This review was a difficult one to write, and I am still not entirely sure if Ed Hime delivered well on this episode or not. It feels lacking. While I enjoyed it well enough, I can’t help but feel it was slightly disjointed, and like none of the ideas fully married up.
To start out with a positive, Graham had such an excellent role in this episode. He remains some appropriate light relief in this episode, with his sandwich and comments to Ribbons. His grief is an element that I have been interested in since the beginning of the series. It was remarked to me after Arachnids In The UK that it was good to see some grief from Graham, as there had been little since The Woman Who Fell To Earth. It was good to see it again and to explore it further. To see the wound torn open again was compelling, and I would say fairly realistic. The wonder in Graham’s voice as he is explaining the TARDIS and such to Solitract Grace is simply heartwarming. This also serves to give sympathy for Erik, even though Erik is a bit of a terrible person. Erik shows a very unhealthy sort of grief, and I enjoy the contrast between him and Graham.
I like the idea of the Solitract plane and Solitract energy, however, I’m not sure if I liked the execution of it. the Doctor’s analogy of chicken pox, while perfectly apt, is not particularly enlightening when it comes to the matter of what the Solitract actually is. What is most interesting is the fact the tales she was told as a child were perfectly true. There were no inconsistencies between what Granny 5 said and what is found to be true. One also wonders how the Solitract would interact with other planes we’ve seen before. One might bring up E-Space, but I was thinking wherever The Mind Robber is set: outside the universe. Does the Solitract interact with this plane? Is it contained within this space?
Onto the alien life of this episode, and we take a big step into the Anti-Zone. Ribbons of the Seven Stomachs was an absolute delight to watch. He was creepy in a delightful way, especially with his use of ‘umbilical’ and repeated use of ‘delicious.’ It seems like everything in this Anti-Zone likes to eat flesh, and that makes me question the validity of such a zone. Why do these creatures exist in this zone? What is their purpose? If they are there to prevent crossover, then they aren’t particularly effective guards. I think we can assume space in the Anti-Zone is limited, as they only exist when they are required to prevent space-time from falling apart, meaning Ribbons and his friends are transient. Again, I like the idea of this, but I’m not entirely convinced by its execution.
That seems to be a recurring theme with my reception of this episode. It has some really great ideas that on a surface level string together quite nicely. As we all know by now, however, I think far too hard about things, and just can’t believe Erik would leave that pricey a sound system out in the elements, completely unprotected. Those speakers have to be at least somewhat expensive, given the quality and volume of the sound they create. I also question how the setup generally happened. Presumably, Erik must have been through the mirror a few times before he put together this incredibly elaborate ruse to keep Hanne in the house. Hanne is a smart and determined girl, after all. Can the Solitract only replicate the dead? Why? Why wouldn’t it replicate Hanne and Trine both, and fool Erik into thinking it was his universe, sans the fact Trine isn’t dead?
Don’t mistake me, I very much enjoyed this episode. There was less sonic in it than in previous weeks, and the story was decently well constructed, putting aside the small holes here and there. I enjoyed the ‘reverse the polarity’ reference, as I have enjoyed all Old Who references this series. It is just this question has left me with more questions than I perhaps wanted, and I am sure they’ll never be answered.
Tides 43 is, at time of publication, available to buy through this link