New Show Recap: Doctor Who, Season 7 Episode 2 “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”

Hello, Ponds! Or Persephoneers. Pondsephoneers? Whatever.

Last time we met the Doctor, he was summoned by the Daleks to save them from themselves, or at least, from the imperfect versions of themselves they’d locked away in an asylum. He also saved Amy and Rory’s crumbling marriage and met Oswin, a human-turned-Dalek who had created an elaborate dream for herself in which she was played by Jenna-Louise Coleman, of future new companion fame. So what is good ol’ Eleven up to now? Geronimo!

We open with the Doctor being chased to the TARDIS by none other than Queen Nefertiti. She’s going on about “what they’ve just been through,” which at this point I assume involves a little Doctor lovin’, though maybe not because he seems reluctant to her advances. He’s saved by the bell, or rather, the psychic paper, when he gets a message and takes off.

He heads to 2367 AD, where an ISA agent, Indira, tells him (and Nefertiti, who he calls Neffie) about a ship headed towards Earth. If it gets too close, they’re going to blow it up, and we all know how the Doctor feels about blowing things up, unless of course those things are Cybermen ships and he’s doing it to save Amy and Melody. They’ve got six hours to save the day before the Earth sends out the missiles.

Time to collect people. We jump to the African plains, 1902, where he sits with Riddell and piques his curiosity about the ship. Then we’re in the Ponds’ house, where Rory’s dad Brian is helping the reconciled couple with a light fixture, when suddenly the TARDIS materializes around them, engulfing the three of them.

As the gang leaves the TARDIS, the surprised Brian Williams (not this one, but rather one played by Mark Williams, who was Arthur Weasley in the Harry Potter films) learns where his son really went traveling after getting married: not to Thailand like he’d said, but the whole of space and time. Amy gets a little jealous thinking Riddell and Neffie are new companions, which would explain why it’s been ten months since they’ve heard from the Doctor. Their conversation is interrupted by an opening door, and if sci-fi has taught us anything, we know nothing good can come from the other side of a door that opens on its own.

Considering the title of this episode is “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” you probably already figured out what’s on the other side of the door. Yup. Dinosaurs.

The creatures pass by the gang after they hide behind a wall, and we see a flash of a video screen with the words “intruders detected” on it. So we know it’s not JUST dinosaurs. But this is Doctor Who, so you probably figured things would get more complicated.

The gang starts exploring. Rory, Brian, and the Doctor are looking at a computer – which, of course, Eleven hacked into with the sonic screwdriver – while Amy and Neffie are looking at one of the walls. Just as Amy points out some claw marks, the guys get transported through the screen. “Oh, great,” Amy says.

Boom. They’re on a beach, because why not. Brian starts flipping out, and the Doctor says they’re not on Earth because it’s too metallic. Rory points out that the beach is humming, so Eleven tells them to dig while he goes to look at rocks. With what? Well, fortunately, Brian has some fold-up shovel in his pocket. Maybe that’s why Rory had a random flashlight in his pocket last week. Boy Scout preparedness is a trait the Williams men share. Or not, because Brian lectures his son about carrying a trowel and tells him to put it on his Christmas list. Rory’s 31, so he doesn’t have a Christmas list, but the Doctor is 900-and-something, so he does. Naturally.

They hit a metal floor under the sand, and we see the screen again. Whoever is in the control room hears Rory calling for the Doctor, and wants him brought in “after all this time.”

Back with the rest of the crew, Riddell is drinking from a flask and says he “doesn’t take orders from females” when Amy says she needs him sober. He doesn’t seem to realize what two women he’s with. Our saucy Scottish friend Ms. Pond would be enough, but he’s also in the company of Queen Nefertiti, who points out that any man who spoke to her like that would be executed. While Amy is busy fangirling over the awesomeness that is Neffie, they realize they’re standing over a half-conscious dinosaur and some eggs. Oh, right, that’s why we’re here. Time to retreat, except make sure not to wake the sleeping baby T-Rex.

Back on the beach, the dudes have figured out they’re actually in the power source. Yep, this bad boy runs on water. And those birds Brian thought were kestrels were actually pterodactyls. So that’s fun. They decide they need to find the control room, because they can’t turn the waves off fast enough to stop the ship before it gets blown up. The pterodactyls chase them into a cave, but, of course, they hear something coming toward them from within. Turns out it’s not a dinosaur but two robots, one of whom says, “We’re very cross with you.” Honestly, on the list of menacing things a giant robot could say, that’s not very high.

Neffie and Riddell debate the ragged state the ship was left in – Neffie thinks some kind of plague, and Riddell, naturally, doesn’t take her seriously – while Amy finds a computer and hits a few keys. One thing she’s learned from the Doctor is to push buttons when you don’t know what to do with a machine.

It turns on and there’s a data record, but they can’t get much out of it. Riddell turns to see a dinosaur’s shadow while Amy finally pulls up a picture. It’s scrambled, and talking about how far they’ve come and avoiding the destructive impact forecast for their planet. It’s someone we’ve seen before, someone Amy has met before. A Silurian.

If you don’t remember these guys, let’s recap: some stupid humans decided to drill way too deep, waking up the sleeping Silurian population, then Amy and some of the other humans tried to negotiate a way to share the planet, but that went to hell when that annoying lady Ambrose killed their hostage with a stun gun. Then they had to escape while the Silurians went back to sleep, and Rory was blinked from existence on the way out. Got it? Good.

The scolding robots are leading the Doctor and the Williams men into captivity when they encounter a triceratops. The Doctor pets it like a puppy, while the dinosaur sniffs Brian’s junk. Apparently his balls are made of plant material. Golf balls, that is.

As Riddell and Neffie hate-flirt with each other, Amy figures out that the ship is actually an ark, Noah-style, built by the Silurians. But the homo reptilia are gone, and it appears to have something to do with another spaceship that’s at the center of this one. It’s been boarded before.

The Doctor is taken to the ship’s leader Solomon (in another Harry Potter crossover, played by David Bradley, a.k.a. Filch), who needs a doctor because he was cornered and attacked by some raptors. Eleven says he’ll repair the man’s legs in exchange for information about the dinosaurs, so Filch Solomon has his robots injure Arthur Brian. Guess he’s not messing around. As Rory exercises his mad nursing skillz, Amy calls to tell him about the Silurians.

Solomon is a trader, transporting the ship to a commerce colony. When he tries to determine the Doctor’s value, the computer says he doesn’t exist. The dinosaurs are another matter, however. They are extremely valuable since they’re extinct. He ejected all the Silurians from the ship to take the prehistoric creatures. We know how the Doctor feels about genocide, so this can’t bode well for Solomon. The Doctor tells him about the missiles, then takes Rory and Brian to get back to the rest of the gang. To outrun the robots, they ride a triceratops. Like you do.

Riddell, big game hunter, finds some stun guns, and while they’re loading them up, Neffie asks Amy if she’s the Dcotor’s queen. Nope, she’s Rory’s queen, er, wife. Rory asks the Doctor if the ship has defense systems, which Eleven clearly thinks is a brilliant idea. But there are no defenses, and they can’t get to the controls. A wasted kiss, indeed. Solomon realizes the Doctor wasn’t lying about the missiles, so he wants off the ship, but not alone – he wants Nefertiti.

The Doctor doesn’t want to hand her over, but she materializes alongside Amy and Riddell. As she disappears with Solomon and the robots to go back to his ship, the alarm comes on announcing hostile targeting.The gang heads to the control room, putting Riddell on dinosaur lookout while the rest of them clear out cobwebs and help get the ship ready to save Nefertiti and the dinosaurs (side note: Nefertiti and the Dinosaurs would make a great band name), all in about 17 minutes.

The ship requires two operators of the same gene chain to function. Suddenly I understand why Brian was written into this episode. He and Rory have to be the ones to do it. While they Doctor prepares the ship, he and Amy having a touching moment. She can’t keep a job because she’s always waiting for the TARDIS sound, and she worries that he’s weaning them off his visits and one day she’ll never hear from him again. Eleven says she’ll be there until the end of him, and Amy replies with “and vice versa.” Foreshadowing for the Ponds’ departure? Maybe, or maybe it was something put in there deliberately to make you think it was foreshadowing.

We get pulled out of this tender interlude by Riddell, who comes in and says it’s a two-man job, then looks confused when Amy grabs a gun. She’s easily worth two men, she points out. I love it. Much better than the damsel-in-distress Amy we saw last season and more of the badass Ms. Pond we used to know. She even makes a barb about teaching Riddell about gender politics. While they’re blasting away raptors, the Williams boys are flying the ship. It changes course, but then we flash to Earth to hear Indira say it doesn’t matter because the missiles have locked on. Uh-oh.

The Doctor materializes on Solomon’s ship and zaps his robots. Solomon threatens Neffie, but she knocks him out, because she’s awesome. I don’t consider her a damsel in distress here because she consciously chose to go with him and sacrifice herself to save the others.

Eleven leaves Solomon on his ship which has been reprogrammed to attract the missiles and demagnetized to send it away from the Silurian ship. He flies away, and is pursued and blown up by the missiles. Normally the Doctor is as non-violent as possible, but hey, this dude slaughtered all of homo reptilia, so no mercy.

Everyone gets dropped off back home – though Nefertiti is with Riddell at his camp – and Brian sits at the edge of the TARDIS staring at Earth. In the end, we see the Ponds comfortably at home, receiving postcards from Brian as he travels around the world, ending on one of the TARDIS on the planet Siluria.

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[E] Liza

PhD student. Knitter. Brooklynite. Long-distance dog mom. Reluctant cat lady. Majestic unicorn whose hair changes color with the wind.

15 thoughts on “New Show Recap: Doctor Who, Season 7 Episode 2 “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship””

  1. I liked this one better than the previous one, although the start was still atrocious because can we maybe stop acting like the Doctor is Jesus Buddha Allah Female-Magnet incarnated?

    I hope the Ponds goodbye will brutal and definite. Not because I actually hate them, but because it’s time to move the fook on. Except for Rory, he needs to stick around to keep the Doctor level. And kiss him.

    Neffie was way too gorgeous, it’s unfair.

  2. I actually like the episode more after reading the recap than I did watching the show, so well done Liza.

    Someone on the internet put forth the idea that in the Doctor’s timeline, this episode happened after the final Pond episode – that he’s going back and visiting them before the final whatever. I think there are major hints of that in the dialogue in this episode, yes? (this was a theory, not a spoiler, so who knows) Also, is it jut me or is Amy acting way older than she usually does? And when did Rory get to be 31?!

    This episode reminded me that Doctor Who can be simple-ish and just a fun romp, which is a good thing to keep in mind!

    1. I was wondering when Rory said he was 31. If you do the math from the beginning of series 5, they should really only be in their mid-to-late 20s. She was 7 when they first met, 19 when he came back, then 21 or 22 when they got married, and Rory was in the same year in school so he should be the same age. Even if you space each of the Doctor’s visits out every few months, it probably wouldn’t take you to 31.

  3. I kept thinking of this bit from Good Omens:

    “‘I wrote a book once. It was a triffic book. It was nearly eight pages long. It was about this pirate who was a famous detective. And I drew pictures.’ And then in a flash of largess, he added, ‘If you like I’ll let you read it. I bet it was a lot more exciting than any book you’ve lost. ‘Specially the bit in the spaceship where the dinosaur comes out and fights with the cowboys…”

    Also, because it deserves gif format:

  4. I loved this episode. It was so fun, Amy was back to being a badass (if scarily perky at times), Rory and Brian were perfect together, and screw Filch Solomon. I want to ride a triceratops!

    I also saw a cool article about the scientific accuracy of the dinosaurs over on the Smithsonian’s blogs. “Pterodactyl” is apparently an outdated term; the Doctor should have known that we’re supposed to call them Pterosaurs now. And the raptors are supposed to be feathery! And probably the babby T-Rex too! Oh, well.

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