C+Q - The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos (2018)

Right, so why is this called The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos? Setting aside that the episode doesn't contain a battle, there's no need for the name of the planet to be this complicated. When I first heard it I came up with two possible explanations: one is because it's meant to be fun and whimsical and the other is because it's some sort of anagram. But when the episode aired I realised there's nothing particularly fun or whimsical about this adventure and there's also nothing meaningful that the letters in Ranskoor Av Kolos could be used to spell. In fact, the name doesn't matter at all; it's just a weird thing about this episode that does nothing but makes the title memorably unmemorable.

The other thing worth noting about this episode is the return of Tim Shaw, who I actually love. It's very Doctor Who to have a big badass alien warlord called Tim Shaw. The joke only gets funnier the more mythical weight is attached to him, which is why I love him even more here than I do in The Woman Who Fell to Earth. The cape is incredible and the Darth Vader meditation chamber is cool and menacing and also hilarious when you remember the character's name. I love Tim Shaw. I love that he wasn't killed at the end of this episode so he can come back at some point. Oh yeah, I guess him not being killed is a big deal for the story. I mean obviously Graham wasn't going to shoot him because he said he was going to do that at the start of the episode. Only Thanos gets to declare they're going to do something drastic then unexpectably follow through.

That said, I do like that Graham pulls the Doctor to one side and announces his intention to kill Tim Shaw. It felt very Graham, and I like that we have a character that has been defined strongly enough that something they do can be described as being very Their Name. Oh, and Graham calling the Doctor 'Doc' is so brilliant. Such a great little quirk that gives the character something memorable and helps define his voice very clearly. Ace calls the Doctor 'Professor' and Graham calls her 'Doc'. The Graham/Ryan stuff is clearly intended to be big and emotional but none of it was that naunced or complex. You know what would've given it some naunce? Ryan asking for an apology from Graham for blaming Tim Shaw's arrival on Earth on his disability ("I suppose you'll be blaming this on the dyspraxia as well. Can't ride a bike, started an alien invasion"). You know, might've given them something else to talk about, flesh out their relationship a bit more. Yaz still gets nothing to do, and unfortunately the Doctor is still getting urgent exposition instead of character stuff. I know this is Doctor Who and the Doctor has always delivered exposition urgently, but it feels like there's a little more with Whittaker for some reason. Maybe because there are just so many regular and supporting characters now that breathlessly explaining why she feels the need to act breathless is all the scripts have time for the Doctor to do.

My biggest issue with this episode, and the reason why it's my least favourite finale by far, is because this isn't a finale. What this is is just a random adventure with a little wrap-up speech tacked on the end that feels way less natural than The Reign of Terror's "Our destiny is in the stars, so let's go and search for it." Yeah Tim Shaw is back and yeah Graham and Ryan feature in the same scenes, but this doesn't feel any more or less worthy to be The Finale of Series 11 than It Takes You Away or literally any other episode. You could even argue that Resolution is the true wrap-up of Series 11 because that one has Graham and Ryan featuring in the same scenes as well as the appearance of Ryan's Dad. Incidentally, Resolution also ends with a This Is The Last Episode For Now optimistic send-off as the TARDIS team set off to search for their star destiny. I don't know, I just wasn't really feeling this one.

And that's Series 11 for me. I love Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor, her costume, her TARDIS, her screwdriver, her theme music, opening titles, and companions. All the stuff of Series 11 viewed on its own seperate from any of the stories in which they appear is great, and I'm excited to see all of this stuff again in Series 12. I'm so thankful these four brilliant actors and their characters are heading into the next run together. But overall I just wasn't really feeling this one. I don't feel that the Thirteenth Doctor has had a full series yet. It gets to Episode 10 then just kinda stops. It's not a tightly plotted unit of storytelling like Series 10 or 9 or 8. But it's fine. Right now I'm getting more joy from going through Classic Who in chronological order for the first time (I just reached Leela and I love her). What absolutely kills me is that we've gone from 13 episodes of Doctor Who a year to 11 every two years. I have this nasty feeling that some or all of our four main cast members will quit the show before the show figures out how to use them properly. Still, it's fine.

Next: Resolution