when The Doctor and Margaret talk at a restaurant was pure gold. As was the TARDIS exchange below:
Rose Tyler: We’ve got a prisoner. The police box is really a police box.
Margaret Blaine: You’re not just police, though. Since you’re taking me to my death, that makes *you* my executioners. Each and every one of you.
Mickey Smith: Well *you* deserve it.
Margaret Blaine: [looks straight at him] You’re very quick to say so. And you’re very quick to soak your hands in my blood. Which makes you better than me how, exactly?
[he says nothing]
Margaret Blaine: Long night ahead.
[walks away & sits down, finally]
Margaret Blaine: Let’s see who can look me in the eye.
[looks piercingly at each person; none hold eye contact for more than a few seconds; & the Doctor barely even looks up from his work]
This episode would have been a ten outta ten if it had stuck to that theme and followed through on its implications for The Doctor as story hero.
Ben: Alas, in hindsight Margaret had a pretty obvious plan, why else would you have the extrapolator as part of the model nuclear power station? Of course it was meant to be discovered. I’m not a fan of her final fate either, reverting to an egg. I would have preferred a (much darker) ending where she is returned to her home planet for execution. That would have lead to a much more interesting dissection of the Doctor, especially as he is very alone in the universe, just as she is.
Maureen: I have to agree with Ben. I noted when Margaret grabs Rose that the story would have been better if it had left Margaret as being actually contrite for her actions. I also wrote that the TARDIS egg sequence is the episode going to shit so…
Ben: This episode was 30 minutes of really good Doctor Who followed by 10 minutes of really bad Doctor Who. Margaret/Blon’s acting was truly excellent, but ultimately wasted in a terrible conclusion. I would have much preferred if RTD had followed through to the ultimate bleak ending of the final Slitheen getting her just rewards and being executed. But no, she’s an egg. With a great setup and poor follow through, I’m going to give this episode a 6/10.
Maureen: I’ve sat back and let Ben’s comments dominate this review because he basically says everything I want to say, but better. I agree with his assessment of the episode. I wanted more darkness and less Doctor cop-out resolutions. 6/10 inky stars.