It's almost time for the big series finale, the two parter. And so we get the story that leads in to it... a moment of calm before the storm?
An Earth-bound sequel to an earlier story, with one alien and a high-point that is essentially two characters having dinner while one tries to kill the other. It's got good moments, and cracks all over Cardiff, but the end feels like a cop-out. Some interesting moral questions are raised... and then ignored.
Season 2 has Fear Her and Love and Monsters, so it's on pretty shaky ground. It's a different take on the Monster-of-the-week from some of the previous episodes, but it feels more like 1989's version of Suburban London than 2006's version. And it's got some cheesy moments. And the villain of the piece is basically a cupboard. It would be done better later.
And so to Season 3. This story has a real sense of urgency to it, as the last remnants of humanity flee from the end of the world and from the Futurekind. Add in the return of Captain Jack and the Doctor's reaction to that and you've got an episode that could be really strong on its own. And that's before the twist. The delicious twist that brings together plot elements from earlier in the series in a way that rewards regular viewers. And Derek Jacobi's brief appearance in his second role of the episode just makes me want more...
And this story picks up on the idea of using episode 11 as a prequel to the main two parter. In this case, it's the "Doctor-Light" episode as Catherine Tate and Bernard Cribbins face the answers to the question "What if Donna never met the Doctor? What if she turned left?"
Critically, it highlights just why a companion is important to the Doctor - why a companion is there to act as the voice of humanity. She is there to stop him, saving his life, saving the Earth a dozen times over.
In this story, a companion selflessly sacrifices her life so an alternative version can live. It's a powerful story, and it won't be the last time it's told.
Season Five's Companion-Light episode plays it pretty much for laughs, setting Matt Smith against the comic actors James Corden and Daisy Haggard in a story about an upstairs flat that eats people, and that was once due to contain a talking cactus. It's a bit of fun, really.
Ranking for Episode 11
Rankings So Far Series 4 > Series 3 > Series 5 > Series 2 > Series 1
Honestly, I don't see this changing much. I'm slightly surprised, but I'll explain why once I've rated the last two episodes.