Doctor Who Legend of the Sea Devils Review: Low Tide

Jodie Whittaker as the 13th Doctor.

The beginning of the end for the 13th Doctor is an uninspiring beginning.
Picture: BBC

Doctor Whohas had a bit of event burnout lately, thanks to a more dictated schedule by the chaos of last two years than this onehis own particular will. Between Flow and special episodes close time by jodie whittaker as a doctor, we’ve been taught to expect big things, exciting things, because that’s all Doctor Who you get for months at a time. What happens when the excitement forgets to show up?

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It’s a little what is the “Legend of the Devils of the Sea”? an episode of Doctor Who that might be perfectly fine adventure in a full season of the show, rather than be sold as the next big special. You knowthis kind of spine every season of who is built on – an Aggressively Fine story you watch once and then completely forget because of much more exciting stuff happening elsewhere in that chunk of episodes until you watch this season again and forget about it again. He has everything it takes to make something fun: the return of a classic monster in the Sea Devils, 50 years later their beginnings; a cool historical setting in the form of the seas around 19th century China; and, perhaps perhaps most important of all, pirate ships! Two pirate ships, one of which is in flight and ostensibly filled with sea devils!

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Picture: BBC

And yet, none of this really works beyond the superficial. idea that it was, ultimately, a television episode that was made. There’s little buildup or tension around the sea devils mitigating (sorry, not sorry) their threat – they show up, they say they want to take over the world to the Doctor, and then they… just sit there to do this until they are arrested. They are superb monsters (perhaps one of the best in whorecent history of in terms of revamping a familiar look) but not particularly monstrous, so there’s little of that classic scare outside of a short, sharp dose near the start of the episode. The small handful of guest characters – Crystal Yu and Arthur Lee as pirate Madame Ching and Ji-Hun, respectively, and Marlowe Chan-Reeves as excitable young villager Ying Kei, who loses his family in the first Sea Devil attack – don’t get much background or even core motivation beyond a clumsily delivered exposition that is then largely left untouched. Ying Kei wants revenge, until he doesn’t! Madame Ching wants to pay off the debts that hold her children hostage, then obtains the assets to do so. Ji-Hun… wants to die because the sea devils held him back. suspended animation for a few hundred years, and that’s rude of them.

Everything about “Legend of the Sea Devils” feels like this: superficial. The lack of real tension means you never really care about the devilfish and their threat. JThe lack of time with Ching, Ji-Hun, and Ying Kei means that beyond their initial motivations, you can’t see them continuing on satisfying arcs. By the time everything is destined to crescendo in the third act, it’s like feeling the the audience is countdown, and it’s all about beyond a little emotional resolution for the Doctor and his friends (more on that later). Nor is it difficult to feel the constraints of shooting an episode like this at the height of mid-p.safe and rampant production rules, because what doesn’t help “Legend of the Sea Devils” and its lack of energy is how empty it feels.

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Picture: BBC

From the open shots of empty boat decks to very awkward transitions to avoid showing how the Doctor and his friends jump from ship to ship, everything about “Legend” feels one way or another. even more limited that Doctor Who usually does. The main cast beyond the Doctor and his friends is small, and that’s about it for the actual people in the episode who aren’t covered by layers of Sea Devil prosthetics – and even then, it doesn’t. There aren’t many at a time, so scenes just feel deprived. There’s no real stake in what the Sea Devils want to do outside of the initial attack on the village, so it’s hard to care, well, the thing Doctor Who is about to: The Doctor run to stop the monsters from their evil plans.

And it’s not like Doctor Who can’t To do cheap, low-stakes bottle episode-style adventures. It is Doctor Whoit’s literally about 60% of that and has been for almost 60 years. hell, the last episode of the series was just that. “Vigil of the Daleks“was a story that played to the strengths of its obvious limitations, a tight time loop story that could unfold on a limited number of sets with a limited amount of cast that could be in a room together for a given duration with a purpose. It gave us a chance to care not only about the Doctor, Yaz, and Dan, but about the new characters being introduced, because he knew that was all he had. “Legend of the Sea Devils” wanted to be a big high seas adventure, but it just wasn’t, and I kept hoping for the best anyway. It’s telling when the trailer for the next episode in the end, there was more excitement than anything in “Legend” itself.

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Picture: BBC

Aside from the buzzy nature of the adventure itself, “Legend” has achieved one thing: thanks to its largely existing guest stars. to give Dan someone to talk to once in a while, his real strength lies in giving the Doctor and Yaz time to be together and finally talk about their complicated feelings for each other. It may need to be condensed a bit given the nature of it’s not just a single episode, but the penultimate entry. before Whittaker’s Doctor is entirely off the show, but ultimately leaves Yaz and the Doctor awkwardly dancing around their obvious affection for everyone others gave “Legend” an emotional core that it lacked elsewhere, even though most of that core is entirely separate from the main focus of the episode.

Although the idea of ​​the Doctor and Yaz entering into a romantic relationship is doomed – both textually, from the Doctor’s warnings that their nature as Time Lords means that any relationship with a human, romantic or otherwise, is doomed to end in heartbreak, and metatextually , with the imminent end of Whittaker and Chibnall’s time on the show – to see the two characters pushed out of their comfort zone with each other, it’s important to at least have those moments in the open. . If only for the stakes of making the next episode even bigger now, it’s a significant development for Yaz and the 13th Doctor, especially the latter, whoto darker impulses caused her to be dishonest with her closest friends time and time again. Making herself vulnerable to Yaz, even if it’s to tell her how much she can’t afford to face the grief of being really vulnerable with her, is a step towards healing some of that pain and darkness that she’s been struggling with since her trials on Gallifrey.

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Picture: BBC

But we know more heartbreak is on the way for the 13th Doctor now – his final days and a battle full of old friends and older foes to end this current era of Doctor Who. As befits a show about time travel, it’s always the future that’s most exciting and full of potential…even if Doctor Who had to trade some excitement in the present to set the stage.


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