Doctor Who: Series 12 (or 37 depending on how you count): Episode 6: Praxeus by Peter McTighe and Chris Chibnall.

Just a few thoughts about last week’s episode. Showrunner Chris Chibnall says the Martin Doctor is not from another dimension but an actual regeneration of the Doctor. Speculation on the Net thinks she belongs to the previous 13 regenerations as she didn’t recognise the sonic screwdriver. Apart from the 13 regenerations is sacrosanct to Time Lords, the Whitaker sonic screwdriver is more a homebrew than the one the TARDIS generates which might explain why any Time Lord would not recognise it until used. Anyway, that’s not continued with this story.

Beware of SPOILERS as I unravel this episode over three different places and the number of people at each point as the puzzle is brought together and then cross-connected. Head-spinning is allowed but be careful about being calcified or plasticised before exploding. I’m also covering more detail in one go for each place or there would be a lot more jumps between paragraphs.

Jake Willis (actor Warren Brown) is a bit unstable in London and on leave from the police for some reason when he sees on the television news that his lover (we discover that much later) astronaut Adam Lang (actor Matthew McNulty) has been lost on his return from the International Space Station. Oddly, he gets an e-message from him telling him he’s trapped in Hong Kong so Willis flies there to rescue him. I’ll leave the criticisms of this until much further down.

In the meantime, over in Peru, Gabriela Camera (actress Joana Borja) and. Jamila Velez (actress Gabriela Toli – that must have been interesting name calling during the filming) get to what was once a river beauty spot only to find it now a rubbish tip and although they weren’t planning to stay and up camping the night in it. Jamila gets up in the night and apparently abducted. In the morning, Gabriela can’t find her but does run into Ryan who finds a dead bird to add to his knapsack. They later find her in an apparent confinement tent but too late to help her as she explodes.

In Hong Kong, Willis can’t get into the warehouse to find Lang but Graham and Yasmin appear and help him break in. They find Lang, still in his spacesuit, but linked into some apparently alien equipment. Graham warns to be careful to free Lang in case the equipment is keeping him alive but given no choice when they are shot at by two masked humanoids.

The Doctor is in Madagascar on the beach discovering a sailor from a missing submarine who suddenly calcifies and explodes in front of her and two scientists, Suki Cheng (actress Molly Harris) and, presumably because he doesn’t get named in the episode, Aramu (actor Thapelo Maropefela).

She doesn’t hang around as she has to travel around to collect Ryan and Gabriela in Peru and then to Hong Kong. There, Willis shoots at the two humanoids. Not really stopping them but enough to get them out into the street to the TARDIS. Yasmin says she needs to get the device and pleads to the Doctor for an hour which she grants and Gabriela goes along to help. Why an hour? Beats me. More so as it took minutes to get out of the warehouse.

All back to Madagascar because the Doctor needs to use the equipment there to examine the dead crow and also discovers Lang is slowly being calcified. It’s now affected Lang but in a slower fashion. She also discovers that Suki is alien and after a cure for her people from the alien Praxeus which she has infected the Earth with because it was already saturated with microplastics. Praxeus might cause humans to explode when infected but it just drives the crows crazy and no one seems to care what happened to Aramau.

Yasmin and Gabriela in Hong Kong, watch one of the dying humanoids use the device and vanishes and realises it’s a teleportation device, linking to Peru and the bottom of the Indian Ocean. They decide to follow and arrive at the later, finding the missing submarine in a plastic environment before alerting the Doctor.

OK, the rest of the story goes on in a more linear fashion and you can watch at your own pace. All you’re really seeing is my good memory and applied writer’s skill putting it together.

On the surface, this is a fast-plotted story splitting and combining story elements and you need to be fast to keep up with events. Well, until it bumps into someone like me. Oddly, I ended up writing mostly what was wrong with the story before the synopsis. For the normal viewer, they just moved with events. I suspect other people will do so at a slower speed but this has to go on-line tonight.

You would also have thought the TARDIS might have sensed the aliens in trouble first and get there before they got to Earth.

Going back to the beginning of the story. Somehow, the Doctor had time to drop off her various friends to two locations before going to Madagascar but she has a time machine, even if something is going on simultaneously, they could have moved as a whole to each event. A continual problem throughout this story.

There’s also a little matter of how Jake Willis can get from London to Hong Kong by aeroplane fast enough to try to rescue Adam Lang. According to Google, that’s a 13 hour flight not to mention getting through customs at both ends. Jake has a fear of travelling, so how come he has a passport, let alone all the necessary inoculations. Likewise, how did he get a gun through customs? Granted Willis is unstable but you would think the first thing he might do is contact his people in the police and get the Hong Kong authorities to check. Lang is sort of important and the e-message was evidence.

The Doctor leaving Yasmin and Gabriela behind is also odd. Why not stay and help get the alien device, more so as it might contribute to the antidote? They have a TARDIS after all. That’s another grey area because inside the TARDIS, Lang’s would have been in a temporal stasis which would have prolonged his life. In story terms, this might allow the cast to be split up and shine on their own but it does tend to work again the mechanics of their reality.

When you consider that the TARDIS must have some impressive medical equipment of its own, why would the Doctor need to use Earth equipment to do the research? More so why she didn’t realise Suki’s equipment has to be at least half-alien assuming she had brought it to supplement what was in her shuttle. It’s all very well needing to link things together but an experienced SF writer would have gone through the events and sorted out the justifications for doing thing the way they are going it.

This might have looked all right in theory but considering how much I’m unravelling the story problems with so much ease shows the problems it has.

There are a lot of things left open at the end of this story. I mean, does the Doctor adapt the cure to save Suki’s alien race 2 galaxies away? Granted they shouldn’t have turned the Earth into a giant petri dish but these aliens were desperate for a suitable planet loaded with plastic. Considering that they have a teleportation device, why did they also have a space shuttle? Presumably teleportation might have a limited range or dependent on power source but their starship to travel so far so fast to cure its own people must have some form of space/time transportation if they were to save them in the right time frame.

I’m not being down on everything. Gabriela would make a good companion. An explorer and obviously knew more than science than the Doctor’s friends whom the Time Lord had to constantly explain what she was doing and to the viewer.

Oh, and the Doctor’s tee-shirt and vest are now separate.

Other than missing out on the ending for ultimate spoilers, I think I’ve covered everything you need to know. On the surface, this is a story about our failing ecology with plastic everywhere but could really have done with a serious number of rewrites to make it work. At the end, though, considering the problem with microplastics, why doesn’t the Doctor present some solution for that as well? After all, it’s just as dangerous as any alien menace and it isn’t as though she doesn’t have the knowledge or equipment to help. I’ll let you ponder on that one.

GF Willmetts

02 February 2020

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