Doctor Who: “The Ghost Monument”

*** MILD SPOILERS AHEAD***

I don’t have much to say about this episode. I enjoyed it. Plotwise it’s okay, and features a good callback to the Stenza, which makes me think we haven’t seen the last of them, but what’s really working for me are the characters, in particular the companions. Graham, Ryan, and Yaz continue to act like real, well-rounded human beings instead of walking bundles of charming quirks, and it’s working for me big time. Jodie Whittaker, in only two episodes, has completely won me over as the Doctor, and I suspect I’m going to have to reevaluate my Top 5 list soon. I’m not used to Doctor Who having a budget and doing so much location shooting, and so far I’m very impressed with this season’s large-scale, cinematic feel.

I have a few quibbles, as I always do. Epzo’s ship crash landing in exactly the spot where Angstrom and the others happen to be, on what is presumably a large, Earth-sized planet, is a stretch. Having the Remnants, those creepy, bioengineered threats that come out night, be able to speak was a mistake, as it made them much less scary. I suspect they were only made to speak so they could mention the Timeless Child, the mystery of which will probably be this season’s arc. (Could the name be a reference to the Doctor’s granddaughter Susan? I wonder, but I think probably not.)

And now for some Doctor Who neepery! There isn’t a lot, but I spotted three things. First, the return of Venusian aikido, the martial arts form used frequently by Jon Pertwee’s Third Doctor. Second, the Doctor mentions that her companions wouldn’t need the implanted universal translators if she had her TARDIS with her, a reference to the TARDIS’s ability to telepathically translate alien languages for its passengers, a fact that was first mentioned by Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor in the 1976 serial “The Masque of Mandragora.” And third, the shooting range target that pops out of the dark and startles the characters is reminiscent of, although perhaps not a direct callback to, a similar thing happening in the 1967 Second Doctor serial “The Tomb of the Cybermen,” in which a fake Cyberman target pops out of nowhere to startle everyone.

There’s a new title sequence and a new TARDIS interior, both of which are beautifully rendered if overly busy, and both of which will take me some time to get used to. Still loving the new music, though. Anyway, onward to the next episode!

2 responses to “Doctor Who: “The Ghost Monument””

  1. Matthew Kressel says:

    I liked this episode too, though not quite as much as the last one. Whittaker is fantastic, and I’ve warmed to her instantly. I think having three companions is slowing down character development, as we don’t have enough screen time for each to get to know them as well. Because of that, I feel like I know Graham and Ryan far better than I do Yaz, but I look forward to learning more about her.

    I felt this was a kind of transitional episode. We had the new Doctor introduction last episode, and this one carries us through to the next. If the first episode gets an A+ from me, this one is a B or a B-. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t think the story was super compelling. Still, I’m super psyched about this season.

    • Nick says:

      I agree, I would like to learn more about Yaz as well. I think we will in one of the next episodes, where we meet her family. But right now, she doesn’t seem much more than a potential love interest for Ryan.

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