Bit behind on these but the second episode of the run is as good as the first. The show is following the RTD template of starting a new companion with a trilogy of present/past/future and it feels very right to do this as it gives both the companion and any new viewers a quick taste of the main varieties.
The precredit scene is good but think it would’ve been better as a flashback later in the story but understand that it makes a good hook into the rest of the episode especially as it’s much more sedate than the first episode
The Doctor and Bill are a joy to watch with Bill asking all the questions and making the observations most people would. The first half of the episode with them just wandering, chatting and exploring was so good and very reminecesent of the Hartnell era and specifically The Ark in Space. (Loved the “Earth was evacuated in ships and I’ve ran into a few of them over the years” line, in my opinion the perfect way to do continuity, a nice nod for us oldtimers but not offputting for the new viewers)
Bill following The Doctor back after their initial escape to help also felt very natural and she gets him and his reasons for doing what he does. It’s so refreshing to have a companion who’s not just a plot point but a real character who is I intelligent, genuinely excited and interested in what she’s seeing and experiencing. The episode looks beautiful too, a very good use of location.
I was a bit wary of the emoji robots before seeing the episode and fortunately they were used better than I thought and the idea of the living city built around the ship is a good one, although using emoji’s is probably going to date this story far more than others of this era. Their reason for killing the colonists makes perfect sense, robots programmed not to recognise grief and to kill anyone exhibiting it which became viral.
The resolution doesn’t quite hit the market as it feels very rushed as The Doctor realises the robots have become sentient but reprograms them anyway. The pound sign ending seems out of place considering what’s gone on before. I have a sneaky suspicion the humans will end up trying to destroy the robots eventually!
I did like the immediate lead in to the next story at the end of this one. Again a very Hartnellesque move and one I like. This season is shaping up to be a great one and like the last one makes me sad this is the last Capaldi season.