Doctor Who recap: Season 10, Episode 2, “Smile,” Aired April 22, 2017
Don’t blink. Don’t even blink. Blink and you’re dead. Oops! Different episode. I mean smile! Smile or you’re dead. The Doctor and Bill are back for their second adventure, visiting an empty human colony in the future where they encounter a group of deadly robots who communicate through emojis. Let’s talk highlights!
Bill and the Doctor
This episode gives the Doctor and Bill’s relationship some time to breathe, which is great because the two play really well off one another. Bill’s inquisitiveness and optimism seems to have breathed life into Capaldi’s Doctor, and their Doctor and companion dynamic feels lighter and brighter than it has in previous pairings.
We also get some insight into Bill’s character when she chooses to travel to the future. She tells the Doctor that she wants to visit the future because she “wants to see if it’s happy.” She says this with a degree of hope and delight that’s impossible not to find infectious. While her character isn’t fully realized, I already feel like she’s more person than mystery, unlike Clara who, amazing as she was, didn’t get any real character development till late into her story.
The creepy colony
The colony itself was impressive. Sometimes Doctor Who pleasantly surprises me with what they can accomplish on a television budget. Visually, this episode reminded me of the Season 6 episode, “The Girl Who Waited.” Everything from the pristine environment to the deadly robots.
Smile or you die
The setup for this episode, a world where you have to smile all the time or face death, is a great premise for a dystopian novel. While the mood indicators were a clever and sinister creation, I wish we got to see them used in a more emotionally charged scene. The Doctor has sooo much emotional baggage, and it might have been interesting to see Bill try to have a more candid conversation with him. Maybe even ask him about the promise he’s made and attempt to gauge his emotional response to that question. Still, it’s early days, so a scene like that would probably feel forced. Oh well. At least we got to see Capaldi’s hilarious fake smile!
Have you tried turning it off and on again?
The episode had a very Whovian and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy-esque ending. Plenty of science-fiction shows resolve crises with overly-complicated solutions, but sometimes the solution is as easy as rebooting your computer.
High hopes for Bill
I am loving Bill, so I hope she gets a good character arc this season and gets ample opportunities to save the day. While her enthusiasm (and her wardrobe) continues to delight, I’d like to see her playing a more active role in future episodes.
What’s in the vault? Who did the Doctor make his promise to? Why isn’t he allowed to leave Earth? Give me something, Moffat!
What were your thoughts on “Smile?” Let us know at @PureFandom on Twitter!