Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Very much a story of two halves.

Part One has all the ingredients of a great. There's a showman in town using astrology to perform mind-reading tricks on the general public. Our heroes go along and wisely debunk the whole thing...

... for as long as they can anyway...

Once they realise that they're out of their depth, their critical thinking turns philosophical. It becomes a fight to outwit their preobserved destiny, along with the realisation that the Ancient Lights have existed since the universe before this one, and hence don't conform to this universe's scientific laws.

The cliffhanger ending to episode one, which has Mr Smith calmly concluding that "Nothing is happening" because the events are inconsistent with science is terrific, thought-provoking stuff.

But the other half of that cliffhanger is... can you guess? Yes, the evil Trueman has turned Clyde into a zombie.

Zombie, under Trueman's control
After such a stunning opening, part two barely matches-up. Having used-up the story's climax as the cliffhanger to part one, part two just has nowhere left to go except straight to the story's conclusion. Hence, it's very slow and drawn-out, with much of it spent standing-around doing nothing, most awkwardly by the series' heroine Sarah.

Zombies, under the Ancient Lights' control
In fact, with almost everyone on Earth getting getting zombified yet again, the writers (the prolific Gareth Roberts doesn't appear to have written this alone) seem unsure of how to treat Sarah's possession, and so shy away from the final starsign of Earth's population getting taken over too.

That's actually a bit of a shame. While I think it was unwise to have as much as eleven-twelfths of the Earth getting taken-over, I also think that if the show is resigned to going that far anyway, then they might as well have just gone the whole hog and made it twelve-twelfths. As Luke saved the day by being the only person on Earth without a birthday, (not counting all the other aliens) it might have been a trigger worth pulling to make him and Trueman the only two people left in the world with their own free will. It certainly would have meant that a bit more happened in part two.

There are two back-references worth highlighting here:

1. Despite the implications about it in School Reunion, Sarah's relationship with the Doctor gets thankfully restored to its previous innocence. Trueman says to her:

“Some years ago you travelled far and wide and, oh, the things you have seen. And there was a man, a very special man…it wasn’t a romance…it was something much more than that. He taught you so much. There was laughter, and adventure, and you prayed your time with him would never, never end. A man with no name, a scientist? No, a doctor, the Doctor.”

(I think he meant to say "Yes, a doctor")

2. Probably referring to some previous story, Sarah actually delivers the line: "Believe me - I know what it's like to be taken over." Yes Sarah, and so does just about everyone else on Earth, even before this story. Quite probably including some of the kids you're talking to. Remember The Christmas Invasion, when an entire third of Earth's population got 'done'?

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