Timestamp Special #12: Death is the Only Answer

Doctor Who: Death is the Only Answer
(1 episode, Doctor Who Confidential Special, 2011)

Timestamp S12 Death is the Only Answer

The Doctor meets one of the greatest physicists of our time.

The Doctor celebrates the acquisition of a new fez formerly owned by his old friend Albert Einstein. He trips, knocking the fez out of his hands as he trips a lever on the console. A time portal appears and a bewildered Einstein stumbles through it with the fez.

Einstein has been working on the science of time travel, sure that the green liquid in his flask is the key. The Doctor scans the flask and tells Einstein that he is wrong. Unfortunately, the flask bubbles over and splashes its contents on the physicist’s face, transforming him into an Ood. An Ood with a message: “Death is the only answer.”

The Doctor generates an energy field that returns Einstein to normal… except for his hair, which is now standing on end. The Doctor drops Albert back at September 18, 1945, and flies on, unaware that a splash of Einstein’s liquid remains on the console room floor.

The liquid twitches.

This is a short and sweet episode with a fun premise and a great origin story. Doctow Who Confidential and BBC Learning teamed up with a contest that challenged students to write a script for a short episode. The winners were Adam, Daniel, Katie, and Ben, Year Six students from Basingstoke credited collectively as The Children of Oakley Junior School.

The episode itself debuted as part of When Time Froze on Doctor Who Confidential. It pulls from popular elements of the revival era (the fez, in particular) and previous mentions of Albert Einstein in the classic era (Four to Doomsday, The Stones of Blood, and Time and the Rani).

It’s a fun and cute episode, though the dangling thread of the strange liquid is a mean tease. I also appreciated the ominous Ood tie back to the ongoing thread: “Death is the only answer.”

Rating: 4/5 – “Would you care for a jelly baby?”

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Wedding of River Song


The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.


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