Doctor Who: Legend of the Sea Devils review

Deciding that the best way to reach a pirate’s heart is through their treasure, the Doctor and Yaz climb back into the TARDIS and set out to find where the ship sank, arriving in its final hours to find its captain, Ji-Hun, forcing the crew to abandon ship at the behest of…Marsissus. Its past self, that is. For a moment, it looked like we could have some “City of Death” style antics with the same villain in two time periods, but the Doctor chose not to stick around.

Their next stop is the seabed, where the Flower of the Sea conspicuously absent, bringing Jodie Whittaker to deliver the episode line “No Ship, Sherlock!” What is here, however, is a hungry leviathan summoned by the Sea Devils, and the TARDIS is soon chewed up and dragged to their lair.

Dan, meanwhile, has teamed up with Ying Ki, the son of the man shot by Madame Ching, and together they sneak aboard her ship only to find that she is sailing it solo. They are immediately captured, of course, and Ching reveals that she is looking for treasure as her crew have been taken hostage by a rival fleet, including her two young sons.

Ching’s ship is an expansive set, and while we only ever see it above decks, it’s an impressive achievement. It’s a shame that the absence of a busy pirate crew (a decision no doubt influenced by security concerns during pandemic filming) means the actors feel a bit overwhelmed by their surroundings. Dan and a reluctant Ying Ki agree to serve as shipmates, which is just as well, as the Marsissus Megalodon soon makes its presence known…briefly.

A mighty naval battle doesn’t have to be, as a single volley of cannon fire seems to chase the creature away (even if it spits the shots out again). Instead, the beast turns its tail and heads back to Marsissus – which now has the Doctor and Yaz trapped in its underwater base, as well as Ji-Hun in stasis – and the Sea Devil Supreme announces that its pet has finally located the keystone, an object of ‘infinite power’ that was used to seal it in the first place.

Then we get another one of those moments that suggest another piece of script got cut out. One minute the doctor is playing with the controls that will do the increase Flower of the Sea back to the surface – the next day, she, Yaz, and a miraculously freed Ji-Hun flee the ship, swinging from the ropes to find Madame Ching and the others. We haven’t seen them escape from Marsissus, we just have to assume they did because, well, there they are. There is no racing in the lanes this week.