Is it a requirement for a Scottish Doctor to visit Scotland at least once in his television run? It should be because there’s something wonderful about Peter Capaldi in his native Scotland with a new kind of creature running around.
The episode opens in present day with a little girl running around some rock formations trying to find the mysterious music that plays there. We’ll come back to her. Next we switch to the Doctor, Bill, and Nardole arriving at the same place but in 2nd century A.D. Professor and student are arguing over the fate of the Roman Ninth Legion. The Doctor says they’re dead, Bill insists they’re not. And knowing Doctor Who, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
First order of business is to split up, which always leads to problems. The Doctor finds most of the Legion dead in a field but minus their bones. Looking for answers, he and Nardole go over and encounter the less-than-friendly locals, aka the Picts. The time travelers are able to escape and the Doctor investigates a portal found in a stone hut. He steps into a water-y world with dragon-esque creatures and quickly steps away only to learn, what has been seconds for him, was two days in Scotland.
At least Nardole put those two days to good use. He’s become friends with the Picts and unsuccessfully searched for Bill. She’s stuck underground with the deserters from the Ninth Legion, having been knocked out by the dragon creature. The soldiers are nice, sweet and also all teenagers. Lucius, Cornelius, Vitus, and their compatriots are hiding out with as little light as possible to keep the monster at bay. Feeling she’s definitely in charge of a group of teens, Bill persuades them to go with her to find the Doctor. On the way, Cornelius is eaten by the creature, and the distraction allows everyone else to climb up a ladder…
Which leads right into the stone hut where all of our other players are gathered. Earlier, Kar, leader and Guardian of the Gate for the Picts, explained things to the Doctor. Every generation, the Picts send a warrior into the portal to fight off the creatures, which are called Eaters of Light. But one got through and Kar, who is also only a teenager, hoped it would destroy the Romans for them and while it’s done that, it’s also poised to devour the sun and starlight. The Doctor’s plan is to lure the beasty into the hut and hold it there until sunrise so they can get it back into the portal.
There’s a brief standoff between the Picts and Romans until they all resolve (thanks to a nice speech from BIll) to work together. The beast is lured in and held in place until the sun comes up and the portal opens. The Doctor steps forward, prepared to step into the portal and fight the creature. Kar immediately disagrees. It’s her duty, she says, even as the Doctor protests she’ll die immediately. Bill reminds him he has other jobs in the universe, including the vault. She kinda has a point and she knows it. So she knocks the Doctor out.
Lucius and his legion join Kar to step through portal. It closes behind them. The Doctor and Bill apologize to one another, and he admits he was wrong. The Ninth Legion isn’t all dead. If you listen closely, the bagpipes they played to lure the beast can still be heard. Back in the TARDIS, Missy greets our team. She’s been doing repairs on the time machine as part of her rehabilitation (don’t worry, she’s bio-locked from doing anything else). She and the Doctor have a moment where they each admit it’s maybe time for them to be friends again… but maybe not. The Doctor is a little wary. Which he totally should be because that friendship never, ever stayed friendly for long.
- Peter Capaldi and Michelle Gomez are truly outstanding opposite one another. I find myself again wishing there was more of her and much, much less of Nardole this season. But I guess I’ll get half my wish next week.
- A few little plot holes this week or plot conveniences, more like. Particularly, the ladder that led from the Romans’ hideaway to the Picts’ hut.
- Ok, but IS Peter Capaldi getting more handsome each episode or was his hair game just extra on point this week?
- Bill and the Romans discussing sexual orientation was pretty fabulous.
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