Smile, the second episode of the tenth series was written by Frank Cottrell-Boyce and first aired on 22 April, 2017. This episode finds the Doctor’s (Capaldi) new Companion, Bill (Pearl Mackie) joining the Time Lord for her first off-world adventure. This is against Nardole’s (Matt Lucas) advice, and a reminder of the Doctor’s oath not to travel off-planet, he has to protect the Vault.
The Doctor and Bill find themselves on an Earth colony where people work with nanobots known as the Vardy, and interact with them via robotoic avatars that communicate through emoji.
But the robots are programmed to make sure everyone is happy via mood indicators, and if there is anything less than a happy face, the Vardy eliminate you. The colonists are all missing when the Doctor arrives, and the pair begin to puzzle out what is going on. Something they do with some scary revelations.
The Doctor escorts Bill back to the TARDIS, but is determined to stop things before the colony ship arrives, otherwise they will be walking into their own deaths. Confronting the Vardy, he works to figure out a way to stop the robots, and Bill will help as well, as she slowly comes to understand who the Doctor is.
I have to admit, the first time I saw this episode when it aired, it wasn’t my favourite, but on revisiting it, I actually really enjoy this episode – grief as plague! – . It’s smart, well-written and acted, it was just the concept of the emojis that I think bothered me. But like the Doctor said, “of course” they communicate in emoji.
Thin Ice was written by Sarah Dollard and first aired on 29 April, 2017. It’s Bill’s first time in the past, and makes for a fun period piece.
The Doctor and Bill are on their way home after the previous adventure, hoping to arrive before Nardole realises they are gone, and that he has broken his oath to protect the Vault.
The arrive in London in 1814, the last frost fair, which took place on the frozen rive, Thames. As they wander about enjoying the environ, they soon discover that there is something sinister going on, or rather, under the surface.
As something hunts under the frozen surface of the Thames, the Doctor and Bill discover more about one another, as she learns some of the things the Time Lord has done, and that things aren’t always going to work out right, and that people die. Sometimes because of the Doctor’s actions, and sometimes because of his inaction.
It’s a bitter pill for Bill to swallow, but it layers out both characters nicely. And the discovery of what is really going on, is almost heartbreaking as it shows how cruel some can be, but delights in knowing that there are those who will help, like Bill and the Doctor.
Next week, the Doctor investigates Bill’s new flat…