At long last, Doctor Who is back with "The Pilot" (Season 10, Episode 1)

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Doctor Who Series 10 - Episode 1 – The Pilot

Writer: Steven Moffat

Director: Lawrence Gough


Cast:

  • The Doctor - Peter Capaldi
  • Bill Potts – Pearl Mackie
  • Nardole – Matt Lucas
  • Jennifer Hennessy – Moira
  • Stephanie Hyam – Heather
  • Nicholas Briggs – Voice of the Dalek

Quick Synopsis:  The Doctor and Nardole have set up shop at St. Luke’s University in Bristol.  They are protecting something hidden in a secret vault under the University, and they have been there for quite a bit of time.  The Doctor becomes interested in Bill Potts, who works in the University’s cafeteria but also attends his lectures.  The Doctor decides to help her enroll in the school and becomes her personal tutor.

A few months later, Bill has a crush on another student named Heather.  Heather ends up getting swallowed up by a puddle, which is a left behind part of an alien ship.  The puddle starts to chase Bill around.  Bill goes to The Doctor for help, and The Doctor reveals himself to be an alien time traveler.  He tries to help her escape the puddle, but it chases her all over time and space.  Bill finally realizes that the last thing she said to Heather was “Promise not to leave me behind.”  She frees Heather from this promise, and the puddle leaves.

The Doctor wants to wipe Bill’s memories of the event.  He has made a promise and has left his old life of traveling and adventuring behind.   She manages to convince him to not to wipe her memory.  As Bill leaves, the Doctor is waiting for her with the TARDIS.  Bill decides to travel with him.


Commentary:  

  • This episode was pretty much an ideal jump-on point for DOCTOR WHO.  There is no heavy continuity here, and it sets up a whole new mysterious status quo for The Doctor.  What is in the Vault and why is it so important that The Doctor protect it?  

  • I am also real curious about what is The Doctor’s connection to Bill? There are a few moments in the episode that hint that she might be more than just a random woman who has caught The Doctor’s attention.  The Vault’s security settings allowed her to enter as “a friend.”  And at one point, The Doctor glances down at a picture of his granddaughter Susan when Bill asks why The Doctor is interested in helping her.  Are they hinting that Bill is somehow related to Susan?  Or is it just the idea that he’s been grounded for so long, and he really wants to get back out in action.

  • Speaking of Susan, I loved all the Easter Eggs in this one.  The pictures of River and Susan on The Doctor’s desk, all the sonic screwdrivers, and even fun little musical things like a Beethoven call back and a quick replay of Clara’s theme when Bill convinces The Doctor not to wipe her memory.  So while this episode is very accessible to new viewers, there was plenty here for us veterans to enjoy.

  • Bill is a lot of fun.  She feels much more like an old school companion.  I didn’t have as many issues with Clara as some fans did, but Bill is about as far from Clara as you can get.  Clara often felt like the star of the show with The Doctor caught up in her wake.  Bill allowed The Doctor to take on the lead role for the first time in a while.   I also thought it was hilarious how long it took her to figure out what was odd about the TARDIS, and Nardole’s excitement when she finally said “It’s bigger on the inside.”

  • I also loved when a mysterious box of pictures of Bill’s mom shows up in her closet after she mentions to The Doctor that she didn’t have any.  Bill spotted The Doctor’s reflection in one of the pictures, but she doesn’t mention anything about it.  I( would have liked for them to expand on this a bit.

  • In this episode, we find out that Nardole seems to be a machine of some sort.  I did think it was odd that The Doctor seems to be trying to go bare bones...but still has Nardole around.  I actually don’t mind Nardole at all.  Matt Lucas manages to keep the character entertaining without really distracting from the rest of the show.  I wasn’t sure how I felt about Nardole when he debuted a few Christmases ago, but he’s definitely grown on me.

  • As always, Peter Capaldi is just perfect in as The Doctor.  This is his last season in the role, and this episode allowed him to show why he is the right man for the job.  There have been a lot of rumors that Capaldi will regenerate before the end of the season, but I am really hoping we get a full season for him.  

  • When you look at the summary for this one, you don’t expect so many good scare moments, but The Pilot was full of them.  They really managed to find the perfect level of creepy on this episode.  Which was cool because there was also a ton of heart in this story.

  • I did have one small complaint about this episode.  At the end, when trying to escape the puddle, The Doctor brings Bill into the middle of a battle between the Daleks and the Movellans.  It just felt gratuitous.  That is probably my one big complaint about Steven Moffat in general.  He throws the Daleks in as filler too often, and it has made the Daleks feel like less of a threat.  At this point, I think they would be far better putting the Daleks on the shelf for a while.  I would love to see them come back as a serious threat.

  • JOHN SIMM IS BACK!  Okay, we only saw him in the trailer briefly, but I can’t wait to see him back as The Master, especially if he will be interacting with Missy.  I have been joking that I would love to see Peter Capaldi regenerate as John Simm, but I really can’t see that happening...


Next Episode:  SmileThe teaser for next week’s episode went by really quick, so not sure what to expect from this one.   Not sure how I feel about “Emojibots,” but it’s Doctor Who, so I will obviously be watching it!

“In the far future, at the edge of the galaxy, there is a gleaming, perfect city. This brand new human settlement is said to hold the secret of human happiness – but the only smiles the Doctor and Bill can find are on a pile of grinning skulls.

Something is alive in the walls, and the emojibots are watching from the shadows, as the Doctor and Bill trying to unravel a terrifying mystery…”

Grade: 
4.5 / 5.0