Recap: Doctor Who 11.4 “Arachnids in the UK”

It usually takes months, or even years, for the Doctor to get his companions back to Earth.
What if it takes only a few weeks, and just in time to battle a very unusual spider invasion–and a Trump knockoff could be to blame?
That’s what we have this week in a pretty good episode.

 

 

SPOILERS BELOW

Once again, showrunner Chris Chiball wrote this episode as he’s carefully crafting the 13th Doctor into one for the ages. As she puts it, “Maybe I’m nervous or just socially awkward. Still figuring myself out.” There have been some that wonder why the Doctor actively beats whatever villain she’s facing. She did in the first episode, but it seems sometimes there aren’t any true winners in the end. “Earthshock” was proof of that, and so is this episode.
It also wonders if a Companion wants to end the adventure after getting home. Ian and Barbara did. So did Sarah Jane. It followed that Graham, Yasmine and Ryan would, too. Still, the sights they’ve seen and the things they’ve done, sometimes stepping off the TARDIS may not be so easy.

The episode is mainy about a rich guy named Robertson (Chris Noth from Law and Order), who tells his assistant to solve a problem as his new hotel is about to open in Sheffield. Then, Najia (Shobna Gulati), who was hired as general manager, is fired because of a massive amount of spider webs in one of the rooms. She swears this wasn’t the case the day before.
Robertson is just like Trump (but hates his name), as he seems to want to make America as successful as his businesses by being President. At least it seems he’s more capable. However, as the episode continues, he’s clearly not a good guy. The show has mocked American politics in recent years (see the last two seasons of Capaldi’s run), so having a Trump knockoff in a story is the next logical step.

The Doctor and her gang get involved when a neighbor is found mummified in a spider’s web, while Graham finds lot of webs at his house. They also learn from a scientist named Jade (Tanya Fear) that her company is trying to exploit the genetic advantages of spiders, like the material of their webs. Some of the spiders are also bio-engineered.

The Doctor traces the problem to Robertson’s hotel, and he just wants the problem gone even if he’s suspicious about the Doctor and her friends. We also find out Najia is Yaz’s mom, and is also suspicious of the Doctor. She even thinks Yaz and the Doctor are dating. Robertson says he converted a building used for mining into one of his hotels, which is a good idea. What’s not a good idea is building it over landfill that also comes from one of his companies. Also, the spider carcasses mixed with the toxic waste actually caused the creation the big spiders. He says that isn’t his fault, but the Doctor says he should have known. Sound familiar?

The solution is actually quick. The baby spiders are sent to Robertson’s panic room (which he’s not happy about) thanks to Ryan’s beat-boxing, while the Queen Spider is actually dying because it grew too big and couldn’t breathe.
Yet Robertson shoots the spider not because he wanted it dead, but to show he’s tough enough to be President by mocking the UK’s gun laws. If Noth comes back as Robertson, maybe he can wind up with a formidable opponent, like Emma Thompson as Hillary Warren.
A few fans on Twitter weren’t happy with this mainly because, again, the Doctor didn’t take an active role in beating the bad guy. Again, though, it’s early. As she said, she’s still trying to figure herself out. Lots of us miss Capaldi, Matt Smith or even Tom Baker, but Jodie Whittaker is our Doctor now. Besides, she still knows Venusian akido. Again, the ending was rather sudden. At least there should have been scenes of Jade getting rid of the dead spiders.

What’s more interesting is how Ryan, Graham and Yaz deal with coming home, and they come to the same conclusion: they can’t leave the Doctor yet. Graham is still haunted by the loss of Grace in the season opener, seeing her ghost everywhere. Yaz is annoyed by her sister and mother, and doesn’t want to go back to settling parking arguments. Ryan isn’t ready to deal with this dad, who has sent a note saying he wants to reconnect after not being at Grace’s funeral.
So, they want to go back, and have more adventures with the Doctor. She warns them several times, and they still want to go. So, they do.

Next week, they find themselves in deep space, battling some unusual creatures.

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Post Author: David Mello

Worked nearly eleven years at a radio station as a board operator, news reader, and assistant producer for baseball broadcasts. Have been a staff writer for Whedonopolis since July 2008