TV: Doctor Who – “The Rings of Akhaten”

What are we going to do with you, Doctor? Another week, and another confused step through the Moffat era. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed this week’s episode more than last week’s episode “The Bells of Saint John” (review). Or at least the first half of it.

Doctor Who Rings of Ahkaten

We kick off with a sickly and Richard Curtis-esque sequence where we see Clara’s dead parents’ first meeting and time spent with young Clara. The Doctor peers over newspapers and around trees as he – not at all creepily – spies on Clara’s life. For what purpose, I’m not sure. I suppose I’d be paranoid too if I’d been subjected to the convoluted backstories of Amy & River in the last few series.

Following tradition, the new companion is taken to a visually stunning alien world. In this case they travel to an inhabited rock in the rings of giant planet Akheten. It’s not unlike your typical Arab bazaar mixed with the cantina scene from Star Wars, with a variety of alieny-looking aliens to gawk at.

For no particular reason the Doctor vanishes, leaving Clara to be all empathetic at troubled-looking Merry, and taking the opportunity to reassure her by bringing up her mother again before returning Merry to the creepy monks she was running from. But wait, she’s supposed to sing a song to keep a terrifying mummy from waking up and eating everyone, funny how that didn’t come up in conversation!

Doctor Who Rings of AhkatenIt’s a pretty straightforward plot, reminding me of the Rose Tyler days, though they seemed to miss a lot of opportunities to explore Clara a bit more, aside from painting her as a righteous heroine. So far, so good. But they fluffed the ending as usual, relying on that increasingly common method of saving the day by love, crying, emotional speeches and magic McGuffins (in this case a magic leaf that nearly killed Clara’s dad, ah the memories!).

The visuals were great, aside from another dodgy motorbike set-piece (a space motorbike, no less). But they really need to get a grip of the endings to these things. To think I thought the Deus Ex Machina endings used to be bad, I think this sort of conclusion just doesn’t fit a Sci-fi show. Using emotions as weapons is sentimental shit, they should be used as the motivation for the characters’ actions.

The ending just left me a bit hollow, just like the Akheten system ended up – did nobody worry that the planet isn’t there any more, won’t the system collapse?! I’m still yet to be blown away by this season, aside from the Christmas special, I really hope next week’s “Cold War” can turn things around.

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