A small light in these peculiar times, for Doctor Who fans at least, has been the outpouring of fiction from writers from across the series’ recent history, detailing bite-sized adventures to distract us from the realities of our own wanderings in the fourth dimension. But this week’s story feels a little bit too real.
Written by Paul Cornell—who’s penned plenty of Doctor Who stories new and old, perhaps most notably adapting his old Virgin New Adventures novel Human Nature into the heartbreaking 10th Doctor/Martha Jones story—“The Shadow Passes” sees the Doctor, Yaz, Graham, and Ryan venture to the planet Calapia for a short break. Except, bad news: They find themselves arriving just before a sinister death moon that arrives every 64 years begins its journey over the planet, killing anything that is caught under its shadow.
Which suddenly means the Doctor and her friends are forced into hiding with the Calapians themselves...for about three weeks. Or, y’know, roughly how long the United Kingdom has currently been under its own lockdown orders during the Coronavirus pandemic. You see what he did there.
It’s a touching story about the Doctor, who’s usually incapable of sitting still for even a moment, being forced to actually do that and take stock of some particularly heady feelings, from the ways she tries to help Ryan, Graham, and Yaz cope with three weeks inside on an alien world scared of a Death Moon, to lingering insecurities about the way people still underestimate her current form. But it’s also one about the beauty of communities united by shared struggle, and how the power of those communities can be felt even when people are forced apart and hidden away.
A message I’m sure we could all appreciate a bit right now. You can read “The Shadow Passes” over at the official Doctor Who website.
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