I can’t even. Just when I thought Doctor Who was starting to get good again, it airs an episode so shitty I can’t even bring myself to summarize it for you. All I have are questions, all of which are ignored by the script. (I’m not even talking about all the ridiculous coincidences in the story, like the Doctor turning off the TARDIS shields for no good reason right at the moment the TARDIS is about to be grabbed by the one thing it really, really needs those shields to prevent.)
Spoilers follow, but trust me, you don’t even want to watch this episode anyway!
First and foremost, how the fuck does the Doctor fall out of the TARDIS when it’s taken on board the salvagers’ ship? What exactly is the toxic substance that is making the TARDIS’ interior so deadly? Isn’t it the exact same substance the Doctor is able to effortlessly vent out of the console room as soon as he regains access to the TARDIS? How are the time zombies (you read that right, and if you’re not rolling your eyes already something is dead inside you) — who are essentially dying, seriously injured, burned up bodies — strong enough to attack people and chase them around the TARDIS? Why do they attack them? (The director, Mat King, cribs a technique from Danny Boyle’s Sunshine by never showing the time zombies in focus, because he knows they look ridiculous!) If the Doctor’s name is such a well-kept and important secret, why do the authors of the book Clara finds in the TARDIS library, The History of the Time War, know it and print it with impunity? (The book could not have been written by the Time Lords themselves. They didn’t survive the Time War to write about it!) Why would the Doctor even allow that?
It is insufferably stupid to have the Doctor set the TARDIS self-destruct mechanism, then admit there is no self-destruct mechanism, then act like a dick about it, and then be all, “Oh shit, the TARDIS really is going to blow up!” But even stupider is Tricky not realizing he’s actually human when he thinks he’s an android. It reminded me of Crayford in the 1975 Fourth Doctor serial “The Android Invasion,” who thinks he’s been turned into an android by the Kraals who rescued him from a rocket crash, but actually there was no crash and they didn’t turn him into an android. How does he discover this? He lifts his eyepatch and discovers he still has two eyes! It never occurred to him to lift his eyepatch before then! It’s much the same with Tricky. Apparently, he never wonders why he, as an android, is in the family photo with his two brothers and his dad. The whole thing is just shockingly stupid in an episode that is already shockingly stupid to begin with.
And of course the biggest, most pervasive question of the episode is: How come when Doctor Who finally has a plurality of black characters in one episode, they essentially turn out to be thieves and chop-shoppers?
But it’s okay, because in the end none of it happens! That’s right, this is one of those “time travel is magic” episodes where everything gets super shitty and then the Doctor does some timey-wimey bullshit and the entire timeline is changed so that it doesn’t happen. Thank goodness there are no rules to time travel! Except the ones that are occasionally necessary for plot purposes, of course. But when the plot demands there not be any rules, there aren’t. NAILED IT!
“Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS” is an episode best forgotten in a season that so far, with a couple of exceptions, is best forgotten as well. Much like most of last season. And most of the season before.
I’m growing to hate the fact that Steven Moffat will be the one in charge of the 50th Anniversary special.