So, episode 2 of the new series is called ‘The Ghost Monument’ and sees the Doctor and her companions stranded on a dead and deadly planet called Desolation. They’re also caught up in an intergalactic rally-race – they need to reach a place called The Ghost Monument to win the big prize, facing all sorts of perils along the way. At the same time, the Doctor is intent on solving the mystery of what (or who) killed the planet and its inhabitants in the first place.
Unlike the great opening episode of this series, the second episode doesn’t have that much in terms of a realistic sense of jeopardy. Also, there isn’t much of a moral dilemma to proceedings, so we are not as engaged as we might be – and the episode isn’t as compelling as it should be. Don’t get me wrong – there are enough decent scifi ideas to keep everything watchable, but the various obstacles really don’t challenge either the viewer or the Doctor when it comes to problem-solving. Indeed, the fact that the Doctor’s companion Ryan is scared of heights and ladders seems to be more of an issue than anything else – and then he just shrugs and climbs the ladder anyway.
The second episode also suffers from a fair bit of characters sitting around and navel-gazing. We get into a debate about whether its a cruel universe in which you have to look out for yourself or whether we’re all stronger together (even when there are refugees involved). Yes, it’s all a bit preachy and a not very subtle comment on Brexit. Then there’s a preachy bit when the Doctor goes all anti-guns, etc.
Is it worth it all? Yes. Mainly because of the new-look Tardis – which gets a thumbs up from me (even though I don’t like the redone title music). Oh, and there are more references to the evil Stenza (the baddies from the first episode) – so it seems they will be the main threat in the larger story arc. Thankfully, there is a ‘larger story’ going on – so that should keep us going even through the odd place-holder episode like this one. Episode 2 scores just a 6 out of 10 from me, but I’m looking forward to the rest of the series – as Jodie Whittaker is doing a very good job and Bradley Walsh is an absolute revelation! Onwards!