There’s a dangerous new virus on Earth making birds go crazy and making people pop like over-inflated water balloons… only more kid-friendly. The Doctor and her team split up to figure out what is going on and end up wrapped in an enigma, packaged in a mystery, and served on a plate of environmentalism.
Before I go on, I just want to remind everyone that I’m not one of those unobservent imbeciles who scream out the word “WOKE!” everytime Doctor Who or any other television series demonstrates awareness or diversity because that stuff has been going on for years and, if you’re only just now getting offended by it, you’re an idiot. Sorry.
What does bother me is how the awareness is presented. Take “Orphan 55” from a few weeks ago… that episode was pure rubbish. Not only was it just bad in every conceivable way, but its message about taking care of the planet was delivered with all of the nuance and subtlety of an elephant gun to the face. It was awkward, shoehorned, and couldn’t be more obvious if it tried. It was just… bad.
“Praxeus” is no where near as bad as “Orphan 55” so we should take a collective sigh of relief at that one, but rather than being bad… the episode just feels weirdly disconnected. The awareness message is delivered in a much more appropriate way that actually aided the plot, but this time around the breaking leg was the writing itself. Everything seemed to be looking up after the excellent episode last week, but “Praxeus” caught the ball and ran head first into the snack bar.
First, the good. This is the first episode in a very long time that has not only given Yaz something to do, but possibly gave the poor woman her most important and essential role to date: She’s a cop, an investigator, and wants to get to the bottom of things and, by the creepy orbs of Davros, she used those things to advance the plot. So, yeah… Go Yaz!
I also enjoyed the relationship between the police officer and the astronaut. We’ve seen same-sex couples in Doctor Who before, but this the first time I’ve seen a pair actually have genuine chemistry together to the point that I actually cared about what happened to the two of them. More often than not, gay couples on the show seem, to me at least, insincere. Here, a same-sex pairing was presented as is and it was real and refreshing.
Unfortunately, very little else worked.
While I enjoyed the idea of the Tardis Fam trying to solve a mystery by splitting up in teams all over the world, so much that was set up — most notably the downed submarine — literally went no where and could have been taken out of the script with no change to the story.
The idea that microplastics would attract a sci-fi virus was an interesting one and, as I said, the “wokeness” of this episode was no where near as irritating as “Orphan 55,” but it was presented with little or no tension, few consequences, and no real danger. Heck, even the noble sacrifice at the end was thwarted by an out of nowhere last minute save by the Doctor. Hey, Doctor? Where was this little trick when Adric was about to blow up, huh?
Guh… “Praxeus” was a non-event. It just wasn’t that interesting and shallow at best. Another disappointment in what has been a very uneven season.