Going into writing this Doctor Who season 10 premiere review, our prevailing concern was that in dubbing the episode “The Pilot” and making it perfectly clear that this was an episode for fans of the show new and old, it would inevitably slant a little bit more to the new and that older fans would be left with a lot of regurgitation.
After watching this premiere in full, however, we feel confident in saying here that this is not even slightly the case. The Doctor Who season 10 premiere was fun, fast-paced, imaginative, and even a little nostalgia. It may be some of the most fun we’ve had with an episode of television so far this year.
The biggest reason for “The Pilot” delivering was the enthusiasm and passion of Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts, a curious woman who started to show up to some of The Doctor’s lectures, even if it may have not been him that she was entirely interested in. We could discuss the bold move to make the character lesbian, but there’s almost no need to since it flowed naturally into the story much as it would be in life.
Over time, it was Bill’s curiosity, and in turn The Doctor’s own curiosity in turn in her, that led to the two establishing a partnership. Oh, and it also took a woman Bill knew in Heather seemingly becoming some sort of alien undead creature interested in killing everyone.
As Bill started to discover more and more of who The Doctor really was, it did fill our heart with pretty tremendous joy. She came into the Tardis, discovered the large-box-within-the-small-box, and learned a thing or two about Nardole in the process. Pure joy. They also traveled more than 20 million years in the future after another dangerous attack from the mysterious puddle-girl-Heather-creature.
If there is one criticism that you can offer for the premiere, it is that the final fifteen or so minutes moved a little too quickly, almost as though Steven Moffat wanted to throw almost everything into this episode at once. We didn’t need to go from the future to the past and have Daleks thrown in there as well — we say that even though we love Daleks, and even though the conclusion with said Dalek and “Heather” proved to be more interesting than we imagined.
Ultimately, what we saw in the closing moments was that it was actually “Heather” chasing her rather than trying to kill her. In order to move forward, Bill had to release Heather from her promise — in turn, she also had to release herself from Heather. This was a story about learning to let go and move forward, even when it is difficult. In the end, the writing was effective in pulling this off.
Overall, “The Pilot” suffered from some of the same issues as many other Doctor Who episodes do, especially in the Moffat era — getting a tad messy despite an interesting premise. Nonetheless, we will never fault the series for its imagination, its passion, or its sense of adventure. This was a worthy introduction for the remainder of the season, and we are absolutely excited to see where The Doctor and Bill go from here. Grade: B+.
Want to look ahead at Doctor Who season 10?
Then be sure to head over here! That’s where we’ve got the official synopsis for “Smile,” an episode that certainly appears as though it’s going to be a great time. (Photo: BBC.)