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"Arachnids in the UK"

I thought the spiders looked really cool in this episode. DW's CGI has really come a long way.

I really enjoyed this episode - to a point. It was the first time in a long time that I've gotten completely engaged in an adventure and just sat back and enjoyed the puzzle-solving and the spidery creep factor. Then it got preachy about landfills and toxicity and corporate responsibility, and bogged down with long explanations about biology and bioengineering. Luckily, that part wasn't long and the episode returned to the problem and the resolution... and then it just ended.

That's what has really left the bad taste in my mouth. Robertson shoots the queen spider, the Doctor gets upset, and then nothing. No closure: no repercussions for Robertson, either on the personal or corporate level, no idea of what they planned to do with the roomful of spiders. I don't subscribe to Series 9's (well, specifically Ashildr's) complaint that the Doctor never cleans up after an adventure (sorry, but I don't think it's the Doctor's responsibility to make sure that everyone and everything involved is taken care of), but this just wasn't a satisfactory end to the story, narrative-wise. It felt abrupt, like they realized they had run out of air time and had to cut the ending to stuff the final scenes in.

I did like the final scenes. I like that each of the companions have different reasons for wanting to stay with the Doctor, and that she wanted them to stay without asking them to do so. And I really like that she told them, for once, that it would be dangerous and she couldn't guarantee they would come home. I was rather surprised that in the scene where Ryan talked about his father, the urgency of the situation precluded Ryan from admitting that he felt that Graham was more family than his father was. Don't get me wrong: this was cool. For once, two characters discussing personal matters in a dire situation actually got interrupted by the threat! The spider wasn't moving at the speed of plot!

Robertson felt more like a caricature than a character, and a poorly-drawn one at that. He just didn't make much sense. I'm wondering if he, like the time traveler villain in "Rosa", is going to reappear later to flesh him out.

After the episode was over, my husband made a comment that I found very interesting. We were discussing the long stretches of spider biology that had bogged down the story, and he observed that the technobabble this season has been a lot more real-world science, rather than the unreal tech that we're used to. Because it's real-world, it has to actually make sense and explain things clearly, and thus the delivery becomes very academic and slows everything down. He then compared it to the long expositions on history in "Rosa", in which the characters had to explain to the audience who Rosa Parks was and what she did, and said that perhaps DW is trying to be more educational, in both history and science, as it once was back in the 60s.

I think the bottom line is that this was a fine episode, and so far the series has pleased me. It still doesn't grab me the way the classic show or the RTD era did, but I look forward to Sunday nights now.



( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 29th, 2018 07:03 pm (UTC)
I had a sinking feeling they were just... leaving the spiders there in the guy's panic room with all the food. Which would probably lead to suffocation or eventual cannibalization or both :-/

Edited at 2018-10-29 07:03 pm (UTC)
Oct. 29th, 2018 07:39 pm (UTC)
Exactly, they are trapped in a room with limited food supplies and limited air. They will either suffocate or eat each other to death. And what about the weapons that are in there?

It was an interesting question Robertson brought up at the end, even if it was after he'd shot the spider. Is it more merciful to let the spider suffocate for a long while before dying, or just kill it? Don't people euthanize their dogs or horses when they get too sick and old or can't heal and will die? Where does it end, what about people?
Oct. 30th, 2018 08:28 pm (UTC)
My husband agrees that he felt that the intention was to leave the spiders in that room. Leave me with a sick feeling in my stomach.
Oct. 29th, 2018 07:34 pm (UTC)
I am left wondering why anyone would want to extend the natural lifetime of any being (including us) to something artificially long. It messes with everything! But spiders? They do some good in eating other pests and, up until now, I try to leave them to it, but still. End of life is one of the things that defines us as living.

OK, enough of the biology. I really didn't like the villain, he was a caricature, and to put this in a very specific time actually will date the episode, make it not as valuable a lesson because it was all about the caricature of Americans in general and one very specific one that he's claiming not to be. Keep it fictional and a little vague on the time unless it's a true historical!

Oh, and I also don't really like being hit over the head with a message... subtlety plays much better for me.

Still, those spiders were creepy... the CGI was amazing!

Oct. 30th, 2018 08:40 pm (UTC)
I'm not really sure what they were trying to do with that character. It wasn't much of a lesson to put in such a character and not have any consequences for his behavior. He ended up as a pretty inconsequential bit character.

I think what I'm starting not to like with the style of the writing is the "tell-don't-show" attitude. They keep stopping the story to have characters tell each other what's going on - explaining why the spiders mutated, giving Rosa Park's history, explaining why the male racer was such a butt, having Ryan and Yaz tell each other why they were uncomfortable in Montgomery, etc. - rather than using the story to show it to us. This is harking back to Moffat's style way too much.

I know it's often difficult to convey lots of information, especially historical information, in a narrative way, but then I think of the Doctor's explanation of the Racnoss to Donna. He does it quickly while doing something else, and results in Donna getting kidnapped - in other words, not just two talking heads speaking for the benefit of the viewer, but a conversation (if Donna could have gotten a word in edgewise) within the context of the story. That's what I'd like to see more of.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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