24th Apr2017

‘Doctor Who 10×02: Smile’ Review

by Paul Metcalf

doctor-who-smile

When I first saw the teaser for this episode of Doctor Who, I had to admit that the thought of an Emoji robot just didn’t work for me. Surprisingly though, this new refreshed Doctor Who makes the lovable little killer robots actually work.

This week The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) takes Bill (Pearl Mackie) into the far future to see a city built for human happiness. When the only inhabitants seem to be service robots though, it soon becomes clear that something very wrong has taken place. It is interesting that the little robots are both cute and menacing at the same time. The idea that happiness as an emotion can be misunderstood by robot logic is interesting. It means that the robots aren’t exactly evil, they are just doing what they were designed to do wrong.

What is nice though is that The Doctor starts with a plan to destroy the city, but is forced to rethink that decision. We’ve seen many incarnations of the time lord go through this same problem, and thankfully for the most part they decide to do the right thing.

What was also important about the episode this week is of course the character of Bill. Last week’s episode, The Pilot was good, but we really needed to see if that was a one-off. For the most part Smile proved that Bill is still a very welcome addition to the show. If anything, it also made me sad that we are going to lose Capaldi at the end of this season. They really do work well together, with a feeling of adventure and mischief that Doctor Who really needed.

While the relationship between The Doctor and Bill worked well, there was something off about this episode though. While it is good, it felt like it needed more room to breathe. There is a lot going on in Smile, and what this leads to is the story feeling rushed and a little weakened because of it. Saying that though, it is still an above average episode that should leave many Doctor Who fans happy.

One interesting thing to note was the fact that Nardole (Matt Lucas) makes it clear that The Doctor must not leave earth, because he is meant to be guarding the Vault. While we don’t know what this is yet, it does create an ominous feeling that The Doctor and Bill are taking too high a risk in their adventures. Then again, where would we the audience be if they didn’t travel in the TARDIS for the entire season?

Smile and The Pilot before it are two episodes of Doctor Who that prove it is good to have The Doctor back. The next few years are going to be interesting for the show, but hopefully the transition goes well. With no confirmation as to who will be the next Doctor Who, at least Peter Capaldi is going out on top form, and we have a companion well up to introducing the new Doctor into the role.

**** 4/5

Doctor Who airs every Saturday in the UK on BBC One.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek
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