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doctor who dot and bubble 1.png

‘Doctor Who’ Recap: We Welcome Our New Slug Overlords

By Hannah Sole | TV | June 3, 2024 |

By Hannah Sole | TV | June 3, 2024 |


doctor who dot and bubble 1.png

Previously, on Doctor Who: Ruby and Fifteen had a FAFO incident with a fairy circle. Ruby had decades of horror on her own after Fifteen mysteriously disappeared to another dimension where Gatwa was finishing off some filming for Sex Education.

This week: In a Black Mirror / ‘Blink’-style episode, Ruby and Fifteen take a backseat to the action, and we follow Lindy Pepper-Bean trying to dodge some people-eating slugs in a pastel-hued futuristic dystopia. Spoilers are ahead!

via GIPHY

Knowing that this episode was going to be the second consecutive Doctor-light offering this season, I found myself having a slight Ian Malcolm moment, tapping on the screen impatiently, like ‘eventually you do plan to have a Doctor in your Doctor Who show, right?’ When Fifteen shows up, IRL, he has maybe five minutes to wrap things up. And what a five minutes they are! Gatwa’s performance of rage and frustration at the enduringly horrifying stupidity of people is phenomenal, perhaps more so in light of this being the first episode he filmed. Right off the bat, he nails it. I’m just mad that we haven’t seen enough of this yet, and there are only a few episodes left to go before the end of his first season.

Instead, we have Lindy. Lindy lives in Finetime, a town with its own forcefield dome to keep it ‘safe’ from the wild woods outside. Like her fellow Finetimers, she spends all her days in a projected Bubble from her Dot, basically like a VR headset that runs social media feeds and chats constantly. It also works as a kind of sat nav, giving basic directions so that users never have to turn the feed off. Her Bubble shows her only what she wants to see, and she curates it very selectively, ignoring anything that requires her to think or to interact with an uncomfortable truth. So fixated on her feed, she doesn’t notice that giant slug monsters are eating people alive all around her.

So far, so sci-fi metaphor for young’uns being obsessed with their phones to the extent that they can’t see what’s past the end of their noses. But Lindy is also The Worst. She doesn’t just not see danger, she wilfully ignores it until it’s presented to her by a person she finds acceptable. And Lindy doesn’t find many people acceptable. Certainly not Fifteen, who breaks into her feed with a warning and gets blocked on sight. She’ll listen to Ruby, though she insults her constantly for being stupid. And even when there is someone she likes and finds acceptable, she’ll stab them in the back in a heartbeat.

Lindy is comically and horrifically dumb right until she isn’t. She’s cruel, selfish, self-obsessed, literally incapable of walking in a straight line unless her Bubble tells her how to do it. She complains about having to work for two hours per day. She speaks with a kind of Made in Chelsea Gen Z version of Valley Girl, and both she and Ricky September — who are grown adults — have a Draco Malfoy ‘wait until my father hears about this’ response to the Great Slug Chomping Crisis. (Twist Bingo: Lindy’s Mummy! Fifteen and Ruby are starting to notice her reappearance, too!) Finetime is full of rich entitled white kids, you see. No “stinky old folk” either; maximum age is 27.

Ricky September is Lindy’s celeb crush, from all those videos of him dancing around to a Timmy Mallett song. Ah, the perils of fame. Ricky’s not like all the other boys, though. He occasionally reads and gives a flying monkey about other people. When he repeats what Fifteen said, Lindy doesn’t argue back; she listens and simpers. FUNNY THAT, HUH? They follow the Doctor’s plan to escape from the city using underground tunnels to get to the river, and Ricky proves a useful addition, as he can walk without bumping into lampposts. The bar is low.

At the entrance to the final tunnel, Ricky is adding in the codes to open it up, when Fifteen and Ruby finally figure out why the slugs seem to only be interested in specific people. Lindy and Ricky had decided it was because the best were being saved for last, thus casting themselves as the Yorkshire puddings in this particular Finetime roast dinner. But the truth of the Great Slug Crisis is bleaker and simpler than this. The Dots have become sentient and can’t bear to be around these gross people any longer. The slugs are their … allies? Soldiers? Recruits? Mercenaries? It’s unclear. But they are on the same team nonetheless. The, uh, hired slugs have already taken the homeworld and are working through Finetime in methodical, alphabetical order. You’re not a Yorkshire pudding, Lindy Pepper-Bean; you’re just one of the Ps.

Lindy’s Dot can’t get a slug to her in the tunnels, so it turns on her instead, and Ricky bravely fights it off to protect her until Lindy THE ABSOLUTE WORST announces that Ricky’s real last name isn’t September and he should have been higher up the kill list. The Dot switches course to kill Ricky, and Lindy leaves him to his fate. LINDY.

At the end of this final tunnel, Lindy meets some other Finetime survivors as well as Fifteen and Ruby. She lies about Ricky, naturally. The other Finetimers want to sail off and colonise more of the planet for themselves (because white people are gonna white people), and Fifteen offers them transport to a safer planet in the TARDIS instead, and that’s when the last of the comic vapidity runs out and all that’s left is the stark racist refusal to be in proximity to a black man. LINDY!

It’s the first time Fifteen’s faced this kind of attitude towards himself, though he has of course seen it in others and judged it accordingly. Ruby, raised by Black women, has witnessed it all her life but has not been a victim of it herself either. She immediately nopes out of any further discussion; to her, Finetimers have forfeited any further rights to her attention by being Massively Racist Bastards. It’s more complex for Fifteen, who tells them he doesn’t care what they think or believe about him. and begs them to allow him to save them all. He still wants to save their ungrateful lives, while Ruby’s pretty much flying the flag for the slugs.

As they sail off to their probable death, Ruby wants to comfort Fifteen, whilst he looks like he blames himself; in any other incarnation, they would have followed the Doctor, but not him, not this time. That’s not his fault; it’s theirs, but it’s a bitter pill to swallow for the man who gives even the worst of the worst a chance at redemption. Normally, when villains refuse to be saved, it’s for mwahaha reasons (Davros, Saxon/The Master…); this time, it’s just some ghastly people looking at him and going ‘ew’. He’s a better person than all of us, because we can comfort ourselves knowing that they probably won’t last a day out there. Lindy “you’re so good at walking” Pepper-Bean doesn’t exactly have ANY survival skills, after all. But he will see this as his personal failure, and that stings.

‘Dot and Bubble’ is not the most subtle metaphor in the world, but it offers a few useful reminders: social media isn’t real life; selfish, entitled, bratty people rarely stop being selfish, entitled, and bratty; systemic racism doesn’t get fixed because a Black guy is nice … Kids, put those phones down or you won’t see that giant man-eating slug coming your way! Maybe talk to some people outside your bubble from time to time as well, eh? You don’t want to end up like Lindy … aka … a ditsy, bitchy, scheming meanie, vapid, racist blonde Gen Zee(nee). Or something. Ahem.

Next time: It’s the ‘Oh my Bridgerton’ one, though perhaps not quite as naughty and with more Bird People. I don’t remember Bird People in Bridgerton but I am usually distracted by the other shenanigans to be fair.