‘Doctor Who’ 11×04 Review: Follow The Spiders

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Perhaps one of Doctor Who‘s many commendable feats is its ease to frighten. Daleks used to be one of the most terrifying foes television fiction had ever seen –granted, in the sixties– and the Cybermen’s ability to reprogram themselves instantly to learn and become unstoppable instills a horror in one’s bones that’s hard to shake.

Don’t even get me started on the Weeping Angels.

But the funny thing is —Doctor Who has never needed strange alien races to profoundly traumatize and scare its audience. In fact, the scariest Who episodes are those that manage to make those common, seemingly mundane things remarkably horrifying.

“Arachnids in the UK” proved to be able to accomplish exactly that.

Follow The Spiders

It’s almost Halloween, so, granted, an extra scary episode seems to fit perfectly with the season of skeletons, tombstones and masterfully carved Jack-O-Lanterns –or pumpkins, if you rather. An episode featuring monstrous, gigantic, human-eating spiders is perhaps the best way to honor the season that celebrates the dead.

Can you tell I’m not really a huge fan of spiders yet?

Props must be handed to Chris Chibnall, whom I haven’t been totally fair with in these first four episodes of Who‘s eleventh season, for managing to perfectly capture the scariest spirit of Doctor Who: to take what we know, what we already fear, and make it immensely scarier within its commonness.

But let’s leave the humongous, disgustingly hairy spiders aside for a second, shall we? The episode proved, just as “Rosa” did last week, that the most terrifying villains us humans can face, that the scariest monster we must fear and be wary of at all times, is, you guessed it, the human race itself. And, more precisely, Americans.

Don’t take offense, America. Or do, just not with me –with the English.

Boston Tea Party, yadda, yadda, yadda. You know the drill.

Back to the episode. The episode’s villains weren’t the cocoon-making, human-eating spiders that roamed the terrified streets of Sheffield –The Doctor finally managed to land there, eh? It wasn’t the flesh-consuming arachnid monster we couldn’t even look at what really chilled us to our cores.

It was the fact that it could happen in real life. It was the fact that some businessman who’s more preoccupied with his money-making machine of a hotel than with properly dealing with toxic waste was at fault for these Godforsaken arachnids being out on the loose and he wouldn’t even face the magnitude of what he had created. The scariest part of the show’s hour wasn’t a tank-sized spider wanting to eat The Doctor and her companions, it was the fact that a Donald Trump lookalike –caricaturesque as he was– who walked and talked like the current POTUS was to blame, and The Doctor was virtually incapable of making him change his mind.

The Doctor, who has stopped nuclear wars from happening. The Doctor, who has single-handedly ended massacres and extinctions.

People! If The Doctor cannot save us from Donald Trump, only votes can.

And now that I’ve officially contributed to getting all Americans to polling stations, allow me to continue.

 

You Made An Awesome Human, Najia

The other favorable aspect of last night’s episode came in the form of brilliant Yasmin Khan, who is finally, slowly but surely, making her way up the list of amazing companions. It has taken us four entire episodes, but we’ve finally gotten to know her better and what a treat this ride has been.

Getting to know her family –her mother, to be more specific– not only made us understand who she is better, it also made us feel for her and realize that her adventures with The Doctor are her only escape and her only way to prove to herself that she can be better and no one can stop her.

And her mother? Oh, wasn’t Najia just amazing? What a great form of representation for women of color she was. Not only was she hard-working and diligent, she also proved to be a remarkable realistic mother. Which doesn’t mean she was strict or annoying. It means she was harsh when she had to be, and caring and mature when she needed to be.

Plus, she stood up to Donald Trump 2.0 like a boss. Sign me up for more adventures involving her anytime.

But, beyond that, we were finally gifted with some much needed Yaz character development that made us understand why The Doctor has chosen her –along with Graham and Ryan– to be part of Team Tardis.

And speaking of Ryan, is it bad that I’m starting to ship him and Yaz a little bit? No? Just me? Let me know.

Props should also be given, greatly deserved, to Bradley Walsh for his portrayal of Graham this week. We’ve finally understood him as more than simple comic relief, and his admission about dealing with grief was realistically refreshing and healthy. I’m liking him more and more every week.

Team TARDIS

It was the first time Doctor Who felt like Doctor Who this season, and it had all to do with the fact that Chibnall has finally hit the heart of the show and taken it a step further. The Doctor’s criticizing of the human race is no longer a simple jab at American or English politics through a clever joke, it’s now a full-on. one episode long metaphor embodied by a very real magnate. And it perfectly proves that, just as the hearts of humans are the brightest stars to ever shine, they are as easily corrupted as any other race.

Humans are the greatest mystery, and also the greatest threat. Even to ourselves.

Doctor Who airs Sundays on BBC One and BBC America. 



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