Saturday, May 22, 2010

My Review of Doctor Who's 5x08: "The Hungry Earth"

Written by Chris Chibnall
Directed by Ashley Way

Alaya (to Rory/Ambrose/Tony): “I know apes better than you know yourselves. I know which one of you will kill me. Do you?”

Okay, let’s get something out of the way first so it doesn’t become an issue later on during the review – I haven’t previously seen all that much of the Silurians to be honest. I haven’t seen “Doctor Who And The Silurians” or “Warriors Of The Deep”, except for a few clips here and there, so my opinion on the latest imagining of them might be a bit biased.

Aside from that, this was an interesting enough episode. You open with poor Mo being dragged into the Earth and then you had the Doctor, Amy and Rory land in the Welsh mining village of Cwmtaff instead of Rio. And yes, I did a little eye rolling when Amy said her attire was mostly aimed for a sunnier climate. Is that why she’s been wearing short skirts all season then?

But still, the strongest aspect about the opening part of this two parter was the fact that it took very little for things to take off. The Doctor and Amy themselves couldn’t help doing a little breaking and entering and ended up coming across Nasreen’s drilling excavation down the Earth and Rory himself was also kept busy.

I got a giggle out of the moment he stepped out of the TARDIS and was immediately cornered by Ambrose and Elliot into actually helping out with the graves. Bodies disappearing but they were taken below wasn’t that unusual after what we had seen done to Mo at the start of this episode.

And then there was Amy. Even if it the multitude of trailers hadn’t spoiled that scene, I still would’ve guessed that she was going to end up being sucked into the Earth and while I didn’t believe that the Doctor and Rory had really lost her, there was a beautifully effective moment that harkened back to Amy’s abandonment issues all over again.

The Doctor tried desperately not to let go of her hand and for a moment, it did look like he was going to pull her up but when she slipped in, he felt powerless and not for the first time in this episode. Because losing his companion whilst bad still got undermined by the fact that his carelessness also cost him losing Ambrose’s son Elliot as well.

I can often be mixed with child actors but the lad playing Elliot was a likeable presence in the episode and it was interesting see how clever he was as well. It was Elliot who explained to Rory about the bodies being taken down from below and also Elliot who asked the Doctor more directly about the monsters as well.

But the weird thing with Elliot was that we didn’t actually see the Silurian take him. It’s apparent that he was snatched and it certainly meant that the Doctor now had three people he needed to save but how come we didn’t see Elliot down the Silurian lair with his father Mo and Amy? We saw the both of them looking worse for wear as the episode ended but no sign of Elliot.

Because of the shortage in guest characters for this two parter, the family unit of Elliot, Ambrose, Mo, Tony and Nasreen were certainly a more developed bunch in this episode alone. We saw that Mo was a good father at the start of the episode; we knew how clever Elliot was (even though he was self conscious about his dyslexia) but what about Ambrose, Tony and Nasreen?

I have to admit that I really did like Ambrose quite a lot. Out of everyone, she was more sceptical of the Doctor and even though she wasn’t completely convinced that he could save their village from attack, she did try to help him as best as she could. And she managed to trust his word that he would get both Elliot and Mo back to her.

Then there was Tony. The love angle with Nasreen aside, Tony did seem like the protective grandfather as well but saving his daughter from that Silurian also resulted in him becoming affected by it as well. Will Tony be the one to actually kill Alaya? It looks like it but given this show’s love of a red herring, let’s not be too sure, eh?

As for the Silurian segment of this episode, well there was a lot that did hit the right spot. The Doctor’s dialogue about their origins was concrete enough in bringing everyone up to speed on them as a species and there was a nice moment where he was determined that no blood would be spilled between humans and Silurians.

The Doctor got seriously agitated when Tony wanted to dissect Alaya and the Doctor showed similar annoyance with a captive Alaya when the female Silurian promised to slaughter all the humans. Seriously, is it wise to make death threats whilst being in the captivity of the Doctor? Probably not but that didn’t stop Alaya.

The new look Silurians are an improvement on their old version. I’m sorry purists but they really are, even if they are missing the third eye and the scanning masks are a good addition to them as well as that tongue of their, which was used on Tony. However, Alaya was only one of two Silurians that we actually got to see properly in this whole episode. Hats off to Neve McIntosh for a great performance as Alaya too. Can’t wait to see what she does in the next episode when she’s doing two roles instead of one.

I did like the interrogation with the Doctor and Alaya as well following the humorous capture that him and Rory instigated during the brief spell of night that they endured when the Silurians were attacking them. It seems using the ‘last of my species’ defence was not going to wash with the Doctor. He got visibly mad when Alaya used the defence instead of answering his questions.

Of course the Silurians were only retaliating because they felt the drilling that Nasreen had commissioned was a sign of an attack and judging by next week, it does look like we’re going to have an all out war on our hands. I was satisfied for the Doctor and Nasreen to discover the whole Silurian civilisation at the end of the episode. I was glad that Alaya was lying with the whole ‘last of my species’ defence after all, even if she did amp up the creepy factor by goading Rory, Ambrose and Tony that one of them will kill her.

As for the Doctor and Nasreen travelling in the TARDIS together – I loved it. The Doctor definitely thrives with an older companion as well as his favoured younger ones. The only flipside with this episode is that while you get great moments for the Doctor and Rory here with the villagers, Amy’s only contribution was to get captured and attacked by a Silurian with a nasty looking knife coming her way. Here’s hoping she’s better served in the next part of the story.

Also in “The Hungry Earth”

Given that this show is filmed in Cardiff, it’s amazing that this is the fourth TV story that has actually been set in Wales.

Amy: “We’re still together in ten years?”
Rory: “No need to sound so surprised.”

Instead of cracks and talks of the Pandorica and silence falling, we got to see a future version of Amy and Rory briefly.

The Doctor: “What about now? Can you feel it now?”
Amy: “Honestly, I've got no idea what you’re on about.”

Amy: “What's pulling me? What's under the Earth I don't wanna suffocate under there.”
The Doctor: "Amy, concentrate. Don't you give up."
Amy: "Tell Rory."

The Doctor checked that there was blue grass and kept jumping up at the start to indicate that the ground wasn’t right.

The Doctor (to Tony): “Excuse me, I’m making perfect sense. You’re just not keeping up.”

Nasreen: “I have seen the impossible today and the only person who has made any sense of it for me is the Doctor.”
Ambrose: “Him?”
The Doctor: “Me!”

There was a shameless plug here for Sherlock Holmes with Elliot quoting him to Rory. Yes Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, I will watch it.

Elliot: “Is there monsters coming? Have you met monsters before?”
The Doctor: “Yeah.”
Elliot: “Are you scared of them?”
The Doctor: “No, they’re scared of me.”

Rory: “Can’t you sonic it?”
The Doctor: “It doesn’t do wood.”
Rory: “That is rubbish.”
The Doctor: “Oi! Don’t diss the sonic!”

Some impressive stuff here with the Silurians using geothermal currents to rise up as well as a force field over the Welsh village and the Doctor’s sunglasses that can detect the cold blooded.

The Doctor: “Cold blood. I know who they are.”

Alaya: “I am the last of my species.”
The Doctor: “No, you’re really not because I am the last of my species and I know how it sits in a heart, so don’t insult me.”

Rory leaving Amy’s engagement ring back in the TARDIS is certainly going to raise something come next week, if my spoilers are anything to go on.

The Doctor (to Rory/Nasreen/Ambrose/Tony): “You are decent, brilliant people. Nobody dies today, understand?”

The Doctor (re TARDIS): “It’ll be dangerous.”
Nasreen: “Ah, so is crossing the road.”

Chronology: It’s 2020, even though a lot of synopsises for this episode kept saying 2015.

Not my favourite episode of the season but “The Hungry Earth” is a decent return for the Silurians and the cliff hanger is certainly more traditional than “The Time Of Angels” was a month ago. But while the episode was good, we have had stronger ones this season and Amy had bugger all to do as well.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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