Doctor Who: Terminus review

Screenplay by Stephen Gallagher.

Terminus is the second part of the Black Guardian Trilogy. And yet, for the second part of a greater trilogy, it manages to be rather important, not for continuity, but for world-building. The Terminus time-ship’s explained to be responsible for the Big Bang when it jettisoned fuel in a period of the Universe’s infancy, and is also capable of destroying it if it were to do so again. The main flaw in this is that the first jettisoning of fuel happened when the Universe was the equivalent of a primitive swamp, so it seems odd that simply doing the same thing again will end it. Surely the same action doesn’t cause the opposite reaction? Can it? But I only ask that on the main strength of Terminus: its science. The nineteen-eighties has the reputation of being a bit bland, but that just isn’t true. It focused more on science, and attempted to be more-or-less plausible. Not necessarily accurate, but plausible. And the best episode is by far the first. For most of it, only the regular cast are present, and even then they’re simply going into the ship from the TARDIS. That first act, with Nyssa, Tegan and Turlough inside the ship is one of the most interesting parts of Doctor Who I’ve legitimately ever seen. It’s just the companions on their own, just doing what they do when in the TARDIS. The Doctor isn’t there, but that makes it slightly more special. And then he arrives as the crisis begins. It’s almost like a day-in-the-life scenario. It’s never been done again, and it works just fine.

The middle episodes are a bit of a drag, with most of it following formula; the cast are split-up and try to hide from the enemy while the Doctor works-out what’s going on. Not that I have a problem with formula, it’s just a bit disappointing after an unconventionally interesting first episode.

But then the last episode manages to pull it all together. The stakes’ heights are a bit unbelievable, but really it’s Nyssa’s departure that makes the whole thing worth it. Because her side of the story is the best. She’s been with Olvir during this serial, and her decision to suddenly help the passengers is obviously meant to be her wanting to stay with him. Except that it’s actually believable. They clearly have chemistry through the story. Nyssa’s prolonged-but-obvious creation of excuses to remove clothing around him was one of the most surprising aspects, since no companion had really done that before. And then there’s a scene where she’s lying on top of him, which was for a legitimate plot reason, but also, you know… character. And the good thing is that Olvir clearly felt the same way (and who wouldn’t? Really, though, who wouldn’t?), so her departure at the end was totally believable, and an excellent subplot for the character. This is only the second time one of my ships have become canon, and the first to do so on an actual ship. I am officially shipping Terminus.

Seems like an opportune moment to end this session.

Doctor Who: Terminus – surprisingly dramatic with important moments. 8/10

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Author: alexsigsworth

Basically... run.

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