As the Tardis makes it’s return journey to the north of England we’re going to find out that it’s not just pro-gun, hotel owning, millionaire, presidents of the united states who are going to be joining them for this week; Shelob has gone to Sheffield in…………….
Yas is heading home to meet the folks, and the annoying sister she left behind about half an hour ago. Despite her mother being in the epi-centre of the story and her Dad giving what could charitable called a clue to what is going on; just because other wise the whole thing might have been a complete ass pull rather than just a stupid one, it’s quite noticeable that Bardley Walsh still comes away as man of the match. Ryan comes in second but that’s only because he can lean on Bradley for some support in the parts that need them. Meanwhile Doc has gone full sugar rush as she plays the bumbling outsider who can’t navigate a two minute conversation with someones folks. You know there are ways to show the Doctor as an outsider without having to get her to confirm with Yas that they aren’t seeing each other. It truly seems that all the acting talent and character went with Bradley as he takes the time to head back home to reflect on what’s happened.
While he’s doing that the rest nip next door to pick up a parcel and find a spider the size of a house cat feasting on the neighbour. Oh yeah, if you don’t like spiders then this might not be the episode for you; though I would argue the clue was in the name. Fortunately after escaping via vinegar and garlic they find a friendly scientist who is willing to tell them all about their super secret plans to recreate the creation of Spiderman; minus the shooting an old friendly, uncle part. It seems that spiders will continue to grow so long as they live, so to make a jumbo spider like they just saw all they would need is one that is somehow immortal. Something the very lab is working on though our friendly, expositional, scientist will swear up and down that it isn’t them. After crossing off known spider sightings, super spider sightings that aren’t making it to the general public for some reason, they are left with a giant arrow pointing to the next bit of the plot. Conveniently that is exactly where Yas and her Mum are right now.
Najia was all looking forward to starting her new job as hotel manager tomorrow but has just been fired for turning up a day early. She is then fired again for loitering around the lobby instead of buggering off. She is about to be fired again and then possibly shot for bringing another person onto site, the exact opposite of what she should be doing at this point, but for some reason our American billionaire decides to invite them upstairs. There is no reason for this and is possibly just to excuse Chibnall writing a break in scene for the Doctor and company. This means that when a super, duper spider wrecks the bath tub in the name of every trapped friend, family member and acquaintance our heroes are ready to leap into action. From here on the episode involves the gang running around the hotel scooby doo style as they tackle chihuahua sized arachnids that think they can take on retired bus drivers to ones that would have Aragog drooling at the mandibles.
I think the best way I could sum up this episode was “Hey Chris; your Torchwood is showing!” The political allusions to Trump were a little thick and heavy until they doubted the audience was quick enough to catch them and had to name drop just for the sake of it. It didn’t really fit the episode and the sledge hammer approach didn’t help. The return to the anti gun argument felt weak when we put our foot down on shooting the scurrying, eight legged, freaks but were apparently quite happy to lock them in a room and let them starve/ asphyxiate to death. That’s assuming of course that super rich, future president doesn’t decide to just shoot them after they leave or worse sell them to someone. He was keeping toxic waste under his swanky hotel so it’s not like he’s above that sort of thing. Had the Doctor been talking about dropping them off on another planet somewhere then her case might have stood but right now his talk about it being a mercy kill makes more sense than standing there dumbly while it struggles to breath in a tacky ballroom, frightened and alone.
This was a good idea for an episode done poorly. Perhaps if he had handed the pitch off to someone else I would have enjoyed it more as it stands I would easily say this is one to overlook on your season rewatch even with the tying up of everything that happened to Ryan’s Nan.