Welcome back! It’s nice to see that the Doctor has managed to almost return her friends home. I like that they’re continuing with the storyline of getting them home, it makes their eventual decision to stay aboard more of a choice, which isn’t always the way it goes with the Doctor.
So, one of my frequent complaints about the show is that they can go anywhere in time and space and they spend SO MUCH time in present-day England. In this episode, we’re still on Earth, but it’s still nice to see a bit of history that wouldn’t necessarily be familiar to viewers in the UK and to get the British perspective on the American civil rights movement. I actually thought it was awesome that they plunged headfirst into some negative parts of history. They’ve always playfully skirted the issue before with Martha and Bill (I feel like it never came up with Mickey?), so it was refreshing to just face it head on and have it be a central part of the story. I’m not really sure I bought the baddie’s motivation. Space racist? Um, OK, fine. We didn’t spend a ton of time with him to find out his why. But I’ll allow it, because it gave the opportunity for the companions to get involved in a somewhat familiar yet uncomfortable situation AND allowed for Righteous! Doctor, which is one of the best Doctors. The plot also allowed a fairly classic “I’m sorry” moment for the Doctor at the end of the episode. The history lesson wrap-up at the end was a bit corny, but remember, at its heart, this is meant to be an educational show for kids.
The companions really shined in this episode. I love that, even though they’re trying to get home, they’re game to help when they learn the stakes. Ryan was especially good in this episode, as he would have to be. He reminds me a bit of Rose; he’s not especially clever or unique in any way, just a very average dude trying to do his best, to do whatever he can. His reverence of Rosa and Dr. King were as perfect as the performances of the actors in those roles. I appreciate that they’re still honoring Grace in their actions and haven’t just moved on from her death. I am a tiny bit surprised that the Doctor didn’t chastise Ryan for using Krasko’s weapon against him, but since it didn’t kill him and I imagine she would’ve done the same thing in that situation, I guess she’s fine with it.
I feel like I’m catching a whiff of budding romance between Ryan and Yaz. That might be a bit boring of a choice, but maybe not. I mean it’s so conventional to have two people thrown together in crazy circumstances fall for each other, but this show is so unconventional, that if it does happen, it’d be unique to see something that normal, especially in this post-Moffat era. (Yes, Amy and Rory, but since they were already a couple before meeting the Doctor (sort of), it’s a totally different situation).
Having an older companion like Graham continues to have its advantages. I’m always happy to have Brad Walsh on my TV and I feel like Graham is a happier character than I’ve seen him play in the past so he’s really kind of a joy to watch. Of all the companions, he was best able to relate to the time period they found themselves in and his working class background gave them an advantage in trying to manipulate the driver. This episode had a lot of good humor to balance the gravity of the racial issues; it walked the line of treating the subject matter with the care it deserved and worked in all the good Banksy jokes and raffle nonsense and Sinatra/Elvis tidbits around it very nicely.
Next week, I will NOT be happy, you guys. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s spiders. Doctor Who hasn’t done spiders since…*checks IMDB* 1974 and they were really cheesy back then, so I guess it’s about time, but still. GAH. The things I do for this website.