BBC One – 7:35pm – Saturday 17th June 2017
Written by: Rona Munro
Directed by: Charles Palmer
DEATH BY SCOTLAND
It strains credulity to belief it has taken this long, but with episode 10.10, screenwriter Rona Munro became the first person to scribe an episode of the original ‘classic’ series (1989’s concluding “Survival” serial) and new Who. The oldest adventure I have seen in its entirity is the 1996 TV Movie (which I reviewed HERE), so I have no context for how “The Eaters of Light” compares to Munro’s earlier in-universe effort, but to the casual fan last Saturday’s romp in time was pretty much business as usual for the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and his cohorts.
“Trust me, this is not my first rodeo.”
For the third time in ten episodes (and second time in consecutive weeks) we are going back in time, in this case on a spurious impulse simply to dispel a theory that Bill (Pearl Mackie) has about the fate of the lost Ninth Legion of the Imperial Roman army. Welcome to the Devil’s Cairn, Scotland in the second century, where warriors cower in caves from a “light-eating locust” which came into our world through an “interdimensional temporal rift” guarded by a young Guardian of the Gate (Rebecca Benson).
Oh, and crows can talk (kinda).
It is these such quirky texture-adding embellishments which bring this oppressive episode – which largely takes place in damp, squalid conditions and restrictive bunker sets – to life. Bill explaining to the surviving members of the legion about her taste in lover, only to find the Romans are far more enlightened than she imagined (“This is all very… modern.”); the revelation that the TARDIS auto-translates all those in its vicinity into a language the traveller comprehends (“Everyone just sounds like children,” to the Doctor).
“The Eaters of Light” was an enjoyable enough diversion, I certainly preferred it to last week’s déjà vu Martian stand-off (see my review of 10.9 HERE). But there is no escaping the underlying nag that both instalments are time-fillers, simply treading water before the upcoming finale. Even when you are told the stakes have been raised and the Doctor presents himself as a sacrifice to enter the portal to stop the beast from escaping again, you don’t feel an ounce of tension; you know an alternative will present itself so the trio can get back to the TARDIS in time to grant Michelle Gomez yet another teasing cameo spot. The best is yet to come.
“Seriously, she’s doing chores for us now?!”
CR@B’s Claw Score: