Doctor Who – Series 11, Episode 10: “The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos”

  • I was expecting it to either be the Doctor or a companion teleporting in front of the Ux at the beginning, and the story then rewinding to tell us how they got there, rather than jumping forward 3407 years. But no, that’s just what would have happened if Steven Moffat was still in charge.
  • The Doctor mentioning psychotrophic waves, and emphasising the need for neural balancers, makes you think this episode will be full of weird hallucinations and characters not being able to tell what’s real. But in fact, this doesn’t play much of a role in the episode; even when the Doctor and Yasmin have to take their neural balancers off, the Doctor is just a little disorientated for a while and barely slowed down.
  • So Tim Shaw is back, in the closest thing that Series 11 has to an arc. I’ve gotten so used to series-long arcs, but after the spaghetti-like arcs of the Moffat era, I can’t say I’m sorry to take a break from them. (Wow, I must really be in the mood for having a go at Moffat today.)
  • The subplot about Graham wanting to kill Tim Shaw to avenge Grace is handled really well, in terms of both acting and writing. When Graham says quietly and calmly that they have “unfinished business with that monster” and the Doctor pointedly asks if he’s OK, you know what’s coming. Thirteen tells Graham that she’ll expel him from the TARDIS if he does kill Tim Shaw, which feels true to the Doctor; she may have killed plenty of times before in previous incarnations, but she doesn’t want to see her companions cross that line. (Saying later that her “rules change all the time” feels like an acknowledgement of her personal moral flexibility.) Some great scenes between Graham and Ryan ensue: while we didn’t get a chance to know Grace that well, Graham makes a halfway-convincing argument for her wanting him to avenge her (calling her tough, and imagining her saying “You send that blue piece of rubbish to kingdom come”), and he also demonstrates that Ryan’s previously cool attitude towards him still hurts a bit. When we finally get to the showdown between Graham and Tim Shaw, I genuinely wasn’t sure if Graham would do it or not.
  • Ah, a pleasant stroll through the good old Doctor Who quarry.
  • It’s easy to look down on the Ux for committing terrible deeds in the name of blind faith in a false god, but you can’t help but feel sorry for them too.
  • At least Tim Shaw gives a proper reason for why he’s chosen to target Earth, as the site of his first confrontation with the Doctor.
  • And at least the show emphasises how incredibly difficult stealing an entire planet should be, as with the Season 4 finale (which the Doctor references later on!)
  • “Yippee-ki-yay” – Graham, you are awesome. Though of course, he can’t swear before the watershed.
  • I think we can safely assume that Tim Shaw will be back again at some point.

This one may not be a grand climax that we’ve been building towards all season, but it still manages to feel like a proper season finale, and a decent one at that. It’s another slow, gradual story that needs to be consciously grasped onto, but unlike some other episodes like that, it never feels dull. The stakes are high, and the Doctor’s parting words feel like an appropriate closing statement as Team TARDIS continue on their travels. With these qualities, and the great ways that the characters are used this time round, Series 11 saves the best for last. Rating: 4.5/5.

As you’ve probably already heard, there is a Doctor Who-shaped hole in the Christmas Day television lineup, which feels strange and disappointing after the past thirteen Christmases. Still, the New Year’s Day special is only a few weeks away, and I’m going to wait until after that episode airs before giving my final thoughts on Series 11. See you then!

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About Richard Southworth

Hi, my name's Richard. I've been blogging since January 2014, and I like to talk about all sorts of things: book reviews, film reviews, writing, science, history, or sometimes just sharing miscellaneous thoughts. Thanks for visiting my blog, and I hope you find something that interests you! I have a main blog at https://velociraptor256.wordpress.com, and a blog focussed on nature at http://richardsnatureblog.wordpress.com.
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