Doctor Who #925: The Bounty Hunter

"All moral conflicts now resolved."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Feb.1 2010.

IN THIS ONE... A bounty hunter comes from the future looking for K9, who is apparently wanted for murder.

REVIEW: It's not a complete picture, but we find out what K9 was doing on the other side of the portal before he showed up in 2050. The 500th century seems an odd choice for his point of departure, almost as though they made a typo on his original inception date, which according his first appearance in The Invisible Enemy, was the year 5000. According to the bounty hunter who walks out of the portal, K9 is accused of murdering the Galactic Peace Commissioner, but of course, it's all a big frame-up perpetrated by a xenomorph and presumably the Jixen he was pursuing. That K9's Asimov circuits make him want to turn himself up is good doggie angst, but we just saw him kill the Korven in the previous episode, so killing is allowed if it's the big bad aliens getting the bad end of a nose laser. And of course, there would be no tension at all if K9's fragmented memory didn't allow him to conveniently believe the bounty hunter Ahab (not exactly subtle) and his lies.

Ahab's design recalls the later Gunslinger from A Town Called Mercy, a cyborg with an electronic eye and face tattoos. Drawn a connection if you like. I can also see a Maori influence that's perfectly natural from an Oceania-made program. He's not the only antagonist, however. K9's good intentions are proven earlier when the Department stages a near-accident/terrorist incident at a Ferris wheel, with Drake almost too evil as he delights in the danger his section put some children for the benefit of the cameras. June once again has a stern talk with him about jurisdiction, but he's not really listening. The shadowy figure that heads the Department makes his first appearance, but surprisingly doesn't demote or fire Drake despite his incompetence. Because even if the boss is a baddie too, Drake is perhaps the most inept minion anyone could have. There's an additional moment in this episode where Drake claims that having made a deal with the alien bounty hunter, he was betrayed, but we don't see any of that. It sounds like a lie, but proves to be true, showing Drake as ineffectual and rather loose-lipped when it comes to his wrong-doing. June jurisdictional solution is fairly clever - she brands the gang as the K9 Unit (that's a neat police pun), working FOR her branch, so Drake really has nothing to say about it.

But plot-wise, there are a lot of holes to drive through. The streets are mostly empty - this is a fascist state, after all - but it still doesn't make much sense for the wanted K9 to walk around with Starkey. The climax with the "cold energy" leash easily interrupted by a hot cup of tea is a little silly, though tea in the Whoniverse (or Whoniverse-Lite) has been known to be useful. When the bounty hunter shows up looking for K9, it seems to me it would have been very easy to show him the wreckage of Mark I. Would have solved everything, Prof. We also find out Darius is  "petty thief", which explains his various skills, I suppose, and that he's got a place to sleep in the sewers. Is no one on this show on the up and up? Happy to see June act as a mother though, a little horrified that her daughter went off with a couple of criminal boys to sleep in filth, but I've given up hope Jorjie will ever be grounded.

A news scroll on television says a "Mr. Smith" won the lottery, a reference to the Doctor's alias of John Smith. It's not likely to refer to Sarah Jane's computer because the report says the winner's address is unknown, and we definitely know Mr. Smith's address, and the authorities want to know "who" this man is. It's not all Doctor Who - The scroll also makes references to THX1138 and the launch of the NX-2000, i.e. the USS Excelsior.

On the plus side, the status quo keeps evolving, but the plots continue to be slim and badly thought-out.



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