Doctor Who Review: The Eaters of Light

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The Doctor, Bill and Nardole take a little vacation to ancient Scotland this week to settle a debate between The Doctor and Bill. As per the Doctor Who standard though, this little adventure turns into something much more serious. Rome’s Ninth legion is said to have disappeared sometime in the Second Century AD, which is just too good of a historical tale not to be investigated on a show like Doctor Who, however what they discover there might change the entire course of human history before the hour is out. The Doctor believes that they were killed in battle and Bill (having written a paper on the subject and scored high marks) believes that they just picked up and left. Luckily, with the TARDIS available we’re able to physically visit the Scotland of 2,000 years past and find out what really happened there.

Image Credit: BBC America

“Eaters of the Light” very much feels like a classic episode of Doctor Who, which makes sense considering the writer also penned stories for the 7th Doctor. However, with only two episodes left before the Christmas Special, I’m starting to feel like these mostly stand alone stories aren’t ramping us up enough for not only the season finale, but also the end of Peter Capaldi’s run as the Doctor. Yes Missy is out of the vault now, but she’s the really the only component moving the larger story arc forward and she’s still very much on the back burner in the grand scheme of things this episode. “The Eaters of Light” was a fun episode, with a great throwback feel to it, but considering the two part finale begins this weekend, I feel like we should have been able to expect a little more out of this episode. The supporting characters this week were quite a bit more memorable and the underlying message about the futility of war was a nice touch.

Image Credit: BBC America

The adventure begins this week in a similar fashion to last week, Bill falling through a trap/hole and discovering the Ninth Legion members. She is ecstatic to discover them, happy to prove to The Doctor that her theory was right and they weren’t just all killed in a battle, however they are terrified and she soon finds out why. They are hiding from The Eater’s of Light (weird glowy tentacle alien thing) that will feed off of any light source killing all those in it’s path. The solider she finds ends up sacrificing himself so she can escape but tells her where their hideout is so she can join the other Romans. Upon reaching their hideout she notes that the TARDIS or The Doctor must be doing something because she can understand the roman’s just fine and she doesn’t know a word of Latin. Little slow on the uptake there from Bill, but hey, at least she’s figured it out now.

The Doctor and Nardole, off on their own quest to find evidence that the Ninth Legion died in battle, come across the bodies of some unfortunate soldiers who met their fate at the hands of the eater of light as well as a Pict tribe that is there for one sole purpose, to guard a cairn.  The Doctor goes through a portal and discovers what/where the eaters of light are and reemerges two days later, time can act funny in those portals. The leader of the Pict tribe tells him that they are there to to protect Scotland and that a warrior goes through the portal to kill an eater of light and hold them at bay. However, when the Roman’s appeared and attacked one slipped through the portal and is now wreaking havoc on Earth. Eventually Bill leads the remaining members of the Ninth Legion to the Doctor, Nardole, and the Pict tribe where they come together for the greater good. Thanks to the TARDIS, everyone can now understand each other and Bill is the first to point out that they all sound like children arguing over something stupid. What is the point of war with each other when they can come together to save the planet, what is the point of war at all? The Doctor comes up with a plan to lead the eater of light back towards the portal come daylight where they can trap it for good and therefore save not only the planet but also the future Bill knows. The only downfall is this plan requires someone to go in after the creature and keep it at bay, The Doctor decides that he best fits this bill. The Pict warriors and remaining Ninth Legion members will not let The Doctor fight what they feel is their battle and join forces to stop the creature, even if that means sacrificing themselves. It’s interesting here that The Doctor isn’t willing to sacrifice Bill, “Lie of the Land” and Bill isn’t willing to sacrifice The Doctor here. Though they are more than happy to sacrifice themselves they aren’t willing to lose each other, which I think will end up playing a terribly sad role in this season’s finale.

Image Credit: BBC America

Missy is discovered by Nardole and Bill, hanging about in the TARDIS when they return from the Scotland trip, both demanding to know how she got out of the vault. The Doctor explains that she is helping him with some maintenance on the TARDIS, let’s be honest he does not take care of her like he should, and that she can’t physically leave anyway. She is just as much a prisoner inside the TARDIS as she was in the vault, she’s just more handy now. We see Missy once again struggle on her journey to become a better individual and The Doctor is still hesitant to believe that it is even a real possibility. With only a two part finale left for series 10 I imagine the over arching story line of Missy and The Doctor’s decaying health will finally be on the front burner next week and finally start getting this season both amped up for the terrible fate we know is coming and wrapped up for the Christmas Special. Overall, “The Eaters of Light” was a highly enjoyable episode if not quite satisfying in the larger story arc sense. It’s sad to think this will be the last regular stand alone Capaldi story, as the finale will be a two-parter and if he makes it to the Christmas Special, those always do their own thing. When do you think The Doctor will regenerate, leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts!

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Michelle Harvey