Knowing what is coming up in Doctor Who may have stolen some of the limelight off The Eaters of Light, but that doesn’t mean that it is a bad episode. If anything, this episode is about teaching The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) that he can’t always be the hero, sometimes he has to take a step back.
When The Doctor, Bill (Pearl Mackie), and Nardole (Matt Lucas) try to solve the mystery of the vanishing of the Roman legion of the Ninth they manage to find the survivors as well as a group of barbarians. Can The Doctor bring the warring factions together, to do battle against the Eaters of Light?
For most of the episode I felt a little disappointed by The Eaters of Light. There was a certain spark that was missing, which I hoped would come back at some point. What this episode was is one of those that is more of a learning experience for The Doctor, when his ego is put in check.
The Eaters of Light as a “monster of the week” are an interesting beast that is a little different from what we usually see in Doctor Who. If anything, it feels a little understated, even though it is a deadly foe. What is interesting though is that the creature is more of a tool to push a more human story into the episode. If there is one thing we know about The Doctor, it is that he always has to be the hero.
What we see with The Doctor in this episode is his desire to sacrifice himself to save the world, and even the universe. The fact he actually has to be held back from doing that and physically restrained does show just how much of an ego he actually has. We’ve seen this cause problems in the past, even causing regenerations when he heroically dies to be the saviour.
Another scene that we also see is Missy (Michelle Gomez) now seemingly a passenger on the TARDIS. Seeing her confusion to having feelings, she seems quite melancholy. You do have to wonder though is it all an act to try to trick The Doctor? It is possible, especially with what is coming next week.
When looking at the episodes of this season, The Eaters of Light won’t be high on the list of good episodes, but it is an entertaining one, even though it lacks the spark of some others. What definitely had the spark though was the teaser for next week. We know who is returning, so it comes as no surprise. It is still exciting to see that it is finally coming though, and only a week away.
While The Eaters of Light has a few scenes that are very good, for an episode of Doctor Who to stand out, it needs something more. Next week looks to be a an episode that is bringing back that much-needed spark, and what The Eaters of Light may have been is the calm before the storm. The storm that looks to be finally arriving next week.
Doctor Who airs in the UK on BBC1 on Saturdays.