After last week’s phenomenal “Vincent and the Doctor,” it was going to be hard for Doctor Who to top itself. However, it managed to with “The Lodger,” though while trading shameless heartstring-tugging with a quick character piece that wrapped itself up nicely and left me feeling quite satisfied.
The opening of the episode was a little quick, and felt rushed in a way, with Amy in the TARDIS leaving the Doctor without meaning to. Of course, this was the central mystery of the episode, and was perhaps meant to be unexpected, but it just felt as though there was so much the story wanted to accomplish that this little snippet was relegated to less than a minute. The same goes for the “One Day Later” caption that began the very next scene. It simply felt rushed, though again, I guess that’s what the episode was trying to convey.
Now, this was an Amy-lite episode, but you wouldn’t have noticed. Karen Gillan was still present in these scenes with the Doctor, but the episode was primarily about the Doctor trying to fit in with humanity. This is really the first time he’s tried to really fit in since “Human Nature”/”The Family of Blood,” in which he really did become human. The reasons were completely different, though, and while David Tennant’s Doctor played the situation for wonderful dramatic impact, this time around Matt Smith went the more comedic route. And while we’ve seen Smith’s Doctor be as horribly dark as any of the others, he really showed his comedic chops in this episode. (“I can tell you’re not a traveler from your sofa,” the Doctor quipped early in the episode, “Because you’re starting to look like it.”)
That’s to be expected, especially when you consider that he was co-starring alongside James Corden, a famous comedic actor in his own right. Corden played Craig, a loafer with a job at a phone company who the Doctor decides to move in with in order to investigate the strange things happening upstairs. Corden is accompanied by Daisy Haggard, who played Sophie, Craig’s almost-girlfriend. There’s a lot of sexual tension between Craig and Sophie. Corden overplays it while Haggard underplays it, and it manages to work out really well for the viewer, who comes to really care about both characters over the episode.
The episode’s monster of the week was sort of average, and, like many monsters before it, only really served as a plot point to accentuate the characters. The revelation of the villain’s identity was hurried and sort of pointless, but the effects it had on the characters made it all worthwhile. I can’t wait to see next week’s episode, the first of a two-part season finale, “The Pandorica Opens,” which will finally start to give us resolution to the season-long story arc of the cracks in the universe. B+