Doctor Who: Episode 4 Review

As the newest season of Doctor Who unfurls more classic shades come to light. This week The Doctor and Ruby find themselves in a war zone fraught with tension, littered with landmines, bringing out a bit of the Doctor’s scathing, cynical side. The result is a thrilling and endlessly quotable episode that once again showcases Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson’s beautiful chemistry. These two were truly made to travel the universe together trading truths and barbs even when mortal danger abounds.

We open on two surviving soldiers, John & Carson, making their way through a minefield in the aftermath of combat. The Doctor, having recently arrived on Kastarion 3, hears a scream and sprints from the TARDIS to help. When he steps on a landmine he freezes and “Boom” is off. Unable to move, unable to let his blood pressure go too high with the stress of the situation, The Doctor and Ruby must find their way out of danger, not just to save themselves, but the whole planet.

It’s a neat little knot Steven Moffat, returning to write again for Russell T. Davis, has created in “Boom”. It seems to be delicately setting some pieces to fall into place later down the road. There have been hints to a greater story arc in the previous episodes of this series and episode 4 seems no different. The corporation profiting off all this war is Villengard who, according to The Doctor, “optimize the casualty rate for continued conflict”. They offer cold, electronic “thoughts and prayers” upon the death of a soldier, and have I mentioned that these soldiers are Ordained Anglican Marines? Faith and capitalism drive death and destruction straight to the fiery pits of hell in the world Moffat has presented.

“Boom” takes on capitalism, militarism, and faith in one fell swoop, without dragging out a soapbox or derailing what makes Doctor Who, Doctor Who. It’s all very matter-of-fact and baked into the DNA of the story at hand; writing at its most seemingly effortless (which means it probably took a great deal of toil and effort). This episode beautifully showcases what makes Doctor Who stands the test of time; its characters and their humanity no matter their species, planet, or background. “Boom” would work if it were a Black Box Theatre production in the style of Lars von Trier’s ‘Dogville’, devoid of set, CGI, and all the rest. It stands firmly on the shoulders of its actors and its dialogue, taking place in one location for nearly 99% of its runtime, and runs the gamut of human emotion pulling you along for the ride.

Russell T. Davis’ return to Doctor Who continues its winning streak with “Boom”. This new incarnation, it’s noted as Season 1 after all, really is bringing the long running series to new heights while maintaining the core DNA that makes Doctor Who the timeless classic reborn to generation after generation. We’ve seen Gatwa’s Doctor manic, silly, and earnest. We’ve traveled to see the dinosaurs and the Beatles. We’ve seen musical numbers, broken the 4th wall, and witnessed the horrors of capitalism and war. Babies have run spaceships, goblins have stolen babies, and met Maestro, the child of The Toymaker. If you’re anything like me you’ve fallen hook, line, and sinker, hopelessly in love with the pair that is The Doctor and Ruby. All this and there are still six episodes to go. Anything could happen and I suggest you get on board now if you’re not already.


Doctor Who Episode 4, “Boom” arrives on Disney+ tomorrow, May 17 with subsequent episodes arriving weekly every Friday.


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