Doctor Who 'Dot and Bubble': Why are space slugs eating influencers in Finetime?

A scene from the Doctor Who episode 5 Dot and Bubble
In the fifth episode of "Doctor Who," called"'Dot and Bubble," a city has been invaded by giant, human-eating space slugs, and they seem to have a plan. (Image credit: BBC/Disney Plus)

There's trouble in paradise — and for the social media-obsessed residents of Finetime, it runs much deeper than wearing the wrong outfit. In the fifth episode of "Doctor Who," called"'Dot and Bubble," a city has been invaded by giant, human-eating space slugs, and they seem to have a plan.

With the Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and his companion Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson) trapped on the edge of town, the duo make contact with Lindy Pepper-Bean (Callie Cooke) in the hope she can help them save the day. But while the Doctor-on-a-screen format has echoes of classic Weeping Angels episode "Blink," Lindy is no Sally Sparrow. Instead, she's the unwitting focus of a "Black Mirror"-esque satire on social media, in which we gradually realize that Finetime is rotten to its core. 

Here we explain why there's more to the slugs' agenda than simply filling their stomachs. And if you're a Whovian in need of a refresher, check out our Doctor Who streaming guide for tips on how to watch the Fifteenth Doctor's first season. 

Disney Plus

Disney Plus is now the international home of "Doctor Who." That means that viewers outside the U.K. can watch new "Doctor Who" episodes on the streamer — as well as the three David Tennant-starring 60th anniversary episodes, and Ncuti Gatwa's first full outing as the Time Lord, "The Church on Ruby Road". 

Episodes debut on Disney Plus at the same time they appear on BBC iPlayer.

 What is Finetime? 

Finetime is a seemingly utopian city, separated from the so-called "Wild Woods" outside by a protective dome. It's populated by a bunch of social media-obsessed 17- to 27-year-olds — "No stinky old folk," says resident Lindy Pepper-Bean — sent there from the Homeworld by their super-rich parents.  

Related: Doctor Who companions ranked worst to best

What do people do in Finetime? 

Young influencers spend their time in FineTime in Doctor Who's "Dot and Bubble," but all is not as it seems. (Image credit: BBC/Disney Plus)

The Finetimers work in data processing for a whole two hours a day. For the other 22 hours they're free to play, to influence, and to dance along to Bombalurina's 1990 novelty hit, "Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini." "It's like 'Love Island: The Planet,'" points out the Doctor's companion, Ruby Sunday.

Physical interactions are kept to a minimum. Instead, Lindy Pepper-Bean and her friends (Cooper Mercy, Harry Tendency, Valerie Nook, Hoochy Pie, Blake Very-Blue and the rest) spend their entire lives inside a total immersion social media platform. From the moment they wake up, their heads are surrounded by the "Bubble", a hovering circular screen projected by a hovering AI "Dot" — and if someone they don't like comes into their orbit, they can just "slide" them away.

The locals don't just use the Bubble to hang out with friends, however. They're so dependent on the tech that they struggle to walk around without the Dot directing them — and there's even a Dr. Pee app to tell them when to go to the bathroom. In other words, if you thought your kids were addicted to their smartphones, you ain't seen nothing yet.

It hasn't always been this way in Finetime. Before the "Great Abrogation," when the city was sealed off from the outside world, manual labor was commonplace. Not that the current residents would go anywhere near that kind of thing — there'd be way too much risk of "chapping," a common ailment in this "hard-working'" community. 

Why are Finetime's influencers going missing? 

Lindy (Callie Cooke) and FineTime influencers face a space slug menace in Doctor Who "Dot and Bubble." (Image credit: BBC/Disney Plus)

The answer is as simple as giant human-eating space slugs. 

Unfortunately for the teens and 20-somethings, their Dots don't appear to detect these "Mantraps," meaning the risk of inadvertently wandering into a creature's gooey jaws is extremely high — especially among a populous that takes zero interest in the world around them. Unexpectedly well-read pop sensation Ricky September — and the late Gothic Paul — are the only people who seem to have any concept of the danger outside.

The Mantraps also prove to be extremely picky eaters, prone to ignoring many potential snacks as they work through their Finetime smorgasbord in alphabetical order. This explains why poor Kirstie Book-keeper hasn't been seen for a week. 

Related: The greatest Doctor Who villains ranked 

Why can't the Doctor do anything about the slug infestation? 

The Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby Tuesday (Millie Gibson) speak with Lindy (Callie Cooke) in "Dot and Bubble." (Image credit: BBC/Disney Plus)

The "crazy tight" forcefield around Finetime is so powerful that he and Ruby can't get inside to deal with the city's pest problem. Instead, he and Ruby have to hack into the social network to warn the self-obsessed locals that they need to get out. 

Why aren't their parents' rushing over from the Homeworld to save them? 

On any other day, we're sure they'd have been as "Cross" and "Righteous" as Ricky September predicted, jetting over to Finetime "with rocket ships and flame-throwers and weed killers" to rescue their spoilt offspring. Alas, on this particular day it turns out they've also been eaten by carnivorous gastropods, reducing the Homeworld's population to zero.  

How are the Mantraps choosing their next meal? 

Lindy (Callie Cooke) in FineTime during the Doctor Who episode "Dot and Bubble." (Image credit: BBC/Disney Plus)

Despite Lindy's initial fears that the slugs had slithered in from the Wild Woods, these giant mollusks were actually created on site. The designer? The Dots, who've now achieved sentience and come to hate the Finetimers and their inane chatter. 

They've subsequently programmed the Mantraps to gobble up the kids in alphabetical order — and disposed of their parents, too. The Dots aren't unaware of the slugs — they're purposefully ignoring them.

Why don't the Mantrap survivors accept the Doctor's offer to fly them away in the TARDIS? 

Because there's something extremely rotten at the heart of Finetime.

By the time Lindy sells out Ricky September to save her own life, you've probably already spotted that every face on the Bubble isn't just rich and privileged — they're also exclusively white. And that's clearly no accident, because racism is so ingrained in this society that the survivors reject the Doctor's impassioned pleas to let him rescue them from near-certain death in the Great Beyond, simply because of the color of his skin.

"We couldn't travel with you," Lindy tells the Doctor, "because you, sir, are not one of us. I mean, you were kind — although it was your duty to save me, obviously. I mean, screen-to-screen contact is just about acceptable, but … in person? That's impossible."

Lindy's fellow survivors, Hoochy Pie and Brewster Cavendish, continue the abhorrent theme,  talking of their "God given duty to maintain the standards of Finetime" and avoiding being "contaminated."

Maybe those man-eating slugs weren't such a bad thing after all…

"Doctor Who" streams on BBC iPlayer in the UK and Disney Plus elsewhere in the world. New episodes debut at 7pm ET/4pm PT on Fridays, and midnight on Saturdays in the UK. Our guide to watching new "Doctor Who" episodes explains more.

"Doctor Who" streams on BBC iPlayer in the UK and Disney Plus elsewhere in the world. New episodes debut at 7pm ET/4pm PT on Fridays, and midnight on Saturdays in the UK. Our guide to watching new "Doctor Who" episodes explains more.

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Richard Edwards Contributor

Richard's love affair with outer space started when he saw the original "Star Wars" on TV aged four, and he spent much of the ’90s watching "Star Trek”, "Babylon 5” and “The X-Files" with his mum. After studying physics at university, he became a journalist, swapped science fact for science fiction, and hit the jackpot when he joined the team at SFX, the UK's biggest sci-fi and fantasy magazine. He liked it so much he stayed there for 12 years, four of them as editor. 

He's since gone freelance and passes his time writing about "Star Wars", "Star Trek" and superheroes for the likes of SFX, Total Film, TechRadar and GamesRadar+. He has met five Doctors, two Starfleet captains and one Luke Skywalker, and once sat in the cockpit of "Red Dwarf"'s Starbug.