Doctor Who’s ‘Smile’ just makes you want to do that (review)

Doctor Who aired its second episode from the new season tonight with a title fitting on how you would feel watching it – ‘Smile’. The Doctor takes new companion Bill to the future, where a new planet is being colonized for human survival, and are run by robots. The robots communicate hilariously through emoji, which is quite fitting with the current trend of emoji usage. The Doctor and Bill are given buttons to place on themselves to determine their emotional status, which comes with dire consequences if they are not smiling.

‘Smile’ seemed to have had some similarities to the Black Mirror episode Hated in the Nation. The critically-acclaimed Black Mirror episode had similar micro-robotic bees that killed its victims. Instead of a person controlling the bees, the bees in Smile were controlled by the robots themselves called the Vardies. They were not programmed to recognize anything other than happiness. Now, they have a mind of their own, believing that anything below happiness needs to be destroyed because they were taught to always please the humans. Fortunately, the Doctor and Bill were around and saved the day with their quick wit and by taking a page out of the IT Crowd. Have you tried turning it off and on again?

The episode did touch on some serious and deep moments. No one wants to see the world end, which sadly, Bill does. With the images of destruction, it reminds you of the events going on today. It’s looking at the possibly inevitable if we do not change for the better. Also, there was a mention of Scotland, since the 12th Doctor has a Scottish accent, seeking independence, which is being discussed due to Brexit. We see what you’re doing, BBC. We see it.

Bill seems to have found her calling as the Doctor’s new companion. In many ways, she’s asking the Doctor questions that many fans have been pondering for years. Her curiosity is what makes her such a great fit for Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. The 12th Doctor is a teacher and wants people to learn. Bill is a student who wants to take everything all in by absorbing this knowledge. The chemistry is just there. The two also bring out a comical side of the Doctor without taking away from Capaldi’s intensity. Capaldi’s first season had him seen as such a moody and hardened character, but with Bill as his sidekick, it seems the Doctor could just relax just a bit or at least see the humor in her questioning. I really enjoy their dynamic and what Bill brings out of Capaldi’s Doctor.

The episode also tells us there is a larger, underlying storyline to the 12th Doctor. Thanks to Nardole, we learned the Doctor is at the university to protect a vault. It’s definitely a Gallifreyan vault, but we just don’t know what is inside of it. The Doctor made a promise to protect it, but for and from who? With the announcement of John Simm returning as the Master this season, we could only assume he’d have something to do with it. He tends to be involved with anything regarding Gallifreyan symbols.

The landscape and set design of the city looked fantastic. The building that was used was the City of Arts and Sciences in Spain. The entire set looked remarkable and actually looked like utopia. It’s no wonder Bill looked amazed with how the future looked like with the building and the robots.

Overall, the episode was entertaining and featured the Doctor’s imperfection. He was going to massacre the survivors of Eart,  after believing that destroying the dome will save incoming survivors, but they’ve been there the entire time. He realized he made the mistake but did everything he could to save them. The Doctor isn’t perfect and I’m glad the series isn’t trying to make him that.

Doctor Who airs on Saturdays on BBC America.

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Laura Sirikul
Laura Sirikul 1822 posts

Trekkie. Jedi. Whovian. Sherlockian. Hobbit. Sanrio. Comics. I am Spartacus. Warrior Princess. Superhero. Nerd. Follow me @lsirikul

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