After the Doctor decides to extend Martha’s “one trip” on the TARDIS to a visit to both present and future, he takes her to New New York, the place where he and Rose once fought deadly viruses and feline nuns. Unfortunately, they find themselves fifty-three years on and deep in the slums- and only minutes later, a young couple kidnaps Martha so that their car has enough people to gain access to the ‘fast lane’ of the Motorway. With their ten mile journey to the surface supposed to take around six years, the Doctor had better get around to rescuing Martha from this gridlocked underground traffic jam before she has to endure the longest car ride of her life.
- Cat people (updated): We’ve already seen these evolved felines in ‘New Earth’, but this is our first glimpse at their males and children. Cat people seem easily able to procreate with humans without any special equipment, although the resulting offspring look like regular kittens.
- Face of Boe (updated): His life support smoke can protect others, and he can use his life energy to supply power to computer systems. He finally dies in this episode, leaving the Doctor the message “you are not alone”. Like many others, I was expecting him to say something like this, and firmly believe that the Doctor is not the last Time Lord, and that we will see him confront the Master in the season finale.
- Makra: Immense crabs who once ruled a mighty empire, but have since devolved into mere beasts. They feed on smoke and fumes, and so have set up a home in the lowest levels of the Motorway. Almost everyone who flies down there is snapped up by their claws.
- New Earth (updated): Surface population wiped out in the year 5 billion and 19 thanks to a mutated airborne virus that originated in the mood patch Bliss (other mood patches available include Forget, Happy-Happy and Anger). Underground survivors locked in the slums of New New York remained alive, although attempts to reach the surface left them permanently stranded in the Motorway. The Doctor has since granted them access to the surface, which is considered safe since the virus has long since died.
The weakest episode of the season so far, in my opinion; it wasn’t wholly bad, just not as engaging as it could have been. Last week’s preview gave it the air of a really eerie mystery, but instead I spent the early part of the episode trying to make sense of why everyone would be stuck down in a motorway for so long anyway that by the time the big reveal came, it was more of a “well, it had to be this way for the story to make any sense” than “oh my god, that’s what happened”.
I also have to make a quick complaint about the hymn section, since it was an irritating song that went on for too long.
- Why would the offspring of a humanoid cat and a human look like a regular kitten? Surely it is more likely to look like a regular baby with some feline features?
- Aside from plot related timing, why did the Face of Boe have to wait until their third meeting to impart a simple “You are not alone” to the Doctor? He could have easily said something that vague before, or spent his last words on more specific information.
- An airborne virus killing the entire world in seven minutes sounds somewhat unrealistic for something that originated on the surface- surely it would need longer than that to travel on air currents around the world (unless it simultaneously mutated into a deadly strain everywhere at the same time, which is equally unlikely).
- Did no one on the motorway wonder why it was taking so long to get out? I guess they accepted it through a lack of other options but you’d think that in twenty-four years someone might have applied their mind to the bizarre situation.
Pigmen and Daleks and the Depression, oh my! The synopsis in the Radio Times’ season preview guide made this sound a little too packed with ideas for its own good, but since it’s a two-parter, hopefully it will pan out okay.