Doctor Who

Dinosaurs on a spaceship – episode review & analysis

Ah, ah, ah spoilers: Episode summary

After Queen Nefertiti imposes herself on The Doctor as a companion for the episode, we cut to a future Earth. There is a ship on collision course with Earth; it is the size of Canada and not responding to communications. The Indian Space Administration are threatening to destroy it if it gets too close.

We are not told why, but The Doctor travels to 1902 to see a big game hunter. Next he goes to see the Ponds, picking up Rory’s father quite by accident and takes them all back to the deserted ship to investigate. The Doctor is confused, he doesn’t understand why Brian is there.

Brian: I’m not entirely sure what’s going on

Rory: You know when Amy and I first got married and we went travelling…

Brian: To Thailand

Rory: More the entirety of space and time… In that police box.

Despite being seemingly abandoned, a cargo lift opens to reveal some dinosaurs. There are dinosaurs on this spaceship. No great surprise considering the title.

The computer systems are still active. Rory, The Doctor and the hunter are teleported away when The Doctor fiddles with a computer, taken to a recreated beach that looks suspiciously like Chesil beach (don’t they all?)

Next cut to a mysterious character who recognises the name “Doctor” and tells somebody to ” bring them to me”. Then we go to Amy, the hunter (who we are told is called John Riddell) and Nefertiti and they have stumbled on a T-Rex nest while searching for the others.

Back on the beach, The Doctor has found a computer and some pterodactyls have found them… ooops! They escape into some caves only to be intercepted by two robots voiced by Mitchell & Webb complete with their 21st century penchant for comedy.

Amy has also found a computer and discovers that the ship is Silurian. They are on a Silurian Ark. Oddly there are no Silurians aboard and more importantly, there is another ship on board.

The Doctor is sent alone to see the pirate scavenger Argus Filch Solomon. It seems that Mitchell and Webb have decided that their greater career option was to sign up with dastardly scavengers. Solomon is seriously injured and the comment earlier was a mistake, he thought The Doctor was a medical Doctor. Solomon orders Mitchell to injure Brian to warn The Doctor not to ask too many questions.

Solomon and the robots killed all of the Silurians, hijacked their ship and then sought to trade the livestock. But the ship is heading back to Earth and Solomon doesn’t know how to change course. The Doctor tells him about the missiles but Solomon doesn’t believe it. The missiles are now being locked by the woman from Casualty who has given up the medical profession in order to pursue a career shooting at space-based objects.

Meanwhile, Riddell wants to shoot some dinosaurs full of tranquiliser and he gets Amy and Nefertiti to help out as they continue to try to locate the others.

Amy: I’m Rory’s queen… Wife! Wife… I am his wife. Please don’t tell him I said I was his queen; I’ll never hear the end of it.

Back to Solomon and The Doctor; the pirate wants to offer a deal: hand over Nefertiti and the rest can go free. The Doctor refuses but the Queen arrives with Riddell and Amy. Nefertiti agrees to go with Solomon but The Doctor has a plan.

Hunter goes to fend off some Raptors, letting the Doctor and Amy try to throw the ship in reverse away from Earth.

In the final confrontation, Nefertiti betrays Solomon and The Doctor magnetises his ship so that the missiles lock onto the pirate vessel. It is destroyed. The Doctor has broken his code and deliberately killed a man.


There appears to be very little added to the overall mythology here, at least at face value. The biggest surprise is the existence of a Silurian ark. Is this the only one? Are there Silurians dispersed throughout the galaxy? How many will we see? Are there dinosaurs on other planets? Will this story have any greater impact on the rest of this short season? Solomon could have been built to be a big bad, he still might if The Doctor meets him earlier than this “final” appearance. Or it could end up being nothing. I realise I am clutching at straws here, and I know that Moffatt said this series would be a set of stand-alone episodes but I am still expecting a degree of linking or continuity.

I really did not see the point of the appearance of Nefertiti and Riddell. It would have made more sense to have included a couple of Silurian survivors for The Doctor to work with. His excuse “I’ve always wanted a gang” was strange. Will they appear again rather like Vincent Van Gogh? They don’t appear to be in the next episode so I’m assuming that this is the last we will see of them.

The final shock is that The Doctor has killed somebody (Solomon). What does this mean for the future stories? What does this mean for The Doctor? We know that Solomon killed all of the Silurians but The Doctor had no right to take revenge on their behalf. He broke his code and yet nobody noticed, or seemed to care.



3 thoughts on “Dinosaurs on a spaceship – episode review & analysis

  1. Everyone talks about the ending being shocking but I don’t think so at all. First, he had to do something with the missiles. It was him or them. Secondly the Doctor has killed hundreds, thousands in his time, even his own race. Ok it’s not good,a nd it’s not his first choice but I don’t think it’s beyond his character at all. He was also pretty darn mad about the genocide again.

    As for the characters, I really think they just wanted to try something new. Lets have more companions. It’s all in the name of making it more big screen blockbustery. I really enjoyed this episode because it was just fun. I really hope every episode is a good change of pace each week.

  2. Yeah, perhaps. That’s his darkness coming through because he’s traveling alone. Something mentioned before and will be developed over the series I think. Especially difficult when he knows his companion will become a Dalek

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