With how the two-part twelfth series premiere unexpectedly brought back the Master (Sacha Dhawan), having set up a series-long arc featuring Gallifrey’s destruction, there are many questions which coming episodes must address. The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), with keeping her secrets close to her vest, hasn’t always addressed questions in the manner her companions need.
With what went down in the previous episodes, it’s nice to see The Doctor and her fam: Graham O’Brien (Bradley Walsh), Yasmin Khan (Mandip Gill), and Ryan Sinclair (Tosin Cole) take a much needed break from chaos and danger. Even though Tranquillity Spa looks like a nice place, appearances can be deceptive. With this being Doctor Who, there is no such thing as a break from either chaos or danger.
Orphan 55, directed by Lee Haven Jones, is the third episode in the current Doctor Who series. Even though the two-part opening story provided Whovians with a series-long arc, there is no evidence of it in this latest instalment. Despite there being no reference to either The Master or The Timeless Child, the episode features some seriously well-delivered scenes by Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor.
The episode opens with The Doctor and her companions take an unplanned all expenses paid holiday to Tranquillity Spa. The holiday, thanks to Graham, is a much-needed break. As the episode progresses, not that it takes very long for us to figure it out, there will be no rest and or relaxation for any of the Tranquillity Spa guests. The spa is under attack from the planet’s native inhabitants.
With team members soon separated, even though Yasmin kind of takes a back seat, we see each of the main characters shine in their own way. The story features a bomber, a militaristic regime, and fallout of nuclear war that devastated the planet. With this being Doctor Who, whilst we have seen things become bleak for Earth in other episodes, this is possibly one of the worst futures the planet could see. Yes, that’s right. It’s Earth.
After tapping into a Dreg’s mind, the Doctor discovers Orphan 55 is Earth. It’s a brilliantly well-executed twist which makes one think of the Planet of the Apes film franchise. The Dregs, having found a way to adapt to their environmental circumstances, breath in carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen.
The native inhabitants, referenced in this episode as Dregs, is what the remaining human inhabitants adapt to after climate change and nuclear war made the planet uninhabitable for oxygen-breathing lifeforms.
The Dregs, a brand-new species not found in previous episodes of Doctor Who, were created for this twelfth series. It’s one of those monsters that makes some of us want to hide behind the sofa until they’ve left the screen.
The episode closes with The Doctor, Graham, Yasmin, and Ryan escape via a fixed transporter. When Yasmin asks The Doctor when she knew it was Earth, some of us might have been expecting a different response. She only discovered it was Earth a few moments before Yasmin and the other companions. The Doctor notes that this is only one possible future out of countless other potential possibilities. She urges her friends to be the best of humanity.