Close this search box.

Doctor Who (2024) Season 1 Episode 5 Review

A girl wears a blue dress and stands with yellow people at either sides of her in Season 1 Episode 5 of Doctor Who (2024)

Season 1 Episode 5 of Doctor Who (2024) has some clever ideas but lacks the narrative depth to make them stick.

Showrunner: Russell T Davies
Genre: Adventure, Sci-Fi
Number of Episodes: 8
Episode 5 release Date: May 31, 2024
Where to Watch it: on Disney+

Doctor Who has always been a place for writers to explore topical subjects through a distant sci-fi lens, and episode 5 of season 1 is a very clear example of that. The story follows a young woman named Lindy Pepper-Bean (Callie Cooke) who lives in the utopian society of Finetime, a pastel-infused city where the children of the rich are sent to immerse themselves in social media and avoid work.

But when an alien threat makes its way inside the city walls, the Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson) hack into the city’s social network and try to save Lindy’s life. In many ways, ‘Dot and Bubble’ almost feels like an episode of Black Mirror with its socially-charged sci-fi concepts and colourful facade, but despite the nice visuals and creative storytelling, there’s ultimately very little here beyond a clever idea.

Last week, Doctor Who took a big swing and provided audiences with a ‘Doctor-Lite’ episode in which Gatwa’s protagonist barely appeared at all – and while that ultimately paid off thanks to the complex storytelling and Gibson’s ability to carry the story on her shoulders, the decision to break the mould in this way twice in a row is a confusing one. For the majority of the runtime, we’re following a character that we’ve never seen before (and who’s intentionally unlikable), with only glimpses of the Doctor and Ruby between scenes. This leaves the story feeling pretty weak and uninteresting in comparison to the others in the season so far. It’s relying on its conceptual depth rather than a narrative one, and while it touches on themes such as our growing reliance on social media and deconstruction of generational wealth, those explorations are pretty surface-level and end up feeling like a parody of shows like Black Mirror

The absence of the Doctor in place of a new, unknown character is really felt here. Why cast somebody as charismatic as Ncuti Gatwa as such an iconic character just to reduce his presence to a supporting role? With the exception of one specific scene, this entire episode feels like filler that barely holds any significance to the rest of season 1 – and in a season of just eight episodes, there really isn’t room for these stories. Especially after ‘Boom’ and ‘73 Yards’, which both felt incredibly significant and important despite the latter’s flaws.

A city in a bubble in Season 1 Episode 5 of Doctor Who (2024)
A still from Season 1 Episode 5 of Doctor Who (2024) (Disney Plus)

In many ways, this episode is reminiscent of another of Russell T. Davies’ episodes from way back in the show’s second season, and one that’s developed a pretty negative reputation over the years: “Love and Monsters”. That episode also introduces a pretty unlikeable character who’s interrupted by the Doctor (David Tennant) and Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) to help him survive his encounter with an alien species, but it’s been pretty widely hated by fans and often cited as the worst episode of the show. While “Dot and Bubble” is certainly better, it has many of the same qualities and fans are certainly going to be divided by it. But that’s not to say that season 1, episode 5 is all bad – one area where this story really shines is its ending, which is exceptionally bleak and touches on some really important themes that surprisingly haven’t been explored yet in this season.

Overall, “Dot and Bubble” is a big swing and mostly a miss. The decision to have two episodes of Doctor Who season 1 in a row that barely include the Doctor is such a misfire that’s definitely going to disappoint fans, particularly because the few scenes in which Gatwa does appear this week are absolutely great. His performance is growing stronger and stronger by the week, and the conclusion of “Dot and Bubble” might be his fiercest work on the show yet. It’s just a shame that everything leading up to that final scene feels pretty hollow and unimportant in the grand scheme of things. It really felt like the show was building towards something important with last week’s cerebral and complex “73 Yards”, but this episode brings the stakes down massively with a filler story that feels like it’s been pulled straight from the show’s earliest seasons.

Season 1 Episode 5 of Doctor Who (2024), named “Dot and Bubble,” will be released on Friday, May 31 at 7:00 p.m. ET on Disney+ where available.

Doctor Who (2024) Season 1 Episode 6 Review – Loud And Clear
Season 1 Episode 6 of Doctor Who (2024) treads new water for the show with a bold, entertaining romance given a sci-fi twist.
Thank you for reading us! If you’d like to help us continue to bring you our coverage of films and TV and keep the site completely free for everyone, please consider a donation.