Monday, October 15, 2018

Doctor Who 11x02 Recap: “The Ghost Monument” (The New TARDIS Makes Her Debut) [Guest Poster: Stephanie Coats]

“The Ghost Monument”
Original Airdate: October 14, 2018

Last week, we got a new Doctor, new sonic, and new friends. But there’s one piece missing — it’s hard to travel in time and space without your spaceship. The Doctor is on the hunt for her TARDIS and after months of anticipation (and avoiding leaked photos...), I’m excited to see what the old girl has in store for us this time.


The Doctor’s unplanned first adventure off-planet with her new friends starts out poorly, but not catastrophically. They all survive nearly suffocating in space, at least. Ryan and Graham were picked up by a female pilot named Angstrom, who says she didn’t see anyone else floating near them. But don’t worry; the Doctor and Yaz are safely aboard another pilot’s ship. Well, “safely” might be putting it strongly, since Epzo’s ship is minutes away from losing life support. At the Doctor’s insistence, he allows her to pilot them to a crash landing on the planet both he and Angstrom were searching for. The Doctor gets them on the planet but nearly kills Ryan, Graham, and Angstrom, who had arrived moments before.

With no better option than to follow the two pilots, the Doctor and the trio of humans tag along until they reach a tent sitting in the middle of a desert. A hologram of a man named Ilin receives them. He is the creator of the rally of 12 galaxies, a massive space race with an even bigger prize. Angstrom and Epzo are the two finalists. They thought the Doctor and her friends were bonuses and that’s the only reason they stopped to pick them up. Whoops. But also, thanks?


The planet they’re all on is called Desolation, so fun times are ahead I’m sure. Angstrom and Epzo must find The Ghost Monument, and whoever reaches it first will be the winner. The Doctor insists on seeing what this Ghost Monument looks like... and it’s the TARDIS! With renewed energy, she insists to Graham, Yaz, and Ryan that she can get them safely home if they can reach her TARDIS.

To keep things as fair as possible in a cutthroat space race, Angstrom and Epzo aren’t allowed to kill or injure one another. This rule is enough to convince them to share the one boat across the poisonous water to the TARDIS’ location. Ryan and Graham are able to get the boat running but Ryan refuses to talk about his grandmother as they work. The journey provides a perfect opportunity to get to know our pilots a little more. Epzo is a cynical loner who wants the prize money to live a life of comfort, but Angstrom wants to use the money to rescue her family. Her home planet is being cleansed and her family is in hiding.

Once they’ve crossed the water, the hike to a deserted, retro-looking mall, Angstrom and Epzo each pick a path. The Doctor and friends go their own way as well and very quickly run into a squad of robot guards. After escaping into the shooting range (whoops), Ryan decides his Call of Duty training is worth something and charges at the robots. But when his gun becomes empty, he runs back to the group screaming like a little girl. The Doctor smugly remarks that this is why she doesn’t use guns and uses her brain instead. She rigs up a broken robot and uses it to blast the rest of the robots with an EMP.


The foursome regroup with the two pilots and the Doctor takes the lead now. She, Angstrom, and Graham find ruins with alien writing on them that detail how scientists were forced to work for the Stenza (the same race Tim Shaw was from). They were made to create new ways of killing other beings, including possessed mummy-like cloths that nearly strangle Epzo to death. Angstrom saves his life with her Swiss Army knife. To escape the cloth wrappings, everyone climbs up to an acetylene field, but they are quickly surrounded. The wrappings taunt the Doctor about the “timeless child,” something we’re sure to hear more about as the season progresses.

The Doctor and Ryan figure out a plan. They have everyone dig into the soft dirt with their feet. Then Graham throws Epzo’s expensive cigar into the air and, with a snap of her fingers, the Doctor lights it, causing the gas field above them to ignite and the wrappings to burn.

Realizing they would’ve died without one another, Angstrom and Epzo agree to share the cash prize. They locate and enter Ilin’s tent to tell him so. Initially, he refuses until Epzo threatens to hunt him down. They are declared joint winners and, with a snap of his fingers, Ilin takes himself, the pilots, and the tent off the planet. The Doctor and her friends are left stranded. But what of The Ghost Monument? They never found it, after all.


An instant after the Doctor loses hope, the TARDIS engines whir nearby. It phases in and out as the Doctor points her sonic at it. Her expression is desperate and longing. The TARDIS phases through properly, and the Doctor joyously and goofily runs towards it. She lays her hands on the old box — which has a new look — and it generously opens the door for her, even though she’s lost her key.

The inside of the new TARDIS looks like a glowing cave — golden orange crystals sprout up from the floor and layers of clock-like gears line the walls. There’s a miniature crystal TARDIS on the console and a whole host of new levels and buttons. There’s even a custard creme dispenser! “I really like it,” the Doctor says breathlessly. She turns to Graham, Ryan, and Yaz, who have followed her in. She promises to take them home now.

Yeah, when has that ever happened right away?

Final Thoughts: 
  • For an episode that was mostly about introducing the TARDIS, this was a solid second installment of the season. I do wish Yaz had more to do, but I’m trusting her time will come. 
  • I love that the TARDIS’ new look is a perpetual golden hour. GIFing TARDIS interior scenes is going to be lovely. 
  • I was so caught up in the season premiere last week that I didn’t even realize until later that we didn’t get to see a new intro! We did this week and it looks like a space lava lamp and it also seems much shorter. 
  • The Doctor: “Did I not mention? I am really smart.”
  • The Doctor, willing the TARDIS to come through: “Come to daddy... I mean mummy.”


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