Well, that’s a bold claim. And Capaldi haters will be quick to shake their fists at the title of this article. No, it isn’t the best. But there’s something to be said of series that’s more than halfway through its run without releasing any outright duds. And yes, some episodes are far inferior to others released this year, but none are outright bad. Plot holes and quick conclusions aside, the writing AND the direction this season has proved that it’s one of the best, if not already the best since the relaunch. This is by far the strongest season we’ve seen in a while. The biggest relief this time around is that both the Doctor’s trusty Sonic Screwdriver and his sonic glasses have taken a backseat when it comes to plot resolutions. We still see both, many times within the same episodes as each other, but it’s used as more of a plot device, and less like a magic wand. Couple that with Pearl Mackie’s excellent, and incredibly realistic acting, and you receive a lot of fun, on top of some really excellent sci-fi stories.
Instead of making the case on whether or not this is or isn’t the best series to date, I’ll leave that for you to decide. I will, however, list each episode from best to worst, as far as we’re concerned, while linking you to our full reviews/discussions. Be sure to subscribe to us on YouTube for more videos just like these! Of course, spoilers throughout each of the episode descriptions.
In our opinion, this is a return to classic Doctor Who storytelling 101. Write a fantastic science fiction story rife with subtle social commentary, make sure the setting and physics check out, and throw in the incumbent TARDIS team. What can go wrong? A lot. Like seriously. Bill almost dies. Twice! The Doctor becomes blind. Permanently. We have a logical reason for the rubber suits to bumble about corridors slowly (hint: because they’re literal suits with mag boots locking them to the ground). Actually seeing the Doctor outsmart the system is super refreshing, and this ultimately becomes one of the best new Who stories to introduce potential fans to.
2. Thin Ice
A jaunt back to the last great Frost Fair in London sees the Doctor and Bill embroiled in the social climate of the time, whilst encountering fish far too big and alien to be natural. It’s a commentary on why it’s so scary for slavers when they choose to let slaves go. But its also a discussion on why social justice and yelling at everyone who disagrees with your viewpoint is ultimately foolish, because there’s always a bigger fish.
The first part in this three-part story arc is a strong one. And hopefully all that isn’t immediately made clear, or things that haven’t been entirely tied off in this episode, see a semblance of conclusion by the third episode (which as of writing this post has not been released to the public yet). A mysterious text known as the Veritas (or truth) has resurfaced, and those who translate it kill themselves. It’s freaky, smart, and the implications are truly tremendous.
4. The Pyramid at the End of the World
Not quite as strong as Extremis, the first part in this 3-episode story, this 2nd episode is a close follow up. Unfortunately it doesn’t answer any of the lingering questions left off in Extremis, but we get a return of the sinister Monks, who appear to have found the perfect moment in human history to capitalize on – the potential end of the world. Only they can stop it, but will the world’s leaders be willing to meet the Monks’ demands to protect the world? We are also left with an incredible cliffhanger.
5. The Pilot
A solid start to a new series of Doctor Who, with an all new companion, an unconventional mystery, and a very odd story structure. The 12th Doctor, in a similar fashion to the 3rd Doctor, is grounded on Earth and we don’t know why. A sentient oil puddle that can transcend time and space somehow, is after the Doctor’s new pupil, Bill. Intriguing, and while not perfect, a better start to the season than most.
Emojibots, swarming robots, generation ships, Classic Who references, beautiful real-life sets, and more make up the second episode of the season. And while it’s a fun, affable romp into a strange future, it suffers from some logical inconsistencies and feels a bit hollow at times. Still, it comes out strong on a first viewing.
7. Knock Knock
Every season has a weak point, and thankfully thus far Knock Knock is the only real disappointment for us. Interestingly, it’s flaws aren’t apparent on a first viewing. But watching it a second time shows us a plethora of plot holes. Still, it is one of the creepiest episodes we’ve seen in a long time, perhaps the creepiest of the season, and the acting is among the best. But seriously, there are some story-breaking holes littered through this story.
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