"The Unquiet Dead." "The Victory of the Daleks." "Robot of Sherwood." This week's "Orphan 55" joins the pantheon of third entries of a Doctor Who season to be alarmingly weak.
The message was good. Climate change = bad. We should = doing whatever we can to stop it, lest we = xenomorphs with overbites. But everything else? Weak, dull, tropey, and with a hair-and-makeup budget that most of us exceed in an average Halloween.
I love a silly Doctor Who one-off, but this episode was, to quote 30 Rock's Wesley Snipes, "as weak as American tea; there, I've said it."
This post contains spoilers for Doctor Who Season 12, Episode 3, "Orphan 55."
The fam takes a relaxing voyage to Tranquility Spa. Because spa visits historically turn out well for the Doctor and co. Upon arrival, they meet Hyph3n, a deeply off-brand Sister of Plenitude-style feline who more resembles Barf from Spaceballs cosplaying in a Battlestar Galactica uniform.
They also meet James Buckley's Nevi and his son Sylas (Lewin Lloyd) wearing the least realistic sci-fi wigs I've seen since Jewel Staite in Space Cases.
Anyway, the spa they're at is concealed inside a dome on the titular orphan planet, a planet uninhabitable for life except for the aforementioned toothy xenomorphs, and survival is only possible thanks to blue Breath Right strips.
Spoiler alert unless you've never seen a science-fiction movie before: the planet is actually Earth, decimated by climate change and nuclear war. The episode literally ends with the Doctor telling her crew this is but a possibility then going full Smokey the Bear on us, PSA-ing, "Unless people face facts and change, catastrophe is coming. But it's not decided. You know that. The future is not fixed, it depends on billions of decisions and actions [unless the Doctor's previous incarnations insist they are in a fixed point in time in which case you're f***ed] and people stepping up...People can save planets or wreck them. That's the choice. Be the best of humanity, or..." *SCARY MONSTER FACE*
If you, like me, have serious climate change-related anxiety, this episode is not going to help. And if you, like me, have a serious desire for great Doctor Who episodes, this episode is also not going to help. A lackluster break from high drama and intense arcs is a Doctor Who staple, but this one was both too much and too little. But next week involves Nikola Tesla, and the Chibnall era has done very well in terms of historical episodes. So here's hoping. Be the best of Doctor Who, or... *SCARY MONSTER FACE*