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Doctor Who review: It Takes You Away 'a series highlight'

Monday 3rd December 2018

For the second week running Doctor started off with plenty of horror, only to veer off in a completely different direction. This time, though, it worked—thanks to a story that delivered on character development, and a heavy dose of the surreal.

It Takes You Away began with an isolated Norwegian cabin where blind teenager Hanne (Eleanor Wallwork) was barricaded in from whatever was making terrifying noises outside. From there it went through a magic mirror into spooky caves where creepy goblin Ribbons (Kevin Eldon) charged high prices for light—and swarms of giant moths tore the flesh right off bones.

It ended with a conscious parallel universe, embodied in the form of a talking frog with a Yorkshire accent in an ethereal bright white space, begging the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) to just be its friend. I think it’s fair to say no-one saw that coming. And if the episode’s premise was starting to feel a bit ropey, all that was forgotten in awe at this unapologetic weirdness.

With all this going on, the episode’s core got a bit squeezed. Imagine if your lost loved ones returned from the dead. That’s a sci-fi staple and a fable as old as time. For It Takes You Away it was a rushed third act. Poor Graham (Bradley Walsh) barely had time to meet the Doppleganger of his late wife (and Ryan’s late Gran) Grace (Sharon D Clarke) and rush through the various stages of grief.

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This episode resolved some long-running tension for Graham, as we learned that after the stress of not getting time to eat all those weeks ago in Rosa he’s been taking an emergency sandwich on every adventure. Oh, and Ryan (Tosin Cole) finally called him Grandad.

As for the other characters, it was nice to watch Ryan’s struggle to win Hanne’s trust, but Yaz (Mandip Gil) only really got to help the Doctor with clunky exposition. It would have been interesting to develop more Hanna’s objections to other characters using her blindness to hide things from her—and when the Doctor implored absentee dad Erik (Christian Rubek) that “your daughter needs you” it was hard not to think she might need social services more.

This episode had plenty of ideas and plenty of heart, and when the plot couldn’t gel that together the sheer bravado of its bizarreness could. One of the highs of this series.

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