It’s a disappointing conclusion. It’s not a bad episode, but it’s a fairly obvious, kind of silly finish to the much stronger first episode. Partially because the show never really finds its footing with Christopher Eccleston and John Barrowman, who are now in a pissing contest for a number of things but also for Billie Piper’s attention. The show really leans on the idea Piper and Eccleston have some palatable chemistry and… they don’t.
Meanwhile there’s a little bit of Bi-shaming from Piper, which is a little less than when sweet teen samaritan Florence Hoath blackmailing a gay guy who’s in the closet. It’s… an odd scene and writer Steven Moffat doesn’t make it work.
There’s also a big reveal at the end, in the middle of the big reveal involving the gas mask people. It’s fairly cheap stuff, just letting Moffat and the show get away with some loose writing. The episode’s got a decent budget for a “Who” so it’s not like they ran out of money on the way to a better conclusion… Moffat just doesn’t have a very good conclusion to his story.
It messes up Hoath quite a bit, taking her from a potential Doctor protege to an eye roll of deus ex machina. Eccleston gets some more special powers during the deus ex so it’s an even cleaner finish.
Barrowman’s got a nice arc in the conclusion, with an excellent wrap-up, even if it again relies on Piper and Eccleston’s pseudo-chemistry.
There are some decent action sequences—Eccleston, Piper, and Barrowman on the run from the gas mask monsters—and James Hawes’s direction is fine. It just doesn’t pay off with anything.
Except introducing Barrowman, which is a nice surprise. The show hasn’t been able to sustain a two-episode guest star who didn’t fail yet. Though it’s a two-parter so Barrowman did have some help I suppose.