Home Forums Episodes The Thirteenth Doctor Praxeus

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    Craig @craig

    At the end of last week there were multiple alerts across three continents. The Doctor and family (as they called themselves last week) find out what connects a missing astronaut in the Indian Ocean, birds behaving strangely in Peru and a US naval officer who washes up on a Madagascan beach, and soon uncover a deadly global threat.

    This is written by Chibnall and Pete McTighe, who wrote “Kerblam!” last series. As I said then, McTighe is British but has worked mostly on Australian shows such as “Neighbours”, “Wentworth” (an award-winning sort-of reimagining of “Prisoner Cell Block H”) and “Nowhere Boys”, although he has also written for UK shows such as “Eastenders”. Before “Kerblam”! he was Content Consultant for the Doctor Who classic Blu-ray range and also wrote the booklets that accompany each box set. So he’s a massive Doctor Who fan.

    It is directed by Jamie Magnus Stone, a Scottish director and animator, who did the series opener “Spyfall part 1” and has, I think, two more episodes to go in this series.

    Tonight’s guest stars are Warren Brown, best known for “Shameless”, “Hollyoaks” and “Luther”, Matthew McNulty, best known for “Misfits” and “Room at the Top”, and newcomer Molly Harris, who has been in an episode of “Baptiste” and has a small part in the up-coming “Artemis Fowl” movie from Kenneth Branagh.

    Here’s just hoping this is a step up from “Kerblam!” – which I enjoyed, but, y’know.

    Craig @craig

    Well, that was a bit topical – a virus coming out of China.

    I do think I might have to re-post Tim Minchin though. Take your canvas bags to the supermarket and free the world from plastic!

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    Didn’t the virus come out of the Indian Ocean?

    I liked it. Chibnall and Whittaker both seem to be hitting their stride; there was a confident feel about this one. This was a very worthy modern ‘Green Death’, with a modern pollution problem, gruesomely exploding victims and a writer who seemed to have at least attempted to look up the science stuff. Also, everything kind of connected – the river was now an unauthorised dump, the birds were spreading the virus via plastic and the astronaut had been kidnapped as a research subject.

    Though I do think that Yaz, at least, definitely has a big arrow pointing at her head saying ‘leaving at the end of this series’.

    Craig @craig

    @bluesqueakpip I was taking liberties, but the astronaut was being tested on (or whatever) in Hong Kong.

    jomomentor @jomomentor

    The episode needed less yapping and more zapping! Does anyone else think they should have saved the Jack stuff for this episode to speread out the excitement. You didnt need him, Judoon and a new Doctor all in one episode and then you get this following it and it felt slightly boring as a result. It wasnt bad, just a bit boring.
    Doctor Who discussion: Season 12 episode 6, Praxeus

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    Yep, that was terrible. Back to s11-style well-intentioned ‘kernel of a great idea’ but utterly screwed up in a breakneck, poorly thought-out slice of Who pudding. After Ker-Blam and now this, I’d really like it if they kept Pete McTighe away from Who. And I wouldn’t even say the environmental message was handled particularly well. The Green Death managed it far better and that’s 40 years ago, for heaven’s sake.

    Nope, aside from looking as fantastic as ever, I found that utterly dismal.

    Mudlark @mudlark

    That was certainly topical, but the way in which the message was delivered was far from subtle, with rather too much high-speed exposition for my taste. It is the kind of subject which multi-episode stories have dealt with rather more effectively, and The Green Death is a prime example as @jimthefish has already pointed out; and that did it without aliens. What came more immediately to my mind though was The Plastic Eaters – the first episode of Doomwatch for those in the UK who can remember that far back. For those not familiar with the series, it centred on engineered bacteria, developed in a lab as a possible solution to the problem of non-degrading plastics. A sample of the bacteria got loose, demonstrating in alarming fashion just how much of our technology and its applications depends on plastic components.

    The episode certainly looked good, and it succeeded in holding my attention throughout, but structurally it seemed to me to be incoherent, jumping back and forth in dizzying fashion from location to location and person to person. But then what do I know about script writing and television production 😕

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    It’s an episode I’d be happy to rewatch. It was very fast paced, certainly, but I don’t remember having any major problems following the plot.

    I haven’t yet seen Doomwatch (I have the DVD), but there were definite echoes of Quatermass, what with the infected astronaut and the design of the Praxeus. And it was considerably more subtle than Orphan 55 – though at the moment I think the arc progression in this one is through the characters. Something about Yaz…

    GalaxyMage @galaxymage

    I’ll try to create more bonkers theories later when I have time, but this was, again, really good. Maybe not the best episode, but they can’t all be the best. It was certainly interesting and exciting, managing to keep my attention throughout all those terrible commercial breaks (which I suspect played a large part in me being unengaged during Season 11). This was a good, solid episode that I thoroughly enjoyed.

    @bluesqueakpip I agree that Yaz is likely to leave at the end of the series. There’s certainly some arc going on with her, although I’m not quite sure where it’s leading. I was thinking earlier that she was going to betray The Doctor in order to save more lives, but I haven’t seen any more evidence for it so I’ve pushed it into the “maybe” section of my brain. Whatever’s happening, I’ll be completely confused until it does actually happen. Then I’ll be annoyed at myself for not realizing.

    Another mention of Graham’s past cancer (the IVs) — is it going to play a big role later on? Probably not, as it’s only been mentioned twice this season.

    I feel like they’re setting up reflections, situations that are parallel to other, more plot central ones to foreshadow stuff later on. I’ve got barely any evidence for this, but it almost seems like these stories are connected not by plot points but by similarities in the way that they’re told. Just a completely bonkers and unsubstantiated theory.

    I didn’t really mind the way they were sending a message about pollution — it was a little bit forced, but did sound Doctor-y enough and was actually situationally appropriate.

    More genetics — a virus in the blood, changing people. The Doctor mentions genetics a lot in the lab. This does seem to be becoming a theme.

    I thought it was Autons at first. The Praxeus really was interesting, but I kind of wish it was Autons. The Doctor mentioned them though!

    Season 12 has been amazing so far! It all depends on the finale…which all depends on the execution of whatever Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey stuff has been swirling around The Doctor this season. I do hope that The Master appears again before the finale, but I doubt he actually will. He’ll wait to escape until it’s plot-convenient, or he already has and he’s manipulating events behind the scenes. (One thing I don’t get is that if The Doctor is monitoring Time and Space so that she’d notice if The Master escaped, how does she know that’s she’d find the right time? She could walk straight into a trap, and probably will.) What does The Doctor plan to do if she finds out that he escaped? I doubt that her plan is to kill him…although it could be, I suppose. Just doesn’t seem Doctorish to me. Maybe she’s just relying on the idea that she’ll make up a plan as she goes along and that he’ll escape, same as always, so that she doesn’t have to kill anyone. I don’t know.

    Got sidetracked there. Great episode, and I hope that the rest of the season is great too.

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    I feel that the companions were possibly at their best here, exhibiting a kind of confidence, competence, and in Yaz’s case, breathtaking recklessness that slightly adds to my feeling that a lot of their work and development is taking place off screen. It was nice seeing Graham do his stuff again, giving some kind, feathery advice like he does so well. He’s seemed more like comic relief for a lot of this season, a shame as he was a highlight of the last season.

    I liked the marriage between the astronaught and the police man (who is on sabbatical), in contrast, the vlogger seemed weirdly unconcerned about the death of her friend not long after she was dead. She went from ‘I don’t know what I’ll do now’ to ‘I’ll come on your honeymoon with you!’ (it’s stuff like that that makes us less than welcome on Canal Street, love) and makes her earlier statement seem less about emotion, and more about life or career.

    The Doctor seemed a little scattered at times, though to be fair, she’s processing a lot. I liked her excited ‘autons! no, can’t be autons’. Like a little wave at the fans, but I don’t mind that kind of thing.

    The environment message seemed a lot more effective this time, possibly because the science was a little better, as @bluesqueakpip observes. Yes, a little heavy, but it might need to be. Though as I’ve said before, it seems defined to impress smaller children the most, and I’m not sure we’re dealing with a kind of time frame where that’ll be much help.

    Over all, not close to episodes 1, 2, and 4, much, much better than 3 (but to be fair, that was episode 3, ’tis usually so it seems). Plenty to piss some people off (gay marriage! plastic everywhere might kill us!) (I don’t mean here) but done, I think, quite well. Fun enough to watch, and no heavy obvious arc stuff which, excited though I am about the arc, believe me, is probably for the best. This season, as people have suggested, might end up calling back to earlier events that turn out to be more important to this underlying story than they seemed. A balance between arcs and episodes that stand alone might end up annoying rather than pleasing everyone, but its clear, for all his borrowing, CC doesn’t just want to present a version2 of Moffart. To be fair, he can’t anyway, it’s not his particular strengths.

    Ozitenor @ozitenor

    Had a definite Hitchcock vibe at times. I enjoyed the episode, although I share the sentiment that the vlogger character seemed underdeveloped, if not shallow. The rest of the cast was superb throughout.

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    darn it! fatherly advice. Must be all the birds.

    Incidentally the bird attacks are instantly relatable for anyone who has attempted to consume an ice cream on Llandudno pier. I really don’t recommend it.

    Psymon @psymon

    They were definitely going for a Hitchcock vibe in this episode, and back to the topical lecture of the week format that has dogged the 13th Doctors tenure…

    To be fair though I actually liked this episode more than some of the previous lectures/sermons given in previous episodes, it was a little less on the nose and a bit more organic – like they started with the story and the lesson evolved out of it rather than the other way round which it normally feels like how they approach these episodes. I think had this been a Tennant episode they would have got away with the message, which while not subtle in of itself did sit well as a concept and plot device for this episode – an alien parasite that feeds off plastic is almost inadvertently killing people and animals because our bodies have plastic in them now – which is at the end of the day a true fact and one we should be scared of.

    There’s just something about the delivery of the 13th Doctor that feels like she is talking too much – it’s like the Doctor Who equivalent of mansplaining. Think how this would have been written for Tennant – “it’s Praxeus a parasite that feeds on plastic, it’s spread by the birds eating plastic in the ocean! Of course! It’s not attacking humans, it’s attacking the micro plastic in your bloodstream, an unfortunate side effect of life on early 21st Century Earth. Don’t worry you sort it out eventually after the Plastic Wars but there’s no time for that now, we need to find the source. Allons-y!”. I’m not even sure how that differs to how JW explained it, there’s just something about picturing Tennant saying it that makes me buy it more as an entertaining sci-fi with educational undertones, rather than an Educational lecture with sci-fi undertones as is always the case with JW IMO. I’m not sure if it’s her or the writing…

    This episode was always going to be a disappointment though after last week, at this point we’re all just waiting for Jo Doc to appear again, or as one article referred to her as Doc Martin! At this point people as just waiting for her next appearance…

    There was some good stuff here though that wasn’t expanded on enough – the concept of another close relation to Earth using our planet as a test bed with no regard to human life was all a bit rushed – again where was the gravitas from the Doctor repulsed at such behaviour? Also as an aside did anyone else get Empty Child flashbacks with their choice of outfit for them? Was kind of hoping for some kind of tie in…

    The vlogger bit was rushed too, and again where was the emotion at the death of her friend/partner? Why did they have to ruin the message of the episode by having a fake beauty spot look nonsensically covered in plastic by the BBC props department to the point where you immediately roll your eyes and think ‘ah so this is what this episode is about this week’. There were more subtle ways to introduce this concept. Why not have them travel through India and witness the rows of bin trucks pulling up on a bridge over a river and and emptying their contents with no regard to the environment? This is a real event that happens daily (google it) and would have been far more effective than bin bags on the side of a lake IMO.

    Even the police officer being married to the astronaut gave me an eye roll – I have nothing against the depiction of this on TV, there’s just something about how they are doing it in DW that seems so forced and unnatural. Like they are doing it for the sake of quotas and not for the sake of the story or to represent real life. I can’t even place my finger on it, maybe it was the acting that meant I didn’t buy their relationship, or maybe the 13th Doc has been so overtly ‘Woke’ since Chibs took over that any depiction like this just seems like a stunt which defeats the purpose of increasing representation on TV – there have been brilliant and believable gay characters throughout the recent history of the show, there’s just something about the latest writing that seems insincere to me…

    Overall though, I’ll give the episode a pass as a decent standalone ‘monster of the week’ filler episode, it’s just still not living up to its full potential IMO…

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    Yes, I definitely got the impression that the split into different investigating teams has been happening a lot more than we’ve seen on-screen. We’ve seen it a couple of times this series, but they keep referring to off-screen adventures, so it’s not too big a leap.

    If all three actors are leaving at the end of the series (Doctors seem to stay for three series plus specials, companions two series) then they are now beginning to be in a situation where they can do stuff without the Doctor. Or, working more independently as they are, one of them could end up getting killed. Doctor Who killed, anyway, like Bill or Clara.
    Plastic is very much something small kids can do something about – learning not to just throw it away, for a start.

    I think the Vlogger (Gabriella?) was written as self-absorbed and shallow, but then that was contradicted by her later actions, where she tries to find out what killed her friend and tries to help the others save the world. It might be that there wasn’t enough room in the script for that to properly develop. So the actress (Joana Borja) seems to have decided to play it as if the ‘saving the world’ was the real Gabriella and the self-absorbed, shallow Gabriella was something she’d learnt to be through making a living as a vlogger. Coming on a second honeymoon and simply ignoring the fact that she’d not be welcome is the sort of thing a vlogger would do. 🙂

    Trying to eat outside at Southend can also be a dangerous occupation. Sod all this fishing, the seagulls seem to say, the humans have put fish on plates for us!

    @psymon the emotion (a lot of emotion) was in the scene where she sees the body of her partner. I agree that she didn’t then proceed to burst into tears throughout the rest of the episode, but Doctor Who has always taken the attitude that people will often move on very quickly from a partner’s death when aliens are trying to destroy the planet. I suppose you could also see the unwanted attachment to Jake and Adam as Gabriella not wanting to travel alone for a bit, because that will hurt too much. (Come to think of it, that may be why Adam and Jake don’t tell her to get lost).

    I think the ‘talks too much’ is Time Lord arrogance (which all the Doctors have) expressing itself in a Whittaker Doctor way. She lectures people.

    Remember the budget. They can afford South Africa – they can’t afford India.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    Even the police officer being married to the astronaut gave me an eye roll

    I don’t see why. For someone to rush to Hong Kong from the UK on the off chance that Adam was alive (and the texts weren’t some kind of sick joke) Jake would have to be either Adam’s adoring brother or his husband. My first assumption was ‘brother’, because the two actors looked enough alike to be playing brothers. ‘Husband’ was a better decision, I think, because it segued nicely into the subplot where Jake’s obvious problems came from marrying a very much more successful person than he was.

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    @bluesqueakpip they do, though it would have been nice to have seen it more. I can definitely see Yaz roaming the universe – did they imply she was on an official sabbatical from police work? Seeing as the last time she got away she was told it was absolutely the last time… and obviously my dyspraxic heart cheers on seeing Ryan’s growing confidence.

    My only concern is, what with the policeman-on-sabbatical’s commitment issues, I’m not sure they’re ready to adopt a vlogger, especially as he’s the one who’ll have to take care of her the most…  I see your point about why she’s trying to latch on to them, and why they’re being really rather nice about it, but I do hope they get their honeymoon.

    We have handy signs up reminding us not to feed the seagulls. (they’re not actually seagulls.) What they need to say is ‘don’t try to consume food outside’.




    Psymon @psymon

    @bluesqueakpip I thought brother too from the reaction. I don’t know at it is, as I say maybe it’s just because DW has become so PC lately it all feels too forced and box ticking. I just think they haven’t found a balance between the stories and the lectures that all other recent Doctor’s have managed. To be fair the episode didn’t have my undivided attention this week so maybe I missed a few subtlies…

    I know they couldn’t afford the real India but they could have referenced something like that, or reference where the rubbish came from, or just had more location relevant rubbish like the remnants of a teen party or something. It’s just another example of the recent lack of subtlety in the writing…

    Spider @spider

    I pretty much agree with @jimthefish here. I personally found this one very disappointing. For me it fell (as so many have) into the ‘great idea and set-up for a story that was ultimately let down by being poorly executed’.

    I was pleased that the environmental issue was done a bit more subtly than in Orphan 55, also the supporting cast were, mostly, FAR better here. Astronaut and husband very good (and I too <span class=”useratname”>@bluesqueakpip</span> first thought they were going to be brothers) – the vblogger less good, I agree with others that she felt a little ‘shallow’.

    What really annoyed me that there was an excess of the “stupid ball” being passed about with character actions sometimes feeling like they are being driven by having to advance the plot from A to B, rather than the more organic feel of character motivations driving the plot.

    Agree with others that Yaz is potentially heading for a big fall here, like Clara before her she has started to “go native” and is trying to be the Doctor (and that never ends well). There was a lot of good moments pointing this way with her character but for me let down by the stupidity of deciding to risk going through the teleport when the creatures you have just seen were wearing what looks like breathing masks!!!!

    Graham got some nice little moments although agree with you <span class=”useratname”>@miapatrick</span> he is bit more comic relief this season. I have to admit though I did find the ‘scanner the wrong way’ gag actually quite funny.

    Ryan is also going a bit ‘native’ not being as daftly reckless as Yaz but you can see he is now taking all of this stuff perhaps just a bit too much in his stride. It will be interesting to see where this leads for the three companions.

    <span class=”useratname”>@psymon</span> very interesting observation about the delivery of the 13th Doctor’s lines when she is almost “showing her working” (i.e. exposition/plit!) and I completely agree I can picture Tennant delivering the same info but it just being … better somehow. I think he manages to change his delivery of lines sometimes almost word to word (from excitement to puzzlement to realisation etc. and I think Smith and Capaldi were also good at this)  Whittaker can also do this but not quite as quick (not in speed of chat, 13 can certainly gabble just as quick as 10, but the change between the different emotions) and I don’t think it is ever quite as sharp. Which I completely agree means sometimes she comes across as more ‘lecturing’ than educating.

    Other eye-roll moments for me that meant I kept being pulled out of the story and so found it difficult to suspend my disbelief were the guy on the beach ‘keeping an eye’ on the birds by .. standing out on the beach completely exposed. Personally I would have been standing at that doorway ready to bolt into cover as soon as there was any sign of trouble XD and the completely obvious ‘heroic sacrifice’.

    However the episode did build up enough empathy so that I was really pleased the Doctor managed the last minute save of the policeman. Although of course that opens up a can of worms about why can’t she do that for everyone (however I am happy to let that go as its a consistent inconsistent in Who!).

    Interestingly Kerblam! was one of the few I thought worked well last series – oh well, each to their own I suppose 🙂


    Arbutus @arbutus

    Well, I enjoyed this quite a lot. It was fun seeing the different members of Team Tardis showing up into the different ongoing situations, and working out how they all connected up. So glad that Adam and Jake were given a happy ending, didn’t think that was coming and I was so pissed off!

    I liked the lack of an overt villain in this one. While it seemed to me that the Doctor was clearly appalled at the notion of the aliens deliberately infecting earth for their own reasons, I think she also wanted to help Suki redeem herself. Sadly, it was too late for that.

    @psymon       I didn’t find the inclusion of Adam and Jake as a couple awkward at all. Personally, I feel that the awkwardness comes from the fact that we still need to be told when two people of the same sex are a couple. My own mind still defaults “brothers” or “school mates”, whereas if either of them had been a woman, I would probably have gone straight to “former partner”, based on Jake’s reaction to the news story. This is my own bias, but I don’t think it’s uncommon. I face the same challenge in my own writing, when I try to make things like race or sexual orientation implicit without awkward exposition. I thought the writing here did a reasonably good job of it. And I enjoyed the exploration of the struggle with self-worth that can arise in any kind of unequal relationship.

    I too found myself wondering about Jaz’s behaviour. @spider has it bang on, I was also thinking that she is becoming a bit “Clara-like”.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    My own mind still defaults “brothers” or “school mates”, whereas if either of them had been a woman, I would probably have gone straight to “former partner”, based on Jake’s reaction to the news story.

    As someone who looks most unlike her brother, I can assure you that it works the other way round as well. That is, if you have two people of the opposite sex who are obviously close and don’t look alike, then ‘partner’ is the default assumption.

    So I’d say that we were picking up ‘brothers’ not because of underlying bias, but because of an underlying ‘they look alike, so family’ assumption. The writer/production team were playing with our assumptions, because it would’ve been easy to give Jake a line identifying Adam in the bar scene. But I think they were playing with the actors looking enough like each other the audience could assume ‘family’ and not realise what type of family until the reveal.

    @spider – I liked the last minute save, because when the fam insisted the Doctor could save Jake Whittaker’s expressions went from ‘yikes, NO. I can’t’ to ‘but I can try’ to ‘oh, help this is really tricky’ to ‘phew!’ And then finally ‘wow, wasn’t I clever.’ The materialisation trick has been used before, but it was nice to see that it’s not as easy as the Capaldi Doctor made out. 🙂

    Ollie14 @ollie14

    Thought the episode was good. Difficult after the expectations raised by last weeks blockbuster.

    Agree with @psymon regarding the difference between Tennant and Whittaker when explaining things. I also always think the best Doctor’s are the ones who demonstrate anger the best. Whittaker doesn’t ever seem to angry, she showed it a little more in FOTJ but the three previous incarnations of the Doctor showed it best (Tennant first, Smith, then Capaldi).

    Think it was @miapatrick who said it was defined for kids… really! I had to get my GCSE Biology revision guide out to understand the lab stuff 😂😉

    Interesting about Ryan, Yaz and Graham though, @bluesqueakpip. Something if defo going to happen with Yaz, A. Because of what CC said and B. She’s acting weird. Personally think her and Ryan may not make a third series, had you asked me after the first few episodes I would have said they’d get together (hints in Orphan 55) but that theory is weakening as the weeks go on. Just feel it may be Graham and Doc for Series 3.

    Lastly, without sounding really harsh – twice now I think it would have been better if the characters died. Ryan’s dad and now the policeman (can’t remember his name). Maybe not both but one of them, it shouldn’t always be happy ever after. Impact on Doc when Kylie died, although that was to continue a series arc about the Doctor starting to question his existence.

    Let me know what you all think.

    p.s. Gabriella was very shallow. “My best friend is dead NOOOOOOO… I’ll come travelling with you!!” Perhaps a mishap by the writers more than anything deliberate?

    Mudlark @mudlark


    Perhaps the contrast between last week’s episode caused me to be a bit harsh in my comments yesterday evening, but I certainly didn’t think it was as bad as Orphan 55 and, as I said, it held my attention. After a second viewing, now that perhaps I am in a more tolerant mood, I feel less inclined to be critical, but I still have the feeling that this was a story founded on a very good idea which could have been developed more effectively if it had been given more room to breathe, and the structure of the episode still seemed less than fluidly coherent. The ‘science’ of the pathogen and its effects doesn’t bear too close an inspection either, but it isn’t so outrageously ‘off’ that it constitutes a major flaw in itself as long as you were prepared to suspend disbelief from a reasonably stout cable.  The sheer amount of exposition consisting of the Doctor thinking aloud is nevertheless something I am finding increasingly irritating, perhaps because so much of it seems to be delivered in big chunks and all at much the same level. @psymon pinpointed the problem, I think, in contrasting it with the way it might have been done with Tennant Doctor.


    I feel that the companions were possibly at their best here, exhibiting a kind of confidence, competence, and in Yaz’s case, breathtaking recklessness that slightly adds to my feeling that a lot of their work and development is taking place off screen.

    That growth in the companions was certainly very much in evidence but, as you say, we haven’t really been shown it happening to the extent we were shown the gradual development in their predecessors, and to that extent I found it a bit jarring. Too much has been happening ‘off screen’, so to speak. On the other hand the Doctor has, from the first, been encouraging them to act as a team and to use their initiative, so the result is a logical conclusion.

    As for Yaz,  @bluesqueakpip   @spider , yes definitely something going on there with her growing tendency to exhibit the kind of reckless confidence and risk-taking we saw in Clara.


    Mudlark @mudlark


    Sympathy over the commercial breaks 🙁  Living in the UK where that is not a problem I can only imagine how frustrating that must be, especially since BBC productions are not designed to accommodate them. It’s irritating enough on commercial channels where the shows are generally structured around the ads.

    Psymon @psymon

    @bluesqueakpip the reverse of the materialisation trick was also used at the end of Blink too, so I didn’t have any particular issue with the Tardis landing around some one, I’m sure it’s happened other times too.

    Another thing that came back to me about this episode was the reference to the Doc having two brains, I don’t recall this ever being mentioned before, unless I’m forgetting? Was this more messing with Canon or a throw away line played for a cheap gag I wonder?

    nerys @nerys

    @galaxymage I commiserate with you about the commercial breaks. Even watching it on demand, there are still short commercial breaks which disrupt the flow. I’m always happy when a season moves to Crave, and I can watch these stories as they were intended to be shown.

    I thought this episode was good. Yes, there was a message, but they didn’t beat us over the head with it the way they did in “Orphan 55” … and the action and character interaction were more evenly balanced than in that episode. It was puzzling me where I’d seen the actor playing Jake, and then I remembered: Luther.

    And yeah, anyone who’s seen The Birds was no doubt shuddering as much as I was. And I love birds! But there’s something about making them swarm and then dive in that way that’s so creepy and unnerving.

    I do think we’re seeing a Clara-like recklessness growing in Yaz. So far, nothing terrible has happened to her. Nothing with lasting consequences, anyway. So she may believe she is somehow impervious to the perils of the universe. That can lead nowhere good.

    @psymon Weren’t the Doctor’s multiple brains mentioned at some point in the Capaldi era?

    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    Well, I surprised myself by actually enjoying that! I thought all the characters (and there were a lot of them) worked really well. For me, the married couple were great, the companions worked better than any previous episode, and even the blogger (who came in for a lot of flack upstream) was ok, I thought.

    The “lesson” (ie, plastic is bad) was done in a rather clever way, and.. pthis is the thing I was surprised by…I thought the Doctor worked well in this episode. I say surprised as I have felt that Jodie Whittaker has, in previous episodes, lacked the necessary sense of “authority” for the Doctor (eg the previous episode, where I felt the Ruth Doctor had the authority that “our” Doctor lacked). But here she worked. Why? Still processing that.

    Finally, totally agree with @nerys that Yaz shows no signs off self-destructuction. In fact, I would go further, in saying–of all the companions– that this episode demonstrated that if and when they leave, they will leave stronger and more at ease with themselves.


    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    @ollie14 I don’t entirely get the sense of Yaz and Graham as a potential couple thing. Partly because ‘give me your sister’s number, I’ll be a great brother in law’ is just a really, really weird way to flirt.

    as for Yaz’s future, I can’t help wondering if there was another significance to featuring the Judoon. Would becoming a police officer on earth just be too boring for Yaz?

    It’ll be interesting to see what happens to the companions. What happens to Graham I think will depend a little on Walsh, I still think the last season was designed originally to possibly be his only one. I know it’s filmed a long time before broadcast, but I’m also sure that the response to him in the first season – everyone remembering the man can act – would have had an effect. But the man has also somehow had time not only to film a bunch of episodes of The Chase (his little face when a Doctor Who question comes up!) and design and present a brand new quiz show (where he more or less gets to keep his contestants prisoner for several days), and film a series with his son – the man is very busy. I also think he performs an important role on the Tardis, which this episode has really reminded me of.

    Ryan really has grown in confidence, and I think some people (in other places) who feel his dyspraxia has been more or less dropped don’t quite see what that confidence means. He’s so visibly happy whenever he does something clever or effective, there’s something self deprecating in his pride as though he knows why it makes him so happy. It’s telling that they had Ryan off on his own, taking the vlogger under his wing. And he’s actually right, he’d make a great brother in law.

    I think essentially the reason I like this episode is a lot to do with the companions, they’ve been done really well here which has elevated it, and that was what I liked about the last season. There aren’t really too many companions, the episodes are long enough to give each of them something to do, it just hasn’t happened so much so far.

    Psymon @psymon

    @nerys I’ve done some digging and it seems there was a throw away line from Capaldi in Extremis that the Time Lord killing weapon would “stop both hearts, and all three brainstems” which could indicate they have 3 brains or at least 3 connections to a single brain, but it’s not exactly conclusive as there is also a reference to Missy referring to her brainstem (singular) in The Magician’s Apprentice. So I guess it’s just a throwaway line to add to the mystery of Time Lord biology, but it doesn’t sound as overtly canon as having two hearts is…

    Davros @davros

    “Brains” is in any case a fairly common term for brain.

    I did like this episode. Fun, a few twists, a bit informative.

    It has been found in real life that thousands of microplastic fragments exist in the human gastrointestinal tract, though they have not been found to cause any specific harm. (Philipp Schwabl et al).

    There were some weaknesses. Is there anyone who really doesn’t at least have an idea what “pathogen” means? Especially someone who was married to a nurse, and who provided medical care to that nurse when she succumbed to cancer.

    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    Could  “two brains” refer to the Ruth Doctor? (“We’re the the same person”). No, probably not.


    Mudlark @mudlark


    It looks as if your memory is playing tricks on you, because it was Graham who had cancer and Grace who was his oncology nurse. That said, it did seem odd that he didn’t know the meaning of pathogen. Pathogens aren’t known to be a cause of Cancer, but even so …

    tardigrade @tardigrade

    I didn’t mind this one as a stand-alone episode, after the flurry of series arc revelations in the previous episode. @jomomentor In terms of pacing, I’d agree that it might have been better to have some of that in this episode though, rather than in the rather overstuffed previous one.

    Probably the main positive for me, after a period where the companions haven’t always had a whole lot to do, was to see them independently in action, and to see the confidence and competence each of them has gained. @davros @mudlark I agree with the comments that two of them not knowing the relatively common term “pathogen” was an odd writing decision though, and undid some of that character development unnecessarily.

    Again, I found the environmental message a little heavy-handed. In the Dr Who universe, there’s plenty of scope to set stories like this away from Earth and not tackle them quite so head-on.

    Probably “brains” doesn’t really mean anything, but… it does remind me of a half-formed idea that occurred to me the origins of the Time Lords was called into question. Whether or not Time Lords have multiple brains, it’s certainly very well-established they have two hearts. Could that just possibly mean that they somehow came about as some sort of amalgamation of two species? A revelation that include a reason for the four beats of the Time Lords circulatory system might be a factor in sending the Master over the edge, particularly if that Master was from a point in his timeline where he was still experiencing the drumming.

    Geekknocker @geekknocker123

    <p style=”text-align: center;”> I miss the old style of Doctor Who. This season seems to deal with political issues and I watch TV to get away from the world for a bit. It doesnt feel Doctor Whoish to me. It was turning well with the last episode with the Judoon and Cpt Jack but then it took me back to reality this episode. I MISS TRADITIONAL DOCTOR WHO EPISODES! Hopefully it gets better. I want to feel more connected to the companions and I dont feel it but a touch. Not much passion anymore.</p>

    Davros @davros

    “It looks as if your memory is playing tricks on you”

    Seems so. Thanks for the correction.

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    @geekknocker123 it has been said many times, but: Doctor Who has always engaged with political issues. Including, in the past, the dangers of all this plastic.

    I actually had a conversation on another site where someone was saying how much better this issue was handled in the 70’s, which I found slightly amusing. Because here we are.

    @tardigrade they might argue that being less heavy handed hasn’t done much good. And that since Doctor Who has always, on occasion, scared children, this might be something they ought to be scared about?

    Geekknocker @geekknocker123

    Can you tell me which episodes? I dont remember any in the last 12 seasons BUT I would be interested in seeing. Might change my opinion in a better way. I’m open to all inspirations

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    The Long Game, Turn Left, Oxygen. The Beast Below, The Christmas Invasion. The Zygon Inversion – probably some more.

    In the series before the Gap, off the top of my head, The Sunmakers, The Happiness Patrol, The Green Death – and the Daleks themselves in many, many of their stories.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    It’s possible. Missy certainly made a similar joke (‘I’m in two minds about it. Fortunately, one of them is unconscious.’)

    Arch @arch

    Okay episode. I don’t mind having political or social messages shoved into my who but this felt a little forced.

    Wrap it around a well paced, entertaining, fleshed our story and everyone’s a winner.

    I don’t think this is a bad episode but as others have said it had some obvious issues. Fingers crossed we get back to the arc this week and away from these standalone social commentaries loosely disguised as entertainment.

    Geekknocker @geekknocker123

    Yes!! Thank you

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    One last thought about this episode – an interesting contrast I think – that yes, the plastics message was, maybe, a little heavy handed, though executed better than in episode three.

    On the other hand, the married couple was extremely well done. To the point where I didn’t feel particularly aware of anything being ‘done’ at the time (but then my sister is married to a woman). It’s not that them being a married couple who both happened to be men didn’t change the story at all. In one way it did – a male police officer married to a female astronaut  feeling insecure about her general greatness and her career, or a female police officer, likewise married to a male astronaut, potentially could have a different dynamic. That’s partly because it can be a little hard to look at a conflict between a man and a woman and not read some generalised gender conflict in there. Even when it’s not actually the case. Making them both men, not hitting any stereotypes that scream ‘gay couple’ , writing it so that until they mention it we could well think they’re brothers, or close friends (not in the euphemistic historian sense, but actually, close friends) I think was very effective.

    Somewhere else someone claimed that ‘if it was a heterosexual couple’ the kiss ‘would not have been allowed’. That there was never any kissing on the lips between men and women in Doctor Who. I provided them with a list ;). I also think if this had been a heterosexual couple, people would have read a feminist message in it ‘husband insecure about his wife’s career’ or ‘wife feeling marginalised by her husbands career’. So I think it did affect the story, but in a very natural way.

    nerys @nerys

    @geekknocker123 These articles do a good job of exploring the history of social consciousness on Doctor Who:

    Doctor Who’s History of Political and Social Consciousness

    Doctor Who has always been political, and it has the right to be

    Sylvester McCoy says Doctor Who has always been political as classic series lands on BritBox

    @miapatrick You make some excellent observations about why this married couple worked so well. The fact that both were men created an absence of some of the imbalances we intuit between heterosexual married couples, and how those assumptions play into our interpretation of why those relationships can drift apart. Also missing, as you point out, were the stereotypes society has about homosexual couples. They were simply allowed to be a couple with challenges in their relationship. They both just happened to be men. I thought it was very well done.

    The difference between this episode and “Orphan 55” is that, at least for me, they didn’t whack the audience over the head with the message. Or, as Gat said of the Judoon in the previous episode, the writers weren’t using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Yes, the message was there. No more, no less, than in many of the episodes outlined in the articles linked above. But it was done with enough finesse and subtlety that I was drawn to the story, and didn’t feel like I was being preached a sermon.

    Rob @rob

    Morning all

    Been a hectic week stomping around in mud and getting occasionally stuck in it too

    Come on brains….. well she does have at least 13 different versions the same brain,  that is a major resource in problem solving

    Micro plastics as mentioned above are not sci-fi and we have ingested them too, so a good message and a call for action

    The Fam are also now a team trusted and capable of working independently

    Bio engineering also shown as an issue,  that’s how the Praxeus came to earth, think small pox in Birmingham and Foot and Mouth from Pirbright

    So an alternative arc could be the misguided use of science is the enemy (though that’s ben an arc for 50+ years)

    janetteB @janetteb

    so catching up but still very behind. Just watched Praxus and really enjoyed it. Must say this series is really upping the game. The “fam” especially are really growing in confidence and I liked that they got to go off and do their own thing in this story. Was nice to see Yaz and Ryan especially having their own adventures.

    It did feel very topical though the lack of quarantine perhaps was rather glaring after weeks of seeing images of people in masks and full body cover.

    I liked the point made about micro plastics once again however it left me thinking, “without the Doctor we are really in trouble.”


    Janette (off to find that Tim Minchin song mentioned by @craig which I am not familiar with.)

    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    Well now, I see the most recent posts here liked Praxeus.   I wish I could say the same – I liked the first half, till the heavy environmental message kicked in.   But here’s my impressions as I watched it.

    Well this is certainly – different. Apparently unrelated things happening in widely different parts of the globe.

    Yeah well, ignoring ‘Quarantina’ signs and then touching the corpse is really, really clever, isn’t it? Covid would love ya, baby.

    The zombies in the suits are incredibly bad shots. (I guess the fact they were half-dead from the virus retrospectively explains that). The Doctor is certainly busy buzzing from scene to scene in the Tardis. Has Tardis navigation improved by orders of magnitude since Tennant/Smith’s era?

    So now we have the Yaz and Gabriella Expeditionary Force. May I say I find this an encouraging development (Yaz finally getting to *do* something the way Rose, Martha, Amy and Clara did after approximately one episode each) even if it’s also an incredibly unwise thing Y&G are doing… (By the way, I like Gabriella). But teleporting after the alien zombie – even unwiser…

    Um, Ryan and Graham don’t know what a pathogen is? Srsly? Of course, a bacteria that produces the worst, fastest skin rash ever then causes the victim to explode is kinda new.

    This episode has lots and lots of setup. It’s going to need a pretty good payoff.

    It’s probably just me, but Jake psychoanalysing himself to Graham is boring. This Doctor’s tenure has always suffered from the too much talk syndrome, and I don’t have a great interest in the interpersonal relationships of random characters. I prefer ‘show, not tell’.

    For a water treatment laboratory on the beach, Suki’s lab is unbelievably quick in producing results. I think genetically engineering a virus to prey on the alien bacteria is just maybe on the extreme edge of what is possible (I don’t know enough microbiology to be sure) but I think it would take months, not hours. Like the Covid vaccine for example. Nevermind, it’s scifi (but howcome Tardis tech can’t do it?).

    Oh gawd, and now we get the environmental Message about the evils of microplastics. I’m a leftwing-ish greenie but please, please, can we try not to go sledgehammering The Message into every frickin’ scifi plot? 32 minutes in is where it all turns to merde. Pity, I was liking the episode up till now. And wouldn’t you know, the birds’ natural enzymes (‘natural’ = good, of course) are going to save the world. And I’m not too sure you can splice enzymes to make a virus (in fact I’d be willing to bet you can’t). Those two things are not alike. Is this going to be the Kill The Moon of Series 12?

    Well now, the over-equipped lab was actually a plot point. Have to give the writers full marks for that at least.

    But then we get more Message about the evils of plastic – oh, and the music is really intrusive. And then some more Message about reckless scientists doing experiments – yep, right up there with Kill the Moon on my shitlist. And the Doctor talks too much. After which Suki the reckless alien-looks-just-like-a-human scientist explodes.

    And, in more minor cringes, the scene with the Fam plus friends configuring the alien spaceship (how are they suddenly expert space pilots?) is risible. And – I saw this coming – Jake sacrifices himself by flying the ship (it was either going to be Adam or Jake, and seeing as how Jake always saw himself as the lesser of the two, it was for sure and 100% certain to be Jake). (Jake doesn’t know what the stratosphere is?) After which, materialising the Tardis around Jake was kinda hokey (though I had wondered why they didn’t all Tardis themselves on board earlier).

    Oh dear. The first half of this episode was quite promising. The second half could have worked given a lighter touch but it was just swamped with Message.

    A big comedown from Judoon.


    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    And now I’ve read some of the other comments – most of which I agreed with –

    Yes good to see Yaz actually doing stuff.

    The Doctor talks too much, or rather, lectures people. Somehow Capaldi could get away with that. Whittaker can’t.

    The married couple seemed quite natural (samesex – what of it?).

    I thought Gabriella got over her friends’ death remarkably quickly and her going off with the married couple at the end was awkward and incongruous.

    The birds did of course remind me of Hitchcock.

    Howcome the bacteria couldn’t transmit from one person to another? If that was explained I missed it. But then, it was apparently an intelligent bacteria according to Suki – ” it’s smart, it’s relentless, and it knows you’re onto it.” The first two – smart and relentless – could just be figurative, but ‘knows you’re on to it’? That implies consciousness and is definitely pure sci-fi. Intelligent bacteria that can ‘know’ things are definitely not a real possibility.


    winston @winston

    @dentarthurdent  For some reason I barely remember this episode , I didn’t even comment on it. Maybe I didn’t like it? I will definitely have to watch it again before I comment. I do remember the micro-plastics though because they are very problematic. Researchers sampled oysters and mussels up and down the west coast of Canada and found no shellfish without plastic in them. Plastics are also found in fish in the Great Lakes.I imagine they are also in me.

    Other than that I really need to watch this one again because I must have been sleeping or drinking or high when I watched it the first time.

    Stay safe

    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    @winston     Thing is, plastic is an invaluable material – and there are so many different ‘plastics’ that lumping them all together is almost meaningless.    Part of the problem is just litter – take that away and much of the pollution would disappear.   Remember how broken glass used to be a hazard – as someone who habitually walks barefoot along the shore, I say thank god for plastic bottles!  Although seeing plastic litter makes me almost as annoyed as broken glass.

    And if one just magically vanished all plastics, every electrical or digital appliance – virtually every machine – would instantly stop working, catch fire or explode (just as they would if one magically vanished all metal).   I know of no practical alternative to plastic insulation.   So bemoaning the pervasiveness of plastic is a bit like bemoaning the spread of modern standards of living.

    As to microplastics getting everywhere – remember most plastics are biologically inert (which is why they hang around so long).   I’m sure silicates (dust particles) are everywhere too.   So, probably, is paint dust (which is likely detected as ‘plastic’).   So I’m genuinely unsure whether these discoveries of microplastics amount to any more than that a percentage of ‘dust’ is now plastic rather than just silicates (rock) or decaying vegetable matter – is it biologically significant?   I don’t know.   It can be quite hard to tell (and I must admit I’ve never looked into it).    Or is it merely like the discovery that we are being bombarded with electromagnetic radiation (we always were, just nobody looked).

    All of this is really peripheral to my feelings towards Praxeus though – if its message had been ‘Plant more trees’ (a thing dear to my heart) and had been equally heavy-handed, I would still have cringed.

    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    @winston   Re-reading that, I realise it sounded a bit like a rant, for which I do apologise.  It’s an interesting topic, but complex – not as black-and-white as ‘Praxeus’ implied.   (Except for the ‘litter is bad’ bit, with which I agree 100%).


    winston @winston

    @dentarthurdent  I agree that the issue is very complex and since I don’t remember how the episode treated it I was only pointing out that there are micro-plastics everywhere. So much of it is caused by polluters who don’t seem to know where their garbage belongs. Single use water bottles (and other garbage) are on the side of the roads and in the ditches, on the beaches, in the oceans and floating down our creek. Disgusting!

    We have tried for years to cut down on the plastics that come into our home and it is very hard to do. Everything comes wrapped or contained by plastic. We reuse or up-cycle what we can and recycle the rest but it never seems like enough.

    While the message is everywhere many seem to have missed it. Maybe some people have to be slapped up the side of the head with their water bottles to learn the lesson. Just thinking out loud.

    Stay safe and plant a tree.

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