Caution: There Are Spoilers In Our Doctor Who Smile Review
Smile is the second episode for the 10th series of Doctor Who. As an episode it’s an interesting one where The Doctor and his new companion Bill, travel to a future world where things are run by emoji robots.
This is the first big adventure for Bill and one of many for The Doctor. Pearl Mackie does well as Bill for this episode and spends most of the time asking questions to The Doctor, what’s this Doctor? Why’s this happening? What happened to the future? Over time while exploring she uncovers quite a lot and a little of what it means to be a travelling companion in Doctor Who.
Much of the focus is on Peter Capaldi and his activities as he explores what exactly is wrong with the new world. We as the viewers know there’s something wrong with the place after watching the opening scene because we see a bunch of people killed by a strange swarm, which we later learn are tiny robots. The Doctor as an experienced traveller knows something is odd about the futuristic place early on, but it takes Bill a while to catch on, not travelling much at all, she probably thought her first adventure would be a bit of a holiday?
One of the things I thought when I saw the preview last week for the episode was that maybe we would be in for something that’s actually really silly, I mean we are talking about emoji robots here. But actually the episode was well structured, serious and pretty good.
These robots have the duty of looking after a new colony of humans and are programmed to keep everyone happy. People walk around with emoji badges that display their mood, you can see if they’re happy, upset, angry or even confused and that goes for robots as well. The problem is though, they’re a little too focused on keeping people happy, when someone experiences grief they don’t know what to do, so they started killing those people, then more grief came and then more deaths. It’s horrible, but The Doctor is there to fix it all.
Overall I felt that the episode was written well enough that the mystery of what was going on in the world was well explored and as a viewer, I found it all to be very interesting. This is I think one of the stronger episodes for Peter Capaldi’s Doctor Who and I always love a new science fiction mystery. Hopefully we can get more of these mysterious investigation episodes in the future. As a second episode from writer Frank Cottrell Boyce (In The Forest Of The Night was his first story), it was quite good and significantly better than his earlier episode. I would be interested to see more from this writer for the show in the future, but I’m glad they gave him a second go at it because this one was fun!