After taking a year off in 2016, Doctor Who has returned to our screens and is ready to blow our minds wide open. The Pilot is a fun reboot style episode that isn’t a reboot, with a snazzy title that nods to this fact, while also referencing the actual episode. That makes sense once you’ve watched it.
Now series 10 is tackling the age-old task of introducing the new companion to the show. This is how the episode shapes itself like a ‘pilot’ episode, as everything you need to know about the Doctor Who universe is introduced in a full on feature-length episode. The new companion is none other than Bill Potts played by Pearl Mackie. Initially from her small preview we were shown last year, I was a little sceptical on her character. A lot of the trailers have shown her spouting ‘cringe-y’ one liners with little context, making her look a little one-dimensional. But now I can confidently say I like her. Bill feels like a mix of previous companions in many ways, and off the bat we are shown she’s a young women with a wide range of emotions going on in her everyday life, which I really appreciated seeing.
The episodes starts relatively grounded with the Doctor having a job as a university lecturer. Bill even questions rumours he’s been there for around fifty years or more? It never fails to be fun to see the Doctor in a real life setting. One thing is true, Moffat loves to age his Doctors considerably. In relation to this, the new dynamic between the Doctor and Bill is fantastic. Bill asks fun and interesting questions while still remaining relevant. Her emotional range is explored and it doesn’t hinder the overall flow, unlike how Clara’s personal life used to. She even gets her own bigger on the inside scene. Nardole also continues to be an effective source of comic relief, allowing the Doctor to gain this wonderful sweet spot in between his two personas of an old war veteran and a guitar rocking granddad. Of course Peter Capaldi is as incredible in the role as ever, and I don’t see this changing, tears will fall when he finally leaves at Christmas.
The pacing of the episode was great as well, I never felt jolted or disinterested by the movement between scenes. We effectively explore who Bill is and what the Doctor is up while also introducing the villain of the week. I think this and previous episodes prove that Moffat can make anything scary. From statues and shadows to now a puddle. Yes a puddle. This episode is being praised for its horror elements interestingly enough. In all honestly everyone is right. The scene with Bill looking around her bathroom with Heather stalking her is surprisingly tense. The episode used a variety of horror tropes, which again made it feel like a decent representation to everything Doctor Who does well.
For once the writing doesn’t scream, overarching plot. Obviously the vault door shown will have later relevance, but it’s taken Moffat seven years to realise he doesn’t do long plot points well, so I appreciate him not shoving it in my face. This time around it has left me with a ton of questions and excitement for the rest of the series, which is exactly what a series plot point should do. More Bad Wolf and less Impossible Girl, wall cracks and Silence.
Judging by the current trailers and the Pilot, Steven Moffat is trying to have fun with his and Peter Capaldi’s final series. Honestly, that’s exactly what this episode is. Fun. It’s not ground-breaking, it won’t blow your mind or make you flip a table in surprise. It’s pure and simple Doctor Who joy that will consistently make you smile. But do the hard-core fans expect more from the show? Maybe. But personally I don’t go into an episode of Doctor Who expecting every second to be a tense Sci-Fi thriller. And I think the new episode shows what Doctor Who is truly about.
Oh and make sure you don’t miss that coming soon trailer. Here come the drums.
All images and video shown are created by and property of the BBC.
Final Score: The Pilot – 8/10
by Robert Anderson