- Watching the opening scene in Aleppo, I thought the dialogue was a little too modern – but apparently there really was such a thing as recognition and treatment of mental illness in that time and place.
- A lot of different characters are getting to ride in the TARDIS this season. It used to be that the “bigger on the inside” revelation was a special moment – now they’re not even bothering to show it.
- Some unexpected references to Classic Who, with mentions of the Eternals and the Celestial Toymaker – and indeed, the villains in this episode do feel like they’d fit into Classic Who.
- The “burning” in Ryan’s nightmare might or might not have been about climate change, but it is appropriate that Ryan makes that connection and immediately starts imagining the Dregs.
- As Pitch Meetings would put it, defeating those eternal beings was super easy, barely an inconvenience.
- Some people on Twitter didn’t like the Doctor’s reaction to Graham talking about his cancer fears, but I thought it was in character: male or female, the Doctor is good at general inspiration, but not so much at connecting with individual human problems on that particular level.
- So the central theme of this episode is mental health: Zellin talks about how humans make themselves suffer with their own negative thoughts (if there are other intelligent beings out there, do any of them do the same thing?); the Doctor turns this around by pointing out how we manage to carry on anyway; the side characters are suffering from mental health issues; and just in case we didn’t get the point, the BBC offers a helpline over the end credits. Again, it’s an important subject to look at, and it’s handled better than the theme of Orphan 55, making for some nice scenes like how happy the policewoman is to see Yaz again. But it does feel like the story takes a backseat to discussing the issue; the villains are defeated with several minutes still to go, to allow time for characters to just talk.
After last week’s teaser, I was expecting more from an episode where the characters were forced to confront their worst fears. With more effort being put into exploring mental health, the story ended up being a bit bland. Rating: 3/5.