It Takes You Away
2 December 2018 at 11:40 #66089
On the edge of a Norwegian fjord in the present day, the Doctor, Ryan, Graham and Yaz discover a boarded-up cottage and a girl named Hanne in need of their help. What has happened here? What monster lurks in the woods around the cottage – and beyond?
This is written by Ed Hime, who has mostly worked in theatre and radio drama for the last 20 years. However, he’s also written a few episodes of “Skins” and written six original dramas for BBC 3, BBC 4 and BBC 6. His work is known for its social consciousness and black humour.
It’s directed by Jamie Childs who is best known for TV trailers. Yep, he was the one who directed the trailer that revealed Whittaker as the new Doctor. He’s also done a lot of short films and some TV including “Vera” and “Lucky Man” and will be directing the last two episodes of the BBC’s new production of Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials”2 December 2018 at 19:20 #66095
Well that was all sorts of bonkers – and I loved it! Possibly the best one in this series yet (in my humble opinion).
Craziest episode for a long time. And maybe a hint of some sort of arc we can chat about. Who doesn’t like another dimension?2 December 2018 at 19:23 #66096
Just wanted to say, always hated moths anyway. They’ve always creeped me out.
Really didn’t need an episode of flesh eating moths chasing people down dark corridors…2 December 2018 at 19:27 #66097
7 grans, eh?
Has that been done before?
A tale of grief and loss, of what was and is gone and never can be again.2 December 2018 at 19:34 #66098
But aside from confirming what I always suspected about the bloody creatures, good episode. Looked amazing, great initial misdirection, and a baddie that isn’t really a baddie, just a dangerously lonely and powerful entity nearly blowing up the universe. It managed to both be a ‘the universe is in peril’ story and carry on the overall theme of this series focusing on people, and decisions, and grief.
And Ryan finally said Grandad, not too sentimentally but with a smile, knowing full well what it would mean to Graham.2 December 2018 at 19:41 #66099Whisht @whisht
That. Was. Excellent.
Honestly, I was welling up/in tears at the end and thought that all the actors* were brilliant.
Just thought the whole thing worked well.
In this one I’m not especially caring if it feels like “is this the Doctor?” and instead just enjoying feeling “that was a great story”.
No doubt some music** will come but really just wanted to say how much I enjoyed this one.
*and that includes The Actor Kevin Eldon.
** yeah – Arctic Monkeys probably will feature2 December 2018 at 19:45 #66100
For a while there, I thought I was going to have to eat my words of this week and call this a pretty good episode. Then frogs happened.
Let’s just say that if I ever hear anyone diss Kill The Moon for moon eggs ever again I will not be responsible for my actions.2 December 2018 at 19:53 #661012 December 2018 at 19:54 #66102
When it’s representing a sentient universe, one is enough…..2 December 2018 at 20:03 #661032 December 2018 at 20:08 #661042 December 2018 at 20:29 #66105Arch @arch
Not sure about this one. Certainly didn’t dislike it but somethings not sitting right. Can’t put my finger on it yet though.
ill have to rewatch it2 December 2018 at 20:49 #66106
And also the story of the frog not realising the universe was getting hotter.2 December 2018 at 21:10 #66107Mudlark @mudlark
A very Doctorish take on Through the Looking Glass, and perhaps the best and most imaginative episode so far this year. The initial misdirection was neatly done and the concept of an alternative and lonely universe yearning to connect with ours was compelling, though it rang faint bells and I’m not sure it was entirely original. As @pedant says, it was also an effective way to further explore the themes of love and loss and grief which has been recurrent this series.
I could have done without the passing reference to a bloody ovine revolution, which chiefly brought to mind Dennis Healy’s description of debating Geoffrey How; an unnecessary and distracting embellishment. And too many grannies for comfort.
@miapatrick Most moths, other than the kind which ate my teddy bear* and the toy fox terrier to which I had been particularly attached, are furrily cute and colourful and every bit as attractive as butterflies if you look at them closely.
@jimthefish What have you got against frogs? As a gardener, I consider them friends and do all I can to encourage them. In fact the idea of a would-be universe manifesting itself as a frog is decidedly appealing.
*The teddy bear in question was a wartime improvisation, with a multi-coloured, knitted body, and therefore unique and irreplaceable.2 December 2018 at 21:11 #66108
Trigger warning: Frogs play a starring role in the final part of Terry Pratchett’s Bromeliad trilogy.2 December 2018 at 21:12 #66109
@mudlark It’s looking at them closely thats the problem, something about the size of their bodies…2 December 2018 at 21:24 #661102 December 2018 at 21:55 #66112Cath Annabel @cathannabel
I loved it. Proper bonkers. Sheep, moths and frogs. And again with this series’ key trope, the big bad isn’t exactly a big bad after all. The monster in the woods is a fake, the creepy little dude in the tunnels gets eaten by moths because he can’t resist going after the sonic, and the alternate universe is kind of a lonely consciousness trying to make and keep friends. I really liked that Grace was Grace but somehow clearly not, even before the huge give-away of her not reacting to the idea that Ryan was in danger. Bits of Doctory back story being thrown out there, just for fun. Twisty turny, subverting expectations, and then a full-on assault on the tear ducts. Well, mine, anyway.2 December 2018 at 22:31 #66113ardaraith @ardaraith
Yea, I’m an utter fan girl now. I loved that episode! Just …so much YES! It was touching, weird, human, real.3 December 2018 at 02:50 #66116nerys @nerys
I enjoyed this episode so much more than last week’s … but I think that’s because I was not bringing my own expectations into this story the way I was the last one. The only thing I would’ve changed is to make Grace the final “barrier” through the Solitract’s looking glass. I felt a bit of dramatic impact was lost there by making it Erik’s wife/Hanne’s mother, Trine. But otherwise, it’s a good’un! And I thought Ellie Wallwork, who played Hanne, was wonderful!3 December 2018 at 06:50 #66119tardigrade @tardigrade
A bit of a different style to this episode and one that appealed to me. Some heart to it, but without getting melodramatic, and while retaining some pacing to the plot. Some real Doctor-y solutions to problems also.
Because I was generally engaged, I let slide some of the more unnecessary off-the-wall stuff. The Doctor is talking nonsense about a Woolly Rebellion and eating the soil, and somehow it’s a cottage without smoke coming out of the chimney that’s odd, apparently. To the point that she insists on searching the place, even when there is apparently no-one home, which would adequately explain the lack of smoke.
I did notice that the Doctor was essentially giving orders in this episode. It was “You two search upstairs”, rather than “Could you two search upstairs?”. A sign of growing confidence in the Doctor? Or re-asserting her authority after the “flat team structure” of the previous episode?
The run of not-really-all-that-scary monsters continued, with the creature of the week being moths. They’d need to be a whole lot bigger to present much of a realistic-appearing threat, at least to me.
I particularly liked the portrayal of not-actually-Grace in this- just slightly off- just enough for those who aren’t invested in seeing her as real to pick up on. It’s a delicate balance, and I think it was done very successfully.
I had a little trouble buying that the Doctor genuinely saw froggy as a friend. She really only seemed to embrace it when she knew she’d have to be allowed to leave. It didn’t help that the frog wasn’t all that convincing. I think the episode would have been better served just using Grace as the incarnation of the self-aware universe.
And of course this was one more case where wasn’t an out and out, black and white “baddie” facing the Doctor.
Definitely not a flawless episode, but for me it was a enjoyable one that swung the tone in a direction I liked.3 December 2018 at 07:35 #66120
@tardigrade see this is why I actually like the use of frog form. I think the Doctor found it slightly endearing, and found it easier to feel warmer towards the Solitract when it wasn’t using the form of one of her friends (albeit a short friendship) the form that was being used to trap another of her friends, a form that completely screwed up by missing an important part of Grace’s personality. Instead, it kept her voice for the moment and used a form it picked up from her, frogs, because Grace liked frogs and it found that it did too. And from all the forms in the universe to choose from, it didn’t choose a humanoid form. It chose a form at least a human would be unlikely to, in the frog prince, the point of the form of a frog is that it’s slimy and repulsive.3 December 2018 at 08:30 #66121
I too really liked this one. It wasn’t flawless; the ending was a bit simplistic, and when the Solitract* was alone with the Doctor, I really wanted them to be in the barn on Gallifrey, with the Solitract taking the form of, oh, how about bringing in Carole Ann Ford?
*Sol from Latin solus, meaning alone, and tract from trahere, to draw = to pull into solitude. Nice.
But I’m basically nitpicking. At last an episode wanting to evoke sense of wonder, with a full dose of imagination, and nothing important left unexplained. Just enough for me to bonkerize. Whosis of the Seven Stomachs…how about a Cro-Magnon or something who got drawn in there, to evolve in parallel? And the flesh-eating moths something similar?
Yup, best episode for me so far. Here’s looking forward to the finale.3 December 2018 at 09:44 #66123John William Smith @tardisprototype94
I guess I watched slightly decent episode since the season starts. Didn’t like a little bit doctor frog dialogue. It wasn’t deep. Happened fast.
I hope scenario will get better3 December 2018 at 12:04 #66124
I could have done without the passing reference to a bloody ovine revolution…
liestells tall tales”?3 December 2018 at 12:26 #66126
Genetically engineered sheep?
Actually, I think it’s the writer having a bit of fun with the contemporary insult ‘sheeple’. 😀
Also liked the frog.
We do have to be careful to distinguish between a concept (talking frogs are a popular staple of fairy tales, and the Solitract is from a Gallifreyan fairy tale) and execution. Producing a good talking frog was the responsibility of the special effects people, not the writer or the producer.3 December 2018 at 12:48 #66127
I just want to point out that I’m not railing against some kind of BBC amphibian agenda here. Just at seeing a quite promising Stranger Things/Solaris fusion squandering its potential in such a spectacular fashion….
See, this is what happens when people are coming at an episode from different directions. The only version of Solaris I’ve seen is the 1972 version, and I didn’t much like it. So I never connected the Solitract’s copies of dead loved ones with Solaris. Or with Stranger Things, because it’s still on my ‘must watch when I have time’ list.
What I did connect the episode with was folk tales, fairy tales and fables. To start with, there was the lonely cottage in the Norwegian woods and a blind girl. Then there’s a monster (troll?) in the Norwegian woods. Then there’s a mirror which takes us into another world, and when we get into the other world we find a goblin-like alien who’s trying to trick the travellers into parting with their most precious objects. Finally we find the father – who is trapped in a fairy tale version of his house by his ‘dead wife’, and is – just as in all stories where someone’s been kidnapped by elves or trolls – oddly un-bothered about his blind teenaged daughter back home.
Not so much Straight Outta Compton as Straight Outta Fairy Tale.
So, coming at it from that direction, I wasn’t remotely bothered when the lonely Gallifreyan fairytale Solitract decided to be an equally fairytale talking frog. It completely fit the vibe, even though there was a typically Whovian pseudo-scientific explanation for all the fairy-tale elements in the story.
(I suspect most of the short and not very old members of the audience would be considerably more familiar with fairy tales than Solaris and Stranger Things. )3 December 2018 at 13:47 #66129
That episode made me weep.
It also reminds me, in a few ways of this,
And to those who thought it lacked “depth” I would tend to disagree a little. To me, depth isn’t measured in minutes but in clarity and quality.
Puro3 December 2018 at 13:55 #66130
(And if others have never seen Rectify you should…rectify that)3 December 2018 at 14:01 #66131
Within minutes of Frog Appearance, I slapped my head and said the same: “oh Yes!”
In between a few bouts of dusty eye *\*
It doesn’t matter (to me) whether it was a frog, talking flowers or a lizard. Even madness itself. 🙂 The Greeks had a great many stories to tell of frogs -lyrically and musically. It felt both fairy-tale and “inner madness” mixed with hope and longing. @ichabod I think you might like this one?
Puro3 December 2018 at 14:10 #66132nerys @nerys
I’d forgotten about Solaris. I’ve only ever seen the 2002 film, which I loved. I subsequently read the book, which I didn’t care for. The book was dry, focusing more on science, less on mystery, and (at least for me) it lacked the emotional resonance of the film, which captured love and loss so perfectly.
This episode didn’t go all the way down that road, but rather invoked (as @bluesqueakpip so aptly pointed out) fairy tales in their original form, not Disneyfied to make them more sentimental, less frightening.3 December 2018 at 14:15 #66133
the run of not-really-all-that-scary monsters continued, with the creature of the week being moths. They’d need to be a whole lot bigger to present much of a realistic-appearing threat, at least to me.
True: they seemed ‘OK’ if you stayed still but the Scary Hungry Baddie was eaten almost as fast as if he’d been attacked by a swarm of vashta Nerada! But to me, the baddie was the solitract: luring people with promises of “forever.” Allowing themselves to be gradually ensnared and enticed forgetting their responsibilities and possibly their memories until all would be lost. The solitract, after a decade, might want more, to be more, so it could have attempted to (eventually) enter the portal into our universe but with disastrous results.
For me, it was also a tale of love and remembrance -of loyalty and also charm. The charm of those who are real flesh and blood thus genuine and the surface charm for those who aren’t exactly what they seem.
Lots to ponder. Love the triangle imagery and the mathematics.
Puro3 December 2018 at 15:15 #66134ardaraith @ardaraith
@bluesqueakpip That was my take, as well. I was actively looking for the troll, and other fairytale characters. Even the rope, or bread crumbs, to get you back home!
I also think this ep is foreshadowing for Ryan’s dad to make an appearance.3 December 2018 at 16:11 #66135
But to me, the baddie was the solitract…
My first thought was that the baddie was Seven Stomachs Guy, who got, appropriately, eaten.
But the more I think about @bluesqueakpip ‘s fairy tale explanation, the more I think the Solitract was the lonely house in the woods that eats people, and Seven Stom’s was the troll who lures people there?
I’m probably taking it too far. I’ll give it more thought. And points to the screenwriter for not grabbing some well-known fairy tale and just science-fictionizing it, but rather using motifs to create an original tale.3 December 2018 at 16:14 #66136
Also, as a couple of people elsewher have pointed out, The Doctor totally seduced a universe that was personifying as female.
That would make Bowel Streak’s gonads explode if he had any…
Also (also) “We could tell if we were vampires, right?” Possibly the line of the series not utter by actual heroes.3 December 2018 at 17:17 #66137Arbutus @arbutus
And the dead stay dead.
It’s interesting to me that this series, in which numerous people have died and stayed that way, still feels lighter and brighter than many a previous series in which most deaths didn’t stick.
I loved this, both the underlying theme and the story itself, which engrossed and delighted me from start to finish. We saw a very quick and authoritative Doctor here, she really took charge, without showing much sign of the self-doubt that’s been plaguing her. I loved the brief but clear reference to the scope of her history and experience (the “reverse the polarity” moment made me laugh). And the Doctor’s open enthusiasm for life and sentience in every form shone very clearly at the end.
Oh, and Ribbon of the Seven Stomachs!3 December 2018 at 17:41 #66138Notime @notime
<p style=”text-align: left;”>Fun episode! Lots of things to digest….which is what makes Doctor Who fun for me.</p>
Being male, I couldn’t help but chuckle how a sentient universe understands how gullible we can be. It didnt even try to trick the Doctor or Jaz with memories of a departed loved one to make them want to stay. Maybe gave it a try with the daughter but that was fruitless. Just works on the guys I suppose. Classic. 🙂3 December 2018 at 20:49 #66139Rob @rob
An excellent tale of four monsters
One who was make believe
One who paid the price
Two who were redeemed4 December 2018 at 00:28 #66141
So, another one I wanted to watch again. I wasn’t looking forward to this episode that much – all the advance notice seemed to talk about ‘Scandi-noir’, and I was thinking, ‘Oh, please, not the North Sea Depression’*.
But instead of the inheritors of Ibsen, we got the inheritors of Norwegian fairy tales. I loved it.
@arbutus – I agree that this was a very confident Doctor, a Whittaker Doctor who was clearly going ‘oh, deserted house, possible monster, scared child, I know how to do this.’ What I particularly noticed, however, was that Jodie Whittaker the actress seemed to be relaxed enough in the role to be adding subtle tells, letting her eyes go worried for a second, that sort of thing. Her confidence was the confidence of a leader who knows that part of her job is not showing how scared and worried she is. It’s interesting that she feels she can ‘unburden’ herself to Yaz – is that a gender thing? The male AG Doctors often had a jealous ‘male’ rivalry with the male companions, so is Chibnall hinting that the female AG Doctors will do the ‘female’ thing of talking about their feelings with female companions?
@rob – yes, you’re right. Four monsters. The imaginary troll in the woods, created by the father who had crawled into his grief and was behaving like a monster. The trickster in the Place Between. The Solitract, who, rather like the Time Lords, didn’t realise it was a monster. Some of the monsters in this series have learnt better; some, we discover, can’t. Just like in this story, where the one who can’t learn is killed by his own greed. The father discovers that his blind daughter has clearer sight than he does; she knows this isn’t her mother. And the Solitract discovers that if we want to have friends, we have to learn to let them go.
@kevinwho – did you notice the shout out to the Barn on Gallifrey? When the mirror house is dissolving, just before we get the white-out, there’s a moment when we see the light shining through the slats of the house – and for a couple of seconds it looks exactly like we’re going to be in the Barn.
Just for a couple of seconds, as if the Solitract had thought it might try taking the Doctor back to the barn and becoming someone in her past – and then decided against it. Nope, the Doctor’s offered to be my friend, try honesty. And frogs. Frogs are cool. 😀
Couple of things I noticed about the Graham-Ryan relationship. Ryan blurts out that Hanne’s Dad has done a runner and abandoned her because that’s exactly what his Dad did when his Mum died. And he calls Graham ‘Granddad’ because Graham has earned it. He’d rather have a real Ryan than a fake Grace; he understands how much Grace cared for her grandson. And, unlike Ryan’s Dad, Graham has now proved he doesn’t do runners. He stayed, he tried to care for a very prickly Ryan. In a sense, he’s proved better at being a Granddad than Ryan’s Dad at being a Dad.
*North Sea Depression: Theatre nickname for the playwrights Ibsen (Norway) and Strindberg (Sweden), who both think a good play is one where nothing goes right. 🙂4 December 2018 at 00:37 #661424 December 2018 at 01:11 #66143
…did you notice the shout out to the Barn on Gallifrey? When the mirror house is dissolving, just before we get the white-out, there’s a moment when we see the light shining through the slats of the house – and for a couple of seconds it looks exactly like we’re going to be in the Barn.
Hey, you’re right. I picked up on that without noticing, thinking the Barn was my idea, but the production team put the notion there. Great job by them (and you)! 🙂4 December 2018 at 04:02 #66144Notime @notime
Second watch confirmed this as my favorite episode so far this season.
Funny how on my first viewing I didn’t notice Eric’s shirt had Slayer written in mirror image when he was on the other side of the portal. Returned to normal once he got back to the normal side. Nice touch.
I wonder if Ryan and Yaz will pack a lunch next time out?4 December 2018 at 06:33 #66145ichabod @ichabod
You’re right; for me, this story had a pleasingly disconnected feeling that I think came with the “through the looking glass” echo — first time I felt that they dared to take off without a clear flight path to an expected landing place (except that a sort of resolution between Ryan and Graham has been in the cards from early on, so that got done here). I didn’t see where we were going, which was a relief after some of the plodding from A to B to C that I’ve felt going on in the writing previously.
I also liked the triangle imagery — quite striking.
@ardaraith I also think this ep is foreshadowing for Ryan’s dad to make an appearance.
Could be; he’s certainly a looming possibility.
@pedant The Doctor totally seduced a universe that was personifying as female.
Seduced, and abandoned — not without melancholy; very Doctorish. But also a bit of a betrayal. Did the Doctor ever really consider spending some time telling the Solitract stories of her adventures in our universe? No . . . not really. It was a trick, to escape a trap. That’s what I found sad. [Love the North Sea Depression — too right!]
So the Solitract is a mind that can manifest, but not maintain, a happier version of our universe? The bed-time story the granny told the Doctor was about this thing, or about a fairy tale version of it? Since it’s “soli”, and looking for friends, can we assume that it’s unique? Also old, older than the Doctor, even, if granny told a story about it when the Doctor was just a (grand)child. Wonder what it’s been doing all that time. Making simulacra of dead people and playing with them like dolls? Lonely kids do that sometimes.
Was it really a possible choice for Graham or Erik to stay with their false wives, since the whole place was crashing anyway? What if they had stayed? I thought Graham might, if it meant being with “Grace” and not worrying about cancer any more, but if he had, what would have happened to him there? I’m unclear about these things, but I like that much better than where the rest of the season so far has left me. There’s some freedom in this episode, a bit of imaginative swash and buckler, and never mind wrapping it all up neatly in the end.4 December 2018 at 06:37 #66146ichabod @ichabod
@notime It didnt even try to trick the Doctor or Jaz with memories
Wonder why it didn’t try to draw Ryan in, maybe with a double of his father . . . ? Or does it have to be a siren — female, singing to men of assured and deathless love?4 December 2018 at 07:07 #66147
@pedant You tend to keep an eye out for the thundering bellends or the shouty-boyz. I wonder if anyone moaned at Yaz’ “that’s shocking parenting” comment?
The “PC” Brigade will no doubt pick up on how “we parents should be allowed to parent our off-spring however we damn well please, whether a blind kid’s abandoned in a house all day and night or not: so we adults can have as much sex, drugs and booze as possible!”
Puro4 December 2018 at 07:58 #661484 December 2018 at 09:33 #66150tardigrade @tardigrade
Producing a good talking frog was the responsibility of the special effects people, not the writer or the producer.
If I’d been directing, I suspect I would have been shooting an additional scene with Grace as the Solitract’s embodiment, in case the frog didn’t work out. I think the idea of the frog is OK, but it didn’t quite work for me in practise.
And the dead stay dead.
I must admit to having a moment of “No, no… They’re not un-dead-ifying Grace. Can’t anyone stay dead?”
Oh, and Ribbon of the Seven Stomachs!
It is a great name. Not quite sure what references this name was intended to conjure up, but for me a stomach ribbon brought up the image of a tapeworm, which was suitably unsettling.4 December 2018 at 09:40 #66151
@ichabod I think the Doctor felt that one person could possibly stay but with so many both universes were in danger of collapsing, and it might be that she knew that if she was that one person it would continue to collapse because of her nature.
But Graham would only be with a copy of Grace. If you remember, in the Name Of The Doctor, when he says goodbye to River he points out that she is just a ghost, an electronic copy of River, not the real thing (even though she had the full consciousness) and it was time for her to go. (I think what seemed like a good idea when he had only just met her and only knew that she would become important to him and she had given her life to save him, felt like less of a good idea once he got to know her and love her). So the Doctor isn’t big on carrying on with ghosts once the real person has died.
That’s not how you deal with grief. How you deal with the grief is to keep the most dangerous person in the universe and your oldest friend in a box and eat takeaway with her 😉
Ultimately Graham’s love for Grace meant taking care of Ryan, and this copy wasn’t a good enough copy because it didn’t realise that, such an important part was left out. Which meant this universe wasn’t the right universe for someone like Graham to live in. Maybe it was good enough for Erik who was, with full acknowledgement of his grief, a rather more selfish person, but Erik had an actual child to take care of.
The fact it doesn’t work on the daughter makes me wonder if it simply doesn’t work with family members. We don’t know if the Grace copy would have worked with Ryan, but I suspect not. It is interesting it didn’t try with the Doctor, maybe they’ve lost too many people they loved? Who would you even pick to show her?4 December 2018 at 09:51 #66152Cath Annabel @cathannabel
The frog at the end is really bugging me. Not because I didn’t like it, I read it as fairy tale and was fine with the image. But it reminds me of something, I think in a film, so strongly that I can’t dismiss it, but not so strongly that I can actually figure out what it is!4 December 2018 at 10:05 #66153
If I’d been directing, I suspect I would have been shooting an additional scene with Grace as the Solitract’s embodiment, in case the frog didn’t work out. I think the idea of the frog is OK, but it didn’t quite work for me in practise.
In a world where Doctor Who has enough time and enough money, I’m sure they would have done that.
In a world where Sharon D. Clarke was probably only booked for some of the shoot days plus an ADR, a world where they had far more important scenes for her to shoot on those days, and a world where calling her back when they realised the CGI plus puppet wasn’t working would have involved rebuilding the ‘white’ set and getting Jodie Whittaker back as well…
… they went with the frog. Especially since everyone’s probably muttering ‘the Solitract might have never even seen a real frog, so if it looks a bit crap, that’s characterisation.’ 😀
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