DOCTOR WHO “It Takes You Away” review

Doctor Who (BBC)

Doctor Who airs Sunday nights on BBC One in the UK and BBC America in North America. Time slots may vary.

The series stars Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor, Mandip Gill as Yasmin Khan, Tosin Cole as Ryan Sinclair and Bradley Walsh as Graham O’Brien.

Synopsis

On the edge of a Norwegian fjord, in the present day, The Doctor, Ryan, Graham and Yaz discover a boarded-up cottage and a girl named Hanne in need of their help. What has happened here? What monster lurks in the woods around the cottage – and beyond?

Review

This episode of Doctor Who somehow managed to fly completely under my radar until about an hour before it started. I couldn’t recall the trailer or even the premise of the episode.

More fool me as this was one of the single best episode of the season. This whole first run of episode of Whittaker as The Doctor has marked a real emotional turning point the show. Stepping away from the forcibly downbeat Capaldi days the series has found new life in not forcing itself towards an end point.

Ironically taking away foreboading air of doom has actually allowed Doctor Who to become more menacing. The stakes are real, not forced and it’s all the better for it.

What started out as a trip to a Norwegian fjord soon become a truly engaging mystery for The Doctor. It’s clear from the outset that something isn’t right. At one stage I thought writer Ed Hime was going to entirely reject science fiction for a cautionary tale about child abuse.

Instead the show cleverly mixes a very human tale with some very simple sci-fi accoutrements. It feels much more like an episode of Black Mirror than of Doctor Who.

Where the episode truly succeeds is in building suspense and then paying it off in the most emotional way possible. The script, cinematography and most of all the score come together in a perfect way. All aspects of the episode complement each other perfectly.

I was entirely fooled in to thinking Erik had abandoned his daughter. Though it became obvious he had crossed through the mirror I still believed he had left her there. Particularly after the reveal of the speakers around the house making monster noises.

As with much of this season “It Takes You Away” makes you think the episode is going in one direction before twisting everything on its head. After the brief (and disturbing) distraction of the flesh eating moths we find ourselves on the other side of the mirror and everything becomes clear.

“It Takes You Away” is an episode which at its core is all about death. But it’s presented in such a beautiful way that were wasn’t a dry eye in the house as we watched it. As The Doctor and Yaz learn about the mirror world through Erik and his deceased wife we get to see the world through the eyes of Graham, reunited with Ryan’s Gran, Grace.

Bringing Grace back was another brilliant move for the show. As fans we got some resolution to Graham’s emotional arc. But it also gave the writers the chance for some subterfuge. I was convinced Graham would choose Grace over returning to the real world. Even after The Doctor unravelled the Solitract’s plans.

It was only as he made his final decision and was thrust back through the portal that I realised the series had got me again. Another unpredictable twist.

I have no doubt this episode will have its detractors. Those whose feel Doctor Who should stick to being more child friendly. But there’s a lot to enjoy from this ‘grown up’ version if you can open yourself up to it.

Verdict

“It Takes Your Away” will quite possibly go down in history as my favourite episode of this season. It’s on par with “Rosa” and “Demons of the Punjab” for emotional content alone. Compelling and brilliantly made, easily one of the best Doctor Who episodes of all time.

9/10

Coming up next week “The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos


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About Neil Vagg 2006 Articles
Neil is the GYCO Editorial Chief. He has a BA in Film & Tv and an MA in Scriptwriting; he currently works 9-5 as an office manager and 5-9 as a reviewer/web designer. He has been subscribing to comics for around nine years but has been reading them as long as he can remember. Favourite comics: Batman; Nightwing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and All New X-Men Favourite films: Batman (any apart from & Robin); Star Trek Generations, Underworld, Beetlejuice Favourite TV shows: Fringe; Buffy, Arrow, TBBT, Being Human UK and Star Trek TNG