The following contains spoilers for “Space Babies.”

You can’t help but admire the audacity of Russell T. Davis. He takes away the rights to do Doctor who from the BBC. He has Disney+ write a huge check to bring the show to life in a way never seen before. Then, with so much money at stake and a months-long promotional campaign, he opens the first season and the door to new fans with this.

We open at the end of The Church of Ruby Road, with the Doctor’s last companion, Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson), entering the TARDIS for the first time. The Doctor introduces himself and offers a quick tour of the premises for the people at home. They are aliens adopted by the Time Lords from Gallifrey, who were then destroyed. This leaves the Doctor (once again) as the last of their kind; a quasi-immortal time traveler who can go anywhere in the universe.

To set the scene, the pair travel back to prehistoric Wyoming to take in a detailed view of some CGI dinosaurs. This is the show that boasts what it can do even for a throwaway scene with its new bigger budget. And it helps to banish the memories of some of the less successful attempts to make an episode with dinosaurs from way back when.

Ruby now understands the conventions of the time travel genre and asks about the risks of causation if she steps on a butterfly. The Doctor rejects this idea immediately before Ruby does and causes untold damage to the timeline. The butterfly quickly revives and the Doctor returns to the TARDIS to activate the butterfly compensator. Which is the closest this show has ever been to a hard sci-fi show and never will be.

Photos: Episode 1

James Pardon/Bad Wolf/BBC Studios

For their next trip, they travel to the far future, landing on a space station that is breeding babies for colony projects. The bowels of the vessel are haunted by an eyeless, toothy monster, while the upper deck is staffed by talking babies. Just seconds after proving that the show can create decent-looking dinosaurs, it goes overboard and adds a terrifyingly creepy CGI baby mouth. I’ve seen it done in movies and commercials and it never works and please god stop trying.

The Doctor and Ruby encounter the crew, a group of babies with the minds of preschoolers and the mouths of adults or something. They are left to operate the station, with pulleys and cables that allow them to control specific functions on board, and smart carts to carry them. The only other presence on the ship is the AI, NAN-E, who acts as a calming voice for the children.

Ruby’s understanding of the genre comes through again here, and she notices that there’s almost a a book of stories quality relative to the situation. A bunch of kids are threatened by an unwanted, frightening presence below and need a hero to step in and save them. The two give the babies some much needed cuddles and are then invited to another part of the station by NAN-E.

Along the way, the two discuss origin stories and how Ruby, following the events of The Church of Ruby Road, wants to use the TARDIS to find out who her parents are. As they talk, snow begins to fall in the hallway – the same snow that fell when Ruby was left on the steps of the church of the same name. Ruby’s memories and history somehow seep into the present or she is able to do something to change the universe.

Photos: Episode 1 (Golda Rosheuvel)Photos: Episode 1 (Golda Rosheuvel)

James Pardon/Bad Wolf/BBC Studios

But they can’t focus on that too much as they are interrupted by NAN-E, who turns out not to be an AI, but a human. Jocelyn Sancerre (Golda Rochevel) is the last adult crew member left on the station to take care of the children when everyone else is ordered to leave. The government of the planet below pulled funding for the stations and ordered the adults to leave, leaving the children in place. But since the planet is also anti-abortion, they would not terminate unborn babies, preferring to let them die slowly from external factors. Jesus, do you think they could be talking about us?

To the extent that this will be framed as a post-Roe story by US audiences, it’s worth saying that the UK Conservative Party has taken a similar approach. In 2010, the Labor Government worked to significantly reduce child poverty and homelessness with a number of targeted programmes. They were quickly overturned by the incoming Conservatives, not only undoing all those gains, but making the problem much worse. So much so that UN – UN! – of all people rebuke the nation.

The sequence of saying the silent part out loud continues when, while making a plan to save the babies, they choose to take them to another planet in the system. It’s a world that accepts refugees, but you have to show up on the planet’s doorstep to get help, because it won’t lift a finger to help save people in need from further afield. Again, this is not so much an indirect reference to the UK’s monstrous policy of trying to block refugees from reaching the country by sea. It is a matter of great pride for the Prime Minister that he has boasted about his work to prevent boats from crossing.

This becomes even more painful as for a brief moment the country reconsiders its approach after the death of Alan Curdy, a two-year-old boy who drowned while trying to cross to Europe from Syria. The image of his body became the harrowing and defining image of the day, but the press quickly stepped up to stifle any pro-immigrant sentiment, allowing the country to engage in the colossal folly of spending millions of pounds building a detention center in Rwanda. to forcibly -relocate asylum seekers to the UK as a ‘deterrent’.

Photos: Episode 1 The Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson)Photos: Episode 1 The Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson)

James Pardon/Bad Wolf/BBC Studios

The adults can’t think about their problems for long as Eric, one of the babies (sorry, space babies) heads down to the lower level to deal with this scarecrow. There’s a telling moment where Ruby sprints to save the kid, way ahead of the Doctor, continuing the thread from the Christmas special: Ruby Sunday is ready to dive head first into the action rather than waiting for help with a steel pipe in hand. Doctor who always thrives when companions—a name we’ve been saddled with since 1963—are active figures in the narrative. Every one of the show’s sidekicks, bar one, has its ardent fans, but commanding figures like Sarah Jane and Ace are always the most loved.

After the baby is saved by the other babies using a gas pipe as a flamethrower, they are sent back upstairs while the Doctor and Ruby confront the scarecrow. Ruby’s assumptions are further proven when it turns out that the alien is actually a scary-man, as if made of snot. The malfunctioning systems of the station strive to build a suitable environment for children and use children’s literature as a model.

Jocelyn figures out that she can force the scarecrow into an airlock while keeping the Doctor and Ruby safe. She then exposes the monster to the void of space, but the Doctor cannot be so cruel to another lonely, misunderstood figure. He makes his way into the airlock room and closes the door to trap them both to save the spook’s life.

The episode ends with the Doctor realizing that the station can discard its six full years of contaminated nappies to propel it towards the refugee planet. It’s perfectly fair game to solve a rogue bodily fluid crisis with a poop joke.

Crisis averted, he and Ruby head back to the TARDIS, where he gives her a key and welcomes her to the team, before adding that no matter how much he wants to, he can’t bring her back the moment she’s been abandoned. He secretly begins scanning Ruby to find out exactly what her deal is and why she is capable of breaking the universe. (And yes, there are shades of Impossible girl arc in how this plays out.)

The TARDIS lands back at Ruby’s home, smashing the kitchen and the Christmas dinner in it.

Photos: Episode 1 The Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson)Photos: Episode 1 The Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson)

James Pardon/Bad Wolf/BBC Studios

I imagine the usual corners of the internet will be screaming culture war soon after the episode airs. Davies has always been a political writer and feels obliged to be unequivocal about his views on current issues. His initial tenure on the show was rooted in the end of the Blair and Brown years, fueled by righteous anger over the invasion of Iraq. This, again, is all the more surprising given that it airs on Disney+, the paragon of conservative restraint.

During his first tenure, Davis will begin production on each episode with a pitch meeting that outlines how each episode will maintain a consistent feel in the writing, acting and direction. By comparison, Space Babies wobbles wildly: poop and fart jokes in one scene, disturbing horror in the next, heavy-handed explorations of human morality in between. Jocelyn’s dialogue scenes about an adult going through the “nanny filter” are a good source of comedy, it’s just weird that they’re juxtaposed with high drama.

But that’s more or less what it does Doctor who one of the best shows on television – his ability to do anything he likes. If the weirdness of what you’ve just seen appeals to you, then you’ve just been up Doctor who ventilator. If not, then you may find that the next episode will give you what you’re looking for.