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S11.E09: It Takes You Away

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On the edge of a Norwegian fjord, in the present day, The Doctor, Ryan, Graham, and Yaz discover a boarded-up cottage and a girl named Hanne in need of their help. What has happened here? What monster lurks in the woods around the cottage – and beyond?

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Okay, so between this and her brief stint as a ghost/figment of Graham's grieving imagination earlier in the season, that would explain why Grace was billed pre-season as a 'returning' character.

Interesting episode. Shaky in places, and some of the emotional beats felt perfunctory rather than earned, but the action was solid once it got going. I do get frustrated when the Doctor is written with such a heavy-handed attempt at what the writer believes is traditionally Doctorish quirkiness, rather than the quirkiness flowing naturally, and this episode leaned toward the former in too many places. Whittaker is doing her best to sell it, but the Doctor's dialogue has been poor for much of the season and it undercuts the character.

Also, too many 'quirky' lines thrown out of the sort that Moffat used to love so much: lines that sound like old-school references/information about the Doctor's past, that are pretty much designed to send the fandom into a flat spin without actually meaning anything substantial or having been thought through in any way (the seven grandmothers thing being case in point).

Ryan calling Graham 'granddad' has been coming all season, but didn't carry the weight it should have - the build-up has been too subtle, too much in the background.

I do like the idea of Graham making a quick sandwich to pop in a pocket every time the TARDIS lands, though - that's the kind of characterisation I can get behind!

Once again, though, I thought this was an episode that wasn't entirely sure what kind of message it was trying to send, and so ended up feeling a bit muddled with no clear through-line.

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28 minutes ago, Llywela said:

Once again, though, I thought this was an episode that wasn't entirely sure what kind of message it was trying to send, and so ended up feeling a bit muddled with no clear through-line.

Yeah me too.

I was kind of onboard until the Conscious Universe thing. It sounded a bit too much like religious dogma masquerading as science to me. Although I did like the way the Doctor delivered the lines about "making a new friend and having to say goodbye". It was just the perfect combination of statement and endless sadness.

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6 hours ago, Llywela said:

 

Interesting episode. Shaky in places, and some of the emotional beats felt perfunctory rather than earned, but the action was solid once it got going. I do get frustrated when the Doctor is written with such a heavy-handed attempt at what the writer believes is traditionally Doctorish quirkiness, rather than the quirkiness flowing naturally, and this episode leaned toward the former in too many places. Whittaker is doing her best to sell it, but the Doctor's dialogue has been poor for much of the season and it undercuts the character.

 

This episode was filmed as part of the first production block along with the first episode so I can kinda forgive the inconsistency in the doctor’s “quirkiness”

Edited by GSManiac

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That was a very dull episode. What's the point of trying to remake The Three Doctors without Patrick Troughton or day-glo sets? Still, my husband and I have been using the expression 'bollocks talking frog god' all evening.

Edited by HauntedBathroom
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Well, I came here expecting (finally) a consensus on this one being the best episode of the series, as I totally loved it, but apparently it's not the case.

Well... as I said, I loved it.

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Anyone else think the "In Between" world (forget what it was called) felt like it was from a different story? It just didn't seem to fit with the rest. Guess they needed to fill out the time. But man was the father a dick - getting flashbacks to The Village (without even having seen that film!) - as Yaz said, why not just get her an iPad to keep her indoors? I don't suppose many blind kids go wondering around in the woods!

I was sure the main story with the "ideal" world for our heroes was going to turn out to be a version of the ST: Voyager episode Bliss (I'm sure they ripped it off from something else, but that's the story I thought of) - everyone was given a version of reality that was too good to be true so they stayed while something sucked out their brains (or whatever). So to have it to be something dangerous but non-malign was at least a twist. A bit too hand wavy for my liking, but I did like the talking frog at the end for the pure WTFness of it!

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2 hours ago, Triskan said:

Well, I came here expecting (finally) a consensus on this one being the best episode of the series, as I totally loved it, but apparently it's not the case.

Well... as I said, I loved it.

I think I still like Demons of the Punjab better, and possibly even the Witchfinders, but I also liked the episode quite a bit. The twist with Grace was a little emotionally manipulative, and I agree with Llywella that the moment where Ryan calls Graham "granddad" should have had more impact than it did, but I was thoroughly interested by the mystery of it all and found the end scene with the Doctor and the consciousness absolutely brilliant - even down to the delightful absurdity of the consciousness being in the form of a talking frog. The Doctor had just been interacting with it as a threat - but, perhaps because there's a level on which she relates to the plight of a brilliant, singular, lonely mind, she can quite genuinely feel affection and pity and a kind of love for it. Significantly, it is a moment that can only take place without her companions, because they wouldn't have understood, reinforcing the parallel. 

The Doctor's quirky dialogue has worked for me, in this episode and for most of the season. Maybe I'd have issues with it with a less capable actress; to me, Jodie is nailing the Doctor's whimsy. 

Really, it is striking that I've wound up pretty bored by all of the Chibnall penned episodes this season, and enjoyed all of the ones written by other writers. Hopefully next week will break the mold.

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2 hours ago, Triskan said:

Well, I came here expecting (finally) a consensus on this one being the best episode of the series, as I totally loved it, but apparently it's not the case.

Well... as I said, I loved it.

I think it could have been if they'd been given two episodes to really flesh out the themes.

The blind girl trapped in the house, the absent father, the journey through the Norwegian underworld to an after life that resembles heaven (but is not), and the grief of having to leave behind those that you love in the journey through life.

All of these things - especially around the darkness of Hanne's life, the darkness of the tunnel between worlds, the death of her mother and the crazy protectiveness of her father - were dealt with in glimpses on a drive-by. Basically, this was like the Twitter version of the story.

Oh and there was a frog...

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That was kind of bonkers, especially the talking frog entity. Pre-show teasers said this was going to be very different and it certainly was. I had just expected it to be a lot about grief or something based on speculation but I guess it was more about a consciousness being lonely and putting lives at risk. It wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be based on the pre show hype, but I enjoyed it overall, but it wasn’t quite the show I was expecting

The Doctor offered to stay with the thing to keep it company which was quite a sacrifice. I guess she was amazed by it and understood its loneliness

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Another mixed bag of an episode although I really did like the last 20 minutes.  When they are all together with the universe collapsing and afterwards was strong stuff.  Though I found The Doctor's explanation to this thing to be another confusing exposition dump.  Also, how did that alien get into inbetween world?

I really would like to have known what person long gone would that universe have chose to try to lure The Doctor.  I was hoping something would be teased there but once again, I should have known better.

Quote

I do get frustrated when the Doctor is written with such a heavy-handed attempt at what the writer believes is traditionally Doctorish quirkiness, rather than the quirkiness flowing naturally, and this episode leaned toward the former in too many places.

I agree with this.  They try to hard to force the quirkiness when they don't have too.

Still, good work by Jodie and the cast.

I hope the finale ends up on a strong note because I feel so far this season has been below average.

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I have to give kudos to this show for making me emotional about a talking frog. The Doctor could relate to the frog/conscious universe being ancient and lonely and in need of a friend, and I think Jodie really sold the Doctor's empathy in that scene. I always forget it runs an extra seven minutes, so when the Doctor got trapped on the wrong side of the portal at the hour mark, I momentarily thought that was the cliffhanger, and the finale next week would be Yaz, Graham, and Ryan trying to get her back to the correct universe.

I like getting more tidbits about the Doctor's family and life on Gallifrey. She had seven grandmothers, but the fifth was her favorite, and the second may have been a spy! 

Even though we all knew it was coming, I feel that Ryan calling Graham "granddad" was earned, based on the small moments of them bonding all season, and then Graham being willing to leave "Grace" because Ryan was in danger. Also, Graham always being prepared with a sandwich when they leave the TARDIS because he never knows when they'll get a chance to eat is honestly the most relatable thing. 

Love that in a couple hundred years there's going to be a sheep uprising. I, for one, welcome our new sheep overlords.

Edited by phalange
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For someone who died in the pilot Grace has been on the season a lot.

 

5 hours ago, Triskan said:

Well, I came here expecting (finally) a consensus on this one being the best episode of the series, as I totally loved it, but apparently it's not the case.

Well... as I said, I loved it.

While not the best episode of the season I really really enjoyed it.  People tend to nitpick waaaaaaay to much and complain when the Doctor is too quirky but then they also complain when not quirky enough.  I just think this is one of the most nitpicjrd shows.   I personally loved the bit about the sheep.

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Here’s the Doctor’s speech to the alt-Universe offering to stay, thanks to a review:

“Congratulations, Erik wants you. Just one thing: this world is falling apart. I reckon you can only keep one of us. You sure he’s your best option? ‘Cause the Solitract doesn’t want a husband. You want a whole universe. Someone who’s seen it all, and that’s me. I’ve lived longer, seen more, loved more, and lost more. I can share it all with you, anything you want to know about what you never had. ‘Cause he’s an idiot with a daughter who needs him. So, let him go, and I will give you everything.”

That was kind of amazing speech

I’m still not sure how I feel about this, especially the bonkers third act. 

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4 minutes ago, chitowngirl said:

i loved the detail that Erik’s shirt was the reflection of Slayer in the mirror world and the correct way when they got out.

I think everyone was swapped 

I like that the Doctor embraced the absurdity of the frog given how absurd it really was

A reviewer made an interesting observation that the alt Universe only presented as female and the Doctor readily offered to stay with it

This was so weird for me that this might have to go on its own list separate from my favorites for the season

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I had a good time. I'm not ambivalent about the Chibnall run, but I'm not huddled in a large mob with other fans on either side of the spectrum. I like Jodie, I like the setup. Granted, there should be a little more aggression in terms of moving a story, and the closest analogy is that Chibnall still has the training wheels on his bike, but I wouldn't want a rebuild after one season.

The Doctor had seven Grans, and one thought the other was a Zygon agent. Hey, why not?

Well, Ryan called Graham "Grandad." I expect they bump fists right before either or both or them heroically sacrifices themselves.

ETA: The Doctor determined time, location, and online ratings by tasting dirt. I liked Jodie selling it, then offering it to the others.

Edited by Lantern7
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5 hours ago, Triskan said:

Well, I came here expecting (finally) a consensus on this one being the best episode of the series, as I totally loved it, but apparently it's not the case.

Well... as I said, I loved it.

Me too. I thought it was fantastic. Super creepy with an emotional punch at the end. I felt really bad for the poor frogverse. 

3 hours ago, companionenvy said:

I think I still like Demons of the Punjab better, and possibly even the Witchfinders, but I also liked the episode quite a bit. The twist with Grace was a little emotionally manipulative, and I agree with Llywella that the moment where Ryan calls Graham "granddad" should have had more impact than it did, but I was thoroughly interested by the mystery of it all and found the end scene with the Doctor and the consciousness absolutely brilliant - even down to the delightful absurdity of the consciousness being in the form of a talking frog. The Doctor had just been interacting with it as a threat - but, perhaps because there's a level on which she relates to the plight of a brilliant, singular, lonely mind, she can quite genuinely feel affection and pity and a kind of love for it. Significantly, it is a moment that can only take place without her companions, because they wouldn't have understood, reinforcing the parallel. 

 

If anyone can understand solitude and what it can do, it's the Doctor. I mean, the Doctor was saddest about losing the people herself. 

I loved the granddad moment, personally. It was so obviously going to be Grace on the other side of that sheet, yet it still felt pretty impactful. Watching Graham lose her again was tough. I think we have seen Ryan and Graham bond all season, and not just over their shared loss. To me, it felt like a good point to have that moment. 

20 minutes ago, phalange said:

I have to give kudos to this show for making me emotional about a talking frog. The Doctor could relate to the frog/conscious universe being ancient and lonely and in need of a friend, and I think Jodie really sold the Doctor's empathy in that scene. I always forget it runs an extra seven minutes, so when the Doctor got trapped on the wrong side of the portal at the hour mark, I momentarily thought that was the cliffhanger, and the finale next week would be Yaz, Graham, and Ryan trying to get her back to the correct universe.

I like getting more tidbits about the Doctor's family and life on Gallifrey. She had seven grandmothers, but the fifth was her favorite, and the second may have been a spy! 

Even though we all knew it was coming, I feel that Ryan calling Graham "granddad" was earned, based on the small moments of them bonding all season, and then Graham being willing to leave "Grace" because Ryan was in danger. Also, Graham always being prepared with a sandwich when they leave the TARDIS because he never knows when they'll get a chance to eat is honestly the most relatable thing. 

Love that in a couple hundred years there's going to be a sheep uprising. I, for one, welcome our new sheep overlords.

I loved the sandwich bit. Graham is definitely my favorite. The sheep uprising was hilarious.

19 minutes ago, Chaos Theory said:

For someone who died in the pilot Grace has been on the season a lot.

 

Rory is unimpressed. :)

 

Other thoughts:

- not sure about the flesh eating moths. They seemed over the top. I guess you needed some danger, but they seemed a bit extraneous to me. 

- loved the visuals. The balloon lantern was super creepy. 

- Erik was a pretty terrible dad, but I particularly didn't understand the decision to leave his daughter alone. Why not just take her with him? 

- JW continues to hit all the right notes for me. I really think she is a great Doctor

- Yaz got to apply some training, which was nice. 

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9 minutes ago, The Companion said:

If anyone can understand solitude and what it can do, it's the Doctor. I mean, the Doctor was saddest about losing the people herself. 

This is either the strength of this episode or its biggest flaw. It was an entirely metaphorical discussion of grief. So some people will see that and find it profound. Others will look at what's written on the page and go, "What???!"

14 minutes ago, The Companion said:

Erik was a pretty terrible dad, but I particularly didn't understand the decision to leave his daughter alone. Why not just take her with him? 

Erik was suffering from depression after the death of his wife and so retreated into a fantasy world in his bedroom. Terrified something would happen to his daughter, he had imprisoned her in the mountains with a fear of monsters (the outside world) that didn't exist. The Doctor and the gang had to take a journey through the dark tunnel of his grief - one that mirrored their own after the death of Grace - and help remind him that he had a daughter that needed him. Only then could he take the journey back out from the darkness and into the real world....

.....................

...Don't ask me about the frog...

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1 hour ago, phalange said:

Love that in a couple hundred years there's going to be a sheep uprising. I, for one, welcome our new sheep overlords.

The two bits about the sheep were pretty funny

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7 hours ago, Triskan said:

Well, I came here expecting (finally) a consensus on this one being the best episode of the series, as I totally loved it, but apparently it's not the case.

Well... as I said, I loved it.

Me too.  Loved it.

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That was a weird episode. The frog especially.  I suppose it showed that the Solitract was genuine with the Doctor rather than manipulatively appearing as River Song or Rose.

What was the point of Ribbons? The moths make sense - they kill anything trying to cross between universes. But the random goblin trader just took up too much time.

This episode made me think of Futurama and Yivo from the Beast with a Billion Backs. Only more emotional.

No clue about next week, but we haven't had a Dalek yet. My understanding is that there needs to be a Dalek once a year or else the BBC loses the rights to them.

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I think this episode needed a little more time to cook. Or needed to be longer? I liked the elements of the episode, and the concepts of the episode. I liked grief being the honey in the "trap", the idea of a sentient universe that's desperately lonely, the anti-zone. I even liked the talking frog.

It's weird, I feel like I'm missing RTD. I need some more melodrama, or the Ninth Doctor staring sadly into the middle distance.

That said, there are some subtle moments that I really liked. Eric's reaction to the Doctor's note, realising how far he's gone, Graham's response to "Grace", Ryan finally saying Granddad ... there was a lot to like in the episode.

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I thought Graham was going to reach into his pocket as pull out another sandwich, that would make Ribbon forget all about ever wanting the sonic screwdriver. It would be selfish of Graham to only bring a sandwich for himself.

For other universes to reject a sentient universe, wouldn't they have to be sentient as well.

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9 hours ago, Triskan said:

 

Well, I came here expecting (finally) a consensus on this one being the best episode of the series, as I totally loved it, but apparently it's not the case.

Well... as I said, I loved it.

 

Well, I loved it too. Absolutely loved it. One of (if not the) best episodes of the season. A solid 8 out of 10. 

And I’ve  hated the whole season. All of it outside of the pilot. This one is the only episode I’ll rewatch. Loved it. 

Edited by hnygrl
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I really liked the music used when they all were running to get back through the portal

I really liked that Jodie committed to the scenes in spite of the WTF nature of it all, especially when talking to the frog. She was really good when she was convincing it to let her go

i have really enjoyed this season so far. Even some of the more middle of the road episodes were fun to watch. I’ve really enjoyed Jodie as the Doctor. 

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1 hour ago, AnimeMania said:

For other universes to reject a sentient universe, wouldn't they have to be sentient as well.

The Doctor's explanation was a bit woolly, but it sounded to me more like an anti-magnetism thing - our universe repels the solitract in the same way that misaligned magnets repel one another. Sentience wouldn't be required for that.

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I have to say, I’m not that into high concept far out stories like this one because they just tend to confuse me, but I can accept this one because the rest of the season has been far more grounded

The reviews are pretty mixed on this one. It’s obvious it’s a polarizing episode given how far out it is

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I think people are reading too much into the frog.  Grace and Graham got frog necklaces and as the frog said that form delighted Graces and it as well.  

This really is a fun season and a fun Doctor.  Loving everything about this season.  

Edited by Chaos Theory
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That was a shit show of an episode. There was a great idea in there somewhere but the execution was absolutely horrific. Jodie and Bradley had some beautiful moments and they weren't even enough to stop this trainwreck of an episode.

The talking frog was taking the piss. Why the fuck did Ed Hime think it was a smart idea at all? How did Chibnall not scrap that idea at scripting stage and just had Grace try and tempt the Doctor or whatever?

Zygons were mentioned. They could've been a great monster to have used here instead of the Solitract, Ribbons etc.

Ryan and Yasmin easily could've sat this one out and I didn't care enough about the guest characters. 

Beautifully shot I guess but yeah, this was shite, 5/10

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17 hours ago, Llywela said:

Also, too many 'quirky' lines thrown out of the sort that Moffat used to love so much: lines that sound like old-school references/information about the Doctor's past, that are pretty much designed to send the fandom into a flat spin without actually meaning anything substantial or having been thought through in any way (the seven grandmothers thing being case in point).

I just pretended that the "seven grandmothers" were the various regenerations of the Doctor's maternal and paternal grandmothers.

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42 minutes ago, Chaos Theory said:

I think people are reading to much into the frig.  Grace and Graham gad frog necklaces and as the frog said that form delighted Graces and it as well.  

This really is a fun season and a fun Doctor.  Loving everything about this season.  

The frog would be delightful if you had never even envisioned such a thing. You have this sentient universe that can do anything but has no experience. It clearly learned from the people it pulled from, and one of the concepts was a small green creature that hops. Who wouldn't then want to try on being a frog?

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There was a lot of the movie Solaris in this episode. The frogiverse latched on to the grief of the widowers and used that as the lure to entice the humans to stay. It even constructed an earth like apartment for Eric to play house in.

ps: Don't frogs eat moths? Imagine your whole universe finds you tasty.

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Ryan's daddy issues and the lessons of Yaz' training were lovely touches woven very organically into an episode that had A LOT going on. We can see the growth he will go thru as a result of these experiences. I like that they kept Ryan's acknowledgement of his "Grandad" as a low-key, personal moment between them - it was.

But is Graham being haunted by Grace's appearances or comforted? He hasn't yet said.

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10 hours ago, AudienceofOne said:

Erik was suffering from depression after the death of his wife and so retreated into a fantasy world in his bedroom. Terrified something would happen to his daughter, he had imprisoned her in the mountains with a fear of monsters (the outside world) that didn't exist. The Doctor and the gang had to take a journey through the dark tunnel of his grief - one that mirrored their own after the death of Grace - and help remind him that he had a daughter that needed him. Only then could he take the journey back out from the darkness and into the real world....

...Don't ask me about the frog...

But if you don't want to lose something, don't leave it behind? It's not as if he wondered into the alt-Universe and couldn't bear to leave (which would be pretty crappy, but more understandable), he deliberately set up the house in the woods with food and loudspeakers to keep his daughter there. As it happened, taking more people through the mirror (like gateways to E-Space - or Wonderland!) would probably have caused the Universe to collapse, but he wasn't to know that.

I presume the frog was chosen as an image from the mind of Graham - he was thinking about Grace so he thought about the frog necklace - a bit like imagining the form of Gozer to be the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, it's just a random image that people thought of, not significant in itself. At least that's how I imagined it worked.

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15 hours ago, chitowngirl said:

i loved the detail that Erik’s shirt was the reflection of Slayer in the mirror world and the correct way when they got out.

Also, the Doctor’s part was moved from one side of her hair to the other!

Edited to add:

Okay, I looked a bit closer at what was happening with the mirror universe stuff -- it looks as though the scenes must have been manipulated into mirror appearance in post-production. Details like Graham and the Doctor's parts, the side that the Doctor's earring was on, even the pull tab on Graham's jacket's zipper were all reversed while they in the Solitract.

Nice attention to detail, show!

(All we needed was Spock with a beard, and we'd be at 100%!)

Edited by tkc
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2 hours ago, Lantern7 said:

Any other anime fans think of this upon seeing the frog?

No, I thought "All Hail The Hypnotoad!" from Futurama.

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12 hours ago, The Companion said:

- Erik was a pretty terrible dad, but I particularly didn't understand the decision to leave his daughter alone. Why not just take her with him? 

Yeah, i was wondering that too. He purposely terrorized his blind daughter why? I had no sympathy for him.

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I was not impressed through out the whole episode. High lights, Graham of course, the grandmothers and hearing "zygon" mentioned. That flesh eating Ribbons was it, reminded me of the Two Doctors and Shockeye storyline...... when the frog showed up, I turned the channel. 

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Not bad, a lot of good moments, but that's been the whole season, no? Wanting it desperately to be an "A+" across the board when it's actually maintaining more of a solid "B".

Loved Graham and his sandwich. He's turning into one of the best companions ever. And for the first time, we got to see his wonder at all he's seen when he was excitedly telling "Grace" all about it. Nice to see beneath his phlegmatic exterior.

The only thing that really rang false -- and more, it left me furiously angry -- was the finale, where we saw Eric and Hannah happily hugging as if nothing had happened. Her father TERRORIZED AND ABANDONED her, show, no matter how he rationalized it! Leaving them together is NOT a happy ending, the guy should have been reported to the Norwegian version of Child Protective Services, at the very least. That left a very, very bad taste in my mouth.

So is next week it for real, or is there a Christmas special?

Edited by Gummo
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1 hour ago, Writing Wrongs said:

Yeah, i was wondering that too. He purposely terrorized his blind daughter why? I had no sympathy for him.

Yeah, I get the concept of being so blinded by grief you desperately cling to something that is gone instead of seeing what is in front of you, but this man enacted a one-person terror campaign to keep his daughter in the house then disappeared without a word for four days. The most generous interpretation is that he thought it might be dangerous, but that is pretty awful because he left her helpless in the house. If something happened and he couldn't return, she would have been in there indefinitely, terrified of a monster and unable to get help. When she was found, she was cowering in a wardrobe. That is some next level bad parenting. If he had stumbled upon the world and was kept there because he was scared his wife would disappear, that would have made more sense. Torn between returning to his daughter and staying with the wife he lost. However, the fact that he returned and set up a fake monster means that he could have brought his daughter with him and chose not to. 

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8 minutes ago, Gummo said:

So is next week it for real, or is there a Christmas special?

There’s a New Year’s Day special. Chibnal decided they had run out of Christmas ideas

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Of the last three years, only one was specifically dependent upon Christmas: that was last year, with the Doctors getting the soldier back in time for the Christmas truce. But "The Husbands of River Song" and "The Return of Doctor Mysterio" were only marginally Christmas and although both "began" at Christmas, neither was dependent on the holiday for the storyline. And, IMO, those two episodes were what a Christmas episode should be: fun, frothy, and ending happily. That's why I've been kind of looking askance at Chibnall's comment about having run out of Christmas ideas. I suspect this may be his way of putting his stamp on the series and is using Christmas as an excuse, or it's his way of hitting back at what he has said has been the BBC's irritating BTS running of the show. 

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10 minutes ago, DanaK said:

There’s a New Year’s Day special. Chibnal decided they had run out of Christmas ideas

I have disliked most of the Christmas Specials (at least under Moffat) so I'm happy with the New Year's Special.

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What I really liked was that we got to see how much pain Graham was still in over Grace’s death and this is a guy in good mental health. How would someone not mentally healthy like bad dad handle seeing his dead wife again?  Plus he got to have a moment with (not)Grace and tell her about all his adventures and about neeting Rosa Parks something he knew she would have been exiled about.   It was a beautiful moment.  

Edited by Chaos Theory
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28 minutes ago, rur said:

Of the last three years, only one was specifically dependent upon Christmas: that was last year, with the Doctors getting the soldier back in time for the Christmas truce. But "The Husbands of River Song" and "The Return of Doctor Mysterio" were only marginally Christmas and although both "began" at Christmas, neither was dependent on the holiday for the storyline. And, IMO, those two episodes were what a Christmas episode should be: fun, frothy, and ending happily. That's why I've been kind of looking askance at Chibnall's comment about having run out of Christmas ideas. I suspect this may be his way of putting his stamp on the series and is using Christmas as an excuse, or it's his way of hitting back at what he has said has been the BBC's irritating BTS running of the show. 

"The Husbands of River Song" is one of my favorite episodes of all time. Admittedly, I love River Song, so that has something to do with it, but I also thought it had a great balance of humor and emotional kick. Agreed, though, that Christmas wasn't really a huge factor. I am a bit sad because it is one of our Christmas traditions to watch the Christmas episode. 

19 minutes ago, Chaos Theory said:

What I really liked was that we got to see how much pain Graham was still in over Grace’s death and this is a guy in good mental health. How would someone not mentally healthy like bad dad handle seeing his dead wife again?  Plus he got to have a moment with (not)Grace and tell her about all his adventures and about neeting Rosa Parks something he knew she would have been exiled about.   It was a beautiful moment.  

Agreed. That was a beautiful moment. We have seen him long to be able to tell her about his adventures, and to get that emotional payoff was really satisfying. 

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I didn't think that this episode quite came together as well as it could have but as a meditation on grief and loss - and how the longing to recover someone you've lost in your life can overwhelm you - it was pretty good.  It's a theme that has run throughout the season, especially in episodes like Demons of the Punjab, and in a lot of ways, it makes sense that a show that is over 50 years old would take an extended look at such issues.

But I also think that there were too many ideas for it all to come together as cohesively as possible. Still, at the end of the day, I like it when shows take on big ideas and try to do ambitious things, even if they don't always gel entirely. 

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43 minutes ago, rur said:

Of the last three years, only one was specifically dependent upon Christmas: that was last year, with the Doctors getting the soldier back in time for the Christmas truce.

There was the episode with the great Dream Crabs that featured Santa Claus. That was a X-mas special with great characters and great lines. Plus the "Last X-mas" with Danny P.

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