Doctor Who: Smile

This is actually happening! My weekly reviews of Doctor Who are back! I am not sure how long I can keep this up, with my Canada trip just around the corner and all, but I will do them while I still can. As I did in the past, I will review all episodes right after having watched them, so you get almost like a real time feed of my thoughts (which are subject to change). Today is all about episode 2 of Season 10 Smile and be aware that this is filled with Spoilers!

What was it about?

The Doctor takes Bill on her first adventure to the future, where they immediately run into misguided emojibots which endanger the last hope for human civilization.

My thoughts?

Unfortunately, I have to say that I wasn’t particularly impressed by this episode. It’s absolutely not that it was badly executed or that the message was a bad one. After all these years, the first thing humanity resorts to is apparently still weapons. Do we not learn? Do we not appreciate other cultures and creatures? Why can we never accept indigenous people? Why do we have this need to colonize everything and make it fit us? All valid topics for an episode, but the way it was done was literally something I’ve seen countless times on the show already.

Here are a few examples of what I meant by “I have seen this before”- We have the misunderstood lifeform that actually wants to help people which faintly reminded me of Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead (people getting uploaded in the libarary to be save) and The Girl Who Waited (letting people live out their days in kindness chambers … I mean the robots even kind of remind me of each other …), just that the Vardis actually killed the inhabitants here.

Then we have the age old question, who is actually entitled to the place? Who was there first? Who is allowed to live there? The whole “having to negotiate between humans and race XY” was only recently done in the Zygon Inversion and a while back in the Hungry Earth/Cold Blood. Just that this time it was solved super easily by resetting and wiping the robots memories. Which, by the way, was a different circumstance but nonetheless criticized just last week.

There are a couple things I do like. I quite enjoy how naturally Bill fits into the show, how funny she is and how incredibly smart. I mean, sometimes, I don’t really get her thought process. She questions things that have been unsaid for years and years of this show’s existence, but then she cannot possibly imagine what is in the pods of the human spaceship they built to find a place they could colonize? Weird in my eyes, but nothing too distracting. Bill is amazing and that’s all I need to know for now. She discovers the Doctor and his personality all anew. I love watching that realisation click in a companions eyes when they just know that the Doctor would never leave anyone behind or simply not help. She’s like a gust of fresh air again. Also, does she already have a catch phrase of sorts by saying “like a penguin with his arse on fire” whenever she sees the Doctor run now?

I am also happy about the fact that the vault-scenario is not being forgotten. I am assuming this will the story arc of this season and I sincerely hope that we will also figure out how Nardole (who was delighfully unamused at Bill’s presence in the TARDIS) will figure into all of this.

The way into next episode has already been provided at the end of Smile. The dynamic of that season is pretty interesting so far and I think it’s a decent formula to let Bill see the future and then the past in the next one. Regency England here we come!

What did you think of Smile? How are you liking the season?

18 thoughts on “Doctor Who: Smile

  1. My main problem with the episode is how the Doctor didn’t work out the truth, which I guessed pretty early on. And also why he resorted to blowing-up the colony after having explored it for like, ten minutes.

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  2. I actually liked this episode. I thought the idea behind it was pretty interesting, and that it was very well-executed. It kept me guessing a lot, and the whole grief-is-the-enemy thing was pretty clever. It felt a lot like the Russell T. Davies era, when Who felt most inventive and exciting for me. I also really love Bill, asking all these funny, unspoken questions. It is very odd that she doesn’t put the sleep pods together herself, but then again, this is all still new to her, so some time to catch up is warranted. (Also, that happens a lot in horror, so as frustrating as that is–“It’s a ghost! Get out of the house and avoid the killer!”–it is part of the genre to an extent)
    I did think the resolution happened a bit too easily, but with so many minutes left in the episode, it worked. I’m willing to allow it.
    I’m really looking forward to next week. Should be exciting.

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  3. Ooooh you’re going to Canada? That’s so cool! I went to Canada as a kid and absolutely loved it. Still remember it as one of my favourite trips – it’s such a beautiful country! Hope you’ll have just as great a time 🙂
    Anyway, on to Doctor Who! I’m sorry you weren’t too impressed! I hadn’t realised that this is a storyline they’ve done quite a few times before, as I’m pretty forgetful hahaha. You made some really good points though!

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    • Yep, I am going for about 6 months. It’s going to be an adventure!
      And it’s not like the episode was bad in itself, but I am holding this season to a very high standard because it’s Moffat’s last one and we didn’t get Who for an entire year simply because he wanted to go out with a bang. He better make it worth the wait, you know?

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  4. I enjoyed the episode — much better than the author’s previous entry, the woeful forest-in-London episode. For those of us who grew up on the Classic Series, it was strongly reminiscent of two Sylvester McCoy episodes — “The Happiness Patrol” (early Earth colony where to be sad invokes the death penalty) and “Paradise Towers” (architect decides that his

    The episode was a bit pedestrian and I agree with your “been there done that” take. But Capaldi and Mackie were both amazing in their respective roles.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Ooooh, I didn’t even check who wrote the episode, but yes, I enjoyed this more than the forest-thingy as well. It seems even more similar to older episodes than to the new Who comparisons I could find from the sounds of it.
        While I really enjoy Bill, I can’t say I was happy with Twelve in this one. His first impulse was to literally blow this place up. He didn’t even recognise them as sentient life forms and that’s something very uncharacteristic for him, even if Twelve is colder than some previous Doctors.

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  5. Agreed on most of the things you said to be honest. It was predictable but not necessarily bad or un-enjoyable for me. I’m much more looking forward to the next episode! I heard this was Moffat’s last season, but I heard there’s still going to be another doctor? (Honestly, I love most of the episodes Moffat wrote but I think recently they’ve gotten ‘worse’. It just feels like he’s trying too hard to make things flashier or bigger when they really don’t need to be.)

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    • Yeah, it wasn’t a terrible episode, but also not something entirely new or amazing that kept me glued to the seat. With it being Moffat’s last season, I am just being hard on him. He was the reason there were no new episodes in 2016, because he wanted to go out with a bang. I am waiting for that bang.
      And yep, the show goes on. It’s just really time that Moffat stepped down as showrunner, he’s been slacking for a while now. He did much better with single episodes. The new showrunner is the guy who did Broadchurch btw.

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