SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who Final Two Episodes Of 2018; Star Trek Shows Saru’s Backstory

It Takes You Away provided three stories in one episode of Doctor Who. Unfortunately this meant that none of them were fully developed.

The episode started out looking like a “cabin in the woods” horror story. Once again there was misdirection when we learned it was about something else entirely. By the end, the real monster of this portion was the blind child’s father. Erik abandoned his daughter in the cabin and used recordings of a monster (with a primitive sound system as opposed to Wifi as Ryan discovered) to keep her from leaving. He mostly got away with this, but Yaz did chastise him for this: “That’s a shocking bit of parenting.”

The second portion of the story in the Anti-Zone was the weakest, and could have been eliminated in order to spend more time on the other portions. Ultimately we wound up with the Solitract, which required far too much explanation, based upon an old Gallifreyan fairytale. This episode fit in well with the overall theme of this season of loss–continuing from Chibnall and Whittaker’s work on Broadchurch. The science fiction trope of dead people appearing to have returned first showed Erik back with his wife, and then tried to lure Graham with faux-Grace.

The decision to part from the Moffat era hurt the episode. Instead of ending with a frog, it could have been much stronger if the Solitract had tried to lure the Doctor with the form of River Song.

There was an homage to past Doctor Who. Following the recent homage to Matt Smith and Fez hats, in an homage to Jon Pertwee, Yaz offered the advice to “reverse the polarity.” There was also a major progression of character development between Ryan and Graham.

This was followed by The Battle Ranskoor Av Kolos. As usual, I will avoid spoilers until after it airs legally in the US. Unfortunately this is not likely to be a memorable season finale for Doctor Who. Hopefully they do better on the New Year’s Day special, which appears to be teasing the Daleks in the preview: “This is the DNA of the most dangerous creature in the universe.” Then there will be no Doctor Who until 2020. The BBC released this statement:

THE DOCTOR AND HER FRIENDS WILL LAND AGAIN ON BBC ONE IN 2020

As series 11 came to a close on BBC One tonight (Sunday 9th December) the show announced that series 12 is on its way and will be returning to BBC One in early 2020.

Series 11 marked a brand new era for Doctor Who with Showrunner, Chris Chibnall, taking control of the TARDIS. With Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor, viewers saw the Doctor and her friends travel through space and time on adventures fighting monsters and conquering battles. Series 12 will see Jodie reprise her role as the Doctor and she will once again be joined by Bradley Walsh (Graham), Mandip Gill (Yasmin) and Tosin Cole (Ryan).

So far, from the first eight episodes, series 11 of Doctor Who has averaged a 4-screen consolidated audience of 8.4m.

Jodie’s first episode as the Doctor launched with a consolidated audience of 11 million making it the second biggest drama this year across all channels, while also placing it among the top 10 programmes in 2018 so far across all channels and genres. The episode received 3.7 million requests through BBC iPlayer.

Speaking of the return Showrunner Chris Chibnall said “We’re off again! Well we never actually stopped – as Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor and friends have been winning the hearts of families across the nation this autumn, we’ve been busy with a whole new set of action packed adventures for the Thirteenth Doctor. We adore making this show and have been blown away by the response from audiences, so we can’t wait to bring more scares, more monsters and more Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole to BBC One. Brilliant!”

Charlotte Moore, Director of Content added, “We’re delighted that the Doctor and her friends will be returning to thrill audiences in 2020. I know Chris and the whole team are already working on a whole new set of exciting adventures. In the meantime we’ve got a very special episode on New Year’s Day for everyone to enjoy.”

 

 

The Brightest Star shows Saru’s backstory in the third Short Trek. We see the life of Kelpians, and how Saru met Philippa Georgiou. It was somewhat reminiscent of Pen Pals, an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation in which Data came into contact with a girl from a pre-warp civilization. It was a bit surprising that, while the Kelpians were victims, they were not shown to be the constant prey I had come to expect from the little which was said about them on Discovery.

Syfy Wire has information from the writers of the episode as to how it fits into the rest of the Star Trek timeline:

…the final moments of “The Brightest Star” depict Saru (Doug Jones) and Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) meeting for the first time, it begs the question of when exactly this all happened in the future-history of Star Trek. At this point in time, Georgiou is not the captain of the USS Shenzhou, just a lieutenant. So, by the time we get to the era of Discovery, just how long have she and Saru known each other?

The answer it seems is about 18 years.

“Burnham is brought aboard the Shenzhou for the first time in a flashback in ‘The Battle of the Binary Stars,’ and the events of this short took place about a decade before that,” Lippoldt tells SYFY WIRE. “Saru would have needed time to acclimate to this new worldview outside of his home planet; he’s only just learned that humans exist, after all! So he wouldn’t have entered [Starfleet] academy right away.”

In terms of Trek chronology, “The Battle at the Binary Stars” happens in the year 2256, and the flashback in which Burnham first beams aboard with Sarek is eight years before, in 2248. So, if “The Brightest Star” is “about a decade” before 2248, then we’re somewhere in the 2230s. For hardcore completists, this means we’re in a decade where Kirk and Spock are little kids, meaning Lt. Georgiou was out contacting alien races with Kirk and Spock literally in diapers!

They also looked at the questions raised about the Prime Directive:

“As we began exploring Saru’s backstory in the writers’ room, ‘Pen Pals’ did, in fact, come up a lot as it dealt with a pre-warp species,” Kim says. “We talked at length (days? weeks?) about the complexity of the Prime Directive, and how each Star Trek series has approached this iconic notion: How do our characters do the right thing, adhering not only to Starfleet’s values but also its governing laws? What are the exceptions, the loopholes?”

Lippoldt adds: “Part of the fun of developing this story is that we’ve — hopefully —created a scenario that presents a juicy moral quandary. Here, Georgiou made a case to make an exception for Saru based on several factors.

“First, that Saru is the one who initiated contact, and directly asked for help. Second, that during their interaction, Georgiou came to see that Saru displayed an understanding and knowledge of technology. And third, that Saru was only asking for himself. His people, and specifically his father, showed no interest in changing their ways. So by accepting to help Saru leave Kaminar without the rest of his people’s knowledge, Georgiou is not, in fact, interfering with the normal development of the planet’s civilization.”

Even so, this moral quandary leaves Mr. Saru in a situation where he cannot legally return home to visit his people. But will he ever? Does he want to?

“In the first few years of joining Starfleet, Saru had always intended on learning everything he could and returning to Kaminar to help his people,” Kim says. “But over the years, he realized that the Prime Directive exists for a reason, and breaking it would bring about serious repercussions, not just to his Starfleet career but to his people. So that is the weight of Saru’s burden.

In other Star Trek news, it was also announced this week that Patrick Stewart’s series reprising Jean-Luc Picard will debut in late 2019.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a comment