I’m keen to review this before tonight and Thin Ice (why does time always fly away from me when I try to watch the show live?) So what did I think of Smile, in which Twelve and Bill journey to human beings in the future ala Nine/Rose and The End of the World (is this series deliberately riffing off Series 1 of RDT Who like Series 5 riffed off Rose/Mickey through Amy/Rory? Maybe). I hated In The Forest of the Night penned by the same script writer, but I thought Smile, bar a rushed ending, was actually quite good. Not amazing, not terrible, but not bad either.
So what happened? Bill gets to choose where the TARDIS takes her for her first real adventure as companion and she chooses the future. The Doctor takes Bill to see humanity of the future, a future where emoji robots help to regulate emotion for the soon to appear humans who may well have lost everything. Only something has gone horribly wrong. The original human team sent to start the new colony all died before they could complete their mission. Why?
This story reminded me an awful lot of Michael Crichten’s Prey, a truly chilling horror, sci fi, thriller type which I read years ago around the time I read Jurassic Park for English class. In Prey humanity stretches itself too far in trying to create a new heaven and new earth and scientists experimenting, and the people close to them, pay the consequence.
Again, I found Bill to be a wonderful companion in this episode. She’s funny, inquisitive, smart, blunt and blessedly normal after years of Clara the human cipher. I love that she doesn’t wait in the TARDIS as The Doctor commands her to do. I love that she tries to solve problems her own way. Pearl Mackie seems to be having the time of her life in this role and it comes across to the viewer.
I can’t say the same for Matt Lucas’ Nardole. In Series 10 I haven’t had a problem with his acting, but his character is a non-start. The story can work perfectly well without him being in it. I feel I could grow to like Nardole, but right now, I’m not sure what layer he adds to the story, if any.
I remember someone saying once that a Doctor always finds his feet with the companion who starts with him first. Though I liked Twelve and Clara far more than I liked Eleven and Clara (too similar in personality and they drowned each other out), Clara’s Doctor was still always Eleven. I feel like Capaldi is really able to come into his own with Bill. No previous writing baggage, no weight of expectation. There is a quiet confidence to this series, just as there was to series 9, and I am excited to see where this will land both Bill and Twelve.
Again, Moffat seems to be emulating RTD in going for a snippet story-arc style which is straight forward to follow, but will presumably come into focus come finale style. As long as Moffat doesn’t throw the proverbial kitchen sink at his final story arc in the finale as both he and RTD have done in the past, I’m happy to take a less complex approach to the story for now.
Who told The Doctor to guard the box? What’s inside it? Is it good, bad or both? Why is Nardole caught up in the guarding of the box? I guess we wait for tonight to find out the next lot of bread crumbs leading to the gingerbread house which is Twelve and Moffat’s end. See you on the other side…
Smile: 6/10 inky stars for an above average plot, with decent pacing until the rushed end (this could have been a two parter) and the continuation of a winning combo with Twelve/Bill.