DOCTOR WHO recap: Dinosaurs On A Spaceship (7.2)

By Ruthie
It's Recap Time!

This episode begins a long time ago, but definitely well out of the dinosaur time frame: Egypt, 1334 BC. The doctor is trying to escape from an overly frisky Queen Nefertiti--well, he is a married man after all. They are interrupted as he receives a blast from “temporal news.” Nefertiti tags along as they go to 2367AD, where they find themselves in what appears to be a war room in India. The Indian military has identified a ship the size of Canada on a collision course with Earth, and the military is obligated to protect the planet by blowing the thing up....
The Doctor decides to collect some friends he hasn’t seen in a while, so he first pops in on Africa of 1902 to collect an explorer named John Riddell. (He is played by Rupert Graves, who you may also know as Lestrade from “Sherlock.”)

The Ponds, meanwhile, are in their flat, where Rory’s dad Bryan is up on a ladder. First off, I am super stoked the second I see Rory’s dad, because he is played by the fantastic Mark Williams, who Harry Potter fans might recognize as Mr. Weasley, and even geekier people might remember from the sketch comedy show “The Fast Show.” (Look, I found you a clip with Johnny Depp in it. Don’t ever say I don’t love you.) The Doctor collects the Ponds through the expedient of materializing the TARDIS around them, and therefore, Mr. Williams Senior gets pressganged into tagging along.

"...Nice hat."  "Says the man wearing a bow tie."
The Doctor doesn’t seem to notice until they are actually on board the spaceship and heading out. Eleven tears his attention away from the creepy-crawly filled ship to accost Bryan Williams (snicker), who is introduced by Rory. Rory explains everything to his Dad with the broad but factually accurate explanation that they didn’t go to Thailand after they got married—instead they traveled all of time and space in that phone box over there. It goes over surprisingly well.

Explorations (and Amy’s complaint that it’s been ten months) are interrupted when two dinosaurs barge into the room. They are definitely members of the ankylosaurus family, and I can’t really see the tails, but I’m hoping they’re euoplocephaluses because those things are awesome. (I am the mother of a four year old boy; therefore, I know about as much about dinosaurs as some paleontologists.) Some running and hiding happens, during which Riddell is ordered not to kill the dinosaurs. They boot up a computer, and the computer responds to the Doctor’s request for a path to the engines by simply teleporting them there, leaving Amy, Nefertiti, and Riddell behind.

The engine room turns out to be a gray, windy beach. Bryan has a minor freak out, and Rory explains that his father hates traveling. Rory notes that the beach is humming, and his father whips a trowel out of his pocket, because OF COURSE he’s the kind of guy who has miscellaneous useful things secreted in his pockets. There’s a floor under the beach.

In an ominous looking room full of blinking lights, a wheezy voiced man seen only in silhouette is spying on all this and gets excited to hear Rory call “Doctor!”
"Inter-dimensional poker chips? What's the buy-in?"

Amy and her friends are exploring, and Amy gets a little fangirl over Queen Nefertiti. So fangirl, in fact, that the group stumbles across a dinosaur nest including a napping juvenile T-Rex and have to flee without waking it. They manage. Nefertiti asks Amy if she’s a queen, and Amy responds “Yes. Yes I am.” Ha ha ha.

The Doctor has determined that the beach is in fact the engine room, and the ship is powered by the waves. There’s not much time to get excited about this before they are swarmed by Pterodactyls and have to run for their lives! They make it to a cave, where they are accosted by a pair of huge, petulant robots that crawled right out of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Amy has found herself in some sort of control room, where she manages to call up a ship’s data record and eventually they determine that the ship was an ark, launched by the Silurians back when they thought the planet was going to be destroyed.

The Doctor and the Williamses are being escorted to “the naughty corner” by the robots, but they are interrupted by a friendly triceratops. The Doctor nicknames her Tricey, but she is interested only in the elder Mr. Williams’s pants. Turns out he has a couple golf balls in there, and she eventually leaves them for a game of fetch.

From the computer, Amy determines that the ship was once highly populated, but in the meantime, thousands have disappeared. She finds the culprit in a second, smaller spacecraft lodged in the center of the giant ship. Nefertiti and Riddell get a bit flirty.
Rejected Star Wars design: USS FROZEN EXPLOSION

The Robots lead the fellas to the actual spaceship, where Rory and Bryan are left outside while the wheezy guy from earlier parlays with the Doctor. We see the man, and Harry Potter fans are again delighted at the sight of David Bradley, who played Argus Filch in the movies. His character is nearly as pleasant in this episode, where he plays a bad tempered and remarkably conscience-less pirate by the name of Solomon. He was attacked by a couple of raptors, and he’s so delighted because he’s mistaken the Doctor for a medical doctor. I’m surprised Eleven doesn’t call Rory, who is, after all, actually in the medical field. The Doctor asks Solomon to tell him how he got the dinosaurs before he fixes the bad leg, and Solomon’s response is to have the robots hurt Bryan.

Rory whips out a med pack from his pocket and fixes his dad up good as new, while the Doctor provides the same service to Solomon. Solomon hated questions enough to shoot Mr. Williams just to prove the point, yet he’s remarkably forthcoming with the Doctor about who he is, why he’s on the ship, and what he’s after. He’s trying to steal the ship to sell the expensive cargo. Amy calls Rory, and they update the Doctor with the news about the ship being Silurian. Solomon must be feeling chatty now that his leg is better, because he explains to the Doctor that he and the robots woke up all the Silurians one by one and then ejected them into space. Grisly. Unfortunately, now he can’t steer the ship and he’s ended up a prisoner on the ship he stole.
"In my day, Dino's and robots knew their place!"

The Doctor tells him about the missiles and then leaves. The Williamses and the Doctor attempt to flee from the robots by jumping onto the back of Tricey the triceratops, but she stubbornly refuses to move until Bryan throws his other golf ball. They then have a merry ride on the CGI dino. Eventually she throws them off, conveniently in front of a computer console where the Indian military officer is calling to inform them that she has no choice but to launch the missiles. Seems a bit harsh, but look at it from her perspective. If a ship the size of Canada crashes into the planet, it does not bode well for the continued health and happiness of the who-knows-how-many-billion inhabitants.

Riddell has managed to get his hands on some dinosaur stun guns, and while they are arming themselves, Nefertiti asks if the Doctor is single. She describes her husband as “the male equivalent of a sleeping potion.” I don’t believe that for a minute. A ton of exciting stuff happened under the reign of Akhenaten and Nefertiti, much of it quite scandalous, and the couple had something like nine children. (Which is a lot when your life expectancy tops out at 35.) All of that doesn’t add up to “boring and unsatisfying in the bedroom” if you ask me. But Riddell takes the bait and flirts with her some more. They are interrupted by the security camera showing the Doctor and the Williamses elsewhere on the ship.
The gang tries out Skype 22.0

While they are trying to figure out what to do, Solomon and his robots teleport in. He has detected the missiles, and realizes he has to abandon ship. He can no longer take the dinosaurs, but he has realized that Nefertiti is on board, and he thinks she might be valuable enough to make this worth his while. He demands the Doctor hand her over, and, when he refuses, Solomon has the robots play Target Practice on Tricey the triceratops. She dies. Poor triceratops. The Doctor still refuses to hand over the Queen, but Nefertiti demands to be brought to Solomon. She goes with him over the objections of her friends, but when she refuses to allow him to touch her, he holds a giant spear-looking thing to her throat. “I like my possessions to have spirit. It means I can have fun breaking them,” he says. And then, in a tone that sent a cold chill of utter creepiness down the spine of every woman in earshot, he adds, “And I will break you in with immense pleasure.” They teleport away, and I fight the urge to go take a shower and wash that horrible sentence off.

The Doctor takes his crew to the control deck, where he’s come up with a plan. He magnetizes Solomon’s ship, trapping it. Riddell steps into the hall, where he discovers several huge, feathery raptors headed their way. (Fun fact: velociraptors are only about the size of a turkey, but these big ones could be another, less famous species, like Utahraptors.) The Doctor has realized a flaw in his plan in that the ship can only be steered by two pilots from the same “gene chain,” which makes sense for Silurians given that, if I am remembering “The Hungry Earth” correctly, they are born in large broods. Bryan points out that he and Rory have the same gene chain, and that’s how the Williams boys end up steering the spaceship. Riddell comes back and announces, “This is a two man job.” Amy grabs a gun, telling him, “I’m easily worth two men. You can come too, if you like.” (Hee hee) The Doctor teleports off somewhere, and Amy and Riddell have a River Song-style raptor shoot. The Williamses fly the ship, and the elder Williams is super excited.
The Seagulls are out of control in Wildwood, New Jersey.

The Doctor, meanwhile, appears on Solomon’s ship and disables his robots. Solomon tries to threaten Nefertiti, and she gets irritated enough to flip him over and hold his own weapon on him. Ha! The Doctor whips out a glowy ball thing, which is, apparently, emitting the signal the missiles have locked onto. Once he and Nefertiti leave the ship, the Doctor will demagnetize it and Solomon’s ship will take off and the missiles will destroy it. Solomon pleads for his life, offering the Doctor anything he desires. “Did the Silurians beg you to stop?” the Doctor asks before leaving the old man to die on the floor of his ship. Hmmm. That’s pretty dark and cold for the Doctor. I’m not sure this jives with the guy who keeps showing mercy even to his very worst enemy. But the plan works, Solomon dies, and everyone else is saved.

The Doctor arranges to take everyone home. Mr. Williams asks the Doctor for a favor on the way, and we see him sitting in the door of the TARDIS, dangling his feet into the space above planet earth as he enjoys his packed lunch. The Doctor drops off Riddell, and it looks as though Nefertiti decided to stay with him. (Which might explain why we have no record of when she died and why no one’s ever found her mummy.)
Deep Space Joggers - Coming this fall on CBS

Back at their flat, Amy and Rory receive a fistful of postcards from Rory’s father. Although he hated travel at the beginning of the episode, it seems he’s become quite the world traveler, filling their bulletin board with shot after shot of himself in front of landmarks from Brazil to Italy. The final postcard, though, shows the TARDIS in the midst of a field of dinosaurs, behind a sign that reads “Siluria.”

And that’s it. There were some quality one liners in this episode and the cast was bang-on, but, like most episodes following the season premiere, it felt like more fluff than fabulousness. Honestly, the death of Solomon just does not sit right with me. It just doesn’t seem right for the Doctor to kill someone so cold and emotionlessly, no matter what kind of amoral sleazebag he may be. He didn’t even kill the Family of the Blood, and they were about as bad as they come. And how many times has he showed mercy to the Master?

But what do you think about the episode? Tell me in the comments, check us out on Facebook, and come back next week, when we’ll be visiting “A Town Called Mercy.” Mmm, more Old West for the Doctor.

I do hope he wears his Stetson—Stetsons are cool.


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