Welcome, once more, to the show that proves that the bad guy is never the alien or the machine, but the human behind it.
In what makes me scared that Amazon is one day going to kill us all, right after it kills its workers of exhaustion, ‘Kerblam!’ starts cheerfully: the Doctor receives a package, a fez that arrives four seasons too late. But the paper inside the package has a message: “help me.” The Doctor, always one to help, takes the TARDIS and the team to the warehouse, where they will infiltrate to find out who sent the message. The problem is, as HR Judy says (Julie Hesmondhalgh, fantastic in the final season of Broadchurch, please stop what you are doing and watch it) that there are 10,000 humans. Which is a lot of people, but it’s actually only 10% of the workers -as companies are forced to hire at least that percentage of “organics”, as Judy calls them.
To explain this with as few words as possible, the team infiltrates, and while Yaz meets a worker (Lee Mack) who vanishes, the Doctor and Ryan meet a girl, Kira, who is happy to just be there, and Graham meets Charlie, a maintenance worker in love with Kira. People are disappearing, so why is the system identifying these missing people as if they were still there, working?
Our team suspects Slade, the manager, because they find in his office that he is keeping a running tally of those missing, but as we eventually find out, he is only doing so because he is worried and doesn’t want to enter the names in the system, just in case the system rebels against him.
After Kira herself is taken and the youngest members of our team join Charlie to find her, the Doctor finds out, thanks to a centuries-old version of the robots in the warehouse, that it was the system itself that sent the help message. What is happening, you ask? After finding what looks like the remnants of the missing workers in a pretty disgusting pool, Kira is killed by the robots, and we find all the Kerblam mailmen (or Kerblam Man, as the Doc calls the one who gives her the fez) all set up to deliver packages But the packages have a deadly bubble wrap, that will instantly kill the clients upon bursting it. It doesn’t make sense that the system would do that, but…
…of course, it wasn’t the system! It was Charlie, who is angry at the world and thinks that mass murder is the best choice out there -people are idiots. The system knew, and was trying to defend itself, going as far as to kill Kira because it knew Charlie loved her. Which I must admit, is a dickish move from the system; so in the end, everyone sucks. The Doctor saves the day by making all the mailmen deliver the packages to themselves and burst the bubble wrap, so that no one will die. But Charlie, as we have stated, is an idiot, and doesn’t run away when he sees what the robots are about to do. Seriously.
The analogies this season is using are delightful, and this is another one of those instalments that leave you thinking, as I expect from my best shows. Although I must admit, there was a moment where I said to myself, I wish we had at least one old foe back, a Dalek, a Cyberman, an Ice Warrior. I love the new adventures, but I would like to see one familiar face, a villain I love to hate. No matter how much the robots from this episode reminded me of the Autons.
Oh! I knew that. But I forgot that.
-I couldn’t stop thinking about how much the Kerblam logo reminded me of that of Domino’s.
-“It’s the what?” “The Kerblam Man.” “You’re just making sounds now.”
-Let’s discuss how adorable was Ryan playing with the bubble wrap of the box the fez came in. Go.
-You know when they were warned against climbing onto the conveyor belts, that someone was going to do that eventually.
-That kid who played Charlie was like a British not-very-believable Chalamet lookalike.
-“And if anything happens to us, or our new friends, or anyone else here, you’ll have me to answer to. Too bombastic?”
-After the Doctor mentioned ‘The Unicorn and the Wasp’, all I could think of was that hilarious moment in the kitchen with the poisoned Doctor choking and Donna trying to guess what he needs like they are playing charades.
-“So, how long have you had a thing for Kira?” “How did you know about that?” “That’s one of my superpowers, yeah. I can detect even the most subtle of social cues.” “Really?” “No! It’s obvious!”
-I live for that moment when Charlie asks Graham if he’s smelled Kira, and Graham says that, strangely enough, he hasn’t. I need a gif of Bradley Walsh’s face when he says that. Gold.
-“What’s she talking about?” “No idea. You get used to it.” “She normally explains in the end.”
-“Kerblam’s trying to kill their own customers? That’s the worst business plan I’ve ever heard.”
-“The systems aren’t the problem. How people use and exploit the system, that’s the problem.”
-“Customers, with your current medical symptoms, browse blood pressure medication.”