In the penultimate episode of the series, the Doctor and friends arrive in 2018 Norway to find Hanne, a girl trapped in a house and apparently abandoned by her father. Fighting their way through a dangerous cave called an antizone, the Doctor and companions track Hanne’s father to a parallel reality called a Solitract, which is luring people from the main Whoniverse reality by imitating their loved ones. After the Doctor and friends reject the Solitract’s tricks, the Doctor persuades it to let her go and accept its fate of being on its own.
We finally have an interesting bit of characterisation here – Ryan doesn’t believe Hanne when she says her father would never abandon her, presumably due to his experience with his own dad. He later explains to Yasmin that he’s no good with kids, although Hanne does warm to him by the end of the episode.
I like the use of the classic ‘avoiding getting lost in a maze through use of string’ trope! Unfortunately, the Doctor and co meet up with Ribbons, who is a classic creepy fantasy type monster (complete with beltful of dead rats) and thus feels out of place in the Whoniverse. Naturally, he cuts the string, causing extra trouble for the Doctor.
When we finally come across Erik, Hanne’s dad, he comes across as the most neglectful father ever and I wanted to throw things at the screen! However, it soon becomes apparent that he’s been bewitched by the Solitract, which has produced an imitation of his late wife Trine.
When the Doctor’s party arrives, the Solitract immediately sets about playing the same trick on Graham, which means we get the welcome reappearance of Grace and some lovely character moments when Graham finds himself having to make the choice to lose her all over again.
The Doctor explains that the antizone is preventing the Solitract from touching other realities, though not why it’s taken the form of a weird fantasy cave! We also get some good old-fashioned polarity reversal when the Doctor finds she can’t get back through the mirror portal.
On the whole I enjoyed this one – I was expecting it to be a bit of a filler episode, but it was quite good.
Series finale next time…although in Chibnall’s arc-less Who, I’m not sure they can really be called ‘series finales’ anymore!