At last! A well written episode of Doctor Who! The plot is coherent, it isn’t overloaded with extra characters and themes, and there’s an actual moral dilemma to engage us properly. Phew, cos we haven’t had a decent episode since Demons of the Punjab (episode 6). The Doctor and her companions materialise by a beautiful fjord in Norway (cue a reference to Hitchhiker’s Guide vis-à-vis ‘the frilly bit in the north’). There’s an isolated cottage by the water… that’s barricaded from the inside. The Doctor and crew check on what’s going on, to find a girl who has lost her father to a monster in the woods. I was expecting a Beowulf type episode, and actually there are strong echoes of such a storyline (albeit in a modern setting).
There’s a murder-mystery and horror vibe to things (Scandi Noir style) as our heroes investigate what is really afoot. They find a strange mirror that doesn’t always show their reflections. Turns out… it’s a portal (not a spoiler, believe it or not).
Suffice it to say, the Doctor and co. end up in an anti-zone between realities… and then encounter a ‘conscious universe’ completely alien to our own. The ‘Solitract’ (the name a clever play on ‘Tesseract’ of Transformers and the Marvel universe perhaps) has existed since the beginning of time, but was exiled from our own universe because its individual nature interfered with the creation and running of our own universe. It’s become lonely and is looking to access our universe, to attract humans towards it. The character of Graham (the brilliant Bradley Walsh), still grieving for his dead wife, believes he’s found his lost love.
This is a moving and intelligent episode (replete with intertextuality). It describes exactly where we’re at in the field of astrophysics and where we’re at in terms of the deity/free will debate. It has both a personal and cosmic scale. How the writer pulled it off in a mere 50 minutes… it’s a triumph of SF writing. Scores a 9 out of 10 from me!