The Hungry Earth sees our intrepid TARDIS crew arrive in Wales in the not too distant future. After a couple of very cleverly written episodes, we’re heading back into “epic two-parter” territory. Still, I liked that before the episode got properly underway, we got a little more Amy and Rory action: first, with the discovery that she’s started to wear her engagement ring again (victory for The Doctor!) and second when we see future versions of Amy and Rory waving at them from a distance. It’s an intriguing scene – are they trying to warn themselves of impending danger? – and kind of leads us to believe that whatever happens in this episode, everything will be alright.
And on to the Siluran story. A quick bit of history here: the Silurians are a [[Doctor Who (TV Series)|Doctor Who]] villain from the classic series. They’re the original inhabitants of Earth, far predating the human race. The lizard-like creatures hibernate deep under the Earth usually until random human activity provokes them, and then they opt to go into battle with the humans.
So…basically a large drilling project in the Welsh countryside awakens the slumbering race, and they begin to drill upward. In order to create a bit of intrigue, they also pull humans through shifting holes in the Earth’s crust. And also dead bodies from a nearby graveyard. The Doctor must protect the remaining inhabitants of the Welsh village while the as-yet-unknown menace makes its way to the surface of the Earth.
[[The Hungry Earth (Doctor Who episode)|The Hungry Earth]] is quite a fast-paced Doctor Who adventure, with plenty of excitement. The Doctor seems to have once again over-promised on the protection of his companions, with Amy getting sucked under the Earth and the little boy Elliott being captured by the Silurians.
Perhaps the key scene in the episode for most viewers was [[Matt Smith]]’s Doctor trying to broker peace with the captured Silurian, Alaya. When he takes her mask off, he coos at her like a museum curator discovering some long-lost artifact, but he becomes insulted and stern whenever she tries to claim she’s the last of her species. This is perhaps the first time we’ve seen Smith’s Doctor tackling big, diplomatic issues, trying to secure peace or at the very least, avoid a full-scale war. Hilarious that the Silurians mistook the drilling project as a threat to their civilisation.
For the first part of a two-parter (continued in next week’s [[Cold Blood (Doctor Who episode)|Cold Blood]], this held up very well. It set up the Silurian threat beautifully, and there are plenty of cliffhangers: will Amy get dissected? Will one of the humans kill Alaya? Will the SIlurian race rise up and reclaim the Earth?
I have to say, this series of Doctor Who really turned a corner after the overblown and very self-conscious Weeping Angels episodes. Once again outside of spacey and city locations, The Hungry Earth allows for a slightly different type of story to be told, without the usual conventions to fall back on. And like a lot of classic Who fans are saying, this felt like a classic episode, but without the noodly cheap music and sets and hammy dialogue that made old Doctor Who a major turn-off for me.
By the way: I reckon The Doctor might have been hiding what future Amy and Rory were really doing. Might they have been warning instead of waving? Is something about to happen that they both want to avoid?
Thought I’d introduce a new section this week – themes that cropped up in this episode. I thought there were a couple of intelligent themes that the story brought forth. You guys might want to discuss them in the comments…
Dissection: notice the parallels – The Doctor tells the little band in the church to be the “best of humanity” and not to dissect or harm their prisoner in any way. At the same time, we later see Amy and the drill worker in captivity, and the SIlurians have clearly wasted no time in whipping out the scalpels for their own experiments.
Martyrdom: Alaya seems convinced that one of the ‘Apes’ will kill her, sparking a war with the Silurian race. She tells The Doctor: “I’d gladly die for my cause. What would you sacrifice for yours?” That’s a familiar theme to his conversation with the ‘mother’ alien in [[Vampires Of Venice (Doctor Who episode)|Vampires Of Venice]].
Ownership of the planet: I like this as a clever rebuttal of the hostility toward immigrants we have in Britain. Humans discover that they’re not the first sentient species to occupy the planet, and a longer established race decides to reassert their claim on their ‘territory’. Kind of turns that “our country” keep the foreigners out type of ‘Britishness’ on its head and make it look silly. I realise it’s still just a story, but I like the mini-allegory contained within.
Quotes from The Hungry Earth
- Amy: That is breaking and entering. The Doctor: What’d I break? It’s sonicking and entering.
- Amy: Oh please, have you always been this disgusting? The Doctor: No. It’s quite a recent thing.
- Rory: “Doctor, there’s something going on here. The graves are eating people.” The Doctor: “Not now, Rory.”
- The Doctor: “No, no weapons. That’s not how I do things…Oh, Ambrose, I’m asking nicely. Put them away.”
- Elliott: Have you met monsters before? The Doctor: Yep. Elliott: Are you scared of them? The Doctor: No, they’re scared of me.
- Rory: “Can’t you sonic it?” The Doctor: “No, it’s wood”. Rory: “That is rubbish.” The Doctor: “Oi! Don’t diss the Sonic!”
- Tony: “You’re not making any sense man.” The Doctor: “Excuse me, I’m making perfect sense. You’re just not keeping up.”
- The Doctor: “I do hate a monologue. Give us a bit back.”
- The Doctor: “There’s still hope, Ambrose. There’s always hope.”
- The Doctor: “We got it! Defending the planet with Meals On Wheels!”
- The Doctor: “Welcome aboard the TARDIS. Now, don’t touch anything.”
- Alaya: “Shall I tell you what’s really going to happen, Apes? I know Apes better than you know yourselves.”
- Alaya: “I’d gladly die for my cause. What would you sacrifice for yours?” The Doctor gives her a slightly distracted look before turning away.