Okay, to begin with, this wasn’t a case of an epic build-up followed by a damp squib of a resolution. Part two continued to learn the lessons of Resolution with proper jeopardy, real stakes, and it actually made the Doctor a proactive problem-solver, all of which is good. But a lot of the same criticisms still apply. Characterisation is largely non-existent, the regulars are wasted and none of the bits of the story connect to each other in meaningful ways.

To begin with, in the whirl and dash of the episode, it’s easy to overlook the fact that the companions, who usually stand around parcelling out one character’s worth of dialogue between the three of them, have been shunted off into their own story for the entirety of the episode. From the moment we see them in that plane hanger (and just how did they get there?) to their reunion with the Doctor, nothing that they do impacts the main plot in the slightest. And much of what they are doing is fairly stupid. I pity poor Bradley Walsh having to hop up and down pretending that lasers are shooting out of his shoes. Christ almighty. And lucky for the three of them that when they do deliberately call attention to themselves, Lenny Henry, who wants nothing more than the three of them eliminated, sends the very feeblest force at this disposal to intercept them.

One of Chris Chibnall’s most frustrating faults is his habit of introducing potentially thrilling ideas and then forgetting about them instantly. Early in the episode, Lenny Henry’s mastery of all world communication is used to make Yas, Graham and the other one wanted by the police. How will their friends, their families, react to this? What repercussions will this have on the rest of their lives? For me, the new series of Doctor Who came alive when the Doctor brought Rose home a year later than intended. Her family were grieving. Mickey Smith was accused of her murder. This felt real. For Chris Chibnall, it’s a brief adrenalin rush and then it’s forgotten – despite the fact that we spent five boring minutes in part one establishing all of their families!!

And what was Lenny Henry’s plan exactly? First of all, judging by that interaction at the airport, he’s obviously trying to keep his nefarious plots as secret as possible. Crashing one of his private planes into the Essex countryside is hardly likely to do that. But also, massive emphasis is given to harvesting people’s private data. Yet, the Voord’s plan only requires that people use the devices. It doesn’t matter whether Lenny is harvesting their data or not. And if alien menaces using personal communications devices that have become ubiquitous to take over people’s brains sounds familiar, it’s because you saw it in 2006 in Rise of the Cybermen – in the era of MySpace and Napster.

Of course the Voord’s plan doesn’t make any sense either. Humans are not the only things on planet Earth with DNA. The Voord could use DNA in trees for their data back-up. And just where is this data coming from anyway? Have the filled up some other planet’s biostorage already? And what’s in it for Lenny, whose only desire is to control people’s data, be rich and famous, and show off to his mum. Turning the majority of humans into flash drives prevents him from doing any of these things.

The Doctor meanwhile is off playing Overlooked Women of History Top Trumps and while it’s a pleasure to see Ada Lovelace and Noor Khan, again they aren’t really given anything much to do – certainly nothing which requires their unique talents. As with part one, it’s Sacha Dhawan who is the saving grace of the episode. The set piece in the 1834 tech fair is genuinely gripping, brutal and exciting. Shame that later on, we get one of those dreary Chibnall parlay scenes, where the Master seemingly forgets that top of his to-do list for the day was to kill the Doctor.

And speaking of forgetting, I did not like the Doctor mind-raping her allies once their usefulness was at an end. Has she never heard of consent? Ada was actually saying “No, I don’t want this.” Jesus.

When everyone is reunited, it turns out that the Doctor’s plan to save her fam was – again – to bribe the architect first. When he isn’t half-remembering better RTD stories from 2006, Chibnall is half-remembering ideas that Steven Moffat thought were so played-out as to be worth spoofing in 1999. And then we get the dreary notion that Gallifrey, once lost, then found, has been lost again. When, at the end of Gridlock, the Doctor tells Martha about his home for the first time, it’s because meeting a new companion had meant that for a moment he could pretend to himself that Gallifrey was still there, that the Time War had never happened. Even though the vocabulary is made up science fiction words, the emotions are real. When Jodie Whittaker plays the same scene at the end of Spyfall, there’s no context for it, there’s nothing to hang on to. We’re just expected to punch the air because Chibnall remembered “Kasterborous” from The Pyramids of Mars and the Timeless Child from his own The Ghost Monument.

Of course, if the Doctor did have access to Lenny Henry’s plane whenever she wished, then it might have been more straightforward to disable the bomb the same way that she disabled the Voord’s back-up system. And what the hell was the Master doing for all that time? Having a nap? Why??? It’s also a shame that the Doctor’s new togs are two sizes too big for her, which again makes this feel like a fan-made Youtube video starring a precocious child wearing her dad’s clothes.

I guess this is worth another three stars – for Jodie Whittaker and Bradley Walsh, definitely for Sacha Dhawan (even if this is just the John Simm master again), for the energy and punch of the direction (this time from Lee Haven Jones instead of Jamie Magnus Stone, odd) and the scene in the exhibition. But I fear it’s going to be a long old season…

3 out of 5 stars