What Doctor Who’s Ncuti Gatwa Brought To Steven Moffat’s ‘Boom’ That The Writer Really Loved

 Ncuti Gatwa on Doctor Who.
Ncuti Gatwa on Doctor Who.
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Warning! The following contains SPOILERS for the Doctor Who episode "Boom." Watch the episode with a Disney+ subscription and read at your own risk!

Doctor Who welcomed former showrunner Steven Moffat back to write an episode of its inaugural season on Disney+, and it took minutes before he had the audience glued to the edge of their seats. Those who thought the first couple of episodes were lacking in tension got it in spades with the release of "Boom," which freezes The Doctor in place after he steps on a very sensitive land mine. It was the first episode Moffat's penned for new Doctor actor Ncuti Gatwa, and the writer told CinemaBlend there's something about the performance he really loved.

In the episode, we see The Doctor step out into a war zone and directly onto that landmine. If he moves too much, gets his heart rate up or falls, it will explode. While The Doctor is capable of regeneration, his Time Lord physiology means the explosion would be so catastrophic it would kill his companion, Ruby Sunday, and wipe out half of the entire planet they land on. Therefore, he must figure out how to work himself out of the jam while remaining calm and figuring out exactly what is happening in this war zone.

I had the honor of speaking to Steven Moffat about "Boom" and asked the former showrunner who has written for past Doctor actors like Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi. As such, I wanted to pick his brain about what stood out about Ncuti Gatwa's performance and what he brings as The Doctor that makes the script shine. Moffat responded:

I think he embraced, more fully probably than any of the other Doctors, how afraid The Doctor was. He really goes for fear. Not wimpish fear, not cowardly fear, not cowardice at all. Bravery, but he is really scared. He's really scared, he hates being helpless, and he's a vain creature, The Doctor. He doesn't like having to ask for help all the time.

The Fifteenth Doctor tapped into his fear in a way other Doctors haven't. In fact, he touches on it in the previous episode, "The Devil's Chord," when he realizes he's up against the Pantheon, which CinemaBlend learned more about recently. The Doctor is scared in that instance because of what's at stake, and the fact that he must rely on Ruby and others to get out of his predicament.

Ncuti Gatwa is a phenomenal actor, to the point some people tuned into Doctor Who just to see him in it. Steven Moffat highlighted that in talking about how the actor portrayed The Doctor's fear and what he loved about the performance:

The fact that he is so afraid he cries, I think, is the thing that I didn't expect and really, really loved. Because we don't often see The Doctor in that level of fear. I mean, we know he's capable of being afraid, but realizing it. It's such an interesting thing about The Doctor. He's tremendously powerful and clever and effective, but you could kill him with a rock. He's not Superman. So, presenting him with his own mortality on a knife edge reveals so much of him.

The Doctor is ultimately able to get out of the jam when he realizes the Anglican Marines on the planet are fighting a war against no one, and that the casualties they sustained are all part of a corporation's algorithm that ensures the fighting goes on long enough to maintain their profits without any real end to the conflict. Once word is given that there's no actual enemy, the conflict is ended, and The Doctor is finally free to step off the now-deactivated landmine.

It's a fantastic episode from Steven Moffat, who has penned some of Doctor Who's best episodes in the past. Those wanting more from him are in luck because we already know that he's written the upcoming Christmas special, which is set to air later this year. I'm thrilled to see it, especially if it's tied to the growing connection between The Doctor and Ruby Sunday. Until then, there's still plenty of season left to enjoy!

Doctor Who is available to stream on Disney+, with new episodes released globally on Fridays at 7:00 p.m. ET. Those looking to stream the older modern episodes of DW will have to look elsewhere, unfortunately, though I do hope we get all the episodes in one place eventually.