Doctor Who Commentary: Thoughts on The Rings of Akhenaten

Because this is the new episode, all of my THOUGHTS will be after the page break. After all, SPOILERS, Sweetie.

So here they are. In no particular order, my reactions to the latest Doctor Who episode, The Rings of Akhenaten, in which we find Clara on her first alien world. I will say that overall I liked the episode… but I feel a lot more nit-picky about it than usual. Will have to think on that.

  • The opening sequence has been updated (as I think I mentioned before) and is a lot like one of the classic sequences, with the Doctor’s face appearing out of the vortex and all.
  • Reference to SUSAN! The Doctor refers to his granddaughter and I actually paused the show to have a mini-debate/discussion with J about whether this might be just a throwaway, 50th anniversary reference, of if it might be something more. After all, we never really found out what happened to his granddaughter, if she REALLY WAS his granddaughter in the first place. He left her behind, safe and sound, but all the Time Lords are dead and gone… So where is she? 
  • All of the different costumes and species! I’ll bet the props and makeup departments had a field day!
  • The storyline and pacing felt very reminiscent of a “Classic Who” episode, more so than some of the blockbuster style shows they’ve done recently. I even noticed some of the “cheap” special effects, like jumping off of the moped when Clara had JUST PARKED IT, NO REALLY (but you KNOW it was sitting there the whole time really). I didn’t mind that so much, figure they blew the budget on the costuming and the animated Face-Sun thing.
  • Clara is good with kids, which we know, but we’re still not sure why. She was an only child as far as I can tell, so where did that come from?
  • Also, what happened to her mom?
  • I like that the leaf was explained… but I also don’t like that the leaf was explained. It was set up as a sort of mystery in the first (non-Christmas-special, non-Amy-and-Rory) Clara episode and here in the second it is not only immediately and fully explained, it’s just POOF gone. Oh-kay…. Hard for me to care about it when it’s here and gone. Maybe if she’d fought a little harder for it?
  • So… did the Doctor really just put all of his SUPER SECRET KNOWLEDGE into an evil being/supernova? That seems a little foolhardy. Y’know, in case it explodes, where does that knowledge go now? I mean, WE MUSTN’T ANSWER THE QUESTION or SILENCE WILL FALL and all, but let’s just put that answer into a big explodey thing. Sure, why not?
  • Along the same lines… if the Star Face explodey thing is “eating souls” which are really just stories… what’s the big deal? No one seems to die, and the Doctor doesn’t seem to have ANY of his memories wiped, he just shared them… so other than it going supernova and exploding the whole star system, what difference does it make if it gets stories? That doesn’t seem to hurt anyone as far as I can tell… or did I just miss something? What I mean to say is, I UNDERSTAND the threat of a supernova exploding an entire star system, but if the solution is to just tell it stories, then how big of a threat is it? The Doctor makes it out like it’s just living on tales of things that have happened. Now, if people were being EMPTIED after it took their stories (or if they actually LOST the memories), I could see it being a big deal.
  • YAY for saving the kid and all… but did the kid’s singing REALLY have anything to do with saving the world? Or was that just to make the kid feel better?
  • Speaking of kids… Clara realizes that the Doctor has been watching her, at least at her mother’s funeral. Do we really need another “my childhood was spent with the Doctor” character?

And I think I’m done now. After looking over all of those things (and especially as I’ve been watching more Classic Who lately), I get the feeling that the showrunners are trying a little TOO hard to make us like Clara. Look! She can do all of these things! Look! The Doctor watched over her in childhood, so she’s like Amy! Look! Helping a crying girl, just like Amy’s first episode! Stop trying to MAKE us like Clara. I already liked Clara in Victorian England because of her grit and feistiness and her way of caring for people and seeing good in them. That’s all good stuff! And I don’t mind mysteries (after all, I’ve played along with the River Song thing the whole time, right?), so you don’t need to explain them all at once. Really!

I can’t help but think there is too much pressure, too high of expectations leading into the 50th anniversary of the show. I’ll enjoy it nonetheless, but I wish that the people running this thing would just do what works and not try SO HARD. After all, how many companions have they been through in 50 years? It’ll be okay. People will accept a new companion, just like they always eventually accept a new Doctor.

So yeah. That turned out way longer than anticipated. If you read this whole thing… treat yourself to a jammie dodger!

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