Doctor Who #818: Enemy of the Bane Part 2

"The universe hasn't finished with us yet. There will always be some alien species visiting Earth. And why not? It's a wonderful place to be. Just remember who lives here."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Dec.8 2008.

IN THIS ONE... Mrs. Wormwood and Kaagh open the Eye of Horath.

REVIEW: Part 2 of this story isn't a failure, but I will accuse it trying too hard. It's got too many villains; Wormwood and Kaagh are fine as outcasts from their respective people, but the growling OTT Major Kilbourne proving to be a Bane Clyde can apparently wrestle down on a couch is one too many. Its stakes are too big for its means; Horath as, essentially, a block transfer computation machine, doesn't really appear, replaced with a cool enough portal into which the villains will end up falling because... It's got too much story, and has to fudge the resolutions; no consequences for destroying the Scroll (or any remains, somehow), Kaagh's sudden turn obviating the climax, the Brig getting sidelined. And then there's that epilogue that goes on and on and overuses the SJA trope of the team looking up at the sky while Sarah Jane comes up with yet another speech about the wonders of the universe. They've outdone themselves in making it look stagey this time.

That said, I still think Russell T Davies could have used Phil Ford's help on his scripts. The stories have the same insane, anything-goes feel to them, but Ford seems to preempt audience complaints with dialog. If you thought it was really convenient half of the MacGuffin, an apocalyptic computer god, was buried on Earth, Luke concludes that Horath is really in another dimension, and the artifacts merely create the portal needed to let it escape. It's small touches like this that keep the stories from becoming too unbelievable, something New Who itself struggles with. Ford also makes sense of RTD's naming of Mrs. Wormwood, giving her a role in the possible destruction of the universe, as per the Biblical origin of the name. And while I wanted more Lethbridge-Stewart than I ultimately got, he still gets to defeat the Bane with aplomb and a trick cane. Because all former companions have cool gadgets now.

At the heart of it all is, and must be, the characters. This is really Luke's story, and his bravery makes him sacrifice is happiness for the lives of his friends. Wormwood becomes rather obsessed with making him her son, hurting from having lost all her kin since her original appearance. But the Bane don't have the same relationship with family humans do, and none of her talk of destiny and power does anything to swing Luke's loyalty her way. It's Nature versus Nurture, and in the story's opinion, the latter is more important than the former. It's, I think, a good message to give adopted kids who may be watching, though hopefully, their biological parents weren't quite so monstrous.

- Over-egging the pudding, though I can't deny its considerable qualities.



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