After fourteen years of waiting, Amy Pond
finally gets her long-promised ride in the TARDIS as the
Doctor’s newest companion. For us viewers, we get
our first outing with the completely regenerated and properly
clothed eleventh Doctor.
the 29th century and incredibly hazardous solar flares have
forced the people of Earth to flee to the stars until their
world becomes inhabitable again. And so, the Doctor and
Amy stumble upon the enormous Starship UK, a floating metal
landmass carrying the entire population of the United Kingdom
— except for Scotland, which wanted its own ship.
Moffat jumps straight into the mystery in his second episode
as producer, having the Doctor go into detective mode when
he spots on the TARDIS monitor a child crying silently in
the London market and instinctively senses that there is
something strange is plaguing the citizens of Starship UK.
at this place. Isn’t it wrong? Use your eyes, notice
everything. What is wrong with this picture?” says
the Doctor to Amy as they begin to investigate their strange
surroundings. Nothing is ever what it seems in the Who universe
— but this episode seems to follow the typical “something’s
not right here; let’s go figure it out!” plot
structure of Doctor Who.
that it’s necessarily something to complain about,
since Moffat nicely sets up the mystery behind Starship
UK. What is the significance of the glass of water? Who
are the hooded men watching from the surveillance cameras
as the Doctor and Amy explore the hidden recesses of the
ship? And who is the woman in the porcelain mask?
gives us a new monster in the form of robotic watchmen called
Smilers. The Smilers could have been more frightening, though
the artificial grins and lifeless eyes on their face-changing,
rotating heads (think The Exorcist) still have a creepy
effect. I had expected these monsters to play a more central
role in the story, but they are pushed to the sidelines
as an even greater problem is revealed.
Gillan maintains Amy Pond’s feisty personality and
boldness, which ultimately play a part in strengthening
her relationship with the Doctor. For Amy’s first
adventure in the TARDIS, "The Beast Below" is
surprisingly heavy and trying.
came very close to shattering Amy’s fairytale image
of the Doctor by having her experience the Doctor’s
rage so early in the series. This episode is all about making
difficult choices, and the Doctor’s own “impossible
choice” forces him to take the morally questionable
compromise. “I have to find a new name because I won’t
be the Doctor anymore.”
by his decision, he takes out some of his anger on Amy,
blaming her for unwittingly making a very “human mistake”.
The Doctor’s unforgiving attitude towards her actions
is unexpected, especially at such an early stage in the
Smith handles the Doctor’s rage in an interestingly
quiet way, keeping his emotions bottled up until he eventually
snaps in fiery frustration. As the series progresses, I
am eager to see how Moffat and Smith explore more deeply
the darker sides of the Doctor and if there will be any
more moments of uneasiness that will test the friendship
between the Doctor and Amy.
to the mad dash that was "The
Eleventh Hour," this second episode feels noticeably
slower. The pacing and lack of a proper villain may bother
some, but the development of the Doctor and Amy’s
relationship and the exploration of morality are what made
"The Beast Below" a fair follow-up to the series
it looks like the energy level will be turning up a notch
as right before the credits Moffat sneaks in a nice teaser
for next week’s episode. The British Prime Minister
(don’t worry, it’s a fun one this time) phones
the Doctor, asking him for help with a “tricky situation,
potentially dangerous”, and we catch a glimpse of
a very familiar pepper shaker-shaped shadow lurking in the