The Unicorn and the Wasp

* With the unpleasantness of the previous episode firmly behind us, I find myself once again discovering that a Series 4 episode is much better than I’d remembered. I’m pretty sure this is only my second time of watching most of these, and it was nine years ago, so I’ve only really remembered the vaguest of details. This is an episode that’s all about the more intricate details, and so it was fun to watch a live action game of Cluedo unfold. It works as a murder mystery too – the whodunnit element is deliberately laden with tropes and archetypes, but the sci-fi bits cover for it.

* What a guest cast. I probably wouldn’t have known Tom Goodman-Hill at the time, but now he’s forever the dad out of Humans. I’m glad that he ended up having such a crucial role in the conclusion, having been on the outskirts for much of the story. Then there’s Felicity Kendall, and her bottom, and of course Jago from off of Jago & Litefoot! A very welcome return.

* Leading the pack was of course Fenella Woolgar, who was brilliant. I’m afraid that most of the intricate references and in-jokes relating to Agatha Christie went over my head, unlike when it was Dickens or Shakespeare. I’m just not as familiar with her work, or indeed her life – I had to look it up afterwards to see if she’d actually gone missing in real life. She had, and I recommend the story.

* I enjoyed the light and generally comedic tone, but found the big set-pieces a little hit and miss. I liked the interrogation/flashback montage, deftly handled by Graeme Harper. I thought for a while, after The Doctor joined in the reminiscipackage, that there’d be some sort of twist whereby that particular chair was somehow causing people to relive their memories, but in the end the necklace covered that sort of area.

* The kitchen charades was less so my cup of tea, especially coming so soon after the similarly silly sight of the giant wasp. Tennant and Tate could have played it a little straighter, as the tone was veering towards the daft at this stage in proceedings. By the end, the overall balance of serious and silly was just about right, but I did find myself losing investment around the middle.

* In the climax, Donna deliberately kills the Vespiform by drowning it, just as The Doctor is establishing that it’s misguided and vulnerable, rather than evil. Its dying act was to save Agatha’s life, which makes it a better companion than Donna.


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