Doctor Who: Wild Blue Yonder - A Creepy Look into the Duality of Human Nature

The following contains spoilers for the episode. Please watch it before reading.

Doctor Who: The Star Beast Today Disney+ released the second of the trio of new Doctor Who specials featuring David Tennant as the Doctor and Catherine Tate as Donna Noble, his companion. The episode picks up where the last left off, with Donna having spilled coffee on the console, causing a malfunction in the TARDIS, whisking them away to some unknown place in time and space. They unexpectedly arrive on a spaceship at the edge of time and space, beyond the reach of even the stars. Because the TARDIS is essentially rebooting, when it senses danger, it follows an old hostile action displacement system (HADS) to take off, leaving the duo alone – and without the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver. The ship at first shows no signs of life, but once they start messing around, they discover things are not what they seem, as they find themselves faced with life forms that have no shape and copy theirs, leading to a trippy adventure that tests how well they know each other.

Doctor Who: The Star BeastAs much as the show is always an adventure, it does a great job of bringing in deeper meaning. Duality played a large part in the first episode, driving home the idea that the doctor is both male and female (and more). This yin and yang idea continues throughout the second episode, at the start, the Doctor even illustrating this with screwdrivers, having both his sonic and a non-sonic one. Donna also talks about the song that the episode is titled after, “Wild Blue Yonder.” It sounds upbeat, but it’s really about the military going to war. Overall, the episode is about the duality of human nature. The aliens thought they were reflective of our species. They started out with no purpose. They not only mimicked the physical look of our heroes, but they became evil because they were shaped by what they felt coming from Earth: war and blood and fury and hate – clearly having a dark view of humanity. Of course, as Donna points out, that’s not all we are. In fact, the aliens end up thwarted in the end by the original captain of the ship, who set it to self-destruct before killing herself by going out the airlock, sacrificing herself, rather than let them get away to start a war. That idea of two sides of the coin also lets the Doctor know which Donna was the real Donna, because he knew she could have conflicting thoughts, feeling both stupid and brilliant at the same time. I did enjoy this reveal, though I would have liked to have seen the Doctor and Donna explore how well they know each other a bit more in their quest to tell each other from the aliens. 

Otherwise, however, the story itself worked really well. I loved the fact that in the episode the Doctor didn’t have his sonic, using his best weapon of all, his brain. The idea of doppelgängers has of course been done before, even in the series itself, but this one felt unique and the problem was not easily remedied as the copies had all the memories of the originals themselves. This also brought up an issue that I hope will be explored more later, though with only one more episode with the characters, it likely will not be. Donna has memories of the Doctor from after he left her, the fifteen years they were apart, however, she says she couldn’t process it because it was too much, like looking into a furnace. There is also a brief mention of the Flux, but it may have been more of a reference for fans to pick up on. 

Doctor Who: The Star BeastAs for the feel and look of the episode, although there were light almost hallucinogenic seeming moments when the aliens stretched out of proportion, the tone of the second episode differed greatly from the first, feeling much more eerie and claustrophobic and at times downright creepy. The heroes were separated numerous times in the twisting halls of the ship which only added to the feeling of isolation. It’s nice to have something a bit darker this time.

In visuals, once again you could tell that more has been spent on the series now that Disney is involved. The spaceship was massive, both in physical sets and digitally expanded. Over all the show just looks better, with huge explosions and other special effects. This time, though, it didn’t take away from the episode as much as some of the uses of the sonic did in the first one. It is also interesting to note that except for the opening and closing of the episode, Tennant and Tate were the only performers. The two carried it off superbly and the spots of them interacting with versions of themselves always felt real and never gimmicky.

All in all, it was a solid episode that leads into the conclusion of the trilogy. I wish that it was a longer season with the two stars, because it’s an all too fleeting reunion, but I appreciate their return and hope this may lead to the return of other Doctors in the future. Who knows, perhaps it will lead to a Doctor-Donna spinoff. Fans can always hope.

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