Synopsis: The Doctor takes Bill back in time to ancient Scotland to solve the mystery of what happened to the Ninth Legion of the Roman Army. When they arrive they find a far more chilling threat than any army…
Review: The Eaters of Light starts with the TARDIS materialising in Scotland during the time of the Roman Invasion. Bill and the Doctor have different ideas about what happened to the 9th Roman Legion and want to find out what really happened. The time travellers become separated and Bill is chased by a creature that we discover devours light. She finds a lone Roman soldier, and later the remains of the 9th Legion and convinces them the Doctor can help. The Doctor is captured by Picts but soon convinces them to work with the Romans and with the Doctor’s help the two ancient peoples coerce the creature back into the dimensional rift from which it came. They then enter the rift to defend the world from the Eaters of Light for all time. Back in the TARDIS, the Doctor and Missy have an intense conversation about the possibility of them becoming friends again.
This felt very much like an episode of Classic Who when Bill was trapped in the caves with death a hair’s breadth away. There was some nice humour when Bill discovered the TARDIS translation matrix which later became an amazing metaphor for the unifying effect the Doctor has on the people he meets. There were some beautiful shots of Scotland in this episode. I particularly liked the extreme wide shot of the TARDIS materialising in the landscape. Pearl Mackie acted brilliantly in this episode, from her awkward explanation to the Roman soldiers that she likes women to the heart wrenching “I’m sorry they killed him” when she first meets them. Both Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie were able to show their fine acting skills in the speeches they made to unite the Picts and the Romans.
The CGI of the dimensional rift was superb, as was the music used when the Doctor discovers it. Rebecca Benson delivered an excellent speech as Car about the evils of empire building and her interaction with Peter Capaldi was great, especially when the Doctor says “Who isn’t [scared]? But you’ve still got to face your beast anyway.” The Doctor’s heroism was shown strongly in this outing, with the Time Lord pushing aside a spear trained on him and volunteering to guard the cairn until the end of time. Peter Capaldi again showed his range here in the awesome speech he made to bring the Picts and Romans together. Very touching I thought was Nardole telling the crow “Her name was Car” and that becoming the crow’s call from that point forward.
Perhaps the most interesting moment in this episode was at the end, when Missy appeared to be on the verge of becoming good. Michelle Gomez delivered Missy’s heartfelt plea for friendship to the Doctor excellently. This also calls back to Death in Heaven, where Missy revealed that she wants her friend back. It should be extremely intriguing to see how this plays out in the final two episodes.
Overall, this was a great episode.
- Incidental Music9.5