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Ryan Sampson (#110 of 2)

Doctor Who Recap Season 4, Episode 5, “The Poison Sky”

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Doctor Who Recap: Season 4, Episode 5, “The Poison Sky”

BBC

Doctor Who Recap: Season 4, Episode 5, “The Poison Sky”

In the comments section for “The Sontaran Stratagem,” Joan wondered why at the close of the episode “...no one thought to break the window of the car while Gramps was asphyxiating.” And so “The Poison Sky” begins with Donna’s mother, Sylvia, doing just that. It’s a huge anticlimax for the cliffhanger, but I would argue that the whole point of a cliffhanger is in the hang, not in the resolution in the next episode. Cliffhanger resolutions almost by their very nature are destined to suck, because if our heroes succumbed to the disastrous situations they’re left in, there would be no more show. We always want the resolve to be as thrilling as the minutes that preceded it in the narrative, but there’s a big difference in the first couple minutes of an episode, and the final moments of another. And there’s no point in delivering the best you’ve got at the start, right?

Doctor Who Recap Season 4, Episode 4: “The Sontaran Stratagem”

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Doctor Who Recap: Season 4, Episode 4: “The Sontaran Stratagem”

BBC

Doctor Who Recap: Season 4, Episode 4: “The Sontaran Stratagem”

“Sontarans are great… I think that’s partly because they come from a very specific world. That back story gives them a great context. Robert Holmes didn’t just create a race, back in the 1970s: he created a world that they came from. Even if you never saw that planet, you understood why they did what they did.”—David Tennant, Doctor Who Magazine #395

I hate to contradict our Time Lord and Savior, but he’s ever so slightly off in his close. It’s not that we ever understood why the Sontarans did what they did, but rather that Holmes’ vision of the race was so clear that we accepted what they did without question—and that was make war (not love). The “why” could make for a good story someday, but at present their reintroduction is plenty.