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Doctor Who (2024) Season 1 Episode 3 Review

Millie Gibson and Ncuti Gatwa are inside the Doctor Who phone box with the doors open and orange sky behind them in "Boom," Season 1 Episode 3 of Doctor Who (2024)

Season 1 Episode 3 of Doctor Who (2024) is the most exciting and well-written episode of the show in years, marking a huge return to form.

Showrunner: Russell T. Davies
Genre: Adventure, Sci-Fi
Number of Episodes: 8
Episode 3 release Date: May 17, 2024
Where to Watch it: on Disney+ where available

Following the show’s long-awaited return with a special double-episode drop last week, Doctor Who is back with a bang (no pun intended) with the new season’s third episode, “Boom”. The story follows the Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa, of Sex Education) and Ruby (Millie Gibson, of Coronation Street) as they travel to a distant planet where remnants of the human race find themselves at war with a mysterious force that they can’t see.

But when the Doctor begins to explore the battlefield, he accidentally steps on a landmine that has to be disarmed before it blows up the planet. It’s a complete shift from both the tone and the style of the previous two episodes, adopting a much more serious and intense atmosphere that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats from start to finish.

Perhaps the most exciting thing about Episode 3 of Doctor Who is that it marks the return of Stephen Moffatt as a writer, following his departure from the show in 2017. Moffatt was previously the showrunner of Doctor Who during Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi’s stints as the Doctor, alongside writing a few episodes for David Tennant before that. He’s been an integral part of the show’s DNA since the beginning, and his return for this episode has been highly anticipated for long-time fans. With “Boom”, Moffatt proves straight away that he’s what the show has been missing these past years. This is far and away the best episode of Doctor Who for a long time, and it’s simply because Moffatt brings everything back to the basics: a clean 45-minute runtime, lots of intricate dialogue, creative sci-fi elements, strong emotional beats, and a powerful message that undercuts the narrative.

The main reason that “Boom” works so well is that it dedicates plenty of time to developing the Doctor and Ruby as characters and giving the audience a reason to care about them. Both “Space Babies” and “The Devil’s Chord” have come under some criticism for their often surface-level exploration of these characters, presenting them solely as the stereotypes of the eccentric traveller and his curious companion. But with its luscious dialogue and ferocious performances, “Boom” finally delivers the nuance of these characters that we’ve been waiting for. There’s a lot of talking and not much action, which some audiences might find off-putting, but that’s the exact reason this episode works so well: it’s just these two characters (mostly) in one location, placed under immense pressure and forced to deal with the consequences.

Ncuti Gatwa holds a torch with fire as The Doctor in "Boom," Season 1 Episode 3 of Doctor Who (2024)
Ncuti Gatwa is The Doctor in “Boom,” Season 1 Episode 3 of Doctor Who (2024) (Disney Plus)

“Boom” falls in the same category as other classic Doctor Who episodes like “The Beast Below” or “The God Complex”, in which the Doctor is placed into an incredibly difficult position and the episode shines as a result. It’s never clear exactly what direction Moffatt is going to take this story until the very final moments, but when the curtains are drawn back, everything is clear and comes together into a powerful message that keeps Doctor Who incredibly relevant despite its outlandish sci-fi concepts. At its core, this is a brutal commentary on the commercialisation of warfare and the power of human compassion – but you’d never think that from the glossy Doctor Who exterior. It’s thanks to the effortless writing and sharp direction that everything comes together in the way that it does, ensuring that every narrative beat lands perfectly.

What’s most impressive and crucial about “Boom” is that it feels like the kind of episode that will easily draw back those long-time fans that might’ve been a little sceptical after those first two episodes of Season 14, which switched up the style of the show significantly. Not only is it the kind of socially-charged and well-written story that could easily slide into one of Moffatt’s seasons as showrunner, but it also features plenty of in-universe references to that particular period of the show. And not just in the dialogue – there are tangible aspects of this story that tie back to episodes from Matt Smith’s tenure as the Doctor. It’s unclear whether these will come back to play a larger role in the season as a whole, but just the recognition of that particular era is enough to keep those fans happy.

With every new Doctor and every new period of Doctor Who’s history, there’s a period of adjustment before fans can fully identify with the new characters and their new personalities. Many fans will think back to Matt Smith’s rooftop monologue in “The Eleventh Hour” as the moment they really began to see him as the Doctor, or Peter Capaldi’s rage-filled speech in “Into The Dalek”. And when they think of the Fifteenth Doctor and Ruby Sunday, it will likely be “Boom” that’s remembered as the moment Gatwa and Gibson fully stepped into those giant shoes and embraced their roles as the Doctor and his companion.

Season 1 Episode 3 of Doctor Who (2024), named “Boom,” will be released on Friday, May 17 at 7:00 p.m. ET on Disney+ where available.

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