In the fifth episode of the fourth season of Doctor Who, the Doctor and his companions have to work together to counter the disastrous plans of the Sontarans. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Doctor Who.
I think that the small details in “The Poison Sky” are what make this episode work. As a grand statement, and in terms of the larger plot, this episode is a bit of a letdown. It never reaches precisely the same heights as the first half of the story. (This was a common complaint from me during the first two series of the show, but series three seemed really on top of the ball in terms of multi-part storytelling.) But it seemed full of clever nods to past stories and the future as well, so I don’t want to be too quick to discount it as a whole, either.
The cliffhanger of “The Sontaran Strategem” is resolved in a painfully obvious way: BREAK THE WINDOWS. Anticlimactic? Sure. It seems there’s a lot of that here, but, again, this isn’t necessarily a bad episode at all. We see that Martha’s cloning was done as an attempt to infiltrate UNIT, but I did love that the Doctor figured out that this “Martha” was an imposter pretty early on. I don’t think I would have believed the idea that the Doctor could be fooled by her for more than a few minutes. By hinting that he’d figured it out so early, it actually added an interesting tension to the story. If the Doctor knew Martha was a clone, then what was he planning the entire time? A great deal of time is spent on this idea of filling in the missing pieces, but I found myself…disinterested? Is that the word? I didn’t dislike it and I still think the Sontaran story is really fascinating at heart, but not one of the revelations seemed all that mind-blowing.
What I did find interesting were the small things. The Doctor’s disgust and repugnance with guns is so wonderful. Here’s a hero of sorts who flat-out refuses to use guns himself, who balks at them being used in situations where there’s always another solution. I don’t think of it as any sort of commentary on gun use or ownership. Instead, I feel like it’s a way to criticize the dependence on guns in cinema and television. Once you remove the option to just shoot your enemy, what options do you have to defeat them?
It’s weird writing this review because I am struggling to find things to talk about. We knew the Sontarans could clone and survived/procreated that way, so the Doctor figuring out the gas was meant to accent that seemed pretty obvious. The Doctor clearly couldn’t die and once he told Rattigan to do something clever with his life, it seemed obvious that Rattigan would take the Doctor’s place on board the Sontaran ship. I loved the visual effect of the atmospheric converter causing that fire above the entire word and it seemed like yet another over-the-top thing the Doctor does to save the world.
So let’s just get to the few awesome things I wanted to discuss. I know this is a short, short review so far, but I really don’t want to force myself to write about things I’m not inspired by.
- “ARE YOU MY MUMMY?” Holy god, I laughed so hard I had to pause the episode. BRILLIANT.
- Rest in peace, Ross Jenkins, with your distracting side-character-attraction. Rest in peace.
- So…..Sontarans can be shot to death? Clearly they have the advantage and use much better weapons, but I thought there were a lot tougher than that.
- I have no idea who the Rutans are. Don’t tell me if it comes up in the future.
- Is there a specific reason that the Doctor seems kind of hostile towards UNIT? He doesn’t necessarily seem excited about working with them again.
- God, how weird must it be to watch your own clone die in front of you?
- Did I miss something from the conversation between Wilfred and Donna at the end? It felt like we came in at the end of it, but they were talking about not telling Donna’s mom about the Doctor, right?
- So, an interesting thought. Did the Doctor just annihilate the entire Sontaran race or just a great deal of them? I found this interesting because there was no one to stop him from doing so.
- Ok, so the end of this episode is pretty exciting. I wasn’t surprised that Martha said she wasn’t going to continue on, but NOW SHE DOESN’T HAVE A CHOICE! So where are they going to and why did the TARDIS take them there automatically? Also: