♦Our man in Los Angeles, Robert Cave, takes a look at the tenth episode of Doctor Who Series 10, The Eaters Of Light, on last Saturday on BBC1 in the UK…
Director: Charles Palmer
Writer: Rona Munro
Stars: Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Matt Lucas
The Eaters of Light is an odd little episode. Penned by Rona Munro, the only writer to have worked on both Doctor Who’s classic original run and the revived modern series, it starts in contemporary Scotland with a young brother and sister.
The two youngsters are hanging around a local standing stone circle, which is apparently haunted by music or ghosts (or maybe musical ghosts). There are also some birds that seem to speak English. But the episode isn’t really about the children or the birds.
It isn’t really about the mystery disappearance of legendary Ninth Roman Legion either. Yes, the question of what happened to the Legion, which had been subjugating its way through the Pict-controlled land that will one-day become Scotland, is a pressing concern for history-buff Bill, and is a key plot point in the narrative, but the episode focuses more on the music which serves here as a metaphor for wordless sacrifice born of mutual misunderstanding.
The Picts and the Romans come to understand each other, through Bill and, more importantly, through the Tardis’s telepathic circuits.
Once the Legionnaires and the Picts are able to communicate, they are able to at least put aside their differences and come together to deal with the larger problem they all face: some four legged-alien beasties that keep coming through a small temporal rift.
The aliens aren’t actually malicious, they just are equally happy munching on sunlight as they are on humans. Fortunately for all involved, when the Picts and Romans decide to go through the rift together to confront the light eaters their combined numbers collapse the portal, which means no more light eaters can get through.
The world is saved and all that remains of the Picts and Romans who brought this turn of events about is the haunting music they shared together, echoing through the ages in a moment of mutual understanding.
The music doesn’t just touch the sister in contemporary Scotland, it also seems to touch Missy, whose ongoing reformation, witnessed by viewers only in glimpses so far, appears to be the overarching theme of the series.
It’s an incredibly intriguing idea that looks set to reach its fruition in the next episode where the Doctor looks set to put Missy’s new leaf to the test by allowing her to go on a solo adventure with Bill and Nardole. Is She playing it straight or does she have an alternative plan up her sleeves?
I await finding out in the next episode with baited breath.