If you would like to read my review of the last episode, click here.
Synopsis: The Doctor and Bill visit London during the last of the River Thames frost fairs in February 1814. They soon discover that there is something under the ice which is causing people to disappear. (IMDB)
Writer: Sarah Dollard
Director: Bill Anderson
Running Time: 45mins
At the end of the last episode, the Doctor and Bill did not end up back at their time after leaving the future colony but they ended up in 1814 London during a frost fair.
Bill is still getting used to being the Doctor’s companion so she still has a lot to learn. The first thing was that one did not steer the Tardis but rather negotiate with it which obviously didn’t happen here. Bill didn’t immediately understand that they were in the past, however, when she did, she made the best of it which was probably more than she expected while being Black during a time when it wasn’t widely accepted. They had fun here and they were fun to watch. I like how this season has relied on the relationship between the Doctor and Bill because it has worked well.
Of course the fun wouldn’t last forever as things began to get serious. Bill and the Doctor ran into a pair of poor children who tried to con them with one managing to take his trusty sonic screwdriver. They chased the children but the chase was cut short when one of them was surrounded by a strange group of lights and was then pulled through the ice, never to be seen again with the Doctor managing to retrieve his screwdriver before it went through. This was yet another lesson for Bill seeing that people die. She wasn’t ready to see people die and wondered why the Doctor seemed to be so okay with it. He also revealed that he’s killed people but only when necessary. He’s seen a lot during his 2,000 years so there wasn’t time for outrage.
Bill and the Doctor then wore a pair of scuba suits to take a look at the monster responsible. We learned that it was chained at the bottom of the river with a group of other fish providing for it. They decided to try and find who was responsible for chaining the monster underwater and they later learned that it was some snobby aristocrat named Lord Sutcliffe (Nicholas Burns).
Their introduction was a funny scene where the Doctor told Bill that they should be peaceful and diplomatic but as soon as he said something racist to Bill, the Doctor punched him in the face. Sutcliffe revealed that the secret of the monster had been kept within his family for as long as records had been kept. What was special of the monster was that it produced energy for him. The Doctor then made a speech about the child who lost their life and the value of life but Sutcliffe didn’t care. Sutcliffe then decided to go forward with his plan ahead of schedule.
His plan was to tie Bill and the Doctor to some explosives that he was going to use to break the ice and feed the people to the monster. They obviously escaped but then they had to decide what to do with the monster. The Doctor left it to Bill and she decided to free the monster. Bill and the children managed to get the people off the ice and the Doctor used Sutcliffe’s explosives to help free the monster. It was the right choice as it came up from the river and swam away. As a parting gift, the Doctor gave the poor children the Sutcliffe estate and made one of them his heir.
When they returned home, Nardole appeared with the tea he was getting them. He noticed that they had left and was upset. Bill tried to search what happened but she didn’t find anything about the monster, only about Sutcliffe’s new heir. Nardole went to check on the vault and something was knocking but he vowed to not let it out.
Overall, this was another good episode in what has been a solid season so far, relying on the relationship between Bill and the Doctor with great success instead of the usual fanfare. Things got a little more serious as Bill was still learning what being a companion was really like and it worked for the most part here.