Sexy Nefertiti and Safari!Lestrade: “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” Reaction

You may have gathered that I was quite disappointed with last week’s episode of Doctor Who–though not, admittedly, as disappointed as Alex Day was–and I once again sat down for Doctor Who with low expectations, not least because “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” was written by Chris Chibnall who also wrote the really silly and suspense-lacking Silurian two-parter “The Hungry Earth”/”Cold Blood.” When the episode opened with sexy Nefertiti trying to seduce the Doctor against the TARDIS, I audibly groaned. Yet again a female character whose only role is to be sexy? Time Lord help us. That said, the episode wasn’t quite as grating as I thought it would be and in fact I’d have to say I enjoyed rather a lot of it.

Mark Williams, who played Rory’s dad and is of course familiar to Harry Potter fans for his role as Arthur Weasley, did a stellar job at getting his character’s tone right without hamming up the part where he travelled across time and space and discovered that his son and daughter-in-law had been lying to him a bit. Frankly, I think he was more concerned about having smashed that lightbulb.

The Doctor repeatedly refers to his new entourage as his gang, something about which he seems to be quite excited. Perhaps a little more sensitive to his friends’ feelings about being replaced than his previous regeneration was in “School Reunion,” he’s sure to emphasise to Amy that “they’re just people, not Ponds.” Meanwhile, dinosaurs appear and Safari!John, who I’ve quoted in my notes as Safari!Lestrade, announces that he can “take one of them” seeing as he’s a hotshot safari guy and whatnot. I was a bit impressed by how this episode continually called into question John’s role in history and his casual enthusiasm for violence towards animals. The apex of this comes later in the episode with Amy’s snappy one liner: ”or men who hurt defenceless creatures just don’t have an impact on history.”

Brian exclaims that the dinosaurs are flying the spacecraft only to be shot down by the Doctor, who tells him, ”Brian, don’t be ridiculous, they’re probably just passengers.” Clearly the Doctor has never read Astrosaurs, the smashing beginner readers series about dinosaurs who fly spaceships and save the universe, though something tells me the writers are probably familiar with it.

Rory, his dad and the Doctor are all transported to what looks an awful lot like Bad Wolf Bay, is probably just a generic Welsh beach and is supposed to be the engine of the spaceship, a vessel fuelled by water power. Things seem a bit tense between Rory and the Doctor in a way that’s never properly resolved and I don’t know if that can just be chalked up to Rory’s dad being present. I didn’t concentrate on this for too long though because Brian whipped out a trowel and asked, ”What sort of man doesn’t carry a trowel?” Perfect writing and casting for Rory’s father, methinks.

Back inside, a man in a room full of cables pants, “Doctor…after all this time.” We do not see his face. Amy and Nefertiti are chatting away (as you do), and Neffie asks Amy whether she’s also a queen. “Yes,” replies Madame Pond. “Yes I am.” Showing us what’s she’s learnt from her time with the Doctor, Amy proudly says, “whenever you enter somewhere new you press buttons” and follows that rudimentary step with a few practical ones like scanning for life forms. Unfortunately, the life forms uncovered in a video message are the Silurians, the least interesting monsters since the Slitheen. It’s not as though I can distract myself from the dullness of Silurians by enjoying the dialogue around this scene because it involves a lot of bad and boring flirting between Nefertiti and Safari!Lestrade. Even though Amy puts her foot down and declares that she will not have flirting companions, the innuendo continues and it is at best awkward and at worst totally inappropriate and drawn out for far too long.

The Doctor, Rory and Brian are being chased by Pterodactyls and then bump into some “very unhappy” yellow robots whose function seems to simply be: annoy me. None of the robot dialogue was funny and it was all part of quite a tedious connection between the beach scene and the indoor Filch–sorry, Solomon–scene.

Rory’s dad is shot by an annoying robot and this gives Rory the opportunity to show off his badass nursing skills (we’re proud of the NHS in this country, you might have possibly gathered by the Olympics). “You carry a trowel I carry a med patch,” says our R quite endearingly. We also find out that Rory has been collecting medical supplies on his intergalactic travels, which just goes to demonstrate a genuine enthusiasm for nursing that far surpasses any desire to live up to the Doctor in title alone. He’s become his own person outside of that role, as we knew he was but hadn’t been shown up until now.

The question of a Doctor/Amy relationship comes up in conversation with Nefertiti but Amy quickly corrects her, saying, “no, no, I’m Rory’s queen. Wife. His wife.” Oh how speedily the bizarre divorce narrative mends itself! As though there was never any discord! As though that was a totally useless plotline! Amy and the Doctor, once reunited, have a great quiet moment that ends with a kiss on the forehead, a gesture that recalls the image of Amy with her eyes closed in the forest of Weeping Angels. It’s a clever little shot reminding us of how far they have come since then without having to say “oh, we’ve come so far, remember when I said five minutes?”

Once the pair break away from one another, Amy stands up and gets ready to defend herself, her friends and the dinosaurs. “I’m easily worth two men,” she says to Safari!Lestrade, “You can help too if you like.” I was so pleased with how Amy specifically was being written and with how Karen Gillan was acting that I totally missed the finer points of why the Doctor lets Solomon explode into thousands of tiny fiery pieces. She might be Rory’s queen but this episode she was certainly also our gender politics queen.

It’s not as though Solomon was the most important part of the story, either. What really mattered was Brian’s request: the great sight of Earth from space, the cup of tea, Amy and Rory together and the Doctor standing alone, behind. It’s a tad foreboding, we agree, but I like that the time was taken for a quiet moment of simply observing the universe and dunking a biscuit or two.

Next week we have the Western episode of Doctor Who (watch the promo here) and no doubt there will have been another big gap between this adventure and the next. What did you think of “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” and how did it compare to your reaction to “Asylum of the Daleks?”

  • James Gilmore

    I think the decision to have such a long period of time passing between episodes makes for the narrative being a bit odd…hence the Ponds have had months to patch up their marriage since the confrontation last episode, but none of this is obvious in the new episode…

    But I just loved it, I really loved it, I loved every single second of Amy and watching her properly take the reigns and make some AWESOME and necessary points about gender equality and BAM <3

    …but the balls joke? Reaallly? :P

  • http://twitter.com/youaremythief Marina

    I really loved this episode :D I thought the robots were one of the best bits :P But I do just bloody love Mitchell and Webb.

    • lollifant

      Yes, I loved it too :) All of it and I want to know how the Doctor and Lestrade (I’m sorry, he’ll be always Lestrade for me) met! And actually I rather like the Silurians, oops :p

      • http://twitter.com/youaremythief Marina

        I know like the Silurians too! I didn’t realise that they weren’t that popular. Yeah it woukd be mice to see how they met :) Rupert Graves ftw<3 I think this episode and AOTD were both great, I really didn't think anything was wrong with them. But maybe I'm just less critical than other fans this series because I didn't hate series 5 or 6 at all.

        • http://twitter.com/youaremythief Marina

          Woah, please ignore the typos in that comment.

          • lollifant

            What typos? :p But yes, yes, I feel the same, I loved Asylum of the Daleks. Maybe it’s because I’m not a writer or critic, but I don’t see how they were so bad, I just enjoy them! :)

  • http://twitter.com/abbeybabbling Abigail Lewis

    I HATED that Nefertiti ended up with Safari!Lestrade though. He does literally nothing to endear himself to her, he’s a sexist pig throughout tbh without redeeming himself but he still ends up with the girl.
    They tried though, what with Amy’s great writing and the specific reference to gender politics.

    • http://alexdaymusic.com Alex

      agreed.

      • Julia

        I thought you ‘gave up’ on doctor who?

        • g

          He came crawling back.

  • Kelsey

    I thought this episode was great, way better than last weeks. Except for one thing, which may seem like not a big deal but was HUGE to me. The Doctor kills Solomon. I mean, he doesn’t pull the trigger or anything, but that’s basically what it comes down to. One of the reasons I love this show so much and what makes it so different from other sci-fi shows is that the Doctor is such a truly good person who gives second chances to everyone, no matter the risk to himself. I feel like that essential goodness has completely gone out the window in the 11/Moffat era in favor of maybe satisfying but emotionally facile “let’s all watch the bad guy get destroyed” type of thing.

    Anyway, I really did enjoy the episode, but I got really hung up on that. Also, Rupert Graves <3

    • Mon

      RTD had 10 kill people/commit violent acts also. This whole the Doctor-doesn’t-commit-acts-of-violence idea is absurd. He has committed genocide on numerous occasions, and if you’ve watched any old DW you’d know that the Doctor killing people isn’t exactly new.

      • http://twitter.com/youaremythief Marina

        Thank you, I don’t know why people were so surprised.

      • critterfur

        Yep, it’s even mentioned as a plot point a few times (during the Martha Jones years, I think) that the Doctor has destroyed a number of planets, and I’m sure they weren’t all just barren of life (it numbers something in the hundreds, if I remember correctly). In only the second episode of the revived series he sits back and lets Lady Cassandra die a pretty horrible death (even though Rose basically begs him to help her). It’s by no means a new character trait; as far back as the very first few episodes in 1963, the Doctor (then in his 1st incarnation) is stopped by Ian Chesterton from bashing in the head of a wounded enemy with a rock. And many times the Doctor won’t actively kill an enemy, but he’ll stand back and watch them die or allow one of his allies to kill them.

  • Katiedora

    I feel like they should have cut one of the new characters out, or else made it a 2-part episode to give it real feeling. There was too much going on to get into it. I wasn’t a fan of the Nefertit/safari guy flirting thing, but I was pleased with both Rory and Amy. The divorce “plot” was dumb in Asylum. It didn’t need to be such a big thing if Moffat wasn’t going to drag it out and make it a legitimate thing, because otherwise I liked seeing their progression in this episode. I also didn’t understand why more wasn’t made of the Doctor letting Solomon die. Maybe I was distracted by all the other people, but something feels off about it. And I didn’t mind the Salurian previously, I just would’ve liked them getting more attention in this one.

  • Nicole

    I think I liked this episode more than last week’s too, although I did feel there were more lines/scenes that were aimed at a younger audience and were a bit cringey, aka the balls joke. Amy was excellent and this episode reminded me why I really love the Amy/Rory/Doctor dynamic.

  • http://alexdaymusic.com Alex

    I can’t see myself watching it again.

    • g

      That’s ok because you’re giving up on Doctor Who aren’t you?

  • Harriet

    What I loved about the scene of them looking at the earth was the contrast between that the shot of Amy floating outside the TARDIS from The Best Below. No idea if it was intentional but that’s what’s I thought of almost instantly.

  • Hannah

    Was anyone else totally bowled over by the inappropriateness of the David Bradley character telling Nefertiti that he would take great ‘pleasure in breaking her in’? It made me really uncomfortable. I suppose that they assume if you’re old enough to understand that there are darker sexual undertones to that comment, then you’re old enough to hear them?

  • Helena

    I thought it was so much better than last weeks episode, they had some really clever writing and some funny moments that I really liked. Hopefully next weeks can keep this up