Doctor Who Series 11

Doctor Who Review: Arachnids in the UK (Season 11 Episode 4)

Doctor Who, Reviews

Doctor Who is going where no doctor has gone before: a posh hotel in the present day UK where spiders have mutated to eat people.

Doctor Who Season 11 Episode 4, “Arachnids in the UK” is an agoraphobic’s worst nightmare. The army of giant spiders that emerge throughout this episode is terrifying, in part thanks to the theme that plays when they scurry across the floor, but it’s when they start grabbing people and storing them for food that the real terror begins.

Doctor Who Series 11
Picture Shows: Jade (TANYA FEAR), The Doctor (JODIE WHITTAKER), Ryan (TOSIN COLE), Graham (BRADLEY WALSH)

Sadly, that’s about where the terror stops, because once that starts happening, it’s not much to leap from Doctor Who to Aragog’s hollow in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. ,After that connection is made, it’s really hard to break.

Each jump scare or cocoon only serves to make me think that these giant spiders have broken free of the grounds from Hogwarts, at least until their toxic waste orgins are revealed. Even then their behavior still reminds me of that one scene.

Ron Weasley – Spiders

The structure, “Arachnids in the UK,” is very similar to Doctor Who, Season 2 Episode 3, “School Reunion.” Both episodes featured the Doctor in the present day, dealing with a threat to the population.

There’s one big difference, and that’s that “Arachnids in the UK” doesn’t include an alien threat. The giant spiders going around eating people are the result of human negligence. Mostly, on the part of a hotelier who maintains plausible deniability regarding the toxic waste and spider carcasses being buried under his hotel.

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Jack Robertson, played by Chris Noth, has a personality that seems vaguely familiar, and it’s no surprise that he and The Doctor do not get along.  The gun-toting boss, with a “my hotel, my rules” attitude ultimately ends up killing the giant spider and there is no recourse.

Doctor Who Series 11
Picture Shows: Robertson (CHRIS NOTH)

Given that Jack is running for President in 2020, here’s hoping the Doctor doesn’t forget these events and unleashes a metaphorical firestorm that rivals that of Ten’s Harriet Jones takedown.

When all is said and done, it feels like there isn’t an ending to this episode. It never reaches a strong climax and is just left to flounder as everyone makes their way back to the Tardis.

The plot actually feels secondary to the character growth the newly dubbed “Team Tardis” gets over the course of the hour. While The Doctor may have gotten her new friends home, they all realize that they arent’ quite ready to stay in place just yet.

Doctor Who Series 11
Picture Shows: Graham (BRADLEY WALSH)

Viewers are introduced to Yaz’s family that drives her crazy at times. The details that outline her relationships with her mother, father, and sister are all bits that flesh out Yaz and are sure to open up storylines later on.

When looking at Yaz’s family, it’s easy to recall Rose, Martha, and Donna’s families. In each respective season, there was a familial influence on the companion’s choices and, given how fleshed out their families were, allowed the show to present-day Earth for multiple episodes.

After seeing Yaz banter with her family, I really hope that we get to come back to them again and see them affected by another strange happening in the UK.

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Doctor Who Series 11
Picture Shows: Yaz (MANDIP GILL), Najia (SHOBNA GULATI)

Ryan and Graham also have their own moments where they need to reflect on whether or not they will continue to travel with the doctor.

Graham’s heartbreaking speech about not wanting to sit at home because it reminds him too much of Grace is moving. We’ve only known Graham for a few episodes and yet, hearing him speak about Grace each time makes my heart break open. Bradley Walsh is quickly becoming one of my favorites of Season 11.

Now that Team Tardis is solidified though, I think that it’s time for the show to take off and really explore some new alien territory. It’s been great going to the past and present-day Earth, but I think that we really need a high-fantasy adventure now that The Doctor has her team and her Tardis.

Stray Thoughts:

  • The Doctor makes an essential oil solution to combat the spiders. I keep waiting for her to tinker in a forge, like she did to make her sonic, and she comes up with tea tree oil from the spa diluted with water. I’m kind of digging her problem solving skills.
  • I don’t know how anyone could do anything except laugh at the spiders following the Stormzy music.
  • The Doctor thinking Jack Robertson is Ed Sheeran was a very funny exchange. Goes right up there with Ten being happy to have finally found Easter!
  • A purple couch might look very nice with the orange lights of your Tardis, Doctor. (I’m just saying.)
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What did you think of this episode of Doctor Who? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Reviewer Rating:

User Rating:

[Total: 2    Average: 3.5/5]


Doctor Who airs Sundays at 8/7c on BBC America.

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Lauren Busser is an Associate Editor at Tell-Tale TV. She is a writer of fiction and nonfiction whose work has appeared in Bitch Media, Popshot Quarterly, Brain Mill Press Voices, and The Hartford Courant. She has also been a dog sitter, worked front end at a bakery, and helped out in a kindergarten classroom. She learned to knit when she was five-years-old and thus, can now complete sweaters at a superhuman speed. She’s currently nursing a novel she’s been making slow progress on for the last six years.

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