I'm sticking to this ridiculous three-week delayed schedule. Thanks for nothing BBC America.
After two strange, one-off episodes, we're back to another two-parter this season. But unlike the first two-parter ("The Time of Angels" and "Flesh and Stone") and the season finale, these next two episodes aren't written by Steven Moffat. Instead, they were penned by Chris Chibnall, who wrote the Series 3 episode, "42," as well as numerous episode of the Doctor Who spin-off, Torchwood, and I think it shows.
Episode 8 - "The Hungry Earth"
Thanks to Chibnall's work on Torchwood, I found this first episode to be excessively darker than the last couple episodes of the show, possibly even darker than "Flesh and Stone," and that's saying something. It's not all creepy and suspense though, I mean, Rory is around, and it's hard to not be amused when he tries to act like an alpha male around The Doctor. Anyways...
"The Hungry Earth" opens with our trio arriving in what they thought was Rio, but it turns out to be a mining area somewhere in the quiet hills of England (they film everything near Whales, so I can assume it's supposed to be there), and right away The Doctor feels something wrong with the ground under his feet... which probably isn't a good sign. He and Amy go to check the mining facility, while Rory gets held up, returning Amy's engagement ring back to the TARDIS for safe keeping, and soon a woman mistakes him for a plain-clothes police officer, which puts Rory a bit on the spot and is pretty amusing.
But while Rory stands in as the comic relief, things are a bit darker down at the mining facility, where a pair of researchers are drilling to record-breaking depths in the Earth's crust, and the Earth is happy, or so it seems, and Amy is dragged beneath the soil against her will in probably the most dramatic scene in Doctor Who since David Tennant was in tears about regenerating. Really gripping, and as said earlier, dark stuff. The rest of the episode deals with trying to find out what is there below the Earth's surface and their motivation, and it may be a race of people that The Doctor hasn't seen since his third incarnation, which makes this a nice use of Doctor Who lore without relying on the Daleks and Cybermen for the bajillionth time. And the way this episode ends, consider me excited; for a non-Moffat episode this season, it was pretty damn good. More of this please.
Overall Score: 9.2/10