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Charles Palmer (#110 of 3)

Doctor Who Recap Season 10, Episode 10, “The Eaters of Light”

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Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 10, “The Eaters of Light”

Simon Ridgway

Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 10, “The Eaters of Light”

In 1989, near the start of what has since become a long and successful career of writing for stage, film, and television, Rona Munro penned what turned out to be the very last episodes of Doctor Who’s original 26-year run. With this week’s episode, “The Eaters of Light,” she becomes the first classic series writer to contribute to the show’s 21st-century incarnation. The episode establishes an ominous atmosphere right from the start of the present-day framing sequence, with a couple of children playing among ancient standing stones on a windswept Scottish hillside, from which “ghosts” can be heard playing strange music. After the opening titles, we see the same hillside, with the markings on the stones now fresh and new as the Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Bill (Pearl Mackie), and Nardole (Matt Lucas) arrive in 120 A.D.

Doctor Who Recap Season 10, Episode 5, "Oxygen"

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Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 5, “Oxygen”

BBC America

Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 5, “Oxygen”

Writer Jamie Mathieson’s “Oxygen” is a taut, gripping thrill ride. As in his previous three Doctor Who episodes, he shows a particular flair for coming up with both snappy dialogue and creepy monsters. This time he has the Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Bill (Pearl Mackie), and Nardole (Matt Lucas) facing what amounts to a zombie plague when the Doctor, once again chafing at his ongoing task of guarding the vault on Earth, receives a distress call in the TARDIS and promptly takes all three of them to a deep-space asteroid mining station whose crew of 40 has been reduced to four. As the episode’s bleak opening teaser makes clear, the dead are still walking or floating around the station, intent on killing the remaining personnel.

Doctor Who Recap: Season 3, Episode 9, "The Family of Blood"

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<em>Doctor Who</em> Recap: Season 3, Episode 9, “The Family of Blood”
<em>Doctor Who</em> Recap: Season 3, Episode 9, “The Family of Blood”

Before moving on to more important issues, let’s talk scarecrows. This two-parter has so much going on that these creatures of nightmare almost get lost in the shuffle. The fact that they end up taking a backseat to the numerous other elements is a testament to the strength of the tale, as in any other story they’d be the standout. But the scarecrows serve a potent function—they exist to turn the schoolboys into men. The boys are learning to fight should a war arise (which it will), yet they’ve experienced little more than target practice. When the scarecrows in “The Family of Blood” attack, the boys are called to serve. The sequence is a brilliant Doctor Who twist (one in a tale with many). Because the show is geared toward a family audience, the boys could never engage in a bloodbath involving other humans or even living, breathing alien lifeforms…but scarecrows? They’re made of straw, do not bleed and as presented here, have a questionable “existence”. That doesn’t stop director Charles Palmer from staging the scene as if they’re as real as you and me.