‘Doctor Who’ Review – S07E8: The Rings of Akhaten
If you’re wondering why this review is coming out now is because I wrote it and forgot to post it. It’s a bit late, but I’m posting it for the sake of completion.
The mystery of the newest companion is briefly touched upon at the beginning of the episode, with the Doctor travelling to different points in Clara’s life to establish that she is, in fact, a normal human. After crossing paths with her parents and seeing her as a child the Doctor is no closer to discovering why she possesses the impossible ability of being able to live and die in different points in space and time. No answers are offered, no doubt they’re holding out until the 50th anniversary of the show later in the year.
Back in the present day (whatever that means in this universe) The Doctor is about to whisk Clara away on one of his patented adventures. What follows is a pretty standard first adventure when the companion gets taken to some spectacle like the end of the Earth. In this case it’s the alignment of the rings surrounding the planet of Akhaten, prompting a grand ceremony.
Clara is initially overwhelmed by the different aliens races and sights around her but finds her grounding with a young girl who is hiding out from pursuers. What the girl is hiding out from is singing in the ceremony, but Clara talks her around and she gives her performance. As usual things go badly and an ancient, soul-destroying mummy begins to wake.
This episode is very much about developing the role of Clara as a sympathetic and caring person. The main plot is more about the visuals than anything of any real depth. The sight of the rings surrounding the planet is spectacular and the different aliens are well designed. Clara and her new sense of adventure is what propel the story along, and the plight of the young girl is the emotional weight. More importantly putting the girl at risk gives Clara the chance to show how much she is willing to sacrifice in order to do the right thing. The episode gets bogged down in this concept although by this stage you’d expect that the characters would already be in a rhythm. With this being Clara’s fourth episode between the Asylum of the Daleks and the Christmas Special it feels as though we already know enough about her to get on with the over-aching story.
It’s not a bad episode, with plenty of imagination on display. It does, however, feel as though it’s just stalling for time instead of getting into the nitty gritty. There’s plenty of hype surrounding Doctor Who at the moment and this episode feels like routine.