Soon after watching The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos I found out that apart from the New Year’s Day episode this is it until 2020.
I’ve been think about what I could say about this episode and I’ve arrived at: emotional arcs are well and good, and so contention between Ryan and Graham has to a satisfying enough denouement as grandfather and grandson in mourning. But this episode lacked vim, and spice in the form of consequences.
- Tzim-Sha abused and manipulated the Ux into creating death machines and weapons that resulted in missing planets and war, and the survivors of the last mission are happy for Tzim-Sha to remain in stasis?
- If you are going to use big obvious Christian symbolism upon which preternaturally powerful individuals sacrifice their abilities could you include a reason please? Asking for me. The cross upon which the Ux created weapons and returned planets should mean something beyond a design element since it was so noticeable.
- Speaking of the Ux are they to be considered victims or criminals or both? Given their apparent wisdom and abilities, I think they were under-utilised and under-explained and needed to experience more in the form of consequences. Given the cross (see above), perhaps one of both should have died, the power of which could have destroyed their planet maybe?
- The Doctor and Yaz were exposed to a dangerous psychotropic atmosphere and all that resulted was a reported ‘buzz’. Compare this to Amy, Rory and The Doctor on the Dalek Prison planet. Here, Amy loses her immunity to nano Dalek converters and thus begins forgetting and repeating conversations, and seeing visions of Daleks as people (an old man, dancers, and a ballerina). She is also grumpy and the characters joke about her being Scottish. This works because the idea of nano-bots converting people into Daleks has consequences: ie the dead passenger who attacks them, and steals Amy’s protective device. Also helpful, is that we see for a moment, what Amy sees. This leads up to the big reveal as Oswin as fully Dalek, the bots having messed with her head so that she can’t see, accept or remember her own (physical) conversion. On Ranskoor Av Kolos the ‘brain stuff’ is a slowly recovered lost memory, a headache and the two Ux being compelled to threaten with guns and make stuff. Meh. Don’t talk about a trippy place and refuse a look. Yaz tripping out would have given her more to do while The Doctor tripping out could’ve upped the stakes.
- If you call something a “battle” there should be real fighting, tension and casualties. I get that Graham’s conscience had to battle his desire for revenge and he argued with The Doctor about it, but it wasn’t exactly the stuff of epic, nightmare inducing situations of great peril. Even if Graham had to shoot someone in the foot. And shoot some poorly programmed murder bots. As with the feel of the rest of this series, most of the action is somewhere or some-when else and because of choices by writers The Doctor turns up too late, after the battles, or most of the race.
In short, Graham and Ryan’s exchanges have been sweet, and funny and probably the highlight of this series. Yaz is slowly developing, and got to draw on her professional training in It Takes You Away. While The Doctor is still The Doctor I want her put in high stakes, serious situations that have direct consequences for her and everyone else no matter what she does. We’ll see.