“It Takes You Away” Advance Review – Det er flott!

Note: Doctor Who TV’s pre-air episode impressions aim to be as detail-free as we reasonably can while still offering a critique, but as everyone’s spoiler sensibilities are different, we advise you read on at your own discretion.

While Series 11 has had its faults, this back half of the run has at least had a mixture of writers that has allowed several different voices the potential to bring something different to each story. Now before the big Chris Chibnall-penned finale next week, comes the most unique story yet.

The adventure begins simply enough with the TARDIS arriving in picturesque Norway to take in the sights. Our team soon discovers a seemingly abandoned, creepy looking cottage in a forest in the middle of nowhere. Of course they investigate it (why wouldn’t you?) and discover a young girl hiding there. She claims a monster is lurking in the woods, but there’s something even stranger going on.

Steven Moffat’s time as showrunner, was often considered to be more of a “fairytale” spin on Doctor Who, especially during the Matt Smith era. “It Takes You Away”, written by new writer Ed Hime, would have fitted right in.

That’s not so say “fairytale” is a bad fit for the show now. Indeed, this is probably the most thought-provoking and emotive episode of the run. There’s also a great mixture of sci-fi concepts, horror, and parts that lean more into fantasy. Especially as the team make a strange journey into the unknown and meet some very unusual and surprising residents.

The main cast is served well (with one exception). Jodie Whittaker gets some good moments, especially during the third act. However, this is really a scene-stealing episode for Bradley Walsh, as Graham is forced to confront his demons. Walsh is superb with the particularly affecting material. While Ryan sees some nice growth too, the flipside is that Yaz continues to feel like the third wheel of the companions.

Actor and quirky comedian Kevin Eldon is the most well known of the guest cast, and he delivers a predictably peculiar role as Ribbons (coming across a bit like a certain Lord of the Rings character). But the leading guest star of the episode is young blind actress Eleanor Wallwork. She plays Hanne, a vulnerable character on the surface, but one who finds strength and resolve as the story goes on.

There’s a few monsters in this one, although a couple are really just roadblocks in a journey to something much more psychological. In non-spoiler terms, it’s impossible to sum this one up, but it’s certainly the most interesting threat of the run. One late reveal may cause some debate, due to its appearance, but it fits the aforementioned fairytale aesthetic.

Helmed once again by lead series director Jamie Childs (“The Woman Who Fell to Earth”, “Demons of the Punjab”), visually, the Norwegian setting obviously affords the episode a distinct look. But while the lush landscapes are an obvious highlight, there’s also a fantastical look, and some impressive visual effects work to go with it.

Early Verdict

Ed Hime’s Doctor Who writing debut doesn’t disappoint, with a thought-provoking mix of sci-fi, horror and fantasy, on top of strong character moments.