Time to talk last evening’s Twelfth Doctor story The Eaters of Light. Twitter length review: rather splendid with only minor gripes. You want a bit more? Well, I’ll give you more, but be warned, it’s going to be pretty positive stuff! I give away a lot of the story, but not every twist. I hope you have seen this episode already, if not do take the opportunity.
Let’s take a trip to Scotland, in the time of the Ninth Roman Legion…
The Eaters of Light – story
Present Day Scotland and some children set up the mystery of some stones on a hill.
Arguing the fate of the Ninth Roman Legion with Bill, the Doctor has taken the TARDIS to Scotland to determine their fate once and for all. Shortly after getting split up, Bill is chased by a young girl with markings on her face (Kar) after accidentally watching her conducting a ceremony of remembrance. She runs, encounters a strange (and very well rendered) alien prawn-like creature and stumbles into a cave where a few Romans are hiding out. Bill then sleeps for two days due to being splashed with a strange alien secretion.
Meantime the Doctor and Nardole find the rest of the legion dead in a field. This is quickly identified as the work of a creature, they find the locals, there’s some chasing around (Scooby Doo style) and the Doctor crosses a portal for a few seconds but days pass. Nardole spends the time getting face markings and this conveniently parallels the time Bill was asleep. Everyone joins forces to chase the alien back home, the Doctor wants to become the portal guardian but in the end others take the task on. And there’s a gag with crows, which I won’t spoil.
The team return to the TARDIS and we get a few minutes of Missy arc. Intriguing if unconnected.
The Eaters of Light – storytelling
In no particular order, I really liked some of Rona’s angles on the story, and having the Scots and legionnaires all being very young was a nice angle and accentuated the Doctor’s self-appointed stats as the old, wise hero. The crow gag was somewhat throwaway but I didn’t mind it. The setting was grand scenery wise and this meant budget for the CGI alien, the best of the series in my view (the Ice Warriors weren’t CGI). This along with Empress of Mars look the most complete as productions.
The soldiers were a bit forgettable as were most of the Scots, and the resolution held no surprises. It was well played and directed though, and sometimes we need the answer we expect. Much as the locust eaters of light were clever, they were also a bit inconsistent, with a haphazard range of powers and a weakness identified in seconds. I also found the placement of this story strange.
Part of the script gave Bill the TARDIS translation circuit reveal – it’s taken a long time, and slightly echoes Donna’s trip to Pompeii. Bill’s sexuality was also shoehorned in, but dealt with really well by the legionnaires, to the extent it almost left Bill looking parochial, or even foolish.
The Missy clip is clearly an aside, but Michelle Gomez impresses more and more, as does Capaldi. Can you imagine Smith in the same scenes? Maybe it’s my lack of imagination, but just as we get ready to lose this incarnation, the writing and performing really nails the part.
Overall I was entertained, ignored the gripes and look forward to next time. Cue the return of the Master!