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The Mandalorian “Chapter Four: Sanctuary” Finds A Limit With Love and War

The Mandalorian Season 1 Episode Four Review: “Chapter Four: Sanctuary”

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Some minor spoilers ahead

When watching The Mandalorian “Chapter Four: Sanctuary”, I was reminded of a couple of things: firstly, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones had Anakin and Padmé awkwardly falling in love whilst picnicking in the fields of Naboo (where the most interesting takes were cut from the film). Secondly, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Rebels did “outsiders train the local populus to protect themselves” storylines, replete with Seven Samurai homages, multiple times between them. Most of all, however, a pernicious thought crept in: is this the limit for The Mandalorian’s storytelling?

Don’t get me wrong, “Chapter Four: Sanctuary”—directed by Bryce Dallas Howard and, as always, written by Jon Favreau—is good Star Wars. It’s still flabbergasting that fully-fledged live action Star Wars is on television, even knowing the progression of technology and approach to creating high-quality prestige television as a norm. Furthermore, in a string of consistently great Star Wars episodes, this mostly keeps that tally going (though I am still more partial to the moody vistas in “Chapter Two: The Child”). The success is largely derived from the women in the two pairings that are the focal points of this episode: Julia Jones as Omera, a widow and potential love interest for our increasingly stalwart Mando, and Gina Carano as Cara Dune, an ex-Rebel Alliance “shocktrooper”.

At this stage, The Mandalorian is too good to not try being different instead of rehashing the rest of Star Wars. May this episode just be an anomaly; it would be disappointing that such a fertile premise would remain tepid and uninspired.

Julia Jones gives a deeply empathetic touch to her performance that sells dialogue which otherwise might be slightly too hammy (in a galaxy full of potentially hammy dialogue) or detestably on-the-nose in less capable hands. For example, “This nice man is going to help protect us from the bad ones” is a little much, but Jones says it reassuringly to her daughter, while her tone also conveys reassurance towards Mando that he can be his better self, not out of ignorance due to living in the backwater planet Sorgan, but rather a knowing acceptance of his life. Jones believably creates Omera as a possible romantic partner without being overly cloying, aided by a subtle pink colour palette and the exchanges between Omera and Mando being framed in very close proximity.

Julia Jones' Omera confronts the Mandalorian in  Mandalorian Chapter Four

Jones’ performance is responsible for Omera being anything more than a symbol for the villagers’ plight or a life Mando inevitably cannot currently attain, because the script certainly isn’t multifaceted. Beyond her immediate mixture of appreciation, clear infatuation, and practical consideration of the two of them jointly raising their children (yes, Mando’s absolutely a dad now), the most interesting aspect of Omera as a person separate from Mando is her competence with weaponry. However, the story behind that particular capability is left to the audience’s imagination—maybe she too has escaped a military past, learnt for survival, or perhaps her dead partner taught her. It adds a layer of interiority to the character, and a reminder that one doesn’t need a physical helmet to mask one’s life and person.

There’s also something to be said for the idea that The Mandalorian is just a sequence of briefly intersecting independent lives, and that is certainly realistic, as well as keeping to the series’ Western heritage. It’s quite melancholic, however, and maybe even dissatisfying at this point, especially when fellow mercenary Cara Dune’s wise-cracking is a fun complement to Mando’s at-most deadpanning.

Gina Carano’s mixed martial artist background naturally lends some effortless brutality to her role as Cara Dune (Mando once again goes down in melee), but it’s really the evident and infectious enthusiasm beneath her character’s sassiness that makes Cara Dune something more notable than a generic badass talkative bounty hunter to Mando’s quiet one. Still, the two get a couple of tussles against each other and other enemies, so Carano’s physicality isn’t forgotten. This episode also really emphasises the tactical side of Mando’s approach to combat, and Cara Dune is an able partner.

Gina Carano's Cara Dune faces off against the Mandalorian in  Mandalorian Chapter Four.

So by comparison, it’s disappointing that the final battle against the orc-like Klatooinian raiders is memorable only because of the composition of wide shots: the AT-ST’s glowing red window panes emerging from the darkened forest is a plain image, but intimidating. The rest of the battle is also plain, but just conventional. Maybe one can’t blame The Mandalorian for using tried and true battle staging in a year when Game of Thrones managed to botch the impact of its notoriously dark, climatic “Long Night” battle by losing cohesiveness. Yet it’s still dull.

Take Asif Ali’s Caben and Eugene Cordero’s Stoke (hello The Good Place’s Pillboi!). Their existence perfunctorily grants Mando and Dune a vector by which to stay and fight the Klatooinians (transporting them shelter in the middle of nowhere). So while giving these characters a heroic moment at the end to round out their arcs is routine—as all battles tend to do these days for (barely) comedic relief characters—it’s insipid, because the audience was never meant to have much of a connection to them anyway. Conversely, while Omera does shoot a few raiders, she never really gets the same treatment in the battle. Her role in combat is forgettable, which feels much more egregious given how much more attention she has been given.

Most gratingly for the remotely cinematically-savvy viewer is the repetition of variations on the phrase “we just need [the AT-ST] to step forward” into the trenches and fishing pools to topple it. It’s very obvious that the AT-ST won’t fall over easily, and somebody (Cara Dune) will need to heroically put themselves in the line of fire. While in “Chapter One” it was clear that Mando wasn’t about to be riddled with torrents of plasma blasts, there was some uncertainty as to how things would be resolved. Here, there’s merely a veneer of tension.

An AT-ST Walker enters the battlefield in Mandalorian Chapter Four

Maybe that’s true for the entirety of “Chapter Four: Sanctuary”. While this is probably a necessary step for Mando’s development, it all feels a little rote and the dialogue occasionally pat. Even if one subscribes to Georges Polti’s analysis that there are only thirty-six dramatic situations anyway, Star Wars has done this particular situation before. Even The Mandalorian has already hit most of these story beats.

Generously, this episode repeating a narrative framework demonstrates the changes in Mando’s personality, and maybe that is the issue: Mando, as a character, is not static. Throughout these reviews, I have lauded the gradual shifts in his personality, and that is still true, but in the space of four episodes, he is no longer the icy, detached gunman first introduced. He’s significantly softened. The Mandalorian “Chapter Four: Sanctuary” has him take off his helmet while loitering alone in some really heavy-handed symbolism, and then never relenting to Omera’s attempts in doing the same in company—equally clumsy symbolism. It’s character growth, however, and maybe the only parts of the episode that utilises subtext.

Therefore, The Mandalorian keeping its story in a relative holding pattern and re-treading ideas is incongruous with its main character’s development and arguably antithetical to the spirit of Star Wars. For all their faults, the Prequel Era films are distinct from the more personal, adventurous Original Trilogy with their heavier socio-political angle. The Last Jedi is divisive partly because it defied certain expectations, for better or worse. Not to overly insert paratext, but Disney CEO Bob Iger reports that George Lucas criticised The Force Awakens for having “nothing new”.

It would be foolish to claim that Star Wars isn’t also a product of pre-existing influences (from the typical Campbell’s monomyth to Samurai films to Flash Gordon to Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series), but it is responsible for pushing technological boundaries and instituting a grimy, technologically advanced though stagnant aesthetic that has profoundly affected science-fictional design and approach. The Mandalorian itself, within those recognisable Star Warsian trappings, has been toying with and successfully reinterpreting that set visual language up to now.

We’re now as close to the midpoint of The Mandalorian’s first season as we possibly can be, so it’s worth taking stock of where the series lies as an entity. In the first episode review, The Mandalorian was cast against the history of Star Wars up to now. Even then, its more contemplative approach set it apart from much of the more directly swashbuckling milieu. Star Wars has had complexity and meaningful themes that give it enduring appeal, but The Mandalorian primarily traded on elements like subtextual implications and atmosphere as ways to dissect the protagonist, which is rarer for Star Wars. So suffice to say, this show is largely an exceptional piece of Star Wars storytelling at a time when the idea of what makes Star Wars, well, Star Wars, is once again in flux.

However, in shifting its approach to being “Star Warsian” every episode, The Mandalorian is implicitly also trying to be more than just great for a Star Wars series. Therefore maybe, if it deserves to be considered simply one of the better series of 2019, it should be assessed on those terms as well. The artistic intent of series should be different, and The Mandalorian arbitrarily not meeting the expectation of having the same emotional nuance as, say, The Americans or Breaking Bad, doesn’t make it a bad or “worse” series. But these reviews maybe have been doing a disservice to the aspirations of The Mandalorian by only celebrating its greatness as Star Wars.

There is perhaps a level of implied condescension there, that Star Wars isn’t high artistic expression already, and that is not the intent, because Star Wars, regardless of its saturating brand, was in many ways revolutionary, Oscar Award-winning cinema in 1977. A series cannot resonate for forty years and be devoid of artistic merit. Personally, several of them are amongst my favourite films.

Yet the first few episodes of The Mandalorian have been trying to do more than be excellent Star Wars, and etching away at that boundary with confidence, so tempering expectations of how far the series can go is not necessarily beneficial.

This quandary is laid out, because, once again, The Mandalorian “Chapter Four: Sanctuary” is good, solid Star Wars. Not the best episode thus far, but it’s fine. On a technical level, Director Bryce Dallas Howard and returning Director of Photography Baz Idoine accentuate the differing colour palettes in each scene, so that they’re vibrant. Omera and Mando’s conversations supersede Padmé and Anakin’s in Attack of the Clones in sounding natural. Yet “Chapter Four: Sanctuary” lacks an ephemeral quality that would make it brilliant television outside of Star Wars.

Omera hides with her daughter, Winta in Mandalorian Chapter Four

It’s more disheartening because there are hints of the episode potentially continuing exploring the relationship between predator and prey from “Chapter Three: The Sin” in a more unique way: The Klatooinian Raiders against the villagers; the hissing Tooka Cat almost eating the Yodaling; the Yodaling deciding to not eat another frog. I was hopeful that keeping the camera on Omera’s face hiding underneath the water from the Klantoonian invasion in the opening sequence would lead to the entire episode giving an outsider’s perspective to Mando’s effects on the galaxy, and follow on from the simple, but clever, visual trick of repeatedly cutting to the Yodaling’s point of view.

Not to impose inflexible ideals upon The Mandalorian “Chapter Four: Sanctuary”, or claim that such a filming technique would be the most creative or inventive idea, but something like the aforementioned approach would probably alleviate my qualms with Omera’s more superficial characterisation. You could probably even follow this episode’s story beat for beat, and it would be more intriguing.

Most of all, at least it would be different. At this stage, The Mandalorian is too good to not try being different instead of rehashing the rest of Star Wars. May this episode just be an anomaly; it would be disappointing that such a fertile premise would remain tepid and uninspired.

Other Thoughts/Observations:

The Yodaling’s still cute, but I feel it’s remained more of a prop than a lively baby since “Chapter Two: The Child”. I’m mildly nauseated by the repeated visual gag of the Yodaling popping up right behind Mando when he’s told him to stay or put him down. Don’t overplay a good joke, The Mandalorian!

I really hope that Kuiil and Cara Dune eventually join Mando permanently. They’re both interesting enough characters, and even Cowboy Bebop managed to keep its disparate, solitary characters, together by convenience, grouped for most of the series! You don’t have to be alone to be brooding Mando!

If there’s one thing that really should be appreciated about this series, it’s how naturally diverse it is. Pedro Pascal is Chilean-American; Carl Weathers is African-American; Julia Jones is mixed-race, including being of African American, Choctaw, and Chickasaw descent; Omid Abtahi is Iranian. It may just be a few examples so far, but the fact that these are pretty major or reoccurring characters in a Star Wars series is significant for redressing the imbalance in racial diversity. It sets a good example, and Lucasfilm should be commended. Now to work on furthering characterisation.

I’m a little miffed that “Chapter Four: Sanctuary” drops its definite article, but I suppose it’s defying convention in one way.

Declan Biswas-Hughes has led a very nomadic life, which influenced his decision to study European and International Law. He unwinds from writing essays on the minutiae of legalese by writing things like essays on the minutiae of anime, because he really knows how to party. You can find him on Twitter (@fringence), popping up on AniTAY, and occasionally out clubbing when he’s not trying to finish a novel.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Ricky Fernandes da Conceição

    November 30, 2019 at 12:53 pm

    Ooof … This episode was all kinds of bad. I think it has some of the worst dialogue and acting in any show I’ve seen all year. It had a few great moments, but most of the episode made me cringe.

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Watchmen Season One Episode 8 Review: “A God Walks into Abar”

Dr. Manhattan steps into frame in a breathtaking episode.

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Watchmen A God Walks Into Abar

The elevator pitch for Watchmen‘s eighth episode is relatively simple: what if Dr. Manhattan is to Watchmen, what Desmond was to LOST? A person unstuck in time, whose ability to move back and forth across the key moments of their lives, opening their minds to a wealth of experiences, perspectives – and of course, deep regrets for the moments and things that cannot be changed. LOST‘s 77th episode, “The Constant,” uses time as a thematic anchor for a love story, the absolute apex of science-fiction romance – a man who is only able to hold onto his identity by remembering the woman he loves.

“A God Walks into Abar,” and the love story that plays out within it, is among the most heartfelt entries of Lindelof’s career, able to carefully turn a seemingly indecipherable character, into something beautifully textured, human, and meaningful.

“A God Walks into Abar,” co-written by Damon Lindelof (who wrote “The Constant” with Carlton Cuse) and Jeff Jansen (a writer who once wrote LOST recaps for Entertainment Weekly), is pretty much a direct successor to “The Constant”; but though it is explicitly familiar in its structure, characters, and thematic explorations, is still a wildly successful, abundantly rewarding entry all to itself. Where “The Constant” served as an important fulcrum for the emotional journey of a mysterious character, “A God Walks into Abar” uses Dr. Manhattan’s gravity to pull in every loose thread of the series, while also telling a touching, tragic love story: it is a rather impressive feat, firmly establishing Watchmen‘s first (and only?) season in the pantheon of modern adaptations (and a gentle reminder of why Watchmen is so much fucking better than The Boys, I might add).

Watchmen A God Walks Into A Bar

Perhaps the most impressive thing “A God Walks into Abar” accomplishes is understanding Dr. Manhattan as a character, and how to effectively convey the paradox of his continued existence, in ways even the comic struggled to contend with. He is a man constantly living and reliving his past, present, and future, all at the same time, consistently able to needle the thread of his existence, in a way that allowed it to make sense. Or so he thought: the comic ends with him agreeing to the greatest conspiracy in human history, disconnecting from humanity and looking to the stars to satisfy the existential bounds of his mind (the meme of his disinterest in humanity is now iconic, after all).

Watchmen re-frames that idea ever so slightly, in a fascinating way: Dr. Manhattan did forget about his humanity… that is, until he fell in love with Angela, moments before he was sucked into a Kavalry-manned teleporter, which occurs exactly 10 years after he meets her. ” A God Walks Into Abar” opens with Dr. Manhattan putting on a mask (during the holiday celebrating his rampage to end the Vietnam War) and meeting Angela at a bar (Angela Abar… A-bar… Lindelof strikes again). It then proceeds to bounce around time, to capture life as Dr. Manhattan experiences it; an ever-evolving set of vignettes, an expanding world of knowledge, one he is not able to create and shape himself.

Watchmen A God Walks Into A Bar

The moment ” A God Walks into Abar” builds to is referenced in the first few minutes; after his strange introduction piques Angela’s curiosity, Dr. Manhattan notes that he is in love with her. We see that moment occur 50+ minutes later, as Angela turns into a one-woman assault squad, hell-bent on taking out every last Kavalry member outside their home. Infuriating as it may be to understand, he can see the beginning and the end of their short, beautiful life together at the same time, because he’s living it all at the same: Watchmen captures that idea poignantly in its unorthodox approach, smartly tethering each strange sequence together with a singular image, or color, to bring us from one moment to the next.

As we move through time, “A God Walks into Abar” casually begins to fill in the big holes of narrative created in last week’s slightly frustrating entry; we finally learn how Ozymandias ended up on Europa, and the history of the people and places we’ve seen on that world for eight episodes. We also learn how Will became involved in the process, which is, ironically, the moment it all falls apart for them: the moment Angela asks Dr. Manhattan to inquire about Judd’s identity (while Dr. Manhattan talks to him in 2009), she inevitably kicks the first domino down the path of Judd’s death, and the Kavalry’s impending attempt to turn themselves into racist deities.

Watchmen A God Walks Into A Bar

How “A God Walks into Abar” frames this is its true genius: Dr. Manhattan’s existence is the conundrum of the chicken and the egg. There was a moment in time where Jon existed, and Dr. Manhattan didn’t; but there also isn’t, since Dr. Manhattan’s creation allowed him to experience all of time in a cumulative fashion, rather than linear. Finally, the many, many images of eggs and yolks finally come together: as nature’s great paradox, a man literally capable of creating entire worlds and paths of evolution, finding his way back to the only immeasurable quantity in the universe, love.

“A God Walks into Abar” makes an important distinction between love and worship: love is able to be critical, to understand and accept flaws, to show empathy. Worship, or what Dr. Manhattan experiences when creating his own world (and people) on Europa, is disillusioning: there’s no older religious trope than the unsatisfied god who turned to humanity to find purpose, and that’s “A God Walks into Abar” to an absolute T. And it works: the love story that plays out is among the most heartfelt entries of Lindelof’s career, able to carefully turn a seemingly indecipherable character, into something beautifully textured, human, and meaningful.

Watchmen A God Walks Into A Bar

If there’s any noticeable flaw to “A God Walks into Abar,” it is strangely the episode’s construction as a romantic entry; it kind of sidesteps integrating Dr. Manhattan’s chosen identity to live as a black man in modern America. There are hints of it at various parts – the scenes of his childhood, in particular – but “A God Walks into Abar” strangely doesn’t contend, at least in this episode, with Angela’s decision to show Dr. Manhattan the original Cal’s body. Why did she just show him three white bodies first? What drew Dr. Manhattan to OG Cal’s appearance? For a series so deftly integrating explorations of race and identity into the Watchmen mythos, the lack of reflection in this episode feels like a bit of a missed opportunity.

But that is a small complaint in what will be remembered as a signature episode of the series; and for good reason, because it is a phenomenal, breathtaking hour of television. “A God Walks into Abar” is also another bold reinterpretation of Watchmen itself, replacing the cold sensibilities of the comic’s anarchistic roots with a warm beating heart; as cheesy as that sounds, it is everything to making the high wire act of Watchmen the series work on a fundamental level. After all, love is the one universal element ensuring humanity’s continued existence; as Dr. Manhattan finally understands, even if the pursuit is an impossible one for us as a species, it at least makes the inevitable collapse of our world something worth fighting against.

Other thoughts/observations:

“By definition, doesn’t every relationship end in tragedy?” Fuck. Me. Up. Watchmen.

The Philips/Crookshanks origin story ends up being a rather touching detail: they are modeled after two lovers young Jon saw during his brief stay in England (the mansion the event happened in ends up being Ozymandias’ home).

Very interesting note that Ozymandias’ Plan A to defeat Dr. Manhattan was not to kill him, but to condemn him to being a mortal with amnesia.

Dr. Manhattan mentions his theory for being able to transfer his powers; would not be surprised to see that come up in next week’s episode.

Related to the previous note: Dr. Manhattan tells Angela he wanted her to see him outside by the pool. Does that mean we’ll see Will walk on water next week?

Lots of props given to Regina King throughout the series for her stunning performance – if Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is not nominated for a shitload of awards for his work in this episode, however, we riot.

A post-credits sequence finally reveals the use of Phillip’s infamous horseshoe – though it remains to be seen where this story is all heading, as Europa’s small world of clones desperately tries to keep another god from leaving them.

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‘Bojack Horseman’s Xmas Special Is the Height of Schmaltzy Satire

If you were lucky enough to grow up watching bad sitcoms with awful specials, then Bojack Horseman’s Christmas special is just for you.

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Bojack Horseman

Join us as we spend the next 25 days writing about some of our favourite Holiday TV specials! Today we look back at Bojack Horseman‘s “Sabrina’s Christmas Wish”.


When it comes to sitcoms, the grand tradition of the holiday special is a long time staple of the genre. The schmaltzy corniness of the 80s and 90s made these specials all the more egregious, and it is this tradition that Bojack Horseman echoes back to with its brilliant Christmas special.

Ostensibly just a full episode of Horsin’ Around (the show that made Bojack famous), Bojack Horseman‘s Christmas special only uses the present day as a framing device before diving into the stupid fun of a very special episode of Horsin’ Around.

The central plot of the episode focuses on Bojack’s youngest adopted child, Sabrina, wishing for her parents to come back to life after Bojack assures her that Santa can give her anything she wants for Christmas. Of course, in typical sitcom fashion, rather than simply explaining to Sabrina that Santa can’t bring people back from the dead, Bojack instead opts to try and trick her into being naughty so Santa will have an excuse not to grant her wish.

Bojack Horseman

The absolute apex of this silliness comes when Bojack tries to get Sabrina to give in and eat some freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. “I’ve heard of lookie-lookie don’t eat the cookie but this is ridiculous!” The use of lines like these in sitcoms is a classic cut to simpler and stupider times, where shows could really get away with lines as ham-fistedly ridiculous as these and actually call them jokes.

Ultimately this is the greatest strength of the Bojack Horseman Christmas special: calling back to the tropes of 80s and 90s sitcoms before satirizing and roasting them into oblivion.

All of the classics are here. From the annoying neighbor character, who is legitimately named Goober, to the absurd onslaught of character catchphrases that permeate the episode. The best of the latter comes from Ethan, the nerdy middle child, who espouses the line “Yowza-yowza-bo-bowsa!” to a few sparse claps and a cough from the unamused studio audience. That every character needed a catchphrase in these types of sitcoms is a given but to have one so bad that even the studio audience can’t be bothered to care is a beautiful bit of satire.

Bojack Horseman

Speaking of the studio audience, Bojack Horseman doesn’t stop using them for fodder there. Thanks to one very stupid audience member, some of the best moments of the episode come from reactions to classic sitcom tropes. For instance, when Bojack flirts with his secretary, while most of the audience opts for the classic whoops and cheers of yore, the idiot just yells “Kiss her!”. He also points out catchphrases (“She said the line!”) and lets out a confused “What!?!?” at the message of the episode.

If you were lucky (or unlucky) enough to grow up watching bad sitcoms with even worse Christmas specials every single year, then Bojack Horseman‘s Christmas special is just for you. Hearkening back to the nostalgia of the time before ripping it to shreds with endless glee, Bojack Horseman’s Christmas special isn’t just one of the funniest episodes of the show, it’s also one of its best.

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A Doctor Who Christmas: Revisiting “Voyage of the Damned”

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Join us as we spend the next 25 days writing about some of our favourite Holiday TV specials! Today, we look back at the Doctor Who Christmas special, “Voyage of the Damned”.

What’s it About?

First broadcast in December 2007, “Voyage Of The Damned” runs 72 minutes long and is the third Christmas special since the show’s revival in 2005. The Doctor finds his TARDIS colliding with a luxury space cruiser (based on the RMS Titanic) during a Christmas party. The ship’s captain, Hardaker (Geoffrey Palmer), sabotages the cruise liner by purposely lowering the ship’s shield, resulting in severe damage after colliding with several asteroids. It’s up to the Doctor (David Tennant), with the help of a waitress named Astrid Peth (Kylie Minogue), to fight off robot-like creatures in the form of golden angels and save the day.

voyage-of-the-damned-17

Review

A festival of ideas, bursting with wild imagination, ambitious set pieces, strange characters, curious visual effects, and one charming Doctor who had this critic glued to the screen midway through, when he turned around to deliver this rousing monologue:

I’m the Doctor. I’m a Time Lord. I’m from the planet Gallifrey in the Constellation of Kasterborous. I’m 903 years old and I’m the man who is gonna save your lives and all 6 billion people on the planet below. You got a problem with that?

This time around, the mammoth cruise ship struck fire (not, ice) and the passengers are a sordid bunch including robotic golden angels armed with killer boomerang-like-halos, and a dwarf named Bannakaffalatta – a cyborg Zocci who strangely resembles Darth Maul. We learn that due to an accident, Bannakaffalatta had undergone conversion into a cyborg, for which he felt shame because apparently where he comes from, cyborgs are discriminated against. “Voyage of the Damned” features a batch of religious imagery (including a messianic portrayal of the Doctor himself being carried away into space by two of the angels), and the blank and trite performance by the beautiful pop sensation Kylie Minogue, (whose role was specifically written for her).

Voyage of the Damned

For a Christmas special, we get a number of casualties along the way, including Bannakaffalatta’s self-sacrifice and Astrid’s fall into the fires of hell. One could accurately describe this episode as The Poseidon Adventure in space, a nightmarish schematic rhapsody of virtuous discomfort. “Voyage” doesn’t end on a happy note. Sabotage and corporate greed destroy our ragtag bunch of passengers, and those who are lucky enough to survive do come out with lasting scars. Not much Christmas cheer here, but the script is sprinkled with clever comedic moments from time to time, including a surprising gag involving the royal family.

Astrid’s final appearance comes in the form of “an echo with the ghost of consciousness”; her stardust-hologram-like image fades after a final kiss. Perhaps a tad bit corny, but the sequence is enough to bring a tear to the eyes of die-hard Whovians. “Voyage” is ridiculous, but also oddly fun in the sheer overkill of pulp and fantasy imagery. Technically it impresses, loaded with eye-catching-hi-tech chase scenes and more importantly, characters and a plot (even if incoherent) to support them.

doctorwhovoyageofthedammbed

Is this thrilling no holds barred sci-fi/disaster mash-up brilliant or idiotic? Perhaps a bit of both, but “Voyage of the Damned” satisfies because of its strong emotional core and unnerving dark themes couched in stunning visuals. This visually arresting, occasionally funny ride is neatly wrapped in a comfortable Yuletide package.

– Ricky D

How Christmassy is it?

Despite the high death toll and the titanic setting, “Voyage” strangely delivers a Christmas vibe, if in scenes few and far between. I would say 50/50.

You May Like It If…

Obviously, if you like Doctor Who, disaster films, and science fiction.

Voyage of the Damned
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