It feels like only yesterday that we were all waiting for Jodie Whittaker’s first series as the Doctor to air. Now, a week after the series ended, it’s time to take a look back at the ten episodes we just saw. What worked? What didn’t work? What needs improvement? Just how good was the series, now that all the hype has died down? Let’s take a look! (There will be full spoilers for the 10 episodes of Series 11 of Doctor Who!)
Meet the new Doctor. The universe just got more exciting. The dazzling Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker, Broadchurch, Wired) falls out of the sky just in time to thwart an alien huntsman who is stalking human prey. With little time to spare and the population of Sheffield (and Earth!) at risk, the Doctor recruits three new friends – gentle Ryan, no-nonsense Yasmin and Ryan’s step-grandfather, Graham – who soon feel more like family than companions. Join the foursome in ten fresh and enormously thrilling roller-coaster adventures across time and the universe.
It seems like only yesterday that series 11 of Doctor Who began, but here we are, ten weeks later, with the series finale! The finale is being written by Chibnall, who has delivered scripts of various quality throughout his run on Doctor Who, and especially this season. The only episode, solely written by him, that I’ve really loved this season was The Woman Who Fell to Earth. The rest of the episodes have had some fundamental problem that has impacted my enjoyment of them. Thankfully, The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos falls into the same category as The Woman Who Fell to Earth and is an excellent close to this series of Doctor Who. (SPOILERS AHEAD)
Episode 1110: The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos (written by Chris Chibnall and directed by Jamie Childs) On the planet of Ranskoor Av Kolos lie the remains of a brutal battlefield. But as the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Graham (Bradley Walsh), Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Ryan (Tosin Cole) answer nine separate distress calls, they discover the planet holds far more secrets.
Who is the mysterious commander with no memory? What lies beyond the mists? Who or what are the Ux? The answers will lead the Doctor and her friends towards a deadly reckoning.
Well, this episode is probably my favorite of the entire season so far. Penultimate episodes of seasons have a lot to try and set up: they’ve gotta lay the groundwork for the finale while also still providing the audience with an interesting and captivating story. This is exactly what It Takes You Away does; it pays off some of the character arcs that have been developed over the season while still giving us a really cracking story. It’s a perfect blend of creepy, weird, and genuinely emotional and I just adored every second of it. (Spoilers ahead!)
Episode 1109: It Takes You Away (written by Ed Hime and directed by Jamie Childs)
On the edge of a Norwegian fjord in the present day, the Doctor, Ryan, Graham and Yaz discover a boarded-up cottage and a girl named Hanne in need of their help. What has happened here? What monster lurks in the woods around the cottage – and beyond?
Honestly, this episode should have been broadcast closer to Halloween because it would have been so perfect as a Halloween episode. Doctor Who has had an interesting relationship with witches and magic over the years. It tends to take the stance of magic being misunderstood science and any “witches” either being persecuted women or an actual alien threat. The Witchfinders, written by new-to-Who writer Joy Wilkinson, is no exception to this rule. Much of the episode is spent with King James I (Alan Cumming) and landowner Becka Savage (Siobhan Finneran) going around the village of Bilehurst Cragg accusing various people of being witches only for the episode to eventually reveal that an alien intelligence is responsible for things all along. That being said, the episode is still a whole lot of fun.
Episode 1108: The Witchfinders (written by Joy Wilkinson, directed by Sallie Aprahamian)
The Doctor, Ryan, Graham and Yaz arrive in 17th century Lancashire and become embroiled in a witch trial, run by the local landowner. As fear stalks the land, the arrival of King James I only serves to intensify the witch hunt. But is there something even more dangerous at work? Can the Doctor and friends keep the people of Bilehurst Cragg safe from all the forces that are massing in the land?
Sometimes a simple, cool sci-fi idea is the best way to go for an episode of Doctor Who. After six episodes without a nice, solid sci-fi premise, Kerblam! finally gives us one with the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Graham (Bradley Walsh), Ryan (Tosin Cole), and Yaz (Mandip Gill) investigating a futuristic Amazon-like company on a moon. It’s a pretty solid, enjoyable episode with a small cast of supporting characters who are all well developed and interesting and a resolution that actually sticks the landing. (This review will contain spoilers!)
Episode 1107 – Kerblam! (written by Pete McTighe and directed by Jennifer Perrott)
“‘Delivery for the Doctor!’ A mysterious message arrives in a package addressed to the Doctor, leading her, Graham, Yaz and Ryan to investigate the warehouse moon orbiting Kandoka, and the home of the galaxy’s largest retailer: Kerblam!”
We’re past the halfway mark of series 11 of Doctor Who. We’ve had adventures in the present, the future, the past, the present (again), the future (again), and now it’s time for another historical episode. This time, we go back in time to 1947 India where Yaz (Mandip Gill) is seeking some information about some of her grandmother’s secrets.
Epiode 1106: Demons of the Punjab (written by Vinay Patel and directed by Jamie Childs) India, 1947. The Doctor and her friends arrive in the Punjab, as India is being torn apart. While Yaz attempts to discover her grandmother’s hidden history, the Doctor discovers demons haunting the land. Who are they, and what do they want?
Doctor Who is a big fan of the base-under-siege story and it’s a format that generally works for the show. Trap all of your characters in one location and have them being hunted by a monster. It’s a pretty easy way at building tension and it often leads to a lot of interesting character moments as the main cast and the guest cast try to deal with whatever the threat is. The Tsuranga Conundrum is one such story. The major problem is that the monster terrorizing said base-under-siege isn’t particularly threatening. (Spoilers for The Tsuranga Conundrum)
Episode 1105: The Tsuranga Conundrum (written by Chris Chibnall and directed by Jennifer Perrott) Injured and stranded in the wilds of a far-flung galaxy, the Doctor, Yaz, Graham and Ryan must band together with a group of strangers to survive against one of the universe’s most deadly – and unusual – creatures.
“Spiders! Why spiders? Why couldn’t it be ‘follow the butterflies’?” – Ron Weasley (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling) Doctor Who has featured stories about spiders before, but none quite as disturbing as the ones in this episode. Perhaps it’s because the last story that properly featured giant spiders had a hilariously tiny budget and so the giant spiders were clearly made of rubber, but good sweet Lord, the spiders in this episode are actually terrifying to behold and I hate them. It’s a relatively good episode, though. (Spoilers follow)
Episode 1104: Arachnids in the UK (written by Chris Chibnall and directed by Sallie Aprahamian)
‘Something’s happening with the spiders in this city.’ The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Yaz (Mandip Gill), Graham (Bradley Walsh) and Ryan (Tosin Cole) find their way back to Yorkshire – and Yaz’s family – only to find something is stirring amidst the eight-legged arachnid population of Sheffield.
Every new Doctor has to have a story set in the present day, a story set in the future/on an alien planet, and a story set in the past to start off their first season. We’ve had the present day story and we’ve had the futuristic/alien planet story, so it was time for our first trip into the past with this new TARDIS team. And where does the TARDIS end up taking our plucky heroes? None other than Montgomery Alabama, 1955. The day before Rosa Parks’ famous bus protest. Obviously, this is a rather touchy story for Doctor Who to try and tackle, so the biggest question is whether or not the show handled it well. In short: it absolutely did. (NOTE: There will be full spoilers ahead, so read with caution.)
Episode 1103: Rosa (written by Malorie Blackman and Chris Chibnall and directed by Mark Tonderai)
Montgomery, Alabama. 1955. The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and her friends find themselves in the Deep South of America. As they encounter a seamstress by the name of Rosa Parks (Vinette Robinson), they begin to wonder whether someone is attempting to change history.
How do you follow up from an excellent season premiere of Doctor Who? With a dangerous romp across an alien planet and an excellent mystery, of course! Picking up pretty much where the previous episode ended, The Ghost Monument takes the 13th Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and her new friends, Graham (Bradley Walsh), Ryan (Tosin Cole), and Yaz (Mandip Gill) to their first alien world together. Stranded without the TARDIS, will the team be able to survive their first foray on an alien planet? (THERE WILL BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW)
1102: The Ghost Monument (written by Chris Chibnall and directed by Mark Tonderai)
Still reeling from their first encounter, can the Doctor and her new friends stay alive long enough in a hostile alien environment to solve the mystery of Desolation? And just who are Angstrom (Susan Lynch) and Epzo (Shaun Dooley)?
The Doctor and her new friends have barely had a chance to recover from their first adventure together before they are plunged into another – which will take Graham, Ryan and Yasmin on their first journey to an alien planet. The unlikely travelling companions are faced with a struggle for survival as they try to solve the mystery at the heart of this strange, dangerous new world.