This episode is easily writer Russell T. Davies’s best so far. Maybe it helps he’s got Joe Ahearne directing, who’s even able to weather the Noel Clarke storm.
Though it’s a new Noel Clarke. A moody one who’s not hanging on Billie Piper’s every word hoping for a kiss. In fact, they suggest a physical intimacy foreign to their relationship.
But it’s not about Clarke and Piper, it’s about surviving Raxacoricofallapatorian villain (Annette Badland) from a two-parter about five episodes ago. Badland survived Christopher Eccleston taking out her fellow villains and set herself up as Cardiff mayor. Cardiff, once again getting crap from the show….
Anyway, she’s trying to get a nuclear power plant built for some reason and local reporter Mali Harries is suspicious. Well, more Harries notices anyone who opposes Badland ends up decapitated. Because Badland’s still doing her giant baby doll head alien monster eating the human thing. Cardiff’s not super busy apparently.
Eccleston, Piper, and John Barrowman are in town to “gas up” on Cardiff’s inter-dimensional rift (discovered in another episode this season) and Piper calls Clarke, then Eccleston notices Badland in a local paper and tracks her down. So it goes from a very odd—Clarke’s dynamic with Eccleston and Piper plus Barrowman—vacation day in Cardiff to something of a psychological showdown between Eccleston and Badland. Because long portions of the episode are the two facing off about morality and whatnot.
Badland was a farty joke in the previous episodes, so it’s a big surprise she’s absolutely phenomenal this time. There aren’t as many fart jokes this episode—there might not even be any (there are a few gassy jokes). But Badland’s awesome. Makes the episode.
Meanwhile, Clarke’s pissy about being Piper’s booty call or something.
Eccleston and Piper also discover the words “Bad Wolf” have been following them through the season, which is some hammer to the skull foreshadowing.
The ending’s a little too deus ex machina but it’s also at least thoughtfully resolved. And the show promises, once again, Clarke is gone for good this time. I’d say good riddance but I don’t believe he won’t be back next episode.