Doctor Who – The Rings of Akhaten

I suspect that this episode will divide people. It’s either the biggest load of tosh or it’s brilliant. I’m really not sure which, but I do know I enjoyed it very much.

I’m not sure why. All the ingredients would suggest I not like it.

But I enjoyed it very much.

This is the first of two Neill Cross written episodes for this series, a writer I know from the very dark and twisted BBC cop show Luther. I was expecting something dark and twisted here, and my expectations were completely confounded.

As always I will try to avoid big spoilers.

behold my leaf

Where to begin… Ok, the Doctor takes Clara to the titular Rings of Akhaten, a suitably science fiction-y location for the new companion’s second adventure. (Remember Rose got to see the end of the earth in five billion AD for example.)

They arrive on one of the many bits of rock orbiting a big red planet. (Or maybe it was a star. I’m not sure. Doesn’t matter.)

Clara encounters a scared little girl in a red robe who apparently is the Queen of Years. Clara helps her escape from whatever dreadful fate awaits her, only to discover the girl has to sing in a ceremony. No harm there surely, so Clara escorts the girl back to her minders.

The Doctor and Clara take their seats at he ceremony and enjoy the singing. For a while. There’s a fair bit of singing in this one. It was one of the bits I really should have hated but somehow found myself enjoying.

So all the nice alien folk are singing their god to sleep, because they don’t want him to wake up.

And of course…

In many ways there’s very little plot in this one. But I enjoyed it anyway. It was so ‘out there’ I just went with it and enjoyed the ride.

Towards the end Matt Smith does a Big Speech to the Angry God Thing that is very much from the school of Roy Batty along the line of “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe”. Opinion seems to be divided over it being his best moment ever as the Doctor, or “really, a big speech again?” Still, he was good.

Watch out for the cool creepy guys who ensure that he ceremony happens.

In an early sequence we see the doctor effectively stalking Clara’s parents from their first meeting onwards. Clara’s leaf from her book in the last episode reappears and becomes an important McGuffin. I’m really not sure what’s going on with that leaf. Perhaps we will discover more about it later.

The Doctor also mentions to Clara that he visited the Rings of Akhaten before with his granddaughter. Might the show be preparing the way for the return of Susan in this 50th anniversary year?

Next week… Ice Warrior on a Cold War submarine! I’m there!