Last week’s Doctor Who episode “The Witchfinders” was a return to a classic style story. “It Takes You Away” follows in that vein, turning a small story into something larger.
The Doctor and her companions find themselves in modern-day Norway. They discover a blind girl, Hanna (Ellie Wallwork) is living alone. She states that her father has disappeared and at certain times of the day a monster approaches the house. Within the house is a mirror that does not give off a reflection. The Doctor has to investigate all these mysteries and how they are all connected.
The best way to describe is erratic. It starts as a small mystery, where the Doctor has to find out what is causing a girl’s fears. However, it ends with the characters within a sentient universe. Writer Ed Hime seemed like he was told to put a load of concept blend them all together, no matter how contrived. This is the problem because it’s having to be a personal story and have some far-out concepts involving mirror universes.
The worst part of the episode involved a creature called Ribbons (Kevin Eldon), a guide in an in-between world who bargains for everything. The concept behind him was fine, he was meant to be like Charon (AKA The Ferryman) in Greek mythology but this was not the right episode for him. His presences needless pads out the episode and felt like the writer had to fill a 50-minute run time. The episode also suffers from bad jokes like the Doctor talking about the Woolly Revolution – even by Doctor Who standards that was outlandish.
Despite the issues involving Ribbons “It Takes You Away” combines what works with the Chibnall run and Davies/Moffatt eras. Most of the episodes in the 11th season have been smaller, scaled back like taking on a one-off threat and that’s how this episode starts. But it evolves into a story involving mirror universes and the possible destruction of the universe. It’s the first time the threat felt big because the mirror universe is shaking and erase everyone within it. It was an episode that had some big concepts, like when the Doctor tells the story of how the conscious universe came to be.
The other element of the episode was the character development, particularly for Graham and Ryan. The mirror universe is like the alternative world in Neil Gaiman’s Coraline. The real world is drab, while the mirror world is like heaven. But all is not what it seems. Trekkies may compare the mirror universe to the Nexus paradise trap in Star Trek: Generations. This is what happens to Graham and Erick (Christian Rubeck), as the two almost choose to stay. Graham and Ryan have a touching and important moment at the end of the episode.
Ryan reveals that he’s not good with kids so logically he is tasked to look after Hanna. Yaz has a little moment where she’s comforted Hanna when they first meet her and states she has training because of her profession.
This episode finally gives Jodie Whittaker her first big Doctor speech. She doesn’t shoot it like Matt Smith did or has Peter Capaldi’s anger but she still has the Doctor’s passion. She shows the Doctor’s intelligence, logic and a willingness to sacrifice herself to save others.
The episode’s ending was a real satirical WTF moment. It begs the question – what drugs were the people making this episode taking?
“It Takes You Away” is the most creative and ambitious episode of the 11th season, showing Doctor Who at its best and sometimes its worst.