REVIEW: Doctor Who – The Beast Below

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Spoilers to follow. This week’s episode is set on Starship UK inhabited by 29th century refugees who have fled the Earth due to solar flares. Early on we see kids in a creepy school given grades by an even creepier carnival machine man called a Smiler. It’s interesting to note that there are more zeroes carrying over from the season premiere in the children’s grades and the elevator as it sends a failing child “below.” I can’t imagine this is coincidental.

The episode goes a long way to establish a connection between The Doctor and Amy. She learns a great deal about the Doctor’s history and his ways when she chooses to forget the secret she discovers about the ship they’re aboard and tries to make a decision for him. We even see some darkness in the new Doctor as a result, as he makes it clear that she “doesn’t ever decide what [he] needs to know.” Despite the disagreement, we see that she understands who and what he is and her power of observation is critical to saving the day.

A highlight of the episode was the introduction of Liz Ten (as in X), a great character who has led a tragic extended life as the Queen aboard Starship UK. Her connection to The Doctor and his centuries long interactions with the royal family made for some fun references to past episodes.

One of the things that stood out to me was the little rhyme sung by one of the children that mentioned “one with a smile and one with teeth.” I couldn’t help but think this might have been a reference to The Doctor and Prisoner Zero. A preview for the rest of the season showed some women with teeth like Prisoner Zero so we might be seeing more one this.

There have also been some interesting connections between Amy and Donna as they’re both redheads, about to get married, run off with the Doctor, and have to forget things to survive.

So far great continuity between episodes with the crack in time, Amy’s observations, and The Doctor being chronically late. It’s shaping up to be a fun season and there was a nice tease at the end of this episode with the shadow of a Dalek. Overall, I think episode two may have been even stronger than episode one.

More on Doctor Who 2010:
The Eleventh Hour / Victory of the Daleks

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