Doctor Who Discussion: Sometimes a God Turns Into a Seal and You Just Gotta Deal With It

Posted: June 19, 2017 by J.A. Prentice in Doctor Who Discussions, television
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Welcome to this week’s Doctor Who Discussion! Jaden C. Kilmer and J.A. Prentice discuss the latest episode The Eaters of Light, noteworthy for being written by a returning classic series writer, Rona Munro.

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Read on for our thoughts and spoilers.

JA: I feel like your prediction from last week is going to be accurate.
Jaden: I have no strong feelings one way or another.
JA: I have very strong feelings.
Two of my favorite things are McCoy era Doctor Who and Celtic mythology.
And this felt like both at once.
I loved it.
Rona Munro for showrunner.
Jaden: I think that the script for “episode specifically made for Jaden to love” got mixed up with the scripts to five other episodes from this series.
I liked it but not much more.
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JA: I think that I may be slightly biased on this one because it does feel like it was written specifically for me.
Jaden: I’ll say that it was the best episode this series where two rival camps are fighting and the solution involves them working/living together
But at the same time I’m upset that was again part of the plot.
Is that the fifth time this series?
JA: I don’t know why they ended up with so many similar-ish episodes this series.
But I felt like the Eaters of Light, the Scottishness, the time period, the music, and moodiness helped this one stand out.
It also felt unusually… quiet? for a new series episode.
Jaden: Not quite sure what the word I’m searching for is.
Yeah I think I know what you mean. It was refreshingly small scale.
Like, the monster was still a world ending threat, but the story stayed contained.
JA: Yeah. It had more character moments than action scenes.
Jaden: And the soldiers were actually somewhat developed as a result
JA: All the characters felt real to me. Which isn’t something I can say about a lot of episodes.
I think it’s a combination of Munro’s classic series background and her playwright background.
Jaden: The Romans felt too modern in parts
JA: I can see where you’re coming from, but it didn’t really bother me.
I mean, have you seen the grafitti in Pompeii?
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Jaden: I haven’t seen a pre Smith era episode in over a year and a half.
Or did you mean the actual grafitti?
JA: Like, actual Pompeii.
Jaden: Well I’ve read Catullus. Pretty close. But I thought that they talked like they walked out of a 2017 cosplay convention
JA: I think that writing historical dialogue is always hard. Lean too far one way and it sound stilted; lean too far the other and they sound like the guy from down the street.
I can’t remember anything too jarringly modern.
Jaden: I think it may have had more to do with the delivery of the lines than the lines themselves. But it was just a small thing.
My main issue is also a conspiracy theory
JA: I love conspiracy theories.
Jaden: This was written to be episode 3.
It was so out of place as the penultimate story.
JA: I think it’s been confirmed it was supposed to be way earlier.
WAIT
Conspiracy theory intensifies.
Extremis was supposed to lead into the finale.
Originally the finale was said to be three parts. All written by Moffat. Then it was all moves around.
Which also explains how the Monk episodes didn’t fit together very well.
Jaden: I think this series as a whole was not run very effectively
JA: I can agree with that. But given Moffat wasn’t even planning on doing it, I can cut him a little slack. He’s clearly a bit burnt out from the pressure of doing this since 2010.
But I’m pretty convinced Extremis was going to be up against the finale and the Mondasian Cybermen would be the Monks but Moffat couldn’t make it work.
Jaden: And so we wind up with Thin Ice being the first historical instead of this. This would’ve been much better.
JA: I’m really hoping Moffat publishes a behind the scenes book after he’s done like RTD did. It sometimes seems like it’s complete chaos that Moffat barely has under control.
He said at one point the 50th had NO Doctors signed on and he had to write a draft with just Clara. lol
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Jaden: I mean, I wouldn’t complain about three Jenna Colemans on screen at once…
JA: The Internet would rage.
Jaden: Can I gush for a bit for the first time since Extremis?
JA: I’ve had to do the gushing for both of us, so please do.
Jaden: You’ve already said you liked it, but the sheer inclusion of Celtic mythology was awesome.
As someone who pretends to be Irish/Scottish it hit me close to home
JA: Same.
The opening and closing of the episode both have this beautiful mysterious vibe to them that you only get with Celtic myths.
Jaden: Yeah, I agree. Though the closing also continues that awkward Missy, um, plot?
JA: I really think that the whole thing wouldn’t have been better if they’d dropped the pretext of mystery and given us a scene of Doctor and Missy interaction every episode instead.
It would have made her character development a little more believable.
Jaden: Yeah. Also it would make the “what about the vault?” lines make sense
JA: I think that this series has overall been pretty good, but not very cohesively planned.
Jaden: Almost makes you welcome a new showrunner? Maybe?
If it wasn’t Chibnall?
JA: Maybe.
But I’m not sure how much is on Moffat and how much is the job being incredibly difficult.
Jaden: I think, as much as I’m not heads over heels for this episodes, it stands as a good lesson to future writers for the show.
Take your time, focus on character, etc.
JA: It really does work very well as a model for how to do Doctor Who.
Jaden: Well, standalone Who.
JA: That’s what I meant but forgot to say.
Also, the crows part was something that really shouldn’t have worked but somehow did.
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Jaden: Well that’s how celtic mythology works. It just does and you don’t question it. Gods leap into rivers and become seals/fish and you just gotta deal with it
JA: Exactly.
Jaden: I’m tempted to bump it half a point just for that. But I don’t think I will.
JA: One of us needs to remain rational about this episode so it’s not just gushing.
Jaden: Speaking of, I forgot my other main complaint. The Doctor was… weird.
JA: Weird in what sense?
Jaden: The ending with him going all Leeroy Jenkins and wanting to do eternal battle with the monster because it was his destiny.
JA: It didn’t feel odd to me for the Doctor to want to sacrifice himself instead of a bunch of kids.
Although he did seem oddly enthusiastic about it.
Jaden: I don’t think he’d never get to that point, but it felt like a quick jump. And it didn’t really feel like he NEEDED to do it. Kar had kept it safe on her own for a while, right?
JA: I think they were saying that it was now too unstable and needed someone to hold it back for a long time. Hence the music still playing in the present.
Jaden: Meh.
I guess that works. Ish.
JA: I think it’s more explained than a lot of stuff in Doctor Who.
And it gives us the great mythological ending of the Picts and Romans fighting together forever to hold back the end of the world.
Jaden: Yeah that part of the ending was great. Reminded me of Heroscape… which is not really something I should divulge to the Internet
JA: Plus I think if the Doctor’s first plan had been to shove the kids in there he would have come across as a monster.
Jaden: Maybe? I don’t think it would be terribly out of character but I’m not sure. Once they voluntarily stepped up to fight I think he’d back down at least.
Also, that shot where he gets hit by someone with something was not good. I couldn’t tell who hit him and took me a second to realize what it was that hit him.
Believe me. I’ve seen every episode of Every Frame a Painting I totally know how to direct
JA: Seems legit.
Time for wrap up or do you have anything else to add?
Jaden: Wrap up I think
The Eaters of Light
JA: This episode was great, but I expected nothing less from Rona Munro. The Celtic vibe was brilliant and the Scottish setting and the time period were used to great effect. The eaters of light were effective monsters with a unique way of killing people. Even the absurdity of the crows works within the atmosphere the episode creates. I love the music and the scenery. Nardole was funny as ever and the guest cast was well fleshed out. I’m not entirely sold on the Missy scene at the end, but we’ll see where that goes.
It is also worth noting that Bill comes across less obviously into women here than Ace does in Munro’s first Doctor Who story. And that both her stories have the Master.
9/10.
Jaden: Well, I have a number of s-words for this one. But not the same s-words I’d have used on the last two episodes. Instead I’m thinking of words like “solid” and “serviceable.” A lot of its faults are due to the series it is in and the ordering of the series, but it’s not without faults itself. That said, the mythological tone, small scale, and big ideas worked well and she shows that it is possible to write a standalone episode and have it well paced. Had it been episode 3, I’d give it a 7.5. But that little bit of weirdness keeps me with my original rating of 7/10.
JA: Hey, we both mostly like an episode again.
Jaden: Mostly.
I have a feeling the next story is gonna be Nerdfight 3.0
JA: I’m looking forward to it, but I’ve been let down by finales before.
Join us next week for Nerdfight 3.0 World Enough and Time!

 

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