Aired 12 June 2010
It’s an interesting choice Doctor Who makes this series with its eleventh episode compared to recent series, as instead of increasing the action and providing a story that progresses the storylines throughout, it instead offers a much lighter and more standalone tale. ‘The Lodger’ ends up still being an enjoyable romp in the end, but it certainly tones down the scope and ambition that the Moffatt era has carried so far.
Gareth Roberts pens ‘The Lodger,’ and it’s clear from the outset that he intends to explorer a less emotionally burdened Eleventh Doctor than has been present in much of the series. Following a mishap in the TARDIS that separate the Doctor and Amy, Matt Smith soon moves in with James Corden’s Craig and gets the opportunity of living a day-to-day human life. Unsurprisingly, the Doctor doesn’t fit in completely smoothly, and the fish-out-of-water card is played to great effect, albeit perhaps for a bit more time than anticipated. Still, seeing the Doctor try to work his way through social niceties is a joy and certainly reinforces his alien nature despite the amount of time he has spent on Earth and with humans.
And so while Amy is trying to land the TARDIS and the Doctor is trying to fit in with Craig’s lifestyle, the episode itself neatly toys with the burgeoning yet unadmitted romance between Craig and Sophie as well as- more intriguingly- some mysterious goings-on in the apartment upstairs as people are lured in by an assortment of characters, each one never to return. These instances seem to be causing the TARDIS’s repeated failed attempts to land as well.
So, after a near-fatal encounter with spreading rot in Craig’s apartment, a headbutt that allows Craig to see and understand the Doctor’s Time Lord world (with yet another past Doctor slideshow), and an ingenious homemade contraption, the mystery upstairs finally comes into focus. In what seems to be somewhat of a recurring theme this series, though, the foe again stays more to the shadows and background; however, it’s the fact that the villain has the capacity to camouflage a functional ship and changing perceptions so that people accept a building’s second story when there shouldn’t be one that’s the main concern. While this storyline for the most part remains unresolved, it seems likely that this is not the last the Doctor has seen of this ship or shrouded villain.
Ultimately, then, ‘The Lodger’ is fine episode that probably suffers more from its position in the run of episodes than from the content of the episode itself. Following the utterly superb character piece in ‘Vincent and the Doctor’ and preceding the two-part finale, a more casual and humorous episode was always going to seem like a letdown. However, that’s not to take away from the comic offerings of Matt Smith and James Corden in their unusual roommate situation as the Doctor proves both surprisingly adept and terrible at fitting in to everyday human society.
It’s possible that the cloaked ship will play into the finale- at the very least it’s bound to make a return at some point in the future- but for now attention is fully on the events to come as the final scene sets events for the finale in motion. The crack in the wall returns and Amy conveniently finds Rory’s engagement ring, and those underlying arcs seem set to return in a big fashion very soon.