Doctor Who series one: Boom Town
Margaret : This is persecution. What can't you leave me alone? What did I ever do to you?
The Doctor: You tried to kill me and destroy the entire planet.
Margaret: Apart from that.
After two weeks of fairly dark and creepy episodes we lighten it up this week as The Doctor (Christopher Eccleston), Rose (Billie Piper) and Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) return to present day England. In addition, we saw the return of Rose's former beau Mickey Smith (Noel Clarke) and, surprisingly, Margaret Blaine (Annette Badland). For those who are scratching their heads at that one, Badland appeared as the female Slitheen alien in the episodes Aliens of London and World War Three earlier in the season.
Where the last two episodes where just full of multiple plotlines, this episode settled down on just one: Margaret Blaine's attempts to build a nuclear power plant in the South Wales town of Cardiff, which would be used to pull in spatial energy that will allow her to get off of Earth. However, this wasn't the main crux of the episode. The actual focus was on the relationships of some of the characters. Particularly, the relationship between Rose and Mickey and the one between The Doctor and the alien Slitheen, who had previously attempted to kill him.
Rose and Mickey's relationship was the simpler of the two. What it came down to was Rose having all of these fantastic adventures with The Doctor and Mickey being pissed, and a mite bit jealous, at Rose for leaving him without so much as a peck on the cheek. As he vents his spleen about what he's gone through while she was away, and asks that she find him when she comes back, you have a feeling that he has come to the realization that the 'nice' thing that they previously had could no longer hold a candle to what she was encountering now. At the end of this episode, when Rose is trying to find Mickey after a spatial fault tried to swallow the entire city, you see him in the background; not wanting to say good-bye in order to make a clean split with our heroine.
The relationship between The Doctor and Margaret is a bit more difficult to define. I guess you could say it's like the relationship Superman has with Lex Luthor; one of calm distrust between hero and villain. The Doctor distrusts Margaret for attempting to destroy the Earth in the past. Margaret distrusts The Doctor for taking her back to her home planet (please don't ask me how to pronounce it!) for execution while he has performed many executions himself. Yet, within that atmosphere of distrust there is an underlying layer of compassion in both. For Margaret the compassion comes when she spares a young newspaper reporter from death after the reporter mentions her boyfriend and pregnancy. For The Doctor compassion comes at the end of the episode when, after the heart of the TARDIS turns Margaret into a un-hatched Slitheen egg, he decides to return her to another Slitheen family on her home planet (which I still cannot pronounce) to begin a new life.
Wow, I got all psychoanalytic there for a moment, didn't I?
Aside from the relationship theme, this episode of Doctor Who was chock-full of good stuff. Writer Russell T. Davies provided us with a brief history on the uses of the telephone box (could keep crooks in there for a temporary basis) and a reason why The Doctor chose this form for his spaceship. Davies also gave us a lot of great banter between all of the characters, but especially between Mickey, Jack and The Doctor. In fact, some of the fast-paced dialog reminded me a bit of something you'd see on Gilmore Girls or one of the Aaron Sorkin episodes of The West Wing. Finally, credit must be given to director Joe Ahearne who made the coast city of Cardiff look so pleasant that I'm going to book my next vacation there.
All in all, this was a nice breather episode between the chills of the last few episodes and what will be coming up in the next few weeks. While there wasn't as much science-fiction this week the story didn't really drag. Next week we meet Big Wold at the GameStation.