Doctor Who 12.3 – Orphan 55

Victoria Walker has collected all her coupons and wins an expenses-paid trip to Tranquility Spa with the Doctor and fam.

When considering Orphan 55, I think it best to directly compare it to last series’ episode Kerblam! Similarities abound: a commentary on the modern world; twists and turns galore; a generally tight script; and a rebellious character who is messy in their methods.

Besides raising questions concerning the intricacies of a Time Lord mind probe, the fact Dregs are evolved homo sapiens is not impactful. Take, for comparison, cyber-conversion: we find it shocking because living humans are stripped of their humanity. None of the Dregs were ever human. They are mindless beasts at the beginning of the narrative and remain so at the end. The revelation of what the Dregs evolved from is inconsequential. 

Speaking of the Dregs, I was also disappointed at the speed at which they were revealed. Kerblam! kept the true nature of the antagonist secret long enough to build tension. I had hoped the Dregs would remain secluded to help build a sense of mystery, however, they quickly devolved into a slightly rubbish horror monster. One could argue the true monster is Kane, or something, but I have little praise for the use of her character except the way she simultaneously represents individual and systematic blame for environmental issues. 

Tension remains a difficult issue from the last series. None of the characters remain silent long enough for any tension to be built. There is plenty of telling where showing would be more than adequate. After the ionic membrane works, there is no need for the Doctor to tell us it has worked. I do wonder if the Doctor constantly filling the gaps is a symptom of internal turmoil, which could potentially turn into an interesting cross-section of her morality later this series. Therefore there is little issue with one or two characters exhibiting this behavior, but it would serve the pacing well if we had some dead air now and again.

One could continue for hours picking apart the small details of this episode. It is not very internally consistent. However, I must give credit where credit is due: I enjoyed it a lot. Perhaps it is the excellent visuals and set design. Perhaps it’s the relatively satisfying way in which the plot concluded. Perhaps it’s Whittaker’s Doctor’s development again. Perhaps it’s the fact the faults have so much you can say about them. I enjoy nothing more than an episode that gives me a lot to say. Was it another Midnight, like I’d thought as the episode started? No, but that doesn’t really matter.

The double issue of Tides 45/46 is, at time of publication, available to buy through this link

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