Broadcast Date: 02 December 2018
Written By: Ed Hime
“It Takes You Away” is a more low-key episode than many this series, focusing on the emotional issue of grief and providing Ryan and Graham with some great individual development.
*Warning: This review contains spoilers*
The first ten minutes of the episode are brilliantly set. The TARDIS arrives on the edge of a forest overlooking a fjord in Norway; one positive I have about this series as a whole is that the producers have picked some amazing locations to film in. The gloomy colour palette and the low lighting convey a sense of dread once it is revealed that something is in the forest and there is a solitary boarded up cabin in the vicinity. Inside the cabin the TARDIS crew find Hanne (a great performance from Ellie Wallwork), a blind teenage girl who is terrified after her father goes missing. This has all of the elements for a thrilling scare-fest in the forest, but turns into a surprising insight into grief and love.
For the episode turns into this strange journey through the Anti-Zone (like the depths of hell) to a conscience that has formed its own separate universe and has one wish… to have friends to stay with them in the universe. The universe took the form of Hanne’s dead mother in an attempt to keep her husband there and tries to do the same to Graham (Bradley Walsh) by conjuring the image of his beloved Grace. It is great to see Sharon D Clarke again; I thought that she would have joined the TARDIS crew before her death, though it made sense from the writer’s point of view in order to develop Graham and Ryan’s (Tosin Cole) characters. This episode becomes more of a swansong for Grace after her sudden death, forcing Graham to move on with his new life. Ryan is also impacted by the blind Hanne and her faith in her father, whereas he was abandoned early in his life. Both of these backstories have taken a back seat in the past few episodes but when Ryan calls Graham “Grandad” for the first time, it feels right after such an emotionally draining episode. Walsh’s acting in particular was simply brilliant; it’s probably his strongest episode to date.
I think that many of the episodes this series have promised one thing and delivered another, not always for the best. However, I feel like this low-key episode about grief and the lengths people will go to in order to keep their loved ones feels right as the one before the series finale. I don’t think that it is a perfect episode by any stretch; the Anti-Zone serves little purpose apart from giving the characters an actual sense of danger (once the pocket universe is revealed to be lonely). It even introduces a creepy alien who resides in there and offers the travellers safe passage for a price; he doesn’t have any real bearing on the episode and I would have preferred a longer section in the pocket universe in order to have more scenes between Grace and Graham. The climax sees the universe turn into a frog with Grace’s voice; though this may seem absurd, it makes complete sense and does feel like a suitable resolution. On the other hand, The Doctor’s (Jodie Whittaker) sheep and location comments from eating dirt were absurd. I’m not sure if the characterisation is spot on yet, it can go from one extreme to another.
“It Takes You Away” promises a creepy thriller in a Norwegian cottage and delivers an emotional episode centred on Ryan and Graham and their family attachments. The camera work and lighting deserves particular praise for conveying the sombre and overly-bright nature of the two universes. With only one episode of the series remaining, it feels like every character is starting to get a sense of closure to their character arc.
Star Rating: 4/5
What did you make of “It Takes You Away”?
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The series finale of Series 11 sees the TARDIS crew arrive on a planet that has seen nine different distress calls, and onto a battlefield and the clutches of an old enemy… You can read my thoughts on “The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos” very soon!