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I don't know if you know this, but Earth is effed.
Spoilers for Doctor Who Season 12, Episode 6.
As we saw way too on-the-nose-ily in "Orphan 55," the planet we humans share is a broken disaster. Climate change and man-made pollution have taken their hold and have irrevocably impacted our planet, leaving only the Doctor and fam to save the day.
Yeah, we wish.
Across the planet, Earth is experiencing a series of alien events that are deeply troubling to our heroes. Alien activity in Hong Kong, f*cked up birds in Peru, questionable submarine crashes in Madagascar — the Doctor and her compatriots have a lot to figure out in a small amount of time before even more people take a turn for the scaly and turn into dust monsters.
But our victims leave behind a trail of survivors — the husband of a British astronaut, the travel vlog partner/maybe actual partner, the scientists at a beachside lab — and those victims might hold the answers to what they've lost.
For Gabriela (Joana Borja) and Jamila (Gabriela Toloi) — the survivor and the lost, respectively — Yaz finds a brave partner for travels to another dimension (one replete with submarine). For Suki (Molly Harris) and Arumu (Thapelo Maropefela), they provide a safe lab space for our heroes to find a potential cure for astronaut Adam (Matthew McNulty) and perhaps hope for his husband/possible ex-husband Jake (Warren Brown).
Look, I'm gonna be quick about this. The aliens in this episode are drawn to plastic (in order to cure a virus called Praxeus), and the Earth is filled with plastic because humans are dirt. This episode is incredibly preachy while still being wholly enjoyable and vastly superior to "Orphan 55." Because, at its core, the subject is secondary — what matters is each member of Team DocFam gets to do something, gets to matter. Ryan gets to help Gabriela and the creepy birds. Yaz and Graham get to help Jake before Yaz and Gabriela team up. Everyone gets a piece, a moment.
And ultimately, yes, the message is heavy-handed, more heft than hand, honestly. But it's enjoyable. Queer-positive. Pro-redemption. And pro-love.
Where this episode suffers is in its predecessor. I want to know more about Jo Martin, find out why she is, who she is. So does the Doctor. And, yet, here we are: Jo-Doctorless.
As an interim piece, "Praxeus" succeeds. But give me my Jo-Doc.