Doctor Who’s New Showrunner: Who is Chris Chibnall?

2 of 7

Doctor Who season 3, “42”

Doctor Who – Season 3, Episode 8: “42”

The initial issues I had with this episode started with my always mixing it up with the Rose two-parter “Impossible Planet”/”Satan Pit.” Very similar episode structure, tone, and color palette (see above), but once I remember which episode is which, I do enjoy them separately.

“Impossible Planet” and “Satan Pit” are Rose Tyler episodes, where the Doctor and Rose get trapped in a spaceship on an asteroid in orbit around a black hole, a scientific impossibility. The dangers within that asteroid are biblical in nature, and the Doctor must act fast and think quick to save himself, Rose, and whatever crew remains.

“42,” however, finds the Doctor and Martha Jones trapped on a spaceship orbiting and mining the surface of a sun they don’t realize is alive.


Another parallel is in “Impossible Planet” and “Satan Pit,” there is a community of Ood that Rose and the crew on the ship are running from. They’re blasting through doors, running through ventilation systems, one section at a time. In “42,” Martha Jones helps a crew member go through their ship section by section, going up against challenging security measures at each turn. There’s a similar stop/start suspense element to both episodes that are reminiscent of each other.

After watching a second, third, fourth time, I grew to appreciate how independent Martha is from the Doctor in this one. She saves the day without wasting anyone’s time asking asinine questions and complaining (like one could argue Tegan did when she began her journey with the Fifth Doctor.)

This is also our first exposure to what I call Chibnall’s “you humans!” anger approach to his characters. We see this pattern in the majority of his episodes. In “The Hungry Earth,” it happens around fear leading to mistakes. In “Power of Three,” it’s about picking up free objects just because they can, without any thought to what it might be and if there are consequences.

Check it out at the end of the episode “42”:

"DOCTOR: It’s your fault, Captain McDonnell. You mined that sun, stripped its surface for cheap fuel. You should have scanned for life. That sun’s alive, a living organism. They scooped out its heart, used it for fuel and now it’s screaming."