Synopsis of 11×04: Upon returning to Sheffield, the group discovers that the spiders in the area are acting weird.
This episode was scary y’all!! Released just before Halloween, “Arachnids in the UK” played upon people’s great fear of spiders. I was fairly certain this episode would be a wash, reminiscent of Dinosaurs on a Spaceship (a season 7 Chiball contribution), and The Runaway Bride (where the Big Bad is a Giant Spider)
I. Was. Wrong.
This was a classic Doctor Who plot: see the problem, run, fix the problem with science, strategy, and compassion. And the CGI spiders, along with the sound effects of them walking and moving, made for an excellent, If not creepy, episodic.
The setting is one at home. Everyone returns to Sheffield safe and sound. Yaz reunites with her family, Graham deals with his grief over Grace’s death, and Ryan gets a letter from his dad. There’s also spiders. Massive spiders that are killing humans.
With the help of scientist Dr. Jade McIntyre, the Doctor and crew are led to a newly-built hotel, owned by businessman Jack Robertson (played by American Zaddy Chris Noth). Jack is clearly a Trump stand-in, which is simultaneously hilarious and annoying . Makes me wonder if this is what Americans will be portrayed as for years to come. Are we all just obnoxiously entitled old white men with a gun fetish who deserve to be eaten by spiders? Maybe we are.
Alas, Jack is never eaten by a spider. No one is. Because domestic spiders, no matter how large, don’t eat humans. The giant spiders are, in fact, aborted tests from a local lab, who work on genetic research (extending spider lifespans, for example). Jack’s disposal company, which promised to “safely” dispose of the lab’s waste, has been throwing it into a landfill. So the spider tests have been marinading in a toxic stew, growing bigger and bigger. Here’s the lesson, kids. When toxic waste or spiders are involved, never cut corners
As usual, the Doctor comes up with a brilliant plan to save the day. Lure the baby spiders into a panic room to die a slow but merciful death. And spray essential oils at the Mother of them all until it calms down. But nature has other plans. The mother has grown too big and she’s dying anyway. Then BANG! In a single shot, the trigger happy American kills her dead. (I personally agree with Jack. Make the death quick instead of prolonged. But then again, I too am just an American.)
I was wrong last week when I said the Doctor probably won’t get too political. Adding a de facto substitute for the sitting American president is treading dangerous ground, especially for a show so beloved in the US . Americans are not known for having self-depreciating humor, unlike the Brits. I imagine this episode ruffled quite a few feathers in the States. (On a different note, can we talk about how satisfying the scene in the mine was? When a female police office, female scientist, female-presenting Doctor, and Yaz’s mum Najia told off the arrogant Jack? So satisfying, to me at least.)
With Doctor Who clearly moving into more reactive territory, I’m excited to see what’s next. Four new companions, a whole new Doctor and Tardis, and this new outlook in the show is doing me wonders. Stay tuned for next week!

Doctor Who airs on Sunday nights at 8pm ET on BBC America.

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