Doctor Who: “The Eaters of Light”

I thought this episode was so-so. I enjoyed the monster movie angle of it, the mysterious creature from another dimension that’s out there in the wilderness killing anyone it finds, and I liked the ancient setting of Romans vs. Picts. There’s a fun part where the Doctor says he once lived as a Roman, which is a nice callback to the 1965 First Doctor serial “The Romans,” in which the Doctor hangs out in Nero’s court after being mistaken for a famous lyre player. But that’s about it. The stuff with the talking crows was garbage, and a lot of the emotions in “The Eaters of Light” felt forced and unearned, especially at the end. Bringing together two warring sides to fight for their mutual survival is a theme that was just explored in the previous episode, “Empress of Mars,” and as a result I found it lacked the appropriate weight here. There’s some more interesting interplay between Missy and the Doctor at the end of the episode, but that plot is starting to feel like wheel-spinning, like it’s not really going anywhere.

Luckily, the two-part season finale is up next, so it will definitely be going somewhere (I hope). The much-teased return of John Simm as the Master’s previous incarnation looks like it’s about to happen, and I’m psyched to see where it goes. (I was a big fan of Simm as the Master back in the Doctor Who revival’s third season, plus I thought he was great in Life on Mars.) The return of the Mondasian Cybermen has me equally intrigued, although less excited because I always thought they looked silly with those socks over their heads. Also, since Steven Moffat is writing these final episodes, I half expect some timey-wimey nonsense where the Twelfth Doctor’s encounter with the Mondasians now inspires them to invade earth, where he initially encounters them as the First Doctor in the 1966 serial “The Tenth Planet.”

We’ll see. Onward to the finale!

2 responses to “Doctor Who: “The Eaters of Light””

  1. Yeah, this episode was meh. I liked last week’s anachronism of the British army on Mars in the Victorian period, but this week’s episode just didn’t work for me. It was very monster of the week, and therefore dull. Bill’s excitement of, “Oh, you’re a real Roman!” gets old pretty fast, especially since she’s been time-hopping across the universe for the entire season. Would a real Roman soldier surprise her at this point in her journey? And how has she not noticed that she can speak all languages? Her reaction(s) felt more first episode than the penultimate one. I did however like the dimensional rift and how it played into Picts’ culture. One thing I love about Doctor Who is how they always deconstruct all superstitions as having a scientific (and usually alien) explanation. And you’re right in that none of the episode’s emotional arcs really pay off.

    I would have also liked to have seen more done with the time-dilation portal, seconds to days, etc. “Defending the Earth until the sun fades,” was poetic, but had no real emotional resonance for me. What would have been more interesting is if the *current* Scots still had a myth that every 100 years or so, a soldier had to be sent into the hill or the whole world would be destroyed. Basically, they have to continually send in reinforcements. Maybe the ending was too neat for me?

    In general the season doesn’t play with time and time travel the way that I think the show could. And because of this, the plots seem often unnecessarily dull.

    Nardole is consistently excellent.

    • Nick says:

      Nardole is making this season greater than the sum of its parts, I think. I love him. I don’t know what the plans are for his character, but it would be great if he stuck around for the next Doctor.

      I agree with all your points about the episode, especially the translation issue — why wasn’t Bill surprised that the Ice Warriors spoke English? Or that the Monks did? And wasn’t speaking Latin the exact same thing that tipped Donna Noble off to it? — and also that it felt too rushed to fully explore its themes or give them the grounding they needed.

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