Steven Moffatt’s return to Doctor Who after seven years was eagerly awaited by many. Moffatt is responsible for some of the show’s most iconic episodes, from the introduction of Weeping Angels to The Empty Child. His return will not disappoint fans, using one simple plot device to drive a powerful and emotional episode.

In the third outing of this softly rebooted season, The Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby (Millie Gibson) land on a war-torn planet to search among the rubble to help whatever is screaming beneath the surface.

In true The Doctor style, he rushes in without thinking, accidentally stepping on a landmine. One wrong move, and boom, he tells Ruby. The episode plays out almost in real-time. The pressure starts to get to the timelord, and he sees a real threat to his life.

 A New Doctor- Companion Dynamic

The Doctor has never felt more human than he does in this episode. He can’t run around pressing buttons, trying to resolve the issue, and he can’t hide until his quick brain works out a plan. He is trapped in one spot throughout the episode, and a surge of adrenaline may kill him.

A powerless The Doctor has to sing to himself to try and stay calm. It’s a heartbreaking performance from Ncuti Gatwa, who is committed no matter how serious or silly the show gets.

Gatwa has already more than shown himself to be natural in the role. Audiences knew he could do charisma and wit, but this episode shows that he can be vulnerable and terrified. Not since the David Tennant era has The Doctor seemed so unguarded and exposed. Although it’s impossible for Gatwa not to charm, this outing feels like a more mature version of Fifteen.

This new Doctor is still shrouded in mystery, with new ticks and personality traits appearing throughout the opening three episodes. He’s less a showman than in the previous outings, wearing his heart and his fears on his sleeve. It’s a remarkable performance from the young actor

Millie Gibson’s Ruby becomes more than just a companion on her first adventure on an alien planet. With The Doctor out of action, Ruby has to take control of the situation. In the prior two episodes, she felt like an accessory to the lead. Finally, ‘Boom’ gives Ruby depth and makes her so much more than a young girl with a mystery birth mother.

While companions are known for chasing around their timelords with heart eyes like giggling schoolgirls, ‘Boom’ changes the dynamic. She gets to take control of the situation and give him orders. Suddenly The Doctor isn’t the all-knowing, all-powerful one with all the answers.

A Legitimate Threat

The first two episodes of season 14 of Doctor Who never felt like The Doctor or Ruby were in danger. Moffatt is not afraid to put the leads in legitimate danger. ‘Boom’ feels like a huge jump in stakes

The planet of Kastarion 3 is a dimly lit hellscape of mud and fog. Beautifully lit at a seemingly never-ending dusk, the visuals are more akin to big-budget cinema than BBC drama.

‘Boom’ thinly toes the line between preachy and a smart commentary on the military, capitalism and the price of casualty. This war-torn planet also comes with terrifying tech to make death and injury even more clinical. The advanced form of triage is one of the most chilling things the show has done in years. At times, the dark plot and complex imagery are closer to an episode of Black Mirror than Doctor Who.

 The actual mechanics behind these landmines could probably be picked apart if questioned too much, but the episode is so tense that audiences hardly have time to breathe, never mind unpick plot points. Looking like a Roomba and acting like a The Hunger Games gimmick, it’s a genius way to keep the duo in one spot throughout a 40-minute episode.

‘Boom’ does suffer from the classic Doctor Who pacing issue. In a 45-minute episode, the show must introduce a world, new characters, and a plot before neatly resolving it. Moffat has always excelled at tight plotting and engaging imagery. This third episode of season 14 is a masterclass on how to neatly pack a punch with a high-concept slice of science fiction that never forgets how to deliver emotional weight.

‘Boom’ feels like Doctor Who for the current generation. It’s angry and dark, unashamedly sneering at capitalism. Gone are gimmicks and running down space station corridors. Instead, this is a raw story with something to say.

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