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Doctor Who Recap: The Eaters Of Light Are A Weapon Of Consequence

Xmas Special Airs December 25 9e 6p

If adults are just overgrown children who’ve graduated from squabbling over toys to slaughtering each other over territory, then humans (or at least the ones we play on TV) are lucky to have the Doctor as their tough love babysitter. Scratch that, let’s say au pair. It sounds more sophisticated. This time it’s the Romans and the Celts trying to outdo each other by ratcheting up the body count by whatever means available—including the release of an alien monster whose ultimate goal is to devour the sun and stars.

A willingness to destroy the entire planet just to go down in history as the victor of a single battle? Sounds pretty childlike—and way too familiar if you’ve picked up a newspaper in the last half-century. Doctor Who should be required viewing for all world leaders (though we can think of a few who’d need to have each episode explained to them).

Bill, a bathrobed Nardole, and the Doctor have taken the TARDIS for a spin to the Devil’s Cairn in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, second century AD—to settle a bet about the disappearance of an entire Roman legion (come for the witty one-liners, stay for the history lesson). While Bill heads off to find her 9th Legion, the Doctor and Nardole discover a band of comically young Celts who claim to have vanquished them. And they did… in a way.

For generations, their ancestors have been charged with guarding the door to an interdimensional temporal rift (a gate, for those who prefer monosyllabic classifications) but fear (of what’s behind the gate and of the encroaching Roman army) has weakened their resolve. Why not pit two enemies against one another instead of fighting both? Answer: because it puts humanity’s entire future in jeopardy.

But between Bill working with the Romans, the Doctor lecturing the Celts, and the TARDIS translating everything into a universal, yet-to-be invented language (English), the two sides manage to come to a literal and metaphorical understanding of their common goal: saving the world. The sacrifice they’ll have to make to do it is a big one, but when the Doctor offers to make it for them, both sides decline. It’s their fight and they’re finally brave enough and grown up enough to claim it (ironically, they are basically still children—a point the Doctor makes more than once).

Back in the TARDIS, Bill and Nardole confront something even more formidable than the 9th Legion: Missy, free from the vault once again and working as a temporary time travel machine mechanic—with the Doctor’s blessing. He still holds out hope for a redemption. Will it be his downfall?

5 Questions About This Week’s Episode

1. Who else (besides Bill and Nardole) is nervous about Missy getting early parole from the vault?

2. We’d really like to hear more about the Doctor’s vestal virgin days—what’s the story behind the whole second class status thing, please?

3. If Missy truly is reformed, what are the chances of her getting her own Who spin-off show like Torchwood?

4. Um, not that we weren’t into it, but why was Nardole wearing a bathrobe for the first half of the episode?

5. This was the second time this season that the Doctor has attempted to sacrifice himself for humanity (and not in the ‘NBD, I’ll just regenerate, BRB’ way). Will Twelve go down in history as the death wish Doctor?

INNERSPACE CLIPS