The Good: Plot moves along well, Adequate performances
The Bad: Light on character development, Fairly predictable
The Basics: "The Poison Sky" resolves the action of "The Sontaran Stratagem" adequately, but not exceptionally.
In television and movies, sequels and second parts often have a difficult time living up to the potential alluded to in the first part. Even so, some make a decent showing of it and "The Poison Sky" fares better than most second parts. "The Poison Sky" picks up immediately after "The Sontaran Stratagem" (reviewed here!). As a result, it is impossible to discuss "The Poison Sky" without revealing some of where "The Sontaran Stratagem" left the major characters and plotlines.
For "The Poison Sky," U.N.I.T. reveals a potential previously only alluded to in Doctor Who (at least the new episodes of Doctor Who; I've no idea how the organization is represented in "classic" Doctor Who). They have a helicarrier, much like S.H.I.E.L.D. from Marvel Comics or The Avengers (reviewed here!). "The Poison Sky" opens at an appropriately bleak moment for the protagonists: the ATMOS devices are poisoning the Earth, Martha has been replaced by a replicant, Luke Rattigan had betrayed the planet to Sontarans, and Wilfred was trapped in his car, choking to death. "The Poison Sky," predictably, resolves everything set up in "The Sontaran Stratagem" and moves the relationships The Doctor has with Donna Noble and Martha Jones forward.
Sylvia Noble manages to rescue Wilfred and she objects to Donna going off with The Doctor, but Donna leaves anyway. The Doctor uses the opportunity to give Donna a key to the TARDIS and as the world chokes on fumes created by the ATMOS devices in 400,000,000 of the world's cars, Donna is secreted away to the TARDIS. Unfortunately, The Doctor tips his hand to the Martha Jones Replicant, who has the Sontarans teleport the TARDIS up to the Sontaran mothership. U.N.I.T.'s commander, Colonel Mace, orders Earth's nuclear arsenal to train on on the Sontaran ship as The Doctor tries to signal Donna Noble. The Martha Jones Replicant prevents the nuclear arsenal from launching.
As the Sontarans attack the ATMOS factory, the Doctor realizes they are interested in something inside the factory and are working to protect it. As Rattigan wigs out on his would-be disciples, he flees back to the Sontaran ship where he discovers the aliens have used him. Mace marshals U.N.I.T.'s forces to attack the Sontaran positions in the factory while Donna Noble escapes the TARDIS to get the teleporter back online. When The Doctor rescues Martha, they discover what the Sontarans are actually after on Earth and the Doctor and his two Companions work together to stop them.
"The Poison Sky" firmly establishes The Doctor's loathing of guns in a way that prior episodes have not and the episode is one of the prime reasons "In The Forest Of The Night" (reviewed here!) does not work several seasons later (honestly, if Earth-saving entities would make the world a forest to save humanity from solar flares, why wouldn't they save them from the Sontarans?!"
The science of "The Poison Sky" is a bit wonky. Carbon monoxide, one of the gasses being released by the ATMOS devices around the world, is highly flammable in an oxygen atmosphere . . . but the oxygen would be consumed to combust the CO. The Doctor's solution to the ATMOS poisoning of Earth's atmosphere would have wiped out all life on Earth!
Beyond that, "The Poison Sky"is well-presented, but not very high on character development. Wilfred Mott continues to worry about Donna Noble and The Doctor is as clever as usual, but only Donna really develops in the episode. Donna's trip into the Sontaran ship has her moving from being, essentially, an investigator to an action hero. In "The Poison Sky," she dispatches a Sontaran warrior that that's a big step for her!
The performances in "The Poison Sky" are good, but none of them particularly challenge any of the actors.
Ultimately, "The Poison Sky" resolves the story started in "The Sontaran Stratagem" in a very straightforward way. It's an average episode with little to excite viewers and little to complain about.
[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Doctor Who - The Complete Fourth Season on DVD or Blu-Ray, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the final season of David Tennant as The Doctor here!
For other works with Biddy Hodson, please check out my reviews of:
The Mists Of Avalon
For other Doctor Who episode and movie reviews, please visit my Doctor Who Review Index Page!
© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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