Woah. That was one heck of a ride. We finally reached one of my most anticipated episodes of the current Series, and boy did it deliver. Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS did exactly what the title said and more. Let’s get one thing out of the way before people get lost in comparisons: the other TARDIS-centric episode we had recently, The Doctor’s Wife, was one of the best episodes of Doctor Who ever. This wasn’t that, and didn’t have to be, it was what we needed it to be and that is a darn good episode of Doctor Who.
As I had hoped for from the moment I heard of it, this episode is filled with lots of treats for the long-time fan. With references to the past to foreshadowing of the future, this episode has got it all. It is by no means a perfect episode, but it was good fun and felt like a lot of things were happening at once in that one hour. This was Stephen Thompson’s redemption on Doctor Who after his first episode last season, The Curse of the Black Spot.
This week we once again had some nice guest stars playing the Van Baalen brothers, a space salvage crew who ended up being the afterthought of the episode. They weren’t as interesting as the guest stars from last week’s Hide and didn’t serve as big a purpose, but they had a nice little side story of their own. Although, what kind of horrible person makes their brother think he’s not human for entertainment? Gregor Van Baalen was an annoying character for most of the episode but by the end he sort of redeemed himself as he proved to have a shred of decency left in him.
The brothers capture the TARDIS when it happens to not have its shields on and this sets things in motion for the rest of the episode. But first let us look at what was happening in the TARDIS before everything went wrong.
We see the Doctor try to get Clara to talk to the TARDIS in an effort to to have them bond, seeing as how Clara and the TARDIS haven’t been getting along for some reason these last few episodes. Sadly by the end of the episode, we still have no idea why the TARDIS doesn’t ‘like’ her, but it’s clearly as important as finding out who she is. Anyway, this leads to the Doctor dropping the shields and keeping the TARDIS in basic mode so that Clara can take over the ‘wheel’. And then things go wrong. And the fun begins.
One of my favorite scenes of the episode came when the Doctor forced the brothers to help. For one thing we see how much he cares for Clara by promising to give up his TARDIS for her (although I’m sure he was never actually going to do that). And then there was his dark moment when he shouted “MY SHIP, MY RULES!” as he started a self-destruct timer to ensure the brothers would help him find Clara before everything exploded. There was a hint of a smile on his face as he said those words showing how much of a madman and lunatic he really is, and I loved it. Matt Smith pulled that off perfectly. Of course, the scene lost its effect once The Doctor revealed he was just faking it, but I digress.
The TARDIS is the safest place in the universe, but it’s pretty clear now that in the wrong hands, it can also be the most dangerous. As Clara wandered through the many corridors she was chased by a monster that revealed itself more over the course of the episode, till the end when it was revealed to be Clara herself from the future after she dies. I’ll get to that in a moment though. The monster looked good, but wasn’t the main event of the episode, it was just a part of it. As she was chased, Clara discovered the swimming pool and the library that was only previously talked about, but never seen. Unfortunately, the swimming pool wasn’t in the the library.
She also passes an observatory and goes through what appears to be the Doctor’s room. We see the cot that was used in A Good Man Goes to War as well as some books, a typewriter, a TARDIS model, an umbrella, and a magnifying glass. It seems to have something from all his companions. There’s so much more that Clara unfortunately didn’t get the time to look at, but the Doctor’s room seems to be most interesting.
If it was any other year of Doctor Who, I suspect that all the references from this Series would fill the fanboy and fangirl hearts with joy, but being the 50th anniversary of the show I almost expect references to the past in each episode, especially in a TARDIS-centric one. And I was not disappointed. We hear audio clips of the past Doctors, especially about those that pertain to the TARDIS. It’s nothing more than a neat little treat for the fans. Apparently these audio clips can also be found in bottles in the library. Interesting.
The Time Lords are also mentioned when one of the brothers try to walk away with a piece of the TARDIS circuit and ends up walking in circles. The TARDIS won’t let him get away with it that easy and is clearly ready to put up a fight. “Smart bunch, Time Lords. Horrible dress sense, dreadful hats, but smart.”
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