This piece was originally posted on Film Inquiry for a series on Doctor Who Season 11.
The season finale takes the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and her companions to a seemingly deserted planet, but a familiar face soon makes his presence known and it becomes another race against the clock for the Doctor to save the Earth from total annihilation.
“The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos”, the final installment of season 11, offers up an action-packed story, heavily referencing previous episodes of the series, and reminding us of the journey Yaz, (Mandip Gill), Graham (Bradley Walsh), and Ryan (Tosin Cole) have been on during their time in the TARDIS thus far.
Inside a spaceship, the gang discover a confused pilot, Paltraki (Mark Addy) alone and suffering severe memory loss. He is without his crew and cannot remember where they have gone, until a wee reminder appears on a screen from their captor. “Tzim-Sha” (Samuel Oatley), our villain from “The Woman Who Fell to Earth” tells him that his crew members are leverage for a trade, in exchange for a strange-looking transparent block of plastic he has on board his ship.
While exploring the planet outside, they stumble across a graveyard of abandoned spaceships, all missing their crews as well, and the Doctor leads them towards the hostage situation, in the hope of resolving the situation in a peaceful manner, much to Graham’s horror.
When the Doctor later realises the scale of the problem and that Tzim-Sha has plucked planets from their places in the solar systems and plans to destroy them, it becomes a race against his evil plot. The longer the planets are held together in confined spaces, the more likely it is that they’ll all explode themselves to smithereens, apparently.
Again the Doctor finds herself with the same sort of dilemma as previous installments, where she briefly struggles to come up with a plan or idea of what to do, what the issue is and how to solve it, and again she perseveres and finds a way to overcome the problems before it is too late.
Closure 10 Weeks On
Up against their foe from the beginning of season 11 “Tzim-Sha”, a Stenza creature whose face is covered with teeth from creatures he has killed, the episode reminds us of the full journey the characters have travelled, and the loss that they suffered right off the bat. Due to the Stenza’s interference on Earth, Grace (Sharon Clarke) died, and now Graham is faced with an opportunity to level the playing field, aiming a gun at Tzim-Sha himself.
Rising above the violent strategy of the Stenza, Graham and Ryan decide against killing their enemy, and instead punish him to incarceration in one of his own cages. Leaving him to think about his actions for eternity, alone on the abandoned planet, Graham and his grandson seem pleased with themselves, and the Doctor is glad they have learned the error of violent ways.
Doctor Who: Conclusion
Episode 10 brings Whittaker‘s first Doctor Who season to a close, and after her first series of expeditions, it is clear that the writers have struggled to balance a female Doctor and increased diversity in their cast, with any overarching substance to their storyline.
Overall, the finale successfully concluded the unresolved themes of the season for the Doctor’s companions, but lacked any new depth to the Doctor herself, and we’ll have to wait until 2019 for more TARDIS adventures.