It’s been almost two years since the renegade Time Lord flew his TARDIS into our living rooms. He’s finally back, and bringing along a girl named Bill. With a new companion (or two?) and the end of the Twelfth Doctor in sight, Season Ten’s premier, The Pilot, hits the ground running.
Bill isn’t The Pilot, But She Carries The Episode
Bill is a gem of a character right off the bat. Her ability to roll with what’s going on around her makes her an instant counterpoint to The Doctor. The Doctor doesn’t have to spend time getting her up to speed. She just gets it. Pearl Mackie is a fantastic addition to the show. Her range of emotions, and her ability to stretch easily between them makes her feel right at home. I liked her in the small teaser the BBC put out way back, and now I absolutely love her.
The Pilot is like most Doctor Who episodes: a mystery veiled in light SciFi horror. While the episode’s threat isn’t much to write home about, it’s enough to provide a way for us to learn about The Doctor’s new companion. Bill plays a major role in the plot, not only as the new companion, but as a reason for the episode’s threat to persist. The threat becomes so much more real because of how it relates to Bill that by the end of the episode you’ve become completely empathetic with her.
Doctor Who Is All About Who’s On The TARDIS
I love Bill’s portrayal in The Pilot because she goes through a wide range of strengths, and vulnerabilities. She’s often brave, even if she’s unsure of what’s going on. She is quick-witted, but even-tempered. Most beautifully written of all is that her greatest vulnerabilities show when her heart is laid bare. I think The Pilot was a huge success because it showed Bill as the most realistic companion to date; she’s very much like what fans of the show would be if the TARDIS actually showed up.
Another important “new” character is Nardole. Introduced in The Husbands of River song, and again for The Return of Doctor Mysterio, he’s a surprisingly perfect addition to the show. His quirky presence in the TARDIS, and his close relationship to The Doctor, seems oddly natural. Comedic relief isn’t easy to pull off without seeming too on the nose, but Nardole manages to bring a brand of sarcasm to the show that balances with Capaldi’s own. They feel like they’ve been together for a long time.
The Beginning Of The End
The episode’s title, “The Pilot” acts as a double entendre. It launches a new companion’s journey with The Doctor, and perhaps a new direction for the show. Peter Capaldi is leaving at the end of this season, and the fates of Bill, and Nardole, are unknown. I’m happy with how Bill was introduced, and I love the continuation of Peter Capaldi’s era being a grand, mad, throwback adventure. Overall I think this first episode of this season is a good indicator of things to come.