Last night at 7:20PM, us Whovians were given the first episode of the tenth series of Doctor Who. We rejoined the Doctor and Nardole, and we were (re)introduced to new companion Bill Potts. Like I said, this isn’t my full review; that’s coming in the upcoming series Daniel’s Doctor Who Diaries, but these are my initial impressions of The Pilot.
Just a heads up, if you’re hoping for a somewhat coherent article, you’re probably going to be disappointed; this is more of just my ramblings about what springs to mind, rather than a thought out review. It’s why I’m not calling it a review. Anyway, here we go…
First of all, I thought that the opening scene was one of the best opening scenes of a series in New Who, the stillness and tranquility was something tonally very different to most openings, and it gave us just enough of Nardole and Bill to keep me engaged. I don’t know if I’m a huge fan of Nardole having a robotic body, but I suppose it gives more hardcore fans some explanation to how Nardole joined the Doctor after the events in The Husbands of River Song. The rapport between the Doctor and Bill was brilliant and fresh, and I genuinely think that Bill is going to bring out a side to the Twelfth Doctor that we’ve not really seen before. I think that the moment that really showed you who the Twelfth Doctor really is is when he’s showing Bill the interior of the TARDIS. His smile encapsulates the Doctor perfectly for me. When the Eleventh Doctor regenerated into the Twelfth, you have to remember that he ‘inherited’ Clara, a woman who already knew pretty much everything about time and space, and saw it more as a norm than as a privilege. It’s a shame that the Twelfth Doctor, and by extension Peter Capaldi, had to wait until his third year to be able to have these Doctor defining moments.
I think the real centre of The Pilot has to be Bill though, and from the 50ish minutes I’ve seen of her; I already think she’s going to be a great companion. She’s strong-minded like Clara, but without any of Clara’s air of superiority. I think the most interesting thing about Bill is that she didn’t really ask to be the Doctor’s companion after she was shown the wonders of the universe; all she asked was that she could keep her memories so she had something amazing to remember. Some might have called that request selfish, but to be honest, it’s the very least that the Doctor could have done for her.
Another aspect of Bill that I think was written very well was her sexuality; mainly because it wasn’t paraded around a lot, Bill is gay. Get over it. She didn’t really have a defined relationship with Heather when she became part of the Sinister Puddle. (Did that actually ever get a name? Regardless, I’m calling it the Sinister Puddle) but it was great how they showed how much a crush not being fulfilled could still have an emotional impact. (On the same subject, I should say I really liked the line “I fatted her”.) I hope that Bill’s sexuality doesn’t become more of a defining feature later on in the series, because I really liked the way it was handled in The Pilot, but only time will tell.
Now I’ve mentioned the Sinister Puddle, I might as well talk about it; it’s not the best villain in the world, but it didn’t need to be, like I said in my Anticipating The Pilot article, the villain isn’t the main focus of this episode; which is why the Daleks weren’t used heavily in marketing The Pilot. The focus of this episode had to be Bill, for the viewer to get to know the basics of her character very well. It wouldn’t surprise me if the spaceship that left the scorch marks and the Sinister Puddle returned later in the series, probably coming after whatever it is in the Doctor’s vault (I’m coming to that in a moment) but I can’t see the Sinister Puddle being a recurring villain.
The tradition in the modern series’ of Doctor Who has been the series long arc; whether it be Bad Wolf, Torchwood, YANA, DoctorDonna, four knocks, a crack, Amy’s pregnancy, the Doctor’s death, Trenzalore, Missy or the Hybrid, every series has had one. I think it’s safe to say that the arc for Series 10 will be whatever is in the Doctor’s Vault. Now, I have a couple of theories as to what it could be, but I’m going to save them for a future article, but I think it’s safe to say that the Vault will be the reason the Doctor, Nardole and Bill keep coming back to Earth.
All in all, I think that my anticipations weren’t too far from what paid off, like I said, I didn’t think that The Pilot would be the best episode of Doctor Who ever, and it wasn’t; the villain was rather weak, the Daleks felt included for the hell of it, and the trip to Australia seemed pointless. However, it was a very fun episode that showcased the new TARDIS team and their dynamic.
Thanks to Stuart Manning for allowing me to use his poster at the top of this article; if you want to see more of Stuart’s amazing work, click here.