The retro-style episodes take an overt aim for the Sylvester McCoy era, with a story by Rona Munro who last wrote for Doctor Who in the 1980s. The McCoy elements come out in the general oddness but also in how harsh the Doctor is to the young Pictish warrior woman – at times the dialogue being quite jarring given the character of Capaldi’s Doctor.
We are in Scotland during the Roman occupation of the rest of Britain. Bill endears us all again but this time by revealing her obsession with the lost Ninth Legion of the Roman Empire. That includes a shout out to the children’s classic The Eagle of the Ninth.
Of course the lost legion was killed by an alien monster and so the Picts, what’s left of the Roman centurions, Bill, Nardole and the Doctor unite to defeat it. However, the story to get to that point is nicely done, making use of the the classic Doctor and Companion go off on slightly different adventures.
The fact that crows can talk was a nice touch, making the gritty, realistic setting have a sense of the deep past and misty mythology. Some neccesary Scottish jokes and Latin Tardis translation jokes kept the humour up.
The main story finishes quite early leaving a longer epilogue on the Tardis where Missy has been doing some odd jobs…
Next week: Mondasian Cybermen!