DOCTOR WHO “The Poison Sky”: You Want Fries With That Exploding Spaceship?

Goodbye, potato-like warriors! Should have kept your helmets on. Coupling “The Poison Sky” with last season’s “Evolution of the Daleks,” it seems fair to assume that writer Helen Raynor didn’t take her A levels in science. So you light an atmosphere on fire to make it easier to breathe, but that atmosphere has a lot of oxygen in it, and…never mind. It will take years of expensive therapy to figure out why I can let go of the flaming atmosphere but the idea of someone turning a wheel to move an island on Lost makes me crazy.

In happier news, “The Poison Sky” continues a trend in modern Who–for a show with “Doctor” in the title, they spend a lot of time showing how great humans can be. In this episode alone, we see Ross’ bravery, Martha’s compassion, Mace’s dignity and determination, Sylvia’s practicality, and Wilf’s generosity and openness, all capped by humanity’s pushing of technological boundaries with the magnificent appearance of the Valiant. Even Rattigan’s redemption highlights the human capacity for growth and change. For all he occasionally picks at them and calls them apes, there’s a reason the Doctor so often travels with humans.

And there’s good reason for them to travel with him–he really is “the man who makes people better.” It’s hard not to get a little sniffly when, even as he knows he’s asking her to do nearly impossible, potentially fatal things, the Doctor reacts to Donna’s self-doubt by telling her not to talk about herself that way. (He also has to remind her she has three fingers, but she’s under a lot of stress.) Donna can save the world, and with the Doctor’s nudging she essentially does, which pretty much encapsulates both new Who and why we’d travel with the Doctor, too.

In terms of ongoing plot, we’re back to disappearances and reproduction–so far the Adipose are extracting fat babies from Earth because their breeding planet has been lost; the Pyrovile are setting up shop on Earth after the loss of their home planet; “Planet of the Ood” makes brief mention of the oddness of the disappearance of bees from Donna’s Earth, and now the Sontarans are using Earth as a cloning station (heck, even Rattigan’s organized a breeding program). With next week’s episode being titled “The Doctor’s Daughter,” it seems likely we’ll be continuing down the reproduction road.

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