For a kinder, lighter, more intuitive Doctor era, Doctor Who Season 11 Episode 7 continues an odd trend that leads Team T.A.R.D.I.S. into adventures involving more casualties than I'm used to in the Who-verse.
We're seven episodes in and there have been significant (ie. named characters) deaths in all but two and that's only because Krasko on Doctor Who Season 11 Episode 3 COULDN'T kill people.
Maybe I've gone soft with all the seasons of "oh-no-she's-dead-oh-wait-she's-not-really-in-fact-she's-functionally-immortal-now" shenanigans. Real death just feels so at odds with an adventuring team that can time-travel.
The comparison between the galactic retailer Kerblam! and our own globally ubiquitous Amazon is pretty obvious. With the IRL proposal of delivery by drone, it doesn't seem all that fantastical to predict teleporting robot delivery men, does it?
Furthermore, the threat of near-total automation of people jobs is just as likely a scenario nowadays. So where was the innovation in this episode? How did it manage to throw a new twist on an old sci-fi trope?
Because, by any measure of surprise, this was an off-the-scales shocker of a show.
Jarvis Slade: How would you like a warning for insubordination?
The Doctor: I'd love one. I could add it to my collection.
First off, I seriously cannot be the only person who suspected this was going to go all Cyberman on us.
With all the bobble-headed, glowy-eyed Teammates standing around, it smacked of upgrading from the moment they entered the complex and definitely leaned that way with the bio scans and "group loop" ankle monitors.
So, there was a solid red herring off the start.
Then, there was the suspicious executive management staff.
Judy was so awkwardly chatty and easily fooled. Jarvis was such an obvious jerk.
It was of singular interest to watch the characters develop as the plot thickened. Judy became more responsive and, dare I say, human as her interactions with the team became more intense.
The fact she knew Charlie's name endeared her to me the way no HR director has ever done and I absolutely loved watching her rip the head off that Teammate.
More red herring scenes with Jarvis built him up more as a villain. Loading a weapon, watching the team on Teammate cameras, and keeping secret files (albeit in a filing cabinet in plain sight) really pointed to him as an antagonist.
So it was a neat reveal when he turned out to be a half-decent administrator, concerned about the employee disappearances just ineffective in creating any sort of plan of action.
As for that first scene where he belittles Kira? Still a giant jerk with a clipboard.
The Doctor: I'm The Doctor. I'm new. And you are?
Jarvis Slade: Jarvis Slade, warehouse executive. Your boss.
The Doctor: Well, you've certainly got the clipboard for it.
Finally, the young lovers. Such a cliche, and yet, such a crowd-pleaser.
Granted, Kira's whole backstory was incredibly cloying in its exposition.
It was initially heart-warming for Ryan to have someone to commiserate with on the pains of learning a new job but then the whole gift thing and the orphan thing and the whole Pollyanna optimism... Sheesh, we get it.
Charlie's description of her effect on him felt far more genuine, especially following on all the clumsiness of their interaction in the Home Zone. Honestly, he was terribly sweet for a murderous terrorist.
I can't concentrate when I'm near her. It's like I forget everything I'm supposed to be doing. I mean, have you smelled her?Charlie
And that was the hardest reversal of expectation for me. Even after it was clear that Charlie had been at the heart of all the problems, that he was the threat and the Kerblam! system was the victim crying out for help(!), it was such an extreme plan with such utter disregard for life, that it defied even my low bar requirement for logic.
It required a lot more exposition (which it got) but then the resolution was equally as extreme. I suppose it was as close to a safe bomb disposal as The Doctor could come up with in the moment but really?
That's the problem with conspiracies. There's so much to think about.The Doctor
Did The Doctor just flat-out kill a man? Yes, she saved a multitude but was there really no way to save Charlie? Technically, he didn't exactly look like he wanted to be saved but I don't think that's stopped The Doctor before.
There are a lot of kudos to spinkle in here too.
They (finally!) revisited Ryan's dyspraxia, including his anxieties about facing new challenges. He and Yaz get to have a nice moment of camaraderie out there on the high-speed conveyor belts.
We did it! We're not dead! We're totally not dead!Ryan
It was a hoot to see Thirteen in Eleven's fez (although it doesn't say much for Kerblam!'s service that it took this long to be delivered) and the weaponized bubble wrap was genius.
Dan Cooper was a fabulous character. Yaz's thing is family and her connection to Dan's story about his daughter and the necklace felt natural and unforced.
However, her idea to deliver the necklace back to his daughter is touching but leaves me with a LOT of uncomfortable questions about how that little girl is going to react.
My absolutely favorite part of this adventure? Twirly. Hands down and no contest. He's like K-9 but for SHOPPING. I kinda want one under my Christmas tree, please.
The Doctor: Could you pause all sales protocols for a bit?
Twirly: Even the upselling?
The Doctor: Even the upselling. You've just had a nap of about 200 years so your offers are out-of-date anyway.
Twirly: Without upselling, my only purpose is delivery.
Graham: We don't need you to do that either, mate.
Twirly: The future is very confusing for my protocols.
So when you watch Doctor Who online, come back and let me know which twist worked best (or didn't work at all) for you.
How problematic is Charlie's death in your mind?
How on the nose was the issue of automation and retailers?
And any guesses as to whether the importance of the planet Kandoka will come into play again? They seemed to mention it a lot.
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.