The Rings of Akhaten
Written by Neil Cross
Directed by Farren Blackburn
Reviewed by Steve Taylor-Bryant
Broadcast 6 April 2013
It's Clara's first proper trip on the TARDIS and the Doctor takes her to the Rings of Akhaten, a collection of communities built around a sun. In a bazaar market Clara is appalled to learn that items are bought with sentimental items and not hard currency, believing that family heirlooms and the like should be cherished. After being split up from the Doctor Clara finds a young girl hiding. The girl explains she is Merry Gejeh, The Queen of Years, and is scared of singing at a ceremony in case she gets it wrong.
Songs are used to keep an angry God sleeping and, when a mummy awakens, Merry panics thinking she has done wrong. Using her Mother’s ring, Clara hires a space bike at the Bazaar and the Doctor and Clara race to stop Merry's soul being taken. The Vigil arrive and try and force the sacrifice of Merry to go ahead and the Doctor holds them all at bay long enough for Clara and the girl to escape before realising the mummy isn’t the God.
The planet sized sun is actually the evil monster and, knowing it can only be stopped by memories, the Doctor unloads his entire history into Akhaten but to no avail. Clara however has the leaf that caused her parents to meet and its endless possibilities overcome Akhaten and he implodes. This is the first time Clara realises she has seen the Doctor before - at her mother’s funeral - and tells him she is not a replacement for this strange girl he has been chasing.
Neil Cross had the unenviable task of giving Clara her proper 'Space' introduction into the world of Doctor Who and what a fantastic job he did. I never liked Amy Pond as a character and, after Amy and Rose, was worried about another young girl companion but with scripts like this from Neil Cross all my fears and worries have dispersed. The bazaar had a Mos Isley Star Wars feel to it and it was a visually stunning episode, backed up by a great story and plenty of nods to a bygone era of Who.
Superb sci-fi, superb Doctor Who, Neil Cross take a bow.
©BBC Doctor Who 1963