Recap: Doctor Who S33 E2 "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship"
Written by Chris Chibnall.
It's been nearly a year since Amy and Rory last saw the Doctor, so they're just a bit miffed when he suddenly materialises his TARDIS around them, drags them onto a spaceship the size of Canada in 2367 AD together with companions-of-the-week Queen Nefertiti and John Riddell, explains that the Indian Space Agency is going to shoot missiles at the thing soon because it's headed for Earth, and then immediately gets the whole gang attacked by dinosaurs. They're especially upset because Rory's dad, Brian, was accidentally dragged along.As the Holy Shit Quotient shoots through the roof, the Doctor, Rory and Brian are teleported to the engine room. Which turns out to be a beach. With more dinosaurs! They get captured by two pedantic robots (Mitchell and Webb!) and taken back inside, where Amy has discovered that the ship is an ancient Silurian ark. At its core is a smaller ship, containing a bounty hunter called Solomon who had the entire Silurian population Thrown Out the Airlock when he arrived. He plans to sell the dinosaurs to the highest bidder. However, he can't pilot the ship, and it's about to crash into Earth. Despite the Doctor's protests, the Indian Space Agency starts firing its missiles. Solomon, who has forced the Doctor to heal his wounds, claims Nefertiti as his newest prized "object" and plans to add her to his collection of wares. She pointedly disagrees. In the middle of all that, the gang manages to tame a triceratops, Nefi and John get their flirt on (to Amy's exasperation), and the Doctor kisses a very confused Rory out of sheer joy at all the DINOSAURS! ON A SPACESHIP!Amy asks the Doctor if he's trying to wean her and Rory off him, because he keeps taking longer and longer between visits. She's worried that one day he just won't show up at all any more. The Doctor promises that she'll be there till the end of him; she banters back he'll be there till the end of her.Rory and Brian log into the genetics-based Silurian spaceship controls, Amy and John fight dinosaurs with stun guns and the Doctor and Nefertiti subdue Solomon and decide that he's too much of a monster to live. The Indian missiles are locked onto his ship, which very satisfyingly explodes.The whole gang takes a moment to simply enjoy the beauty of space with a cup of tea. Brian can't get enough of it, and decides to see the whole world and everything it's got to offer. Nefertiti craves a change of scenery as well, vanishes from Egyptian history forever and decides that John isn't so bad at all and makes a good tent-mate. Amy and Rory decide to take a bit of a break from adventuring. The dinosaurs are also fine, now living in freedom on a planet called "Siluria" thanks to the Doctor.
- Action Girl:
Riddell: This is a two-man job... what're you doing?
Amy: I'm easily worth two men. You can help if you like.
- Queen Nefertiti. She executes people that disrespect her and later rescues herself.
- All Animals Are Dogs: The triceratops plays fetch with a golf ball, and licks Brian as a sign of affection. When needed it turns into a combination of this trope and Horse of a Different Color.
- Arbitrary Skepticism: Riddell finds the concept of Silurians loading dinosaurs onto a space-ark to be "absolute tommyrot". Even though he's standing in said spaceship and running away from said dinosaurs (apparently, it was the lizard people that sent this one step too far). Nefertiti calls him on this for denying evidence provided by his own eyes.
- The Ark: The Silurians built one for dinosaurs.
- Awesome but Impractical: Riding on the back of a triceratops may seem like an excellent way to escape a pair of laser-wielding pirate robots, but unless you have any grass-stained golf balls on hand, you'll find it difficult to get anywhere in any sort of hurry.
- Queen Nefertiti is more than capable of defending herself against Solomon as he discovers.
- Riddell is a professional hunter from the 1900s who is also perfectly comfortable using 2300s era techonology.
- The Ponds, all three of them. They handle their drafting into this mission with grace, sarcasm and skill.
- Back-to-Back Badasses:
- Amy and Riddell take this pose against a group of raptors.
- Brian and Rory when flying the Silurian ship.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Between Nefertiti and Riddell. The antagonism and gender politics quickly gives way to flirting.
- Berserk Button:
- Beta Couple: Nefertiti and Riddell are a flirting companion couple in contrast to the main Happily Married companion couple.
- Betty and Veronica: Nefertiti's husband is "the male equivalent of a sleeping potion", whilst Riddell is "a walking innuendo". She picks the latter.
- Beware the Silly Ones:
- The big yellow robots. They're voiced by David Mitchell and Robert Webb, they're a bright yellow, constantly bicker with everybody, their first line is "We're very cross with you!", have Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy when trying to catch the Doctor — and kill off all of the Silurians off screen and the Triceratops on screen.
- The Doctor, too spends the first half of the episode as a giddy man-child, then at the end allows Solomon to be killed.
- Big Damn Kiss: In a lovely mirror of that infamous first ever kiss with a companion, the Doctor kisses Rory out of sheer joy. (Rory makes a "yuck" face.) Which was later revealed to be Matt Smith kissing Arthur Darvill out of sheer joy... entirely unscripted.
- Boisterous Bruiser: Riddell.Riddell: Dinosaurs ahead, a lady at my side, about to be blown up. Not sure I've ever been happier.
- Brick Joke: The light bulb that needs replacing in Amy and Rory's living room.Rory: You know what? I think it is the fitting...
- Call Back: Last time, the Doctor wasn't quite so enthusiastic to see a triceratops.
- Camera Abuse: At the beginning, one of the Ankylosaurs gets spit on the camera lens.
- Cane Fu: Solomon uses one of his crutches, which has a sharpened edge, to subdue Nefertiti. She later returns the favor, and with his own crutch too!
- Captain Obvious:
- The Doctor is in rare form this episode.The Doctor: Dinosaurs! On a spaceship!
- When the Doctor, Rory and Rory's dad are trapped in a cave with pterodactyls outside:Rory: What do we do now? There's no way back out there.
The Doctor: Through the cave. Come on. (he hears big footsteps) That suggestion was a work in progress.
Brian: We're trapped.
The Doctor: Yes. Thanks for spelling it out.
(footsteps getting louder)
Rory: Doctor, whatever's down there is coming this way.
The Doctor: Spelling it out is hereditary. Wonderful.
- The Doctor is in rare form this episode.
- Chekhov's Gun: The grass-covered golf balls.
- Chick Magnet: Nefi tries to get it on with the Doctor, seeing as her own husband is "the male equivalent of a sleeping potion". The Doctor ignores her.
- Comm Links:Brian: Your phone is ringing in space.
Rory: You get used to it.
- Continuity Nod:
- Contrived Coincidence: The Silurian ark controls only respond to two pilots who are genetically linked. How lucky that Rory's dad got dragged along on this adventure.
- Cool Crown: Nefertiti's crown is beautiful, but she takes it off at the end when she joins Riddell. After all, she's no longer a queen (but she might be his queen).
- Couch Gag: Continuing the gag introduced in the previous episode, the Doctor Who logo was textured with dinosaur scales in the opening sequence.
Rory: It's all about the pockets in our family.
- Rory brought a medkit with him, and his dad brought a trowel. Bear in mind, they had these items on them when the Doctor turned up... so they have them on them at all times. Just in case.
- Rory also scavenges advanced medical supplies whenever he gets a chance. Hopefully he reads the instructions carefully.
- Cuteness Proximity: Happens to the Doctor when he sees a triceratops, complete with petting and baby talk.
- Death by Irony: Solomon is all about the money, so the Doctor lets him have several very shiny, very valuable objects all to himself. The missiles.The Doctor: See them shine? See how valuable they are? Enjoy your bounty.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: John's a turn-of-the-century man's man with some time-appropriate views on gender. Neither Amy nor Nefertiti are particularly impressed. Amy recommends he take a gender politics class. He is, however, delighted when he's proven wrong by the both of them.
- Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: In the first scene of the episode, Queen Nefertiti physically pins the Doctor to door of the T.A.R.D.I.S. She then starts to grope (and sniff) him, saying that she will not allow him to leave yet. This exchange mirrors a later scene in which Solomon acts similarly towards Nefi, but in said later scene, it's much darker and Played for Drama — with Solomon saying he would enjoy breaking her will before selling her. Solomon's statement can be interpreted as a rape threat, crossing the Moral Event Horizon (over and above the murder of the Silurians, which we're only told about). note
- Dramatic Drop: Rory's father was changing a light bulb before he was suddenly in a spaceship. The light bulb is dropped.
- Dramatic Gun Cock: Riddell does this on three separate occasions before firing his Stun Gun. Were there actually any Tranquilizer Darts in that magazine?
- Dumbass Has a Point: While Riddell isn't really a dumbass, his Deliberate Values Dissonance and Arbitrary Skepticism occasionally gets on Amy and Nefertiti's nerves. So when he asks what happened to the "lizardmen" who originally piloted the ship, Amy looks at him for a beat and replies, "Surprisingly good question."
- Enemy Mine: No so much an enemy, since the Raptors just kill everything, but a Raptor took off part of Solomon's leg when he arrived. Well done, Raptor!
- Even Evil Has Standards: The Silurians have no qualms with killing humans, as seen before. But selling Dinosaurs, which is something they evidently refused to do, got them killed; seems they're not entirely evil as the "destructive impact forecast for our planet" is implied to be the meteor... or, a Cyberman spaceship with Adric in it!
- Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Dinosaurs make the space ship much more fun, just as the Doctor says.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Solomon assumes the Doctor is only interested in the dinosaurs for their monetary value; the Doctor berates him for assuming everyone lives by the same values as him.
- Evil Cripple: Solomon had a run-in with a raptor when he invaded the ship, and it ate a lot of his leg.
- Evil Old Folks: Solomon, played by the inimitable David Bradley, has been doing this sort of vile act for a long time.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: There's dinosaurs and they're on a space ship.
- Face Palm: For the record, he's talking about golf balls.
- Family-Unfriendly Violence: Eleven's finally back to blowing up spaceships out of sheer vengeance, similar to how the Fourth Doctor typically got rid of his villains.
- More build-up to the Ponds leaving the show. The Doctor's not really trying to wean them off him or anything. Honestly.
- It's the second time this season that the villain of the episode can't identify the Doctor.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus:
- The ice patch that Rory sticks on his father's shoulder has the St John's Ambulance badge.
- Blink and you'll miss it, but during one of the cutaways to the military on Earth, someone appears on the screen wearing what is either a normal eyepatch or an Eye Drive.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
- See the "only my (golf) balls" quote.
- When Solomon talks of his plans with Nefertiti. It gets as close to implied rape as a family show allows. It involves having a character physically force herself on another person (which includes Perverted Sniffing) who looks scared and is trying to run away. In other words, a Dark Reprise of the light-hearted opening scene with the Doctor and Nefertiti.
- Every damn thing that Riddell says to Nefertiti, with talk of spanking and very large weapons.
- It's possible that Riddell implies that he had a threesome with the two dancing girls with whom the Doctor left him alone.
- Gibbering Genius: Lampshaded. The Doctor realizes he's riffing.
- Great White Hunter: Riddell was camping out in the African wilderness when the Doctor left him, and he's still there seven months later. His takeaway from this adventure is a dinosaur tooth for a necklace (and also a kickass lady friend).
- Historical-Domain Character: Riann Steele plays Queen Nefertiti of Ancient Egypt, who flirts with the Doctor and Riddell.
- Historical Hero Upgrade: Queen Nefertiti, portrayed here as an Action Girl willing to sacrifice her freedom to save the Doctor despite his protests.
- Historical In-Joke: Queen Nefertiti vanished from historical record in the 14th year of her husband's reign and there is no mention of her from that point on. It is not even known how she died. We know what happened now.
- Horse of a Different Color: The triceratops (Tricey) plays this role when the Doctor and the male Ponds need to escape the robots.
- Hypocritical Humor:
- Amy will not have flirting companions.
- The Doctor accuses Rory's dad of being an impostor who's just teleported inside his TARDIS. "Did you think I wouldn't notice? I'm not stupid!"
- Idiot Ball: Averted. The missles can't be disabled remotely and this is Truth in Television. Except for test launches, military missiles have no way to remotely disable or destroy them in-flight.
- I Have Many Names: There were only three, technically, but since Nefi used all three when Amy asked who she was, it might count.Nefertiti: Lady of the Two Lands, Wife of the Great King Amenhotep, Queen Nefertiti of Egypt.
- I Have You Now, My Pretty: Solomon is not nice to Nefi, and she gets very, very genuinely scared. His implied unsavoury intentions call to mind Sharaz Jek (only without Jek's Jerkass Woobie qualities).
- I Lied: Rory uses it when treating his dad's wound, assuring him the painkiller injection won't hurt. It's a repeat of River's line from "The Time of Angels".
- I Resemble That Remark: The robots do not have tantrums!
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The two robots can't walk and shoot accurately at the same time, even failing to hit the massive triceratops. It's explained as them being very run down due to a lack of maintanence and very cheap models to begin with.
- Internal Homage: To the very earliest seasons of Doctor Who. Large portions of the episode are spent simply exploring and trying to understand what's going on, the villain is extremely nasty but is a threat only to the regular cast rather than a whole culture or the entire universe, and the Doctor displays an extremely ruthless streak.
- "It" Is Dehumanizing: Solomon refers to Nefertiti as "it".
- Iron Lady: Nefertiti's fearlessness and imperious demeanour qualifies her as this trope. She mentions executing people that disrespect her.
- Karmic Death: Solomon really REALLY deserved being blown up in that ship by missles. This whole affair was his fault to begin with.
- Kick the Dog: Solomon has several; he orders one of his robots to injure Brian in order to force the Doctor to heal him, he ejected the Ark's crew from the airlock, and, when he decides he wants to sell her, he has the triceratops killed in an attempt to make the Doctor hand Nefertiti over.
- Kiss-Kiss-Slap: Played for laughs, with the Doctor kissing Rory with excitement after a discovery he made — and then gently slapping him when he's promptly disappointed.
- Knight of Cerebus: Solomon. The episode starts off extremely comedic, but when he shows, it starts getting much more serious with most scenes with him involve showing off what Jerkass he is with his various Kick the Dog moments.
- The Knights Who Say Squee: Amy and Riddell's reaction to meeting Queen Nefertiti. She's so famous even aliens have heard of her.
- Lampshaded Double Entendre: Riddell is, in Amy's words, "the walking innuendo".Riddell: You clearly need a man of action, excitement. One with a very large weapon. (cocks his gun)
- Laughably Evil: The robots are silly, bickering, and scarely competent minions.
- Like Father, Like Son:
- Rory and Brian are extremely alike. A sweet subtle moment is when Brian calls the Doctor "Arthur C. Clarke", since Rory was previously established to be a bit of a sci-fi geek.
- Also Like Father, Like Daughter: When Rory applies first aid to Brian, he says the painkiller won't hurt. It does hurt; he lied. River did the same thing to Amy.
- Macross Missile Massacre: The Indian Space Agency launch a volley of missiles at the Silurian ark. They end up hitting Solomon's ship... with Solomon still on it.
- The Maiden Name Debate: The Doctor calls Rory's father "Brian Pond". Brian protests.
- Man Child: The Doctor spends the entire first half of the episode with a giant grin on his face, bouncing and skipping all over.Rory: Dad, I'm 31. I don't have a Christmas list any more.
The Doctor: (waving his arms) I DO!
- Mood Whiplash: At first this seems like it is just a goofy corridor crawl. It gets much more serious when Solomon and his killer robots show up.
- Nice Hat: Riddell's hat is perfect for a safari hunt. He takes it off to Queen Nefertiti when she says who she is and when Tricey is killed.
- Noodle Incident:
- Whatever the Doctor did to save Nefertiti's people (they were being attacked by giant alien locusts with weapons).
- The last time he saw Riddell, he left him with two very disappointed dancers after saying he was popping out for some liquorice. He also says that the Doctor is not talking him into something "again".
- The "Loft Incident" that made Brian wary of Rory holding ladders by himself.
- Not So Different: Amy intentionally adopts the Doctor's mannerisms when searching though the ship's computer, while her "companions" argue and flirt in the background.
- No, You: The childish robots lack insults.Rory: Look, you need to learn some manners.
Robot 1: No, you need to learn some manners.
Rory: No, you do.
Robot 2: No, you do, Mister Manners.
- Obnoxious In-Laws: Inverted. If the opening scene is any indication, Brian likes Amy better than Rory.
- Obscured Special Effects: The eponymous dinosaurs are mainly shown lurching through the dark, foggy halls of the eponymous spaceship. Except for Tricey. There's plenty of shots of Tricey.
- Only in It for the Money: Solomon has a lazer device which scans everything around him, even other humanoids, to determine how much they are worth at market. This makes his actions even more monstrous.
- Papa Wolf: Inverted — Rory gets very serious when his dad is threatened.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: The Doctor uses Solomon's ship as a decoy to divert missiles away from the Ark... with Solomon still aboard.The Doctor: Did the Silurians beg you to stop?
- Percussive Maintenance:
- Amy with the ship's equipment (a slap).
- The Doctor attempts it with the triceratops (a karate chop).
- Perverted Sniffing: Queen Nefertiti does this while flirting with the Doctor.
- Phlebotinum-Handling Requirements: The controls of the Silurian spaceship can only be operated by a pair of blood relatives.
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner: One the Sixth Doctor would have been proud of.The Doctor: See them shine? See how valuable they are? And they're all yours. Enjoy your bounty.
- Psychopathic Manchild: The two robots insist that they do not have tantrums, while having a tantrum and trying to kill our heroes.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The Doctor intentionally mixes things up and recruits a whole "gang" for this mission. The result? The Last of the Time Lords, an Egyptian Queen, a big game hunter from the early 1900s, the Girl Who Waited, the Last Centurion... and the Last Centurion's very confused dad.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Solomon's barely-euphemistic threat to rape Nefertiti helps to explain why the Doctor cold-bloodedly executes him, complete with an uncharacteristic Pre-Mortem One-Liner.
- Raptor Attack: A whole pack of them make a run on the Doctor's position. They are fended off by Amy and Riddel carrying stun shot guns.
- Recycled IN SPACE!:The Doctor: Dinosaurs! ON A SPACESHIP!
- Replacement Goldfish: Amy asks the Doctor if Nefi and John are the new Ponds.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Queen Nefertiti is a badass who not only helps the Doctor on this mission but also played a role in saving her own kingdom alongside the Doctor.
- Rule of Cool: Like you would turn down a chance to ride a triceratops?!
- Running Gag: Williams men are Ponds. They may deny it, but they are.The Doctor: Brian Pond, you are delicious.
Brian Williams: I'm not a Pond.
The Doctor: Of course you are.
- Sassy Black Woman: It kind of went the long way around, but Nefertiti counts. She's strong-willed and has a bit of a temper. She stands up to, and threatens to snap the neck of, the slightly chauvinistic Riddell and earns his admiration (he calls her a firecracker). She's a very regal Sassy Black Woman, but a lot of the characteristics are still there. While the "race" of Nefertiti and Ancient Egyptians is a matter of much debate, here, at least, she's played by a relatively light-skinned black actress.◊
- Save the Villain: Want to know if you're an irredeemable waste of human flesh? You get the answer when the Doctor defies this.
- Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: The ISA announces they're firing missiles because the ship is coming through the atmosphere. They'll take thirty minutes to reach the ship. The atmosphere is generally regarded as stopping at the Thermosphere, which is only 600 miles up on a good day. Those missiles must be traveling at under Mach 2 — which is slower than the ones India has today.
- Shared Family Quirks: It's "all about the pockets" in Rory's family.
- Shoulder Cannon: Solomon's robots are armed with shoulder-mounted lasers.
- Solomon's robots singing "Daisy Bell" after being electrocuted by the Doctor.
- Solomon is listening to Franz Schubert's "Fantasia in F minor" when the Doctor first meets him.
- John gets to re-enact bits of Jurassic Park, and stops just short of saying "clever girl".
- The robot voiced by David Mitchell tells the Doctor that he's going "straight on the naughty step". One of the UK "Get a Mac" adverts starring Mitchell and Webb featured the PC (also played by Mitchell) bringing out a naughty step for kids who didn't use him properly.
- The title, to Snakes on a Plane.
- Amy is a fan of ChuckleVision.
- “Don’t mess with Egyptian queens, Solomon; I hope you’re learned that now.”
- Shown Their Work: "Lady of the Two Lands" really was one of the historical Nefertiti's many epithets. Only a partial example, though, as by the time of her disappearance her husband had changed his name to Akhenaten.
- Space Pirates: Solomon is the uncomical, seriously nasty kind. He put out a distress signal so he could board this ship and then killed everyone for their cargo.
- Stock Dinosaurs: Ankylosaurs, Triceratops, Pteranodon, Raptors, and T. rex.
- Take Me to Your Leader:Rory: Really?
The Doctor: Too good to resist.
- Technical Pacifist: Riddel knows that the Doctor doesn't like killing or guns so he uses stun guns on the dinosaurs. As he says "not even the Doctor could complain about this".
- That Came Out Wrong: Rory's response to his father's "my bals" line is a Face Palm.
- Those Two Bad Guys: The robots are a pair of interchangable minions.
- A Threesome Is Hot: Riddell implies he had a threesome with the two dancing girls the Doctor left him with.
- Thrown Out the Airlock: The fate of several thousand Silurians, courtesy of Solomon and his robots.
- Title Drop: By the Doctor.The Doctor: Dinosaurs! On a spaceship!
- Tough Room: Invoked by the Doctor.The Doctor: The controls are straightforward; even a monkey could use them! Oh look, they're going to!
The Doctor: Guys, come on, comedy gold! Where's a Silurian audience when you need one!
- Tyrannosaurus rex: The only one shown is a sleeping baby, and it doesn't have much impact.
- Unfazed Everyman: While all companions fit this, Rory's dad Brian takes the biscuit — he's just a bathrobe away from being Arthur Dent proper. He's picked up with the Ponds by accident and just goes along with everything the Doctor says.
- Villains Want Mercy: After committing genocide, threatening to kill everyone unless Nefi becomes his slave and subtly alluding that he intends to rape her, Solomon still expects the Doctor to rescue him. The Doctor refuses.
- Waistcoat of Style: John Riddell. He even sheds his jacket to show the waistcoat off better when he's shooting Raptors with a tranquilliser gun.
- Walking the Earth: Brian Williams at the beginning of the story has always been afraid of traveling. By the end of the story he has become a seasoned world traveler; Amy and Rory have a bulletin board covered with cheesy postcards Brian sent them from his travels.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Rory is very happy that he gets to finally show off his nursing skills to his dad.
- Western Zodiac: The Doctor mentions to Solomon that he is a Sagittarius in the middle of their conversation to explain how observant he is, but it is likely light sarcasm (and possibly a Mythology Gag. Sagittarius is loosely defined as November 22 to December 21; Doctor Who premièred, and the Doctor was therefore "born", on November 23, 1963). To add further, the Doctor shows numerous traits that apply to the sign itself. "The Power of Three" shows his tendency to be bored and impatient and there is the fact he loves being on the move. Then again, the last time he talked about his birth sign, he claimed to be born under "crossed computers", but with the Doctor you can never be too sure.
- What Does This Button Do?: Amy finds a console and starts messing with it. She explains why while doing so: "I've spent enough time with the Doctor to know that whenever you enter somewhere new, press buttons."
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Averted. The Doctor is angry when he finds out the human Solomon murdered the Silurians, and when the missiles are sent at Solomon's ship he leaves him to die.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: The Silurian engineers who built the Ark didn't see any need to fit it with weapons capable of repelling missiles. The Doctor attributes this to them being one of the young Empires, still so full of hope.
- The World Is Just Awesome: Near the end, Brian asks the Doctor a favor, and we cut to Brian sitting in the TARDIS doorway, having a bite to eat, while looking out over Earth, with Amy, Rory and the Doctor looking on behind him. This apparently influences Brian to go globe-trotting, as he previously said he hated traveling.
- You Got Spunk: Charming and sinister versions.
- Riddell comments that the Egyptians sure bred their women fiery, with much admiration.
- Solomon tells Nefertiti he likes his cargo to have spirit, as it makes them more fun to break.
- You Look Familiar:
- You Won't Feel a Thing: Before injecting his father, Rory says, "This won't hurt." He then admits he lied.