Doctor Who season 10 episode 10. The Eaters Of Light by Rona Munro

Into the depths of 2nd century Scotland from here in there are spoilers!

From the start of this story, you do have to wonder where did Missy go but more of that later. The Doctor takes Bill and Nardole into the past to look for the 9th Roman Legion, although knows they’ve pillaged and gone. He even lets Bill wander off on her own to see if she can find one. Hardly looking after one of his companions, let alone informing her that the TARDIS telepathic circuit will allow easy communication or the fact that as a black lass in the past she will look really out of place. Does the TARDIS telepathic circuit normalise all of their appearances to be acceptable these days?

Anyway, Bill gets lost down a hole or rather a hidden cave and discovers first one and later more Roman legionnaires who deserted in the heart of the battle with something. This ‘something’ is what the Doctor and Nardole find the results of but, of course, being split up, neither can tell the other. However, they meet up with the Scots clan whose keeper keeps the creatures from another dimension away in a sort of Brigadoon manner, well the keeper anyway when she steps through the portal. Surely, whoever is warden would come back each time to a new generation waiting for her and keep infinitely young? Why she let one creature through is a spoiler you can watch the story for the explanation. The time gone and come back would have been a few years at the least.

The Doctor’s willingness to volunteer to become the guardian of the gate/portal is also at odds with what he normally does, ie find another solution to the problem rather than let things go on as before. This tends to make this a plot by predictable numbers than real Science Fiction. You also have to wonder how many other portals with hungry denizens there are out on other planets that the Doctor has never come across before. Earth can’t be the only planet after all.

Again, we have a dialogue heavy story although it does give the supporting cast more to do than looked shocked or dead all the time. If anything, it’s the manner of how they act that does go against type. Why would the Romans have black people amongst their ranks? Like my comments about ‘The Empress Of Mars’, about previous centuries, there is an avoidance of the issue that in those time periods, black people would have been subservient and I doubt if even a talk from Bill would change that. They even have a chance to talk about homosexuality which might have been going on very discretely but I suspect the Romans would have weeded out any with that inclination and put them to the sword. If you’re going to use local colour then at least have the scriptwriters address it as was seen in a particular time period than endow it with the original ‘Star Trek’ ethic that the future will be held to as correct and the people from the past instantly change their minds. It might make for some interesting school class debates but it will at least reveal how less enlightening times were back then.

Now we come back to Missy. One must presume that they had returned to the Earth-time period where she was locked up back in the vault and Nardole would certainly have watched this happening. If Nardole had left the Doctor’s side, then he would certainly have stayed closer to the vault or the TARDIS and would have spotted Missy being allowed passage again.

Likewise, Missy might not be able to take control of the TARDIS but the Doctor allows her to do maintenance of its engines. If you were going to do sabotage, that would practically be like giving the Time Lady the keys to the TARDIS, which is kind of worrying. A very un-Doctor-like thing to do.

Looking objectively, not to mention, twice over on this episode because there was so much to digest and keep my eyes open. Yes, it’s nice to have dialogue other running around action but it rarely propels the action. If anything, as comparison to other episodes, the Doctor has a plan and is listened to and usually obeyed. This time, his solution is not only a bad one as there must surely be other menaces that would need to be tackled but is overwhelmed by the clan and legionnaires instead doing what they were intended to do. Even if he kept to his plan and intended to regenerate to the end of time, at the first regeneration where he is the most vulnerable, those creatures would have attacked and killed him.

Apart from that, the Doctor is in that situation as discussed in ‘The Big Bang Theory’ about ‘Raiders Of The Lost Ark’. Namely, things would have taken place the way they should have been whether he was there or not. The Doctor wasn’t need to resolve the problem and doesn’t even realise it. The Doctor has to be smarter than this which is probably why I have problems with this story.

(c) GF Willmetts 2017


One thought on “Doctor Who season 10 episode 10. The Eaters Of Light by Rona Munro

  • A further comment as one who is becoming harder of hearing, is that in this series the background music is so loud while actors are speaking, that I cannot understand much of the dialogue.


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