Review: Doctor Who – Eater of Light

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!




  1. Mark

    I have to say I didn’t like it – the general concept of “the doctor and Bill look for the ninth legion” was strong but the monsters seemed really odd and out of context.
    The McCoy comparison does improve it a bit though.


  2. Stevie

    It was dreadful. I attach my agonised reaction on Facebook last night, viz

    ‘Why do Dr Who’s companions do stupid girly things? Clue: calling her Bill doesn’t stop it being stupid girly things. Have the writers never watched Buffy? Were they locked in a vault a quarter of a century ago and are thus unaware that girls doing stupid girly things so they can be rescued by the hero is tedious beyond belief?

    Answers on a postcard please.’

    I see from your review that it was written by someone who last wrote a Dr Who script in the 1980’s, so, rather more than a quarter of a century. May the Lord have mercy on the writer’s soul, for I won’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lurkertype

    I loved the Scottish jokes. “It’s supposed to be damp”. “Death by Scotland”.

    I liked how the myths of crows talking and the evident fact that they don’t now was neatly explained.

    My quibbles were completely historical — some of the IX did survive and were re-assigned to the Netherlands, and Scotland was much more heavily forested back then.

    Nobody’s recognized the TARDIS carved on the stone? Or at least wondered “how did a police box get here?”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lurkertype

    I did object to two weeks in a row of “Bill’s stuck in a cavern with imperialist soldiers uniformed in red”. They should have spread those two episodes out.


    • Scurra

      It did feel as though this episode belonged earlier in the run (before the Monks trilogy?) Especially given the “oh, the TARDIS translates things” moment. I know it hasn’t really come up as a serious issue, but it seemed weird to have it almost at the end of the series.

      Anyway, overall I still liked it. This has been a consistently decent series, in the sense that when I come back to rewatch it, I won’t be skipping any episodes for being actively bad but there won’t be any I’m massively looking forward to revisiting, either. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt that about a season of new Who.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Stevie

        The Deus ex Machina of the Tardis autotranslating was yet another demonstration of Bill’s determination to do stupid girly things at all costs; the stupidity of going to find people who you can’t communicate with, without even considering how you propose to communicate with them was, to coin a phrase, a stupid girly thing par excellence….