Doctor Who: The Ghost Monument

"Welcome to what I presume is your first alien planet. Don't touch anything."

Picking up from where we left off in the last episode, the Doctor and her companions have to survive long enough to find a way back home.

I wasn’t super thrilled with the plot of this episode, even though it was fairly well constructed. The great race trope is very old, and usually not well done. Here, pairing it down to two finalists with very different motivations worked. Agstrom and Epzo were both fun characters, and I was deeply surprised that not only did both survive to the end of the episode, but they ended up claiming the prize together. It was a nice way of showing how the Doctor and her companions can be a good influence.

The Doctor still hasn’t fully gelled for me yet, but she had some really nice moments. Her frustration that people wouldn’t tell her anything was fun, since it wasn’t her being upset about not knowing but rather that information was out there that she was being kept from. She was again properly heroic and very much the Doctor, this time without falling back into previous Doctor affectations. My favorite moment was when she scolded Ryan about using guns.

Of course that was my favorite Ryan moment as well. Heading out with that rifle to kill the bad robots was hilarious, especially when it jammed and he realized the Doctor was right. If he had waited two seconds she would’ve solved it, but he hasn’t quite adopted the tendency to defer to the Doctor first… yet. His relationship with Graham has made some progress as well, with their conversation about Grace being a wonderful moment between the two.

Unfortunately, poor Yaz pulled the short straw again, feeling almost like a tag along at this point. She did have good instincts talking to Agstrom and getting her to open up about her planet and eventually her family, which made her much more of an ally for the rest of the episode. Yaz is a good character, but is in serious need of some attention. Mind you, I have a good feeling that the next episode will focus on her.

Ilin’s game was kind of brutal, but I kind of liked him as the antagonist instead of Epzo or Agstrom. That and the planet itself, which was another sci-fi trope, but one not used quite as often. It’s a somewhat novel concept, the idea of a world abandoned because of powerful and out of control weapons of war. Ilin mostly likely thought the Ghost Monument was the ultimate weapon, which is probably why they left before it arrived. The irony is that the TARDIS is not a ship of war, at least not anymore.

Bits:

The look of the TARDIS might be too dark, and the crystals were too big to get an idea of the geography of the control room. I did like that the entire Police Box is now the entrance, and I feel that this new TARDIS could be amazing, but right now I'm not totally sold. However, I did love that the TARDIS gave the Doctor a cookie.

Timeless Child was mentioned by the remnants creature. I wonder if that is a seed for a plot arc, or just a throwaway line.

The new title sequence is gorgeous, dark, and fascinating. I’m still very fond of the Tennant era, but I think I like this one more than the Smith era theme.

Venusian Aikido comes back in a fun little nod to the past. I’m not sure who was the last Doctor that used it, but its use here was one of my favorite moments in the episode.

Quotes:

Doctor: "My beautiful Ghost Monument."

Ryan: "Why is it always ladders?"

Doctor: "It's all gone quite badly wrong, actually. These three have been very good not going on about it."

Graham: "Can people, and things, stop putting stuff inside me without my permission?"

Doctor: "Venusian aikido, temporarily paralyzes, while also being fundamentally harmless. Very clever, those Venusian nuns."

Epzo: "This is the Cerebos, all right? She's the envy of millions."
Doctor: "Really?"
Epzo: "Yes. People have written songs about her."
Doctor: "They'll be writing operas about our pointless deaths if we don't take drastic action, right now!"
Yaz: "We're about to die?"
Doctor: "Oh, sorry Yaz. I forgot you were there. All gonna be fine."

Sorry for the short delay getting this up, I have a really bad head cold.

3 out of 4 Terrible weapons of war.

J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.

17 comments:

Billie Doux said...

I think I'm pretty much where you are, JD. The plot for this one was a bit better than the premiere -- I tend to like the space/planet stories better than the historical stories -- and I like Jodie. And as you said, I liked the fact that both of the contestants claimed the prize. Here's hoping it continues to improve.

And get well soon, JD!

Mikey Heinrich said...

Graham's line about people not putting things in him without permission made me laugh out loud.

I totally agree about Yaz - hopefully her episode to shine is coming soon.

Venusian Akido was Jon Pertwee's thing, in case no one else has mentioned that yet. If you haven't, you should check out the picture online of Sean Pertwee (Gotham's Alfred) dressed up as his father's Doctor - it's uncanny.

TheShadowKnows said...

The Third Doctor was always my favorite*, so I appreciated the reference to Venusian Akido. I would love for Sean Pertwee to make an appearance on the current show as the Third Doctor!

* - This is a departure from the "rule" that the first Doctor you ever saw is "your" Doctor, since I saw both the Fourth and Fifth Doctors before the Third. But I always appreciated John Pertwee's attitude (and fashion sense).

migmit said...

Um... I've missed, who put this translator thingy inside Graham and when? He was talking to Agstrom on her ship, so it surely happened earlier.

The Doctor said something like "did I mention that I'm very smart?" and I was a bit taken aback, because it's more or less what I say from time to time.

TheShadowKnows said...

"However, I did love that the TARDIS gave the Doctor a cookie."

According to a story I read, when Jodie Whittaker was shown the TARDIS set the first time, they told her to press a pedal which they had rigged up to give her a cookie. The producers liked her reaction so much they actually worked the cookie into the show.

sunbunny said...

The Twelfth Doctor used Venusian aikido in Robot of Sherwood. He didn't namecheck it tho.

There's something so wonderful about reading the phrase "The Doctor and her companions." HER. HER! HER. I love it. Didn't love the episode tho. Chibnall is clearly still finding his feet.

Also not sold on the new Tardis. I liked Twelve's the best. It had levels and bookcases and exits. This one reminds me too much of Eccleston/Tennant's. Maybe it will grow on me. I like the callback to "You've redecorated. I don't like it." Thirteen is a much more positive Doctor than we've ever had in NuWho. You could tell as soon as she regenerated. It was "Brilliant!" and none of this "I don't like the color of my kidneys!" whining (not to besmirch previous Doctors, I've loved them all to different degrees).

televisionandotherrantings said...

@sunbunny Venusian aikido was also used in World Enough and Time.

Sam Smith said...

As much as i agree with sunbunny about twelves tardis being awesome, we've now had 5 seasons (i think, smith kept tennants tardis for the 5th season didnt he?) of a very similar looking tardis, it was about time for an overhaul. I loved the entrance, makes me think of the phone box as an entry to another dimension rather than a dimension crammed into a phone box. Which, now that im think about it, is actually really interesting. Does it ever actually move in space or time or is it just the entrance moving?

Mark Greig said...

Sam Smith, prior to this season we've had three different TARDIS sets, the grunge one of the RTD years, Smith's original Wonka set for season 5-7a, and the second Smith/Capaldi set for seasons 7b-10 (which was given a bit of a major makeover in season 8). I'm not a fan of the new set. It is too dark and alien. A good TARDIS set should be a mix of the otherworldly and the homely, it should be a place that looks eye-catching, but also somewhere you'd happily kickback and relax in after a busy day of adventuring. It also feels very limiting, both in terms of size and how it can be filmed. One of the things I loved so much about the previous sets was how the multiple levels freed up the camera and suddenly every TARDIS scene wasn't just a bunch of shots of people standing around the console.

migmit said...

Smith set — wasn't that eventually caused TARDIS to land inside itself? If so, I don't really see how is it possible to hate it.

migmit said...

I meant to write "wasn't that the one that" etc.

sunbunny said...

I forgot to mention my big problem with the episode. We saw the new 'Team Tardis' react to the Tardis BUT NO ONE SAID IT'S BIGGER ON THE INSIDE. Granted, not everyone new says it. But out of three people? No one's gonna mention it??? C'MON!!!!

Billie Doux said...

sunbunny, I was waiting for that, too. Isn't it a tradition by now for *someone* to say it?

An Honest Fangirl said...

I liked it, although admittedly less than the premiere. Tho I think that has more to do with plot than any of the characters. I'm liking all of the characters, especially our new Doctor and Ryan. The Doctor has such a glow and glee about her that's been missing since Capaldi took over. Also I like her annoyance/irritation at not knowing things. The dialogue isn't quite there yet, but that could also be growing pains.

Ryan running out with the gun was probably the funniest moment of the episode, although my favorite moment was him with the ladder. I don't know. Maybe it's because we both share the same condition, but I really connected with him in that scene. Ladders are freaking hard under normal circumstances, never mind running for your life.

I am not a fan, though, of the new TARDIS. It's too much of a change for me. I miss the hydraulics in the center and the multiple levels. This new one feels dark and cramped. The crystals are cool, but too big. I don't know. Maybe it'll grow on me, but I doubt it.

Nonei said...

I was a bit skeptical of the new season - not directly because the doctor is female, but because I was worried how the writers/showrunners would acknowledge and adapt to that. There are so many ways to do it wrong, and especially with 3 companions and the super-positive "I need my friends!!" in the trailers I was pretty skeptical... So far, though, I'm very pleased. It's been treated as basically a non-event, and the doctor is not appearing 'weaker' or less 'in charge' or anything. I am really enjoying Jodie's take on the doctor as well.
Some pple on other sites commented that her despair when the TARDIS wasn't there initially at the end of the episode was maybe showing her as 'weak' or 'emotional' (i.e. female stereotype), but I really didn't take it like that. There were plenty of times that we saw, for example, Matt Smith's doctor in despair because he thought he could save everyone and then couldn't (or thought he couldn't).
It's about time we get a female doctor and it seems like it's done right :)! They've been building up to it since Matt Smith's first episode lol. I've been trying to remember all the mentions...
Matt Smith's first episode - he momentarily thinks he might be female
The one on House where the TARDIS matrix goes into Idris - mentions the Corsair regenerated into a woman
Obviously the entire Missy/Master storyline

Specifically about this episode - I really like Ryan and I have enjoyed the flashes of observation/deduction skills from Yaz. I kind of wish the whole Graham/mom just died plot wasn't there. I like the character of Graham but I feel like he's just kind of getting in the way of Yaz. I need more of her! lol.

Nonei said...

Just wanted to add - my son is 11 and he is so amazed that the doctor is female but "It's still the doctor!" Since he's at the age that he considers boys and girls to be two separate species lol I think it's awesome that he gets to see that.

Darren Smith said...

The Doctor is now from Yorkshire it's not a cookie it's a biscuit specifically a Custard Cream ..lol