The Poison Sky – Review Addendum

Once again, I’ve rewatched an episode with my wife and have a few additional observations to make. The first time I watch an episode, I actually take notes while it’s happening, but I just seem to manage to miss some things…or after a day of thinking I have some time to come up with more cogent material. Either way, some addenda:

Luke Rattigan was more annoying than I’d first thought. Perhaps I was caught up in the pace of the story, but the scene where Luke returns from the Sontaran ship after learning that he was a pawn in their game was pretty painful.

In re-watching the episode, I found myself actually cringing a little at the scene where Luke explains his evil master plan to his fellow geniuses. Unlike Luke, they are apparently “normal” enough to care about their families and friends and are able to see that Luke’s plans are frankly stupid and sick. Presumably, Luke doesn’t care about family and friends because he hasn’t got any, but that’s not entirely made clear – instead, Luke is made into a caricature of a nerd genius.

Essentially, we really didn’t know much about Luke except that he was a boy genius that didn’t get told “no” very much. The problem with this conceit is that the world is a little different now – boy geniuses become billionaires, and the world of “Web 2.0” makes people like Luke more and more mainstream. In fact, if you follow internet culture at all people like Luke aren’t misunderstood – they’re worshipped! So for Luke to throw in with an alien race in a hairbrained scheme to engage in planned mating on a far-off planet because he was “troubled” just doesn’t cut it. Unfortunately for the character, the actor who plays him – Ryan Sampson – just didn’t make me feel very badly for him during the scene where he throws a fit in the bottom of a teleport chamber. Thank goodness the Sontarans didn’t decide to come after him, otherwise they could have shot him mid-sob.

For that matter – WHY didn’t the Sontarans just follow him and eliminate the one guy that seemed to know anything about their plot? Why not sabotage his teleport chamber and destroy his lab? Why leave a gaping plot hole unresolved? Hmm. This is left as an exercise for the reader.

The Doctor’s decision to return to the Sontaran ship in person and offer them a choice was noble but not entirely well thought-out. This kind of thing has happened many times in the character’s past, probably most obviously in Genesis of the Daleks where the Doctor finds himself unable to eliminate the Dalek menace before it even began. One imagines how the Seventh Doctor would have dealt with the Sontaran ship – it would have been something interesting, I expect. Nobility is fine and well, but again this seems to have been a contrivance meant to give young Mr. Rattigan a final stab at nobility rather than make us believe that the Doctor really cares about Sontarans. He’s certainly eliminated his share of them in the past. But it did provide a nice moment with Martha and Donna (as mentioned in my previous post).

And a final annoyance – Luke referred to the new home for humanity as “Earth point two.” WHOOPS. This sounds like an example of an editor or writer trying to be “hip” and “with it” – but like Dr. Evil they failed pretty spectacularly. The proper term would be “Earth two point oh” (i.e., Earth 2.0), so minus a few points for style.

This all sounds rather curmudgeonly, but it’s not really meant to be. I did enjoy the episode, but not as much as the setup in The Sontaran Stratagem. The Sontaran plan was fairly interesting and not entirely expected – my wife asked at several points during the episode, “what are they doing?” So the mystery of the plan was preserved and pretty effective. It was some of the flaws in execution that did perhaps detract somewhat from the episode. And now we have to wait for a week to find out who the heck the Doctor’s daughter is…

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