‘THE EATERS OF LIGHT’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Light-Eating Locusts In 2nd Century Scotland
I enjoyed watching ‘The Eaters of Light’ when I saw it on TV! This ‘Doctor Who’ episode is by Rona Munro! Wait a minute! Rona Munro?! I’ve heard that name before, haven’t I?! Oh wait! Yes! I have!
Rona Munro wrote the last classic TV series ‘Doctor Who’ story called ‘Survival’ in 1989 with Sylvester McCoy’s Seventh Doctor and Sophie Aldred’s Ace. ‘Survival’ is one of my favourite stories!
WOW! A new series ‘Doctor Who’ TV episode by a classic series writer! That should be nice, right? We might even see the Cheetah People make a return in this episode! Or not, as the case maybe! 😀
But seriously, I was pretty impressed with this second contribution by Rona Munro to the ‘Doctor Who’ TV series for Series 10. I didn’t think that a classic series writer would return for the new series.
This episode is set in Scotland during the 2nd century! Good thing to set an episode in Scotland. My parents and I have visited that place many times before for our summer holidays so many years ago.
Personally, I’ve written a ‘Doctor Who’ fan-fiction story set in Scotland called ‘Chieftain’s Caves’ in ‘The Fifth Doctor by Tim Bradley’ series on my blog. That tale does have fantasy elements in it mind.
For ‘The Eaters of Light’, the TARDIS lands in 2nd century Scotland. The Doctor, Bill and Nardole set out to search for the Ninth Roman Legion that was lost in the mists of time. This was very intriguing.
I’m not very familiar with the period of history being depicted in the episode as I know little about 2nd century Scotland. But it was very interesting to discover here whilst watching the episode on TV.
While the Doctor and Nardole split up from Bill to find the Ninth Roman Legion, the days get darker. A ferocious monster is attacking the Scottish locals as well as some surviving Roman Legion warriors.
Yeah it turns out that most of the Ninth Roman Legion has been slaughtered by this ferocious monster. But Bill has confidence in the Doctor that he can be the one man to save everybody’s lives.
I enjoyed the performances of Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie and Matt Lucas in the episode. The Doctor, Bill and Nardole grew on me as a TARDIS team whilst I watched Series 10 on TV at that time.
I do like how Bill gets to have her own adventure in the episode, away from the Doctor and Nardole. She meets up with the Roman Legion survivors themselves and forms some close bonds with them.
There’s Brian Vernel as Lucius; Rohan Nedd as Simon; Ben Hunter as Thracius; Sam Adewunmi as Vitus; Bill Matthews as Cornelius and Aaron Phagura as Marcus in the Roman Legion. Not all survive.
I liked Bill’s scenes with the Romans. It was interesting when Bill openly revealed that she was gay to the Roman soldiers and they seemed to be okay with that. I’m not sure what to make of that scene.
I mean, I’m not sure that would be historically accurate for Roman soldiers to be accepting of Bill’s sexuality in the story. But it’s interesting how Rona Munro approaches Bill’s character on that angle.
It was very interesting Bill discovered for the first time that the TARDIS can translate languages. She hears the Romans speaking English whereas in fact she can actually talk Latin to them in the episode.
I’m surprised Bill didn’t know that the TARDIS can translate languages inside her head. Come to think of it, I’m surprised the Doctor didn’t tell her early on in the series. It seems so late to discover it here.
I also enjoyed the Doctor and Nardole’s journey when they’re meeting the Scottish locals. The Twelfth Doctor and Nardole have this interesting business-like Doctor-companion relationship here.
The Scottish locals are led by Rebecca Benson as the gatekeeper called Kar. She has this fiery spirit, belonging to the tribe called the Picts. Kar gets ridiculed by the Doctor as she appears inexperienced.
But it was also interesting to see the connection the Doctor makes with Kar in the episode. She admits that she’s afraid as the Doctor encourages Kar to face her beast anyway to which she agrees.
Actually, while we’re on it, Bill also encourages the Roman soldiers to be brave and tells them they’re not cowards as she understands they’re scared. It was interesting to see that portrayed here.
It was also interesting to see the Picts, who have peculiar face-paint, considering the Romans as ‘barbarians’. The Romans likewise feel the same regarding the Picts when in conflict with each other.
There is tension on both sides between the Scottish Picts and the Romans. In the episode, the Doctor and Bill desperately try to get the two factions to work together in order to survive the story.
Incidentally, Kar has a brother, Daniel Keer as Ban. It would’ve been nice to have seen more of the relationship between the two. They could have been potentially close in terms of brother and sister.
Nardole is fairly good in this episode, although I do want to know why he’s wearing pyjamas as well as a dressing gown in this. I mean…w-w-what? W-w-what, what, WHAT?! How come he’s wearing…?
ROWAN ATKINSON’S DOCTOR: “I’ll explain later…”
(annoyed; shouts) Oh shut up, Rowan! You’re not helping! (Pause) It was interesting when Nardole discovered that crows can talk, according to the Doctor. The crows can say ‘Doc-tor’ and ‘Mon-ster’.
It was also interesting when Nardole sees the Doctor return from the cairn, as he’s been waiting for him for two days. But for the Doctor, it’s been seconds. He also discovered a portal inside that cairn.
The monsters in this episode are trans-dimensional light-eating locusts called…the Eaters of Light. Yeah, there’s no actual name given to these creatures. I wonder if we’ll ever see the creatures again.
It was interesting that these Eaters of Light come from a portal inside a cairn, which is a mound of rock on a top of a Scottish hill. There’s a certain amount of history connected with this Scottish cairn.
The Doctor and the others have to catch this locust monster creature running wild in Scotland as it’s devouring the light of people’s essences and killing them. It is pretty disturbing to think about here.
During the episode, it was tense when the guest characters were being chased by the monster in the dark. The tale does shine in terms of its scary moments, especially with scenes set during night-time.
At the end, it was pretty noble of the Doctor when he was willing to sacrifice himself in order to guard the portal with the locust monsters inside. Bill is horrified when the Doctor is considering this.
However the gatekeeper Kar and the last of the Ninth Roman Legion soldiers sacrifice themselves instead. Thus the mystery of where the Ninth Roman Legion went to gets fulfilled for Bill in the story.
Yeah that was what this mystery was all about. Where had the Ninth Roman Legion gone to when they weren’t reported missing? Interesting how Rona Munro tackles it in her ‘Doctor Who’ episode.
‘The Eaters of Light’ has been a pretty enjoyable instalment in Series 10 of ‘Doctor Who’. I enjoyed the concepts featured in this TV story and I did enjoy the 2nd century Scotland setting with Romans.
Mind you, I have to say I prefer ‘Survival’ over ‘The Eaters of Light’ by Rona Munro. It’s only that more time was spent on ‘Survival’, albeit in as a three parter, compared to ‘The Eaters of Light’ story.
I concur on the opinion that four-part stories are better compared to single episodes when a lot of the story gets crammed in. But apart from that, I enjoyed this episode by Rona Munro when I saw it.
It was nice and well-deserved to have Rona Munro back to write for the ‘Doctor Who’ TV series in such a long time. I hope it won’t be another long while until Rona Munro writes for ‘Doctor Who’ again.
‘The Eaters of Light’ is definitely another one of my favourite stories from Series 10 of ‘Doctor Who’ along with ‘Smile’, ‘Knock Knock’ and ‘Empress of Mars’. I hope I’ll be able to tell Pearl Mackie soon.
Before we finish, ‘The Eaters of Light’ also features another guest appearance of Michelle Gomez as Missy. The Doctor has released Missy out of the vault for her to do maintenance jobs in the TARDIS.
This is while he, Bill and Nardole have been out having an adventure in 2nd century Scotland. Bill and Nardole are very displeased when they find that the Doctor has allowed Missy to be out of her vault.
It was pointed out to me that Missy was being reformed and redeemed throughout the season. I was surprised by that revelation as I didn’t know at that point it was what Series 10 had been about here.
I wasn’t sure how that would work and I suspected that Missy wasn’t being sincere in trying to be good as she claims. It also made her less of the Master person she was supposed to be in the series.
Some fan theories circulated at the time that Missy wasn’t the Master and that she was actually the Rani. I wasn’t ready to accept that until it was confirmed, though if it was true it would make sense.
Mind you, if it was revealed Missy was the Rani all along, it would get on my nerves that we were led under false pretences by Steven Moffat himself. But of course, it turns out that Missy is ‘the Master’ after all!
I know there are Missy fans out there, but I prefer other versions of the Master in ‘Doctor Who’. The Roger Delgado; the Anthony Ainley; the Derek Jacobi and the John Smith interpretations are better.
This is because they were more convincing and threatening than Michelle Gomez’s Missy. There were times when they could be really amusing, but when they had to be serious, they were serious.
That was what made those versions of the Master convincing as villains. Michelle Gomez’s Missy doesn’t do that. Whether it was down to acting or writing, Missy isn’t serious or threatening enough.
The DVD special features on this episode are as follows. On Disc 2 of ‘Series 10 – Part 2’ of ‘Doctor Who’, there’s ‘The Eaters of Light’ – Inside Look’ featurette.
On Disc 4 of ‘The Complete Series 10’ of ‘Doctor Who’, ‘The Eaters of Light’ – Inside Look’ featurette can also be found on there. There’s also the ‘Rona Munro – A Modern Classic’ making-of documentary. On Disc 6, there’s the ‘Doctor Who: The Fan Show – The Aftershow’ edition for this episode.
‘The Eaters of Light’ rating – 8/10
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