DOCTOR WHO Season 10, Episode 1 ‘The Pilot’ Executive Produced bySteven Moffat; Directed by Lawrence Gough; Written by Steven Moffat; Starring Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Matt Lucas; Rated TV-PG; Airs Saturday evenings on BBC1 / BBC America, Original airdate April 15, 2017.
FINALLY, Doctor Who is back. This newest episode finds Twelfth Doctor (Capaldi) teaching at a university aided by Nardole (Lucas). He takes on cafeteria worker Bill Potts (Mackie), who has been attending his lectures, to be her personal tutor.
Time is discussed. Chips are discussed. Joy Division is heard. And it seems Miss Potts is taken with a young girl named Heather, who seems to be obsessed with a puddle whose reflections aren’t quite right? “Pilot Selected” a scary voice says from the puddle.
And time travel wackiness ensues.
Several of our robots want to discuss this show, so we'll be convening a weekly roundtable to talk out the most recent episode:
Andy: Some people have complained about these Capaldi episodes for being too slow. And, granted, they are. But there’s something about a show willing to be methodical. It’s especially good that this time travel show actually decides to be about time travel every once in a while. And Capaldi lecturing about the nature of time while Joy Division plays may be one of the best things I’ve seen on Doctor Who since the glory days of Amy and Rory.
It’s also spooky. There’s a definite It Follows / Terminator 2 vibe going on with Heather through the second act. There’s something wrong with her, and we can tell from the very beginning. I like that it’s willing to be scary without being gory. The fact that it’s got all the water-flowing-from-possessed-peoples-mouths going on hearkens back to “Waters of Mars.”
Speaking of hearkening back, it’s worth noting that for all of the previous arcs where we introduced companions, there’s been a definite pattern: you solve an alien invasion in Earth’s present, you travel somewhere else on Earth, you go into the far distant future of Earth, you go fight the Daleks. . . and that’s your first half of the season. Instead we do all of it in this first episode. I like that-- we’re only getting 12 episodes, so I certainly hope we only spend this first episode treading over old ground. Although, it doesn’t bode well we’re going into the far future in the next episode. . .
Also, I instantly love Bill.
Rebecca: I have a firm theory that Moffat writes episodes based off something that happened to him that morning. “The Pilot” has me thinking he took his niece outside, she jumped in a puddle, and wouldn’t stop copying him.
Now that I’ve got my Moffat-hate out of the way, I adored this episode. Specifically, I adored Bill. Her introduction was so casual, immediately adventure-ready. The Doctor even makes a comment about her ready attitude, she doesn’t frown when confronted with something she doesn’t understand; she smiles.
Andy: That was one of the things about her character that I instantly loved. I also love the bit about her giving extra chips to the girl she thinks is cute. First, that’s awesome that it’s just so normal that it’s a girl she has a crush on. Second, how insanely normal and awesome is that? And then to have the self-awareness that maybe her actions have consequences. That kind of awareness was so lacking in Clara-- it’s possibly that this is why the Doctor is willing to take her on.
Rebecca: The fact too that her sexual orientation isn’t a big deal. It drives plot forward, not in a negative way, but in a, you know, plot driving way.
Andy: Yeah, like any other character. Funny how that happens when we accept and normalize something, right?
Rebecca: Sooo weird…
This was also the first time I didn’t totally hate Nardole. I’ve found his character overplayed in his previous appearances, but this episode had just the right amount of him.
Andy: Absolutely true. I’ve been dreading him being in this season so much, but if they just give him the junk to do so Bill can have more of the adventure, I’ll take it.
Rebecca: About halfway through every episode, I usually think, “well, this is a silly plot.” But the minute the show ends, I shout at the top of my lungs, “I LOVE THIS STUPID SHOW!” I’m incredibly excited for the rest of the season, not excited to lose Capaldi though.
Next week, “Smile”: