Television

Doctor Who Season 1 Episode 5 Review: Dot and Bubbles

Everyone’s fears about AI and other advanced tech scream to be addressed by sci-fi, and Doctor Who rose to the challenge.

Doctor Who Season 1 Episode 5 revolved around a futuristic world where spoiled rich kids all had their personal AI assistants and were constantly plugged into video chat. No one could see the monsters right in front of them.

The message was obvious, yet the story needed to be told.

Lindy’s Unlikability Was a Huge Problem

Although the Doctor and Ruby tried to guide the protagonist, Lindy, at times, the story focused on Lindy.

It was reminiscent of “Blink,” which told Sally Sparrow’s story of her battle with the Weeping Angels. David Tennant’s Doctor appeared only in a video about the phenomenon, except Sally Sparrow was much easier to root for.

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Lindy was a spoiled brat.

Before the monsters came, she sat on video chat whining about how boring the two hours a day she was expected to work were. She loved calling the Doctor and Ruby stupid and telling them she hated them.

If she had grown at all from her near-death experience, that might have been all right, but she didn’t. 

Lindy allowed Ricky September to befriend her and help her escape, yet turned on him without hesitation, ordering the sentinent dot to kill him.

Lindy, listen to me. You may be next, but you’re not going to die. I’m not going to let you die. The monsters aren’t down here, and even if they come, they’re slow. And I just have to put in 30 more codes and we’re gone.

Ricky

She lied to the Doctor and Ruby about where Ricky was when she got out of danger, then made fun of the idea of traveling to safety in the TARDIS.

It seemed like this was a story about a spoiled, entitled woman who turned on everyone who tried to help her as soon as she no longer needed them.

The Doctor was upset that he couldn’t save her and her friends because of their snobbery (and possible racism — was that what that “contamination” comment was about?), but as he walked into the TARDIS, I was left wondering why Doctor Who wasted our time with this story.

Not Everyone Wants to Be Saved

Although this ending made the episode seem pointless, in a way, it was brilliant.

The Doctor often takes for granted that people want his help, and usually, even the most severe skeptic is grateful they crossed paths with him by the end.

Throughout the hour, he kept pushing Lindy to use her own eyes and brain instead of being dependent on the bubble, only for her to call him names and yell at him every time things went wrong, and this time, that didn’t change by the end.

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The Doctor believes that all lives are valuable and everyone matters, so he wouldn’t regret saving Lindy even though she threw it in his face.

Still, he learned a harsh lesson this time. Some people would rather die than go against the grain, and such people might hate him or be disgusted by him because he shakes up their worlds.

This Doctor Who Episode’s Themes Were Amazing, Even if The Execution Was Not

The story revolved around a tech-dependent world in which everyone literally lived in a bubble and didn’t know how to function without a computer voice telling them what to do.

In some ways, the bubbles were as damaging as any drug. People didn’t see what was right in front of them. Their bubbles protected them from knowing that monsters were eating their co-workers.

This campy tale might not have seemed like a social justice story. Still, it held a powerful message about what happens when people are unwilling to confront the scary aspects of their world and deny the facts when things make them uncomfortable.

It was especially striking that some of Lindy’s friends still sat at their desks, passively waiting to be eaten, after witnessing one of their own getting killed by a monster.

That’s why the revelation that the monsters were eating people in alphabetical order sucked. I’d rather Lindy escaped the monster’s wrath because she was willing to accept its existence.

That would have better fit the theme of denial vs. willingness to confront the truth and would have allowed Lindy some character growth.

The Tech Dependence Was Almost Satirical

The other aspect of life, of course, was how dependent everyone was on technology. From morning to night, residents were plugged into a video chat app with GPS.

Ruby: You could always look and see if he is there with your own eyes.
Lindy: Ugh, you mean lower my bubble? No, we don’t do that in Finetime.

Lindy scoffed at the idea of using her own eyes to see what was happening around her instead of checking on her co-workers via video chat.

She also couldn’t figure out how to navigate around obstacles without the GPS telling her step-by-step where to walk.

This might seem ridiculous, but how many of us have texted someone elsewhere in the house because we’re too lazy to get up and talk to them?

Or use GPS for a place we know how to get to just in case there’s a detour?

I know I have, and I’m sure I’m not alone. Are we so far removed from Lindy’s world? 

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Lindy’s inability to understand meeting people face-to-face hit the hardest.

Video chat technology allows people to make friends and business partners all over the world, but in a post-COVID world, real-time socializing can still be risky.

It’s important not to get so dependent on these technologies that we forget what in-person relationships look or feel like.

That’s why it was so heartbreaking that Lindy sacrificed Ricky. It was her first human relationship, and he genuinely seemed to care about her.

One of the most heartbreaking moments in the episode was when he learned that everyone on their home world was dead but chose not to tell Lindy so she wouldn’t be demoralized. However, Lindy repaid Ricky’s kindness by betraying him to save herself.

Stray Thoughts

  • Both the Doctor and Ruby have become aware of Susan Twist’s many faces. Hopefully, we’re building up to a big reveal about who she is and why she keeps popping up.
  • Ruby once again was drawn to a motherless child in need of help, considering that Lindy was unaware that her mother had died on the homeworld.
  • This was the second episode in a row that didn’t feature much of the Doctor. Hopefully, we’ve come to the end of episodes filmed at the same time as Sex Education Season 4 so that the Doctor can retake center stage.

Over to you, Whovians! What did you think of this episode? Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know.

Doctor Who Season 1 streams on Disney+. New episodes drop on Friday evenings at 7/6c.

Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. His debut young adult novel, Reinventing Hannah, is available on Amazon. Follow him on X.

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