Saturday, July 15, 2017

Doctor Who 10.10: "The Eaters of Light"

Listen, you are all very, very angry. But really you’re just very scared.”
-The Doctor

The opening of the episode suggests that the Doctor, Bill, and Nardole will be going to a rather mysterious place. Specifically, we see two kids playing around the Devil’s Cairn in Scotland. They seem to be brother and sister. The sister wants to hear the music and the ghosts talking from inside the cairn, but her brother worries that if she does that, she’ll disappear, and he’ll get in trouble. Of course the kid starts hearing things and disappears. We then see the TARDIS appear in a similar location, but in the second century. Apparently Bill is really interested in the Roman Ninth Legion, and she wants to know what happened to them. She and the Doctor seem to have some sort of challenge related to this going on. Nardole is just annoyed that the Doctor is wasting time not watching Missy in the vault.

Bill goes off exploring, and she comes across a woman who seems to be saying prayers in remembrance of her family. Bill approaches her, but the woman screams and tries to attack Bill. Bill runs and runs until she falls through a trap, where she finally meets a Ninth Legion soldier. She’s shocked that they can actually understand each other (thanks to the TARDIS, of course). The soldier explains that a creature has wiped out almost the entire Ninth Legion, and he and a few other soldiers deserted. The other deserters are in a sort of safe house by the river, so that’s where they decide to go. The creature, which has kind of cool looking glowing tentacles, finds them, though, and tries to attack. The soldier sacrifices himself, and Bill ends up making it to the safe house, where the soldiers don’t seem to quite know what to do with her. It seems like kind of a threatening situation for Bill.

Meanwhile, the Doctor and Nardole are doing their own exploring. They find the remains of most of the Ninth Legion, and the bodies seem to be in a very peculiar way, sort of as if dried out. Then they come upon some cairns, decide to take a look, and quickly find themselves surrounded by an army. The pair are held at knifepoint for quite some times, as the young Picts insist on waiting for their leader, a woman named Kar (the same woman Bill encountered earlier) to decide what to do. Kar is the “gatekeeper” for her tribe. She watches over the cairn and keeps bad things from coming out of it. The Doctor ends up going into the cairn, and he sees a light portal with a nasty looking creature in it. When he reemerges, it turns out that two whole days have passed. His and Nardole’s search for Bill just got a lot more difficult.

Bill tries to explain her soldier friends sacrifice to the remaining Ninth Legion. She says he was covered in a tar-like substance and died. She has a little bit of the tar on her, too, and she ends up passing out for two days because of it. When she regains consciousness, she starts getting along well with the Ninth Legion guys. One in particular takes a real liking to her, to the point where she has to let him know she’s gay. In one of the more entertaining scenes of this season, he’s not only cool with that, he thinks she’s limiting herself by only preferring one sex/gender. Apparently most Roman soldiers were a little less choosy! I just generally enjoyed the nonchalant way in which the discussion happened, after Bill thought it was going to be a big deal that she would have to explain carefully. She eventually convinces the guys that even though the situation looks really bad, the Doctor is the only person who might be able to help, and they need to find him.

The Doctor, meanwhile, gets more helpful information out of Kar. Gatekeepers like her and her predecessors are supposed to fight the “Eaters of Light” (the scary creatures everyone has been seeing) on a regular basis so that they don’t cross over into our dimension. Kar let one through deliberately, though, because she wanted to kill the Romans. And for the most part, she succeeded. The Doctor is not at all impressed, especially because now he has to figure out how to stop more Eaters of Light from crossing over and causing even more trouble. To make matters worse, the creature that has already crossing over is getting stronger, and it’s circling where Bill and her new friends are hiding.

Both the Doctor and Bill have to take leadership over their respective contingents. Bill has a plan for trying to get the remains of the Ninth Legion out of the caves. The Doctor has a plan to try and lure the Eater of Light back through the portal, but it has to be done before dawn, when the creature will reach its full strength. Bill and her Ninth Legion friends run into the creature while trying to get out of the caves, and there’s a little skirmish where one of the Legion is killed. The rest make it out, though, and the Doctor and the Picts are there to greet them. Kar and “Grandpa” (the oldest of the remaining Legion who is now their default leader even though he’s only eighteen) start arguing a bit, but the Doctor puts a stop to it. The Romans and the Picts have each deeply hurt each other, but their going to have to work together to save the world from being destroyed by the Eaters of Light.

The Picts basically throw a big party because the Eater of Light is drawn to sound. When the creature shows up, the Picts and the Legion hit it with these devices that poison the light it’s trying to eat. This drives it into the portal. That’s not the end of the Doctor’s plan, though. He realized that it’s the time difference between both sides of the portal that results in a Pict only having to enter the portal every few decades. He can protect the gate for much longer than any human. Kar’s not having this, though. Protecting the gate for as long as she can his her destiny. And this time, she’s going to have help. The entire Ninth Legion is going to join her. It turns out that so many people crossing the portal at once makes it unstable, though, and the cave where the portal is located starts to collapse. That’s why people still hear music around that particular cairn, including the little girl from the beginning of the episode (spoiler alert: she didn’t get stolen by the ghosts).

When our team gets back to the TARDIS, Nardole is dismayed to find out that Missy is on board. The Doctor has worked out a new arrangement. Missy is biolocked out of the TARDIS controls, so she can’t actually do much, but she can travel with them and perform maintenance on the TARDIS. The Doctor is happy with this arrangement, and Nardole clearly is not. Missy watched some of what happened on this latest adventure, but she’s struggling to understand it. The Doctor tells her she needs to learn to hear the beauty in music. We later see her listening to the Celtic music from the Picts’ party, and she’s crying. I think we’re supposed to believe that she is truly changing for the good.

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