Who Review: Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS
by Kevin Rigdon (@pralix1138)
Rule one: the Doctor lies. A crew of galactic salvagers find this out in an interesting way in the newest episode of Doctor Who, “Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS.” But before we get to the lesson, we begin with the Doctor, Clara, and the TARDIS. The Doctor is trying to get Clara and the TARDIS to get along. It’s a funny little dynamic that I don’t remember the past companions having a problem with. Is this an indicator of what may come? Does the TARDIS know something that the Doctor doesn’t? Well, okay, that was a bad question. Of course the TARDIS knows things the Doctor doesn’t. Don’t know what I was thinking there.
In an effort to get Clara to trust the TARDIS as something more than a simple appliance, the Doctor disables many of the TARDIS’s advanced systems so Clara can drive her. He does this just as they come in close proximity to the salvagers’ ship which launches a magnetic field, like a tractor beam, and pulls the TARDIS in. As all of the defenses are down, the TARDIS is brought aboard, and this damages a lot of her vital systems. When the salvage team tries to crack open the TARDIS, of course they can’t. But somehow the Doctor has landed on the outside, while Clara is still trapped within. The Doctor offers them the “salvage of a lifetime” to help him rescue Clara.
Remember Rule One? I didn’t. I was thinking: what the hell? You can’t promise these hacks the TARDIS just to save Clara! Amy Pond, sure, but Clara? Needless to say, I felt a bit of an idiot, when he got them inside, and told them the real salvage was Clara, and he needed their help to find her. To emphasize his asking for their help, he initiates the Self-Destruct. Remember Rule One? Good. It’s important here.
They begin looking for Clara, who’s lost in the bowels of the TARDIS. Of course, the Doctor is really the only one who’s looking, the salvage team leader is too busy analyzing the TARDIS and is too interested in tearing her apart to be of any real help. This would be a difficult enough problem, but there’s always more going on with the Doctor than a simple problem. There’s all the wibbly-wobbly stuff, too. And sure enough, as Clara tries to find her way out, as the guys are “looking” for her, they get chased by crusty creatures with glowing red eyes.
This little jaunt through the TARDIS was a really interesting story idea. I know a lot of us have wanted to see more of the ship than just the control room. So, we get to see the pool and the library, though I was disappointed that they weren’t in the same place. In her lost state, Clara does happen upon a book in the library about the history of the Time War, and in it, she discovers the Doctor’s real name. Although this was an intriguing development, for some reason, I didn’t care for it. Maybe I’m a bit like the TARDIS. I’m still not sure if I like this Clara person.
As the TARDIS leads Clara back to the control room and attempts to keep her there, as it’s the safest place on the ship, the salvage team attempts to take the ship apart while they’re supposedly looking for the lost companion. Of course the Doctor protests, and of course, the TARDIS makes their life a bit hellish, but they’re on the greedy side, and selfish, and well, downright not-good people, all except the android, who turns out to be actually human, and the brother of the other two salvage team members who’d doctored him up with artificial eyes and voice box after an explosion, and told him he was an android. Pretty brutal way to treat your kid brother.
Amid the family drama, the attempted theft of pieces of the TARDIS, the star in a permanent state of decay inside the ship, (It really is bigger on the inside!), and generally being lost, the group gets trapped by the crusty, glowing, things, which happen to be themselves from the future. There’s a daring escape-well, the Doctor and Clara get away. On the brink of death, the Doctor goes mental and confronts Clara about who or what she really is, and he finally, finally, comes to trust her I think, and accept her as Clara, not as an oddity, or a trick, but simply Clara.
After their moment, the Doctor discovers, burned into Clara’s hand, the means of their salvation: the big friendly button, which he actually threw to them from the past to reset the whole encounter. Clara and the salvager crew don’t remember, and go on their merry way, but separate, ways.
A great story idea here, and I loved finally getting a glimpse at the TARDIS and seeing many of the things that have been hinted at for so long. The proper antagonist was the greed displayed by the salvagers, which created the crusty beasts, and all the havoc, and provided the catalyst for the little confrontation between Clara and the Doctor. But, in the end, the greed was overcome. The salvagers even developed a little bit of good within themselves. I’m glad the Doctor seems to finally accept Clara now, and everything can move forward. Please, for the love of all that is wibbly-wobbly, let everything move forward. I long for a “Blink” episode or one with River. With the exception of “The Cold War” the supporting characters (not actors, mind) have been a bit weak, and have missed a spark, that something indefinable, that they’ve had in previous seasons.
Maybe I’m discovering just how much I miss the Ponds, or River. You’ve got to admit, you’d freak if, all of a sudden, you heard, “Hello, sweetie.” But maybe her time is over as well. I shall soldier on. I shall try to adapt to this new companion, and this new demeanor from the Doctor. After all, when all is said and done, it is still the best live-action show on television, and still has me tuning in on a weekly basis. And while all of the episodes the second half of this season have missed the perfection mark, there is still genius there. There is still something wonderful bubbling below the surface. And there is still the Neil Gaiman episode to come.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars