Wrapping Things Up?
♦ Tripwire’s contributing writer and Brit in Los Angeles, Robert Cave, takes a look at the tenth and final episode of the new Doctor Who season…
The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos
Director: Jamie Childs
Writer: Chris Chibnall
Stars: Jodie Whittaker, Mark Addy, Tosin Cole, Mandip Gill, Phyllis Logan, Bradley Walsh
So, here we are at the series 11 finale, and the conclusion of the shortest series in Doctor Who’s long history. Yes, it is very much in the nature of a Who fan to forever want more of their beloved show, but with the recent announcement that its next series will not be hitting our screens until 2020, the decreasing frequency of our favourite Time Lord’s televisual adventures seems to be a legitimate cause for concern for fans, especially those who lived through the long 16-year drought between the show’s original run and eventual revival in 2005.
In terms of the episode itself, The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos forms something of a bookend with the series 11 opener, The Woman Who Fell to Earth. Both stories revolve around the actions of the vain and duplicitous Tzim-Sha (Samuel Oatley), an alien with an over-inflated sense of his own abilities, a tendency to hold grudges and a plan that involves the miniaturisation and theft of five whole planets.
While this series has avoided the kind of central series-long story arc that has been a feature of the show in recent years, it seems show runner Chris Chibnall has opted instead to focus a looser character-based arc instead, one that flows on from the death of Grace (Sharon D Clarke) at Tzim’s hands back at the beginning of the season
Grace’s tragic demise has hung over her husband Graham (Bradley Walsh) and grandson Ryan (Tosin Cole) throughout the run, and the return of Tzim here seems to offer Graham some chance at revenge. Unfortunately, I was never quite convinced that the quiet and decent character we have seen Graham demonstrate himself to be over this past nine weeks would actually kill anyone, regardless of their culpability in his wife’s death. This is someone that balked at the idea of defacing the walls of a whites-only motel in segregation-era Alabama!
Graham’s revenge mission seems even less believable after last week’s episode, in which he appeared to finally accept that, despite all his travels through space and time, nothing could or would bring his wife back. His uncharacteristic actions and vow to kill Tzim somewhat undermine the whole episode’s dramatic tension. Yes, there were some fine performances by the guest cast, which includes a fun turn from the Game of Thrones star Mark Addy, but the main plot, which concerns the miniaturisation and theft of a number of planets, felt slightly less than world-shaking and struck me as a bit of an anticlimax for what has been a pretty consistently engaging series overall.
My only other bone of contention with the episode is that it is a shame that we didn’t see more of Yas, (Mandip Gill). With all her Police training, her character seems a natural for a life of adventuring in the TARDIS, but outside a few glimpses of her family life we haven’t really got to know her much as a person yet. So, yes, I’d like to see some more Yas episodes next season. But before that, we have the New Year’s special. It’s trailer didn’t give much of its plot away, but still, I am looking forward to seeing in what direction Chibnall will take his non-Christmas special, especially as it appears that this episode might be the only TV Doctor who we will get for the whole of 2019!