Completing her series of reviews of Series Eleven, Victoria Walker looks back at The Ghost Monument.
The Ghost Monument was a rather interesting episode, all things considered. While the fact the TARDIS crew were all picked up in space was quite incredibly convenient, the rest of the episode was well put together and the general concept was good.
Let me start by mentioning the new opening. It is very, very good. It reminds me very much of very early Old Who openers and those were great. While I did quite like the opening put together for Capaldi, I am and always have been a sucker for the classics. Just like the rest of the episode, the opening title sequence is very good looking. The setting and camerawork on this episode are particularly good, as they’ve made the planet really look and feel hostile. While Chris Chibnall has a tendency to tell, rather than show, the planet Desolation was shot really well. A good job was done making the planet seem of considerable scale.
The episode itself was not perfect, especially script-wise. There were many moments that felt clunky or awkward. I can sum them all up quite well with the line “there’s another room next door,” from Yaz as they are exploring down in the laboratory. There is nothing wrong with it really, except that it pulls you out of the action, as it isn’t something anyone would ever say. There was a good intention behind this line. It could be rewritten well as “there’s another room through here,” or even “there’s another room through this next door.” It’s the small things that just pull you away from an episode.
As far as the plot of the episode goes, I like it. You could potentially complain about the lack of a distinct antagonist. I suppose Ilin could be considered as such, however spineless he may be. What is most curious, however, is the fact that he just relents when the Epzo and Angstrom argue over there being a joint winner of the race. It is a startlingly short argument. How are they going to get off the planet if he doesn’t relent, and just leaves them there? He doesn’t know about the Doctor’s ship, in fact, she very distinctly does not give away the fact that the ghost monument is her ship. Presumably, then the result doesn’t really matter to Ilin. Perhaps he is just a bureaucrat, running the race because he has to.
Angstrom and Epzo formed a pretty great supporting cast. Epzo is brooding without being overdone. His character plays very well off of the Doctor, especially as she takes charge before they leave on the boat. She can handle him quite well. Angstrom has a well-considered motivation for taking part in the race. The two have both a shared and individual history which is not fully explained. The mystery there is a good thing. There is always a danger of over-explanation, but it is well avoided in this episode.
All in all, this was not a bad episode. It was very much enjoyable to watch, and to be honest, is that not what matters the most? It was a fun way to reintroduce the TARDIS, and while the episode did have some script issues, I most definitely had a very good time watching it.
Tides 43 is, at time of publication, available to buy through this link