It is the future, aboard a spaceship where we are greeted by an Indo-Japanese platoon from the point of view of the soldiers. Reece Shearsmith’s Professor Rassmussan narrates the foreshadowing of the characters in what is a ‘found footage’ episode.
Unique for this season is that the episode is a standalone, in a season of two parter cliffhangers. As well as this there is no interrupting Doctor who title intro, in what I assume is to keep the suspense.
The crew are being chased by sandmen which are composed from the dust on the ship. Gatiss has painted an interesting back story for this setting. A dose of political satire for example drives the episode as Professor Rassmussan’s Morpheus machine exists to allow the workers to go without sleep for the sake of profit.
The monsters are made of dust including the eyes of the humans that are in a frozen state of insomnia – weird and clever.
Also of note is the Bladerunner style replicant 474, a 5 year old clone designed to protect the crew. The ‘cis’ character is played by transgender actor Bethany Black who became the first trans actor in a recurring trans role on British television. Her last stand is also shown with the use of blood reflecting the later 8pm showing time and darker tone of Peter Capaldi’s doctor.
So this is a unique ‘found footage’ episode and while it could have been a two parter, its probably best that it stayed as a single episode. The found footage point of view element also has a plot twist that can’t be mentioned for fear of spoiling it, but its pretty cool.
Overall a thrilling, horror style episode with a lot of intensity because of its point of view Peep show style delivery. Characters as other episodes of this season have shown, have a low survival rate, reminiscent of the red shirts in Star Trek.
Also even though the Doctor doesn’t like the use of firearms and warns against their use, his allies frequently use them to kill their enemies on screen.
I must admit I like this darker interpretation of the Doctor, in comparison to the more child friendly episodes of Matt Smith, where mortality is often avoided.
- The Morpheus machine uses the Chordette’s 1954 classic Mr Sandman as its theme tune
- The reunion of two League of Gentlemen creators: Reece Shearsmith and Mark Gatiss