Recap: Doctor Who 12.3, Orphan 55

After a very stressful adventure last week, the Doctor and her Companions decide on a vacation. Their choice looks good…at first. A threat does come, but why it happens makes this episode a bit too preachy. It also has too many twists, including one that was really unnecessary.

SPOILERS BELOW

The title refers to the planet they’ve reached, thanks to a teleport cube which was also a coupon. It’s called Tranquility Spa, and it looks like a great place to rest. Even an elderly couple (Julia Foster and Col Farrel) choose the spot for a planned marriage proposal. However, this doesn’t last for long. Ryan gets a hopper virus, which is a pesky disease that gives him hallucinations. The Doctor gets it out and traps it in a snack bag.
A bigger problem, though, threatens the resort. It’s deadly enough to take out the staff and some of the guests. If it was just saving people in an alien resort, it would have been a typical episode and a good follow-up to “Spyfall”. However, there’s too many twists, and hard to determine the real point of the episode.

As the Doctor and her friends scramble to find a way out, they meet other people. Ryan meets a girl named Bella (Gia Re) who claims to be a hotel critic but is not. She’s really a scorned woman who wants to destroy the spa.
Then there’s Kane (Laura Fraser), who built the spa on the orphan planet hoping to terraform it after it was destroyed by nuclear winter. The spa would pay for it. She’s also Bella’s mom, and a terrible one at that.

However, the species that was left behind, called Dregs, don’t like Kane’s plans. They are a relentless bunch of aliens, and maybe the deadliest we’ve had for quite a while.

After that, it’s one long chase as the Doctor and her friends try to find a way out, and who these aliens are. However, there are more deaths, including the elderly couple.

Then the story makes a puzzling choice. It reveals that Orphan 55 is Earth in the future, or a possible one. It implies climate change set off the disaster, which led to war, death, and the rich escaping. The aliens are mutated humans who got left behind.
They are the Dregs, and that name suggests something.
Let’s just say the Twelfth Doctor was much better at making political points.

The Doctor also finds out the Dregs evolved into “angry trees”, which means they expel oxygen but breathe carbon dioxide. That’s what happens after decades of nuclear winter. No wonder they don’t want the planet back the way it was.

The only way out is fixing the transport and sending everyone back. Nevi (James Buckley) tries his best but his son Sylis (Lewin Lloyd) succeeds with the help of the hopper virus. However, not everyone can return. Bella and Kane, mother and daughter, agree to fight off the Dregs…presumably to the death.

It ends with the Doctor and her Companions in the TARDIS, wondering if this is Earth’s fate. She tries her best to tell her friends that it doesn’t have to be this way. They can change what happened and avoid making Earth an orphan planet.
Ending it with the Dreg roaring wasn’t the best closing argument.

It’s understandable the show may want to discuss certain issues, and has done that much better in the past (like the Zygon episodes from the Capaldi days). However, this episode wasn’t the best way. This could have taken place in another planet where climate change ruined it, and it could happen to Earth if we aren’t careful and so forth. This just didn’t work.
Next week, hopefully, will be better. The Doctor meets Tesla, as they face a night of horror.

Facebook Comments

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