Quick thoughts on ‘Boom’ – episode 3 of Doctor Who

I wonder if the writers of the TV crime show ‘Castle’ have a bone to pick with ‘Boom’ (the latest episode of Doctor Who)?! In season 5 of ‘Castle’ there is an episode called ‘Still’, where Beckett steps onto a pressure sensitive bomb and has to stay still for the whole episode. In ‘Boom’, the Doctor steps on a pressure sensitive landmine and has to stay still for the whole episode. Déjà vu!

There isn’t a lot going on plot-wise in ‘Boom’ but there are encouraging signs of potential and we start to see properly who this Doctor is and get to know him a bit. This is definitely a character centred, getting-to-know-the-new-Doctor episode. I loved that the Doctor does some quick complex maths in his head; this is what I’d been waiting for. I’m glad that the Doctor’s clever, fast mind is being allowed its moments; more please! I’m still not sold on Ruby though (see my blog post on my initial thoughts of the new series and characters for my reasons on this). I just can’t get any sort of a hold on who she is as a person. It didn’t help that she spent a lot of the episode unconscious!

The writer of this episode, Steven Moffat, seemed to pour out all his feelings about the senselessness of war, about the waste of each precious life in this episode. He slammed home how each person who dies, each one of whom is loved and is someone else’s whole universe, becomes an anonymous statistic to an indifferent world. Moffat also hits home about the people who profit from war and the arms industry, those who benefit from keeping the war machine going. He also has things to say about the medical system and how it costs less to let the ill/injured die rather than to heal them or pay for the care of the disabled. I didn’t mind Moffat having his say as it’s obviously topical, but I’ve never known Moffat to be quite so preachy before. In a couple of the Doctor’s speeches, it sometimes felt like we were definitely getting Moffat’s view of the world, rather than the Doctor’s, especially when it got judgemental, acerbic and simplistic about faith. I don’t want to be brought out of full immersion in a story by a writer shoving himself into the limelight. If done well, a viewer shouldn’t once think of a writer during a TV show. It’s certainly impassioned and heartfelt though.

As a side note: what’s with the singing in every single episode? Is it just that they wanted to use the two actors’ talents in this area or is it building towards something? Is it significant? Or completely insignificant? I still maintain that it would have been better (and fun!) to have made one full musical episode of Doctor Who, rather than sprinkling one song per episode, as seems to be happening. I’m hoping there’s a plot-related reason for this (to do with The Maestro?) and not just because Ncuti Gatwa has a nice singing voice!

I also feel like there are little seeds being planted here and there (having started with the ‘mavity’ instead of ‘gravity’ change) that might all be pointing to something big to come.

I don’t know if the 15th Doctor’s ‘fish fingers and custard’ comment, linking him to the 11th Doctor, will turn out to be of note. They do both have a certain playfulness to their nature that makes them a little similar.

I think maybe that this episode lacked the emotional clout that it would have had if we had known these characters more and for longer; I don’t think we care enough about what happens to them yet so it lacks the jeopardy that it should have had.

Unfortunately the “twist” falls apart if you think about it for even a few seconds. The twist is that there is no enemy in this war zone. The “ambulances”, with their algorithm to keep the war ongoing, only kill injured people. To have that many injured people, there would have to be someone injuring the soldiers. Even if they thought that the enemy entities were the fog itself or the mud, if they were shooting at the mud or fog, nobody would be shooting back to hurt them. The soldiers would be organised so ‘friendly fire’ would cause a nominal amount of injuries. Who has been bombing them, causing craters, explosions and fires that make up the landscape? It doesn’t make sense.

Faith comes under heavy fire in this episode. Humans will use any excuse for war though, regardless of the existence of faith. Ironically, the fact that it was a father’s love that saved the day and the assertion that what survives of us is love, is actually very Christian.

What did you think of the episode? I’d love to know and am eager for some interaction with other humans! Feel free to leave a comment below. No spoilers for future episodes please!

2 thoughts on “Quick thoughts on ‘Boom’ – episode 3 of Doctor Who”

  1. Hi Jen,
    Not my cup of tea at all. I have no sense at all of who the new Doctor is, a problem I also had with his last 2 predecessors!

    We debated whether to bother watching and decided to give it one more chance. Jury is now back and we won’t bother to watch any more sadly.

    Doctor Who was always a kids program that treated kids like adults, now it feels like a kids program written for kids.

    Roll on the next Doctor 😐😐

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  2. I liked the Doctor more in this episode, but I still want Ruby’s mum as the companion!!!

    I’d also thought “Well where are all the craters from then?”. Also, why didn’t the Doctor just sonic-screwdriver the mine/ambulance?!

    You might also be interested in this take from Oliver Johnson, a Prof of Maths and Bristol Uni. He also thinks it was rather preachy, but in an odd way: https://bristoliver.substack.com/p/punching-up-and-punching-down

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