The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos

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    Craig @craig

    The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos

    Can you believe we’re already at the season finale? This is written by Chris Chibnall and directed by Jamie Childs, who also directed last week’s “It Takes You Away”.

    The planet of Ranskoor Av Kolos has been laid waste by a brutal battle. Team TARDIS answer nine separate distress calls and soon discover the planet holds many 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 friends towards a deadly reckoning.

    This guest stars Mark Addy, who was Dave in “The Full Monty”, Friar Tuck in Ridley Scott’s “Robin Hood”, and Robert Baratheon in “Game of Thrones” amongst many other things.

    It also guest stars Phyllis Logan, who has probably been in every TV programme ever made in the UK at one point, but she’s best known for playing Lady Jane Felsham in “Lovejoy” and Mrs Hughes (later Carson) in “Downton Abbey”, appearing in roughly 50 episodes of each.

    I don’t know anything about this, but I have a feeling we might meet an old enemy. Just my spider-sense tingling!

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    Okay, that was fun.

    Funnily enough, the most appropriate clip posted this week was the one about the sound of the TARDIS being the sound of hope. Because that’s very much what tonight’s episode reminded me of.


    Hope for Graham, to get past hatred and vengeance. But hope for the Doctor, as well.

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    It’s an arc, though, it’s an arc. Tim Shaw returns, and with him the idea of the consequences of actions. This series has focused on the consequences of actions in the past, this Doctor has been very aware of this – here we see her confronted with the consequences of her actions full stop, at any moment in time.

    Graham and Ryan have passed the final test of family now. Graham, for once, losing his temper and sulking. And Ryan coasting right through it. ‘”grandad”‘ ‘I love you’ ‘I’m not saying it twice, don’t act like you didn’t hear me’.

    And Graham still alive. But we do still have the New Years episode.

    There is a lot to think about here. According to Tim Shaw everything he’s done since he left earth is her fault. She rightly says not to put that on her. Would killing Tim Shaw make you as bad as Tim Shaw? I think Graham was right essentially, no it doesn’t. But it does put you in the ball park. If the Doctor went around killing off everyone who seems dangerous to avoid future atrocities, where would that end? But the Doctor does go around trying to stop people from becoming morally corrupted. They care more about the mind/conscience/soul of the people in front of them than about potential consequences of their decisions.

    I watched A Town Called Mercy recently, the Doctor ranting about doing justice to all the people who died because of his mercy. This is Thirteen’s first direct encounter of the victims of hers. But the Doctor, being The Doctor, can’t do different.


    “Only in the foot.”

    Have been chuckling since that.

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    @bluesqueakpip hope – and Grace. Never such a well named character. I’ve kept thinking, through this series, of this line ‘Justice is getting what you deserve. Mercy is not getting what you deserve. Grace is getting what you don’t deserve.’ You can give out justice, you can dispense mercy, or you can bestow grace.

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    Well, at least it answered that age-old fanboy question: ‘What would Timelash have looked like on a decent budget’.

    For a mid-late-series episode this would have been passable but for a finale it’s pretty damn poor.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    For a mid-late-series episode this would have been passable but for a finale it’s pretty damn poor.

    We didn’t use to have a finale unless it was the final story of that particular Doctor – so this story was also Chris Chibnall saying that we’re not going to get the big, explosive, type of finale. In fact, I think I spotted one or two jokes about Stolen Earth/Journey’s End.

    Something that wraps up this series, yes, something that says the actions taken in the first episode will have consequences that are felt in the last – but think King’s Demons rather than Caves of Androzani.

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord


    More like The Twin Dilemma.

    And yes, that was true of the pretty flat progression of the BG show but we’re in a whole different world now. Unless you’re actually a soap opera then there’s no drama that doesn’t build up to something more than ‘wooo, it’s that utterly mediocre second-tier villain from the first episode’. In this day and age, that’s really not nearly good enough. Whichever way you cut it, that was the most mediocre and unsatisfying last episode (if we’re not calling it a finale) of any series of AG Who’s entire run. If nothing else, I’m certainly looking at Hell Bent and Death in Heaven in a whole new light.

    Right, off to ruminate. Will be back later to give it a proper kicking.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    One of the things that struck me in this episode was how much the Doctor has grown. Compare the Smith Doctor and Bishop Octavian with the Whittaker Doctor and the Ux religion. Plus her spelling out her (variable) rules about weapons. Generally, anything that can be rebuilt is fine to blow up. People, on the other hand, can’t be rebuilt – and she knows full well where vengeance leads. I don’t think she cares about killing Tim Shaw (she was perfectly okay with letting his own DNA bombs rebound against him in the first episode), but she knows what killing for vengeance will do to Graham.

    Very thought provoking episode – definitely on my ‘watch again’ list

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    @bluesqueakpip absolutely. I really think her objection in the first episode was about the human (can’t remember his name – Colin?) who tried to kill Tim Shaw, it was more for his sake, the effect that killing another being has on a person.

    It would have destroyed Graham. The spellchecker on here wanted to change my misspelling to ‘distorted’ and I think it has a point. It was interesting seeing the conflict between him and Ryan there. Graham seemed quite sure Grace would want him to do it. Ryan disagreed. There are some levels there – Graham was her husband, but he only knew her for three years. Ryan knew her his entire life. But, ideally, you will outlive your grandparents (and parents. I’m the grandchild of people who outlived their son.) Her concern was for Graham. And, satisfyingly, so was Ryan’s. But in the end, all he could do was try to be a good man. Which meant not killing Tim Shaw, but shooting him in the foot rather than let him kill his grandson.

    And I’m glad, I was prepared to see Graham die, more than I was to see him corrupted. He was a little corrupted, by grief and unexpectedly finding the cause of it, but Ryan pulled him back.

    Craig @craig

    I have to admit, I was a bit underwhelmed. I can see there were a lot of good ideas, and a lot of interesting themes.

    But Chibnall seems to have forgotten the “fun”. I love the scene in “An Adventure in Space and Time” when Sydney Newman is coming up with the concept and his focus is “fun”. And then he focuses on science fiction and time travel, to teach the kids!

    I know Chibnall should have his own take but Davies and Moffat always had a big final episode, this was just like any other. I hate to call it “Broadchurch Doctor Who” but that’s what’s in my head.

    I kinda think last week’s episode “It Takes You Away”, with a lot of rewriting work admittedly, could have made a better finale, with a different dimensional being and Graham having to say goodbye to Grace forever.

    I think the threat to the Earth in this episode just wasn’t dealt with well. At no point did I think everyone’s gonna die (or be bottled up, or whatever).

    But it may improve on a re-watch. Just my first thoughts.

    Arch @arch

    Yeah this was not the way to end a season. Okay episode but it’s all over the place and a lot of it made no sense. Thing that bothers me is bringing back Tim Shaw the self proclaimed god, clearly on life support, incapable of supporting himself, 1000s of years old, locking whole planets in prisons and then beaten by a retired bus driver with a laser rifle.

    And apparently in the doctors eyes locking someone in stasis for the rest of eternity is better than killing them. If I want a lecture on the pros and cons of capital punishment I’ll go find a discussion group, just spare it from my Sunday night light entertainment.



    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    It was made very clear in Episode 1 that Tim Shaw was a crap monster. He was crap. He had to cheat to have a chance at succeeding in his people’s leadership test.

    So he lands by accident in front of two Ux who’re thinking he’s the creator and he hijacks their powers. He’s still crap. Whatever he does, whatever powers he abuses, he’s still – completely inadequate. Ryan and Graham are a lot more badass than he is.

    And apparently in the doctors eyes locking someone in stasis for the rest of eternity is better than killing them.

    Again, it was made clear in Episode 1 that Tim Shaw didn’t kill his ‘trophies’ – they were taken home and placed in stasis. If you don’t remember back to Episode 1, Chibnall provided the audience with a room full of people in stasis, from ship after ship. How long had they been imprisoned for. Years? Centuries? Millennia? So if Tim Shaw thinks it’s okay to keep people in stasis for a millennia or two, why shouldn’t the Doctor think that poetic justice is the best kind of justice when Graham and Ryan do the same to him?

    Mudlark @mudlark

    I really wanted to like this, but my feeling while watching was that it was very much a curate’s egg – good in parts, but overall disappointing, because the story struck me as having a great deal more potential than was realised. It was a particular disappointment after last week’s episode, seeming as if Chibnall was aiming for a grand, pyrotechnical finale RTD style and falling short. The tone was uneven and some of the expository dialogue was decidedly cringeworthy, as in the Doctor explaining the Ux – to the Ux.

    On the plus side, there were signs that Whittaker is beginning to get a much more solid grip on the role and glimpses of how her Doctor could develop given the chance. Sometimes, on the other hand, the Doctor didn’t so much seem to be working things out as she went along as making things up on the fly, with a great deal of rather too obvious hand wavy gobbledegook along the way. Maybe it will hang together better on second viewing.

    More could have been made of one the central themes – the dangers of following false gods, and it was a lesson all the more resonant in that those conned by a false god in the shape of the inadequate Stenza, Tim Shaw, were a people with great mental powers. An episode ending in a confrontation with Tim Shaw also served to bring the series full circle, and in doing so it gave scope for development and resolution of the relationships and unresolved tensions among the human Tardis crew – the continuing real strength of the episodes this year.

    The fate of Tim Shaw, as decided by Graham and Ryan echoed that to which the Doctor condemned the Family in Family of Blood, and it is arguable whether that is not a more cruel fate than death, even if the conscience of those opposed to killing was salved; a very Who-ish paradox. Another direct call-back was to The Stolen Earth, not one of my favourite episodes from the point of view of plausibility though that had a somewhat less convoluted resolution.

    Maybe, being generally slow of thinking, I need more time to digest this. My first reactions are not always reliable.



    Arch @arch


    All fine points. However the Dr strives to be better then those she is fighting, a constant inner turmoil throughout dr who’s long history. Clearly the compassionate thing to do is to put him out of his misery, he’s old, beaten and helpless. Locking him away evil or not for the rest of time is far worse than ending him.

    Same  could be said of suffocating spiders, most people would argue killling a creature in pain is the humane thing to do. The Dr is better than the Stenza. Keeping species as trophies Is a hunter mentality, we could argue that the dr is also a hunter but her conpanions are certainly not. Eye for an eye nonsense aside, this is a broken man who has survived for centuries and is well past his used by date and would likely welcome a warriors death with open arms. Not that he deserves such a death.

    Putting aside the obvious capital punishment arguments I still believe the human and correct course of action is to let this evil creature die. Based on his condition and general uselessness this wouldn’t have to be a gun to the head situation. Locking him away as far as I’m concerned is a cop out and failure to deal with the situation and deal with consequences like an adult.

    All that being said I don’t hate the episode but tacking on morals without properly dealing with the concepts raised is negligent and has no place in light entertainment. Dr who has developed an identity crisis, one which I will likely overlook unless it goes crazy.

    But i digress, hopefully this comes across as a constructive conversation and not an attack it’s certainly not meant as one.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    At no point did I think everyone’s gonna die

    I think that’s because that wasn’t the threat. I’ve just watched the episode again – this is one seriously creepy episode, and the threat isn’t to people’s lives as such. It’s to their very selves, their souls.

    Which is why it starts with the Ux doing their ‘faith’ thing, I think. Tim Shaw’s threat to them is to corrupt their religion of creation, of being a race that brings new things to the universe into a religion of destruction, of taking things from the universe.

    Then Tim Shaw takes Graham, a gentleman in the sense of being a true gentle man, and nearly turns him into someone who’d kill for revenge. His threat to the Earth leads Yaz (a police officer, someone whose job is to prevent deaths) to suggest that killing two people is worth it if it saves seven billion.

    For the Doctor, the threat is a reversion to ‘turning people into weapons’ and making everyone she loves into targets.

    I agree it isn’t a grandstanding finale – possibly the New Year Special might be the massive explosion fest. But it is a finale to the theme of ‘the biggest monsters are inside us’. Most noticeable with Graham, who defeats his monster and Ryan, who is able to admit that he loves after suffering so much loss and abandonment.



    Clearly the compassionate thing to do is to put him out of his misery,

    You basically just argued that the death sentence is better than a long prison sentence. You might want to check your moral compass there…

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    Clearly the compassionate thing to do is to put him out of his misery

    He’s not a dog (or even a spider). He’s a self aware being who made self-aware choices. Those choices included causing death and suffering to others – effectively depriving them of their choices. The audience has seen Tim Shaw kill a harmless (if annoying) drunk, a worried brother, a loving grandfather. While he was ‘broken’ he tried to destroy five planets, and would have continued on to kill several billion people because one person from that planet had committed the ‘unforgivable’ crime of thwarting his ambitions.

    Being placed in stasis allows him to experience what he made others experience. It may be that Tim Shaw isn’t as capable of growth as Missy was, when she was shut up by herself for decades, but we don’t know that – and actions have consequences.

    There’s a saying in the UK – “if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.” It’s pretty appropriate to Doctor Who. 🙂

    Arch @arch


    Im actually against the death penalty in most cases.

    This is not real life, this is TV. Tim Shaw is an evil being, responsible for the deaths of countless people and almost the genocide of 5 planets. On top of that he’s clearly in pain.

    I do believe a creature of that level of evil deserves death and suffering as he is deserves the sweet mercy of death.



    “This is not real life” doesn’t really help your case.

    I certain circumstances you are willing to reduce yourself to the level of the most depraved.

    That’s fine – but at least be honest about it.

    Arch @arch


    in Tim Shaw’s case sure I’m willing to reduce myself to the most depraved

    If killing monsters is depraved then I’m depraved

    syzygy @thane16

    @pedant @bluesqueakpip @arch this is a really interesting discussion. At home, we’ve been discussing this all morning and fortunately no heads became heated 🙂  (however the Brisbane heat is probably cooking us all so like the ‘feathery,’ confused brains of Paltraki and crew, we keep massaging our heads!)

    All that being said I don’t hate the episode but tacking on morals without properly dealing with the concepts raised is negligent and has no place in light entertainment

    I’m not sure “it’s tacking on morals”  @arch ?  I understand weighty concepts must never be handled frivolously and require explanation, in show, and out. I think that’s why episodes in this particular series have delved into ‘social messages’ (not my term but used by others, negatively, on the internet). The “no guns” and “you’re better than that” has been a cornerstone of the show from the ’60s.

    But later episodes also focused on what happened when the Doctor intervened in some way: In The Long Game with Eccleston, Rose and Adam visit Satellite 5 in the year 200 000. Adam installs a port in his brain enabling him to transmit all the knowledge of the satellite back home to earth. The Doctor banishes him AND, whenever someone clicks their fingers, Adam’s ‘head’ opens and out pops the port. 🙂

    Later, the Doctor returns to Satellite 5, a hundred years later and we have “real live” Big Brother, The Weakest Link and Trinny and Susanna. The Doctor recognises he’s tampered with the future of the humans and culture on Satellite 5 -or so he believes…..   😉

    Throughout Tennant’s iteration he was always opposed to ‘civilians’ killing the bad-guys, recognising a truism that many of his friends and companions may’ve killed for him and also lost their lives -sometimes because of him and sometimes because they’d run out of time: a choice had to be made (I’m thinking of Kylie Minogue playing Astrid Peth) pretty damn quick. Tennant pointed a gun at The Master when Wil, Donna’s grandad, as the temporary companion. Eventually, the Doctor thought better of it and put the weapon down.

    Mat Smith’s era was peppered with “you are better than this. BE better.” The 2-parter, The Hungry Earth and Cold Blood was a perfect example of this: when good people, in order to save others, effectively lose their core principles by sacrificing an enemy (something ‘other’ than ‘them’) hoping to discover the whereabouts of a missing child and husband. In that episode, Ambrose doesn’t listen to the Doctor and in so doing causes a potentially lethal rift between humans and Silurians.

    In The Rebel Flesh and The Almost People, the Doctor respected the Flesh though they weren’t (technically) human – -they  still needed protection and a ‘voice’. He was against killing them –despite the fact that one of the Flesh was a rapacious person demanding all humans be subject to the same conditions of the melted flesh: dipped and slipped.

    One of my memories of  the Family of Blood with the 10th Doctor was that, “the Doctor captures them and issues each member an eternal punishment. He pushes the mother out of the TARDIS into the event horizon of a collapsing galaxy, wraps the father in unbreakable chains forged in the heart of a dwarf star, traps their daughter in every mirror everywhere in existence, and suspends their son in time before putting him to work as a scarecrow (Lester Haines. 2009 -09- 17 in Wikipedia, The Family of Blood. Retrieved December 10, 2018).”

    Whoa, that’s punishment! One could argue the Doctor should’ve killed them but this was a more appropriate punishment. Even though Tim Shaw was old and damaged, surviving much like Davros attached to tubes and drips, he was still lethal and would always want more: more lives, more planets.. So I think sealing him in a stasis chamber or cavity was apt: exactly what the Doctor’s done before and equal to the torture Shaw’d inflicted for three thousand years.

    I think the Arachnid example is a wholly different one. They were experimented upon and attempting to eat whatever they could to simply keep up with their expanding size. They wouldn’t be reasoned with; neither could they sustain that size indefinitely. The spider was about to die -and yes, I can understand why the American character wanted to kill it -but I’m not sure he was trying to alleviate its misery? I think he wanted revenge and killing the spider would’ve fulfilled that ‘tension’ so it could’ve been the right thing to do but for the wrong reason -and that could be why the Doctor chose to let the spider die as gracefully as possible. It wasn’t going to live in unbearable agony for many hours. The Doctor would’ve intervened in that situation. That’s my take on the Arachnids on earth, but I might be way off base!

    Also -I don’t think Who is ‘light entertainment?’  You might disagree and that’s good – it’s why we’re here – but the episode Turn Left, The Family of Blood and the last episode, Number 9 in this series, was quite dense in its array of thought-processes . So maybe it IS light – on some level- but on other’s (considering this very site) I’m not sure ‘light on a Sunday night’ is an apt description for a lot of viewers- including me.

    Thank you for reading.


    Notime @notime

    I guess the DNA bombs didn’t kill Tzim-Sha?   Was his decrepit condition due to old age or the effects of the DNA bombs?

    He must have been quite upset at the Doctor.   The distress calls may have been a way get the Doctor to come to that planet.   If I was going to set a trap for the Doctor then a planet that attacks the brain would be useful.

    More poorly trained guards with laser guns.  Would like to see something different there…..they didn’t seem to have anything to add to the story.

    Anonymous @

    I should be sleeping, but this episode has seized my mind.  I’m going to be a bit critical – even though I liked it and thought it one of the better episodes this season – but fear not, because Have I Got A Bonkers Theory For You!

    1. I admit to dismay seeing the return of Tim Shaw.  Yes, thanks to Ux power-ups he now can go toe-to-toe with a fully functioning Doctor for a whole sixty minutes…but Tim Shaw?  We’ll accept a weak villain in a regeneration episode, because going up against Madame Kovarian or something would have the Doctor regenerate twice in one episode.  (“Tune in to the Wimbledon final to learn who will play the Fourteenth Doctor.  Tune in to the Fourteenth Doctor’s debut to learn who will play the Fifteenth Doctor.”)

    See, I’m picturing the end of Series Four.  The Doctor, the Meta-Crisis Doctor, Donna, Rose, the Sarah Jane Adventures, Captain Jack and Torchwood, Mickey and everyone else on RTD’s rolodex, facing off against: the Adipose.  “They’re back, and this time they’re pouting!”

    Or Series Five.  The Pandorica Opens, and inside – why, it’s Prisoner Zero!  Escaping again!

    So I would rather have forgone the presence of old Dental Face this time.  I’d rather have seen the Ux, duly fooled by him, deludedly taking on the Doctor.

    2. So, did anyone else notice that once more, the Long Arm of Coincidence played a major role in the plot?  Sure is handy ol’ Tim’s DNA-detonated bod got teleported to the only race powerful enough and gullible enough to turn him into tonight’s villain!

    Sort of like how the TARDIS blew up in Twice Upon a Time, and didn’t reappear on Earth, and the planet it did reappear on was out of orbit, and two spaceships just happened to pick up the TARDIS team when they teleported there from Sheffield…

    Which leads me to –

    3. A Truly Bonkers Theory.  Look, coincidence is part of Doctor Who, except it’s usually explained, eventually.  Like how the Doctor always shows up at the right place to have a good episode, just in the nick of time?  Well, we know why: the TARDIS has a thing for coincidences, taking the Doc where and when needed.

    A thing for coincidences…lots of coincidences this season…are you thinking what I’m thinking?

    Yes!  Remember how Missy died in Twice Upon a Time?  Well, no doubt she’ll be back, but until then her TARDIS is still out there somewhere, and I bet spoiling for a fight.

    So that’s why all these coincidences have been happening!  Missy’s TARDIS done it!

    So, here’s my prediction for the New Year’s episode.  (You heard it here first…well, read it.)  Missy’s TARDIS will be setting up the Doctor’s direst predicament yet.  Remnants from the Ghost Monument floating down from the sky!  Another drunk guy throwing salad, because that teleport setup in Sheffield is still sitting there, just waiting to be repaired.  Plus Krasko, at the head of a tribe of cavemen from Season One back in 1963!

    And that’s not all!  Rebellious sheep from (2018 + 193 = 2151), showing up to settle things now!

    Yes indeed, that’ll be a special that’s really special!  And if my prediction comes through, I promise to burst into tears…

    syzygy @thane16


    Bonkers theory:  Great!

    Sadly I think Chris has gone for a new set of characters including Missy. Who, at the moment, looks like she’s dead: but looks are deceptive. And like you, I think she’ll be baaaack 🙂

    taking the Doc where and when needed.

    Absolutely! The Tardis does go wherever she needs to. In this case the Doctor saw just how many distress calls there were. They weren’t from Tim Shaw  (which is an excellent idea @notime). I think in Episode 1 we noticed he was a really “crap” villain  (I think @bluesqueakpip said that) so when we looked thru the mist we saw at least a dozen different ships who had sent the calls (soon after or during crashing) and we already saw the potential problem and why those calls went out: the planet does terrible things to your brain.

    The Doctor knew this (she is, after all, a few thousand years old and understands neural blockers and other things of a similar nature: see Peter’s with the Clara character so that one person would forget. I expect the Doctor has a variety and all she does is swap the polarity -again!).

    So, did anyone else notice that once more, the Long Arm of Coincidence played a major role in the plot? Sure is handy ol’ Tim’s DNA-detonated bod got teleported to the only race powerful enough and gullible enough to turn him into tonight’s villain!

    For me it’s a really good plot device. I think many people said that they’d be surprised if Tim Shaw didn’t return in this season -it acts as a perfect bracket for the whole series. Also, the villain was significant: not just because of what he did on this planet but his delight when confronted by Graham:

    “you killed my wife.” And Shaw says, “GOOD!”

    Maybe Chibnall, and he’s really good at people -loss and power, relationships and their motivations -wanted this to be an exploration of Graham’s character and of how the Doctor might’ve banished him to Earth because it wouldn’t be right for Graham to kill Shaw. Also it showed the cementing of the relationship between Ryan and “grandad.”

    There’s more reasons for people not to kill someone than because of what the bad guy did. Killing someone, no matter how urgent or horrible, changes that person. I don’t think Graham would know this -but the Doctor would. And I think Grace wouldn’t have wanted Graham to change that much in order to kill this creature. In Buffy, Giles killed the baddie in Season 5 so Buffy wouldn’t have to. Not that she’s not killed people before -but they’ve been monsters in a different way to this particular monster.

    I liked the episode as much as last week for this same reason: it fleshed out Graham as a character and as soon as he heard it was the Stenza you could see subtle changes in his manner. Caution started its progress towards the wind and if it had met it? Then Ryan could have been hurt and Graham would’ve been altered forever. The Doctor has that knowledge but she’s felt it in her core -when she thought she would kill all the daleks and the children of Gallifrey. To her, all humans are probably children: young and inexperienced but innocent, sometimes too.

    @notime I think Robo-bots aren’t supposed to be part of anything except -the future? It’s a brilliant way of hurting the opposition without using a “live” military -human or not. Of course it adds ONE serious thing to the story: if you have a robotic military think how easy it is to kill others? Much, much easier and convenient and any excuse will do   -on that idea I think the killing bots have a place in the story. Mum just added this:Like ‘red- shirts’ but different and worth a closer inspection”  Anyway, Mum should’ve written this! I’m rambling and not making a lot of sense but I really like the bonkers ideas @kevinwho keep ’em coming!

    Thank you, Thane.

    Craig @craig


    What I meant was there was no sense (for me anyway) that everyone was going to die on Earth. It was tell, not show (apart from the CGI).

    I think the drama would have been enhanced if, say, they’d cut to Yaz’s family on Earth as it is encompassed by a big red lazer cloud (or whatever it was). If we saw the fear. And then cut back to Yaz, and we can tell that’s who she is thinking about. That would have also made the moment even more personal for Yaz.

    I think.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    What I meant was there was no sense (for me anyway) that everyone was going to die on Earth. It was tell, not show (apart from the CGI).

    Yup, I agree completely. The difference between us is that I think the fact that everyone on Earth was going to die was – backstory.

    The reason we’re not getting this is because in an RTD or Moffat finale (or last episode, given that the Special is only a couple of weeks away), ‘Everyone on Earth is going to die!’ would be the main plot. Here, Earth was one planet among five, and it’s main importance in the big scheme of things was that Yaz and the Doctor were as keen to save it as Paltraki and his crew were to save the planets they’d lost.

    I admit that relegating the potential destruction of the Earth to the same level as the vast number of planets that routinely get blown up in Doctor Who is … ambitious … (certainly gave me one heck of a shock) but I think that’s what Chibnall did. He wasn’t interested in terrified families on Earth, and it’s possible that the people on Earth didn’t even notice what was happening. He was interested in showing, not telling, that the Doctor has moved on from her utilitarian despair during the Time War. Her response to an obvious ‘we can just kill these two people and save seven billion’ was back to ‘there’s got to be a way to save everyone.’

    The other thing that was shown was that Yaz does do a possibly racist cost-analysis. Two aliens from a unique species who represent the entire population of their planet? Sod them, if it’ll save the Earth. Given that the character arc this series has concentrated on Ryan and Graham, it might be Yaz who gets the arc next series – and we just saw the first signs of it.

    Anonymous @


    I think many people said that they’d be surprised if Tim Shaw didn’t return in this season -it acts as a perfect bracket for the whole series.

    Well, I just wish they’d done like, for example, Series Five did to bracket the series, namely bring back the strongest element of the first episode (Amelia Pond) rather than the weakest (Prisoner Zero).  It’s too bad this episode and It Takes You Away couldn’t swap places; bringing Grace back made a much better way to bracket the series for me than Tim Shaw.

    Craig @craig

    @bluesqueakpip Yeah, I did get all that, but I think with a few tweaks it could have done all of those things but been bigger (and therefore like a season finale) and more “fun” – by which I don’t mean full of laughs, more full of wonder and excitement (or something).

    Another possibility would have been if they got there, and by massive coincidence (or because the TARDIS always knows where to go) the process of stealing the Earth was already underway – so there was a countdown clock along with everything else. I dunno – just making it up as I go along. Or even just leave us on a cliffhanger.

    I just feel it needed something more. But as you say, maybe the New Year’s episode will be the biggie.

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    @bluesqueakpip yes that was interesting from Yaz. Graham, quite reasonably, struggled. Ryan felt right away his gran wouldn’t have wanted that, especially not for Graham. Meanwhile Yaz was seriously making that calculation. This series the character development quite understandably focused on the two people who had just lost someone they loved. It’s also shown us the people Yaz loves/is constantly infuriated by. She’s usually the one the Doctor picks to be with her, and the Doctor has walked away from an atrocity to protect her timeline.I think it could be interesting to see how this turns out.

    MissRori @missrori

    I agree with others that this was a bit underwhelming as a season finale goes.  It largely worked on a character level, though Graham’s arc ended up pretty predictable, and the starship crew ended up mainly a plot device that didn’t add much to the story (and people thought Bill got shortchanged in “World Enough and Time”/”The Doctor Falls”!).

    The business with trapped and/or out-of-place planets has of course been done before in both BG and AG Who, and I think the Thirteen was too sunny at the end given that five planets’ populations were destroyed as an indirect result of her sparing Tim Shaw’s life, sort of like how “The Lie of the Land” has too sunny an ending given that Bill and Twelve don’t seem guilty about all the people the Monks imprisoned and slew because of their mistakes.  I realize that many people (and showrunners) thought the “last of the Time Lords” angst got out of hand by the time “Day of the Doctor” came along and fixed the whole destruction of Gallifrey, but if they don’t want to have the Doctor under a cloud anymore, why not just reveal all the planets’ people were still alive, or have the dead spring back to life in the Monks’ case?

    Actually, perhaps it’s time that the show give some major time over to discussing the question of how culpable a person actually is if they choose to do the right thing and spare even a villain’s life, and the villain goes on to create more trouble.  (This situation was also seen with Missy in Twelve’s arc of course.)  Is it the Doctor’s fault if a person, shown mercy and sometimes even forgiveness and given a chance to change their ways, chooses not to change them?  Come to think of it, why does everybody like to blame the Doctor anyway?  😀  I think back to the io9 review of “Face the Raven” that was toplined “This was all the Doctor’s fault”, when it can be argued that — especially given what happened in the remainder of Series 9 — no character was more wronged/treated with more malice in that season than Twelve, and none who wronged him received the punishment to fit the crime.  He was just trying to do the right thing, be a good kind man, and everyone else got out their knives to thank him.  😉

    Arbutus @arbutus

    Yay! Graham faced his demon and survived. The series arc was never the Stenza, or Tim Shaw, it was Graham’s journey (and on another level, Ryan’s). False gods, the value of life, the soul-destroying nature of a life focused on vengeance. Tim Shaw paid the price for this, Graham didn’t have to. And Team TARDIS is the Doctor’s fam!

    @miapatrick   There are some levels there – Graham was her husband, but he only knew her for three years. Ryan knew her his entire life.  And while Grace was obviously a huge influence for good in Graham’s life, she raised Ryan. He is the embodiment of her values.

    When Yaz suggested that the choice might be all of earth vs. the two Ux, all I could think was that that’s not a math the Doctor has ever been good at!

    @kevinwho   I see your point about the villain, although it didn’t bother me. I liked the circular aspect of it and thought it tied well into the series theme. But as for the long arm of coincidence, I can only say that without coincidence there wouldn’t be a lot of stories! Fiction relies on it. 🙂 That being said, I do like your bonkers theory.

    @thane16   I agree that the Master will be back, but I suspect not in the form of Missy. I’m not sure the current Doctor has the gravitas to avoid to avoid some unfortunate gender stereotypes!

    As to the issue of finales, I think we’re seeing differing views based upon personal taste. I never cared all that much for the big blow-out finales, so I didn’t miss it. @craig  At no point did I think everyone’s gonna die (or be bottled up, or whatever).  I have never, ever felt that in any episode, so again, not missing it here. It’s really a “different strokes” kind of thing, I think.

    Anonymous @

    @arbutus – The thing with coincidence in storytelling is that, to avoid straining willing suspension of disbelief, writers usually want to minimize it, and put it right up front.  “I couldn’t believe what I saw that winter morning…” is fine, nothing wrong with starting off that way.  But if followed by a bunch of other unlikely chances, some readers’ credulity will be strained.

    Which – I agree with you about finale scale – is a matter of taste, and is fine as long as (enough of) the audience accepts it.  And I’m glad you accepted and even welcomed my bonkerizing!  I don’t think I’ve ever been more crazed! 🙂

    Craig @craig

    @arbutus Just to clarify, I don’t think every finale should feature the end of the Earth. But as Chibnall brought that into the equation I think it could have been done a lot better.

    He could have left Earth out of it completely and done something a bit different and I would have been happy if it had been a bit more exciting.

    Do it well or don’t do it. But that’s me. It was a good idea but I think the story could have done with a few more revisions under the eyes of a good script editor.

    nerys @nerys

    I had just got done complaining in another thread about this season being too talky … not enough of the “show, don’t tell” rule of storytelling, and then Chibnall pulls out a balanced script of dialogue with action. I enjoyed it.

    For me, the stakes wouldn’t have felt so high if Earth weren’t next in line to be captured. That’s completely selfish, I know. But I think it’s also the ultimate motivation for the Doctor and her companions. The Doctor clearly considers Earth her favorite planet. There’s a reason she keeps going there and finding companions. So it makes sense that Tim Shaw would have targed Earth in his revenge against the Doctor. That’s a recurring theme throughout Doctor Who, and I would have been surprised if it hadn’t happened in this episode.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    I don’t think it was trying to be that sort of finale. At least, given the jokes in there about previous overblown finales, I’d say the script was deliberately trying not to be that sort of finale.

    If Chibnall had left the Earth out, then we wouldn’t have got that moment of realising that the Earth isn’t really the centre of the Whoniverse. That’s been a little thread running through this series as well – quite a few variations of ‘We’re from Earth.’ ‘Stupid name. Where’s that?’ In this case, the Earth was one of a number of planets that had annoyed Tim Shaw, and by the sound of it, he saved it till last not because it was important, but because he wanted the Doctor to see it destroyed.

    The Earth is important because it’s important to us and the Doctor. The Doctor sees herself as the Earth’s Protector – but does that make the Earth safe, or does it make it more of a target?

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    I think the Thirteen was too sunny at the end given that five planets’ populations were destroyed as an indirect result of her sparing Tim Shaw’s life

    I think that’s one area where the script did need a bit of editing. When you rewatch, you can see that the planets are in fact in things that look like the big stasis chambers the supporting artists are in. Tim Shaw specifically says that his people put trophies in stasis, but that what they really, really wanted was the ability to put entire civilisations in stasis. Then he announces that he’s succeeded.

    The Doctor thinks that taking a planet out of its orbit would destroy it (and the mini-stasis chambers are cracking), but the script doesn’t make it clear that she thinks the planets can still be rescued if they’re returned to their orbits.

    At least, if they can’t, why was Paltraki so insistent that there was a reason he should just have taken off, and the crewmember willing to die to let him do that? Neither of them would have that reaction if we were talking about a crispy fried planet inside the chamber. Their actions do make perfect sense, though, if they’re trying to retrieve and return an entire planetary population.

    Why would the Doctor bother returning the planets to their orbit if everyone was dead? They wouldn’t have needed to put Delph through the agony of returning the planets to their proper location – unless there was a chance they could still save both planet and people.

    So I think that stopping the stasis on Earth was meant to show the effect was entirely reversible (and possibly no one on Earth even noticed what had happened), and then the returned planets were released from stasis. The one second CGI showed an intact looking planet with clouds and a few lights that might be cities – so I think we were meant to think that the planets were all rescued.

    nerys @nerys

    @bluesqueakpip So I think that stopping the stasis on Earth was meant to show the effect was entirely reversible (and possibly no one on Earth even noticed what had happened), and then the returned planets were released from stasis. The one second CGI showed an intact looking planet with clouds and a few lights that might be cities – so I think we were meant to think that the planets were all rescued.

    That’s exactly what I thought happened. It wasn’t just about saving Earth, but also about saving all of the planets. But on second thought, I’m not certain that’s what happened, and I agree that it should have been made clearer in the script. Maybe it was in the original script, but in the editing process that explanatory footage fell to the cutting room floor?

    Craig @craig

    @bluesqueakpip See, that’s kinda my problem. It didn’t seem to be wanting to be any kind of finale (to me, anyway). As I said, even just a bit of a cliffhanger at the end would have improved it. As it is, it could have probably slotted in anywhere in the season.

    As I said, there was a lot of good in it, the ideas and themes, but it lacked something for me. I also said last week’s episode, “It Takes You Away”, could have been made into a better season finale, with an emotional Graham and Grace ending, despite no big threat to the whole world.

    I would have loved that as I thought it was a much better episode. I think @kevinwho suggested the same thing. We, as viewers, care about the return of Grace much more than the return of Tim Shaw. They could have fitted Graham’s moral dilemma into that one quite easily.

    But, hey, roll on New Year and watching Doctor Who with a hangover.

    Craig @craig

    @bluesqueakpip Apologies for another post, but another thought occurred to me. As per above, you could easily swap this episode and “It Takes You Away” in the running order. Then you would have Graham dealing with his anger towards Tim Shaw, and then (with a little rewriting) have him finally letting go of his grief with Grace in the finale.

    As the Doctor might say, I think that could have been “brilliant”.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    I also said last week’s episode, “It Takes You Away”, could have been made into a better season finale,

    I understand what you mean, but I don’t think so. My thoughts haven’t quite coalesced yet – though I will say that this episode and The Woman Who Fell To Earth are the only episodes this series I’ve watched three times.

    I think the arc (and there is an arc) is about Grace. And about grace. It’s about the monsters inside us, and it’s about the sheer banality of evil – and yet how infectious that inadequate, destructive, force can be. It Takes You Away would have been the wrong finale, because it was about accepting that Grace the person was dead, whereas tonight was about the living grace that came from everything Grace did and was.

    And how that grace was not just in Grace, but in Rosa, and Prem, and everyone whose life and death touched others.

    Craig @craig

    @bluesqueakpip I think we posted almost at the same time – I completely agree about Grace – see my post just above yours.

    Edit: I was thinking of the stages of grief. One of which is anger, but it ends with acceptance.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    I think you could see the arc as Graham and Ryan’s grief over Grace’s death, in which case It Takes You Away would have been a good finale episode.

    But I don’t think it quite is: as I say, my thoughts haven’t exactly coalesced yet, though I strongly suspect another blog is a’comin’. I think the arc is about ‘grace’ and the loss of ‘grace’, which is represented by Grace the person having been Ryan and Graham’s quite literal salvation.

    And then they lose her. And they need to find that grace again, to be ‘the better man’ she taught them both to be, even as they accept that Grace herself is dead.

    The reason I tentatively think it’s about a bit more than a simple ‘overcoming grief’ arc is that it’s also the Doctor’s arc, in a quiet understated way – symbolised by her attending funerals, acknowledging the dead and in this episode even managing a small, rather secular prayer. 😀

    Craig @craig

    @bluesqueakpip We’re kinda on the same page – that’s why I said it would need a bit of rewriting, and maybe something other than a frog to finish off the season – but that wave goodbye could have been a great way to go out. 🙂

    Mudlark @mudlark

    @arch @pedant @bluesqueakpip @thane16

    Reverting if I may to the subject of moral issues raised by the decision to confine Tzim Sha in a stasis pod rather than killing him, I wrote yesterday evening that it might be considered a crueller fate than death. That does not mean that I thought it was not the right decision, not least because for Graham to have killed the monster in a spirit of revenge would have destroyed the essence of all he is, his soul, if you will.

    @bluesqueakpip  you wrote

    Being placed in stasis allows him to experience what he made others experience.

    And that is justice, on the principle of ‘an eye for an eye’. But what, in this instance, does it mean to be put in stasis? It could mean a state of suspended animation in which everything – all physical processes, all sensation and all thought are suspended or, in other words, unconsciousness for eternity or however long the stasis pod endures; in which case Tzim Sha is simply removed from all possibility of doing further harm, without any element of punishment.  Or it could mean to be preserved in full consciousness in the moment in which one entered the stasis pod. In the glimpse we had of him in the pod we saw his hand move, which suggests the latter –  in other words, the most solitary of solitary confinements for ever and not, @pedant , just

    a long prison sentence

    And maybe a sentient creature who kills for sport and status, who kills casually and takes pleasure in the kill, and who is prepared to destroy whole planets and their populations deserves no less, assuming that he has any understanding of moral choice.

    In the 19th century well-meaning prison reformers came up with the idea that prisoners convicted of crimes might be rehabilitated if subjected to a system of complete isolation with only a bible and ‘improving’ moral tracts to read (assuming they were literate). There was to be no contact between the inmates and only minimal contact between individual inmates and prison warders and, although church attendance was compulsory, even in the prison chapel the prisoners sat in stalls screened from one another. This regime was instituted in the newly built panopticon prisons in which all common areas were visible and under constant surveillance from a central station. The theory was that complete isolation would force prisoners to reflect on their lives and their moral values and so be reformed. In reality the result was widespread and severe mental breakdown among those subjected to the regime.

    From the point of view of the condemned, what is there to choose between death and a potential eternity of solitary confinement?  In this case it seems to me that the determining factor is primarily if not entirely the moral impact on those passing sentence.



    Anonymous @

    @mudlark – I actually wish they’d spent just a little more time on the moral dilemma for Graham.  This may just be reflective of me being from the US, but while killing him out of hand is murder and thus wrong, especially for a fundamentally nurturing guy like Graham, letting him walk as so many villains have this year, potentially doing more damage, would also be wrong.

    So working out which is the least wrong response would have been both interesting and edifying.  Graham lowering the gun and saying “I’m the better man” (or close to that) was fine, but what made him decide?  What factors did he weigh?

    But that probably would have required a long, “talky” scene; given that we did get a good solution and clever too, good enough!!

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    ‘Eye for an eye’ is exactly right – but in the original sense, where the meaning was that you took no more than an eye for an eye. [As far as I know, there’s no evidence it was ever applied in practice or meant to be taken literally; it was stating a principle that any punishment or vengeance should not be harsher than the crime it was supposed to be punishing.]

    But I think if we take the punishment of Tim Shaw as an isolated case, we’re losing the theme of the series – which is that it is possible for people to learn to be morally better. Admittedly Tim Shaw so far seems to be as thick as two short planks when it comes to learning from his mistakes (3,407 years later and he’s still after revenge). That fits in with the rather boring villain of Rosa, who didn’t learn from his incarceration in Stormcage, but Kerblam! was more optimistic, as was Ghost Monument.

    From the point of view of the condemned, what is there to choose between death and a potential eternity of solitary confinement?

    Stasis is described in the first episode as a ‘half-life’. Asleep? Or half asleep? Or dreaming? But assuming it is fully aware solitary, that would depend on what the condemned thought would happen next, really. 🙂 No, seriously. We started this episode with two characters expounding their religion and we know the Stenza have a weird thing about keeping their trophies (and entire planets!) in stasis. So it does seem possible that ‘stasis’ has a particular meaning for the Stenza, and that it’s applied to ‘the weak’. Their prey, if you like.

    From Graham and Ryan’s point of view, they couldn’t kill Tim, as he was no longer a threat. However, he’d just proved that they couldn’t let him go, either. The coincidences of the universe (aka the Production Team) had landed him on a planet with two people who could save his life and teach him a more, ah, creative view of things. Instead he decided to pervert their religion and take revenge on a set of planets who’d dared defend themselves.

    And there’s this set of handy stasis chambers available, and that’s exactly what he did to an awful lot of people…

    LionHeart564 @lionheart564

    A ok episode, but like what a lot of people already said , it is underwhelming for final episode.

    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    Finally got to see it, and…well, to be honest, I was not all that impressed. Yes, I could see what they were saying about “you have to be better than that” with regard to Graham. But I really think that was done so much better by Chibnall in the Sulurian two-parter.

    As for the Ux—I didn’t get any feel for their uniqueness or importance. We were told about it by the Doctor, but we were not really shown it. You could restrain any two creatures and have lights shining out of their eyes, but that by itself doesn’t capture their grandeur, which is what we were supposed to see. And what we were also supposed to see, I believe, was both their grandeur and the tragedy that they had fallen under the spell of Tim Shaw. (I have another theory about Tim Shaw and the Ux representing Trump and the Republican Party, but that will wait for another day.)

    Here is another thing that both the first episode and this episode had in common: they were both filmed almost entirely in the dark. Why? Was this supposed to capture the darkness of Tim Shaw? I am not sure an episode filmed in the dark was enough to do that. In fact, I do tend to compare the (literal) darkness of these two bookend episodes with, well, all previous Who, which has been full of colour, as befits a show that is supposed to be, well, fun. Educational, reflective, grappling with important issues, opening the eyes of children to science (Ian, the science teacher) and Barbara (the history teacher), but, at its core…fun.

    I feel Chibnall has been reaching to recapture the early Sydney Newman/Verity Lambert period of Who but it has been filtered through his experience of Broadchurch.


    Rob @rob

    Morning All

    Overall I enjoyed the episode.

    I missed the lights on the planet so ended the programme thinking Tim Shaw had destroyed 5 planets and every living thing on them. No evidence of light coming from the stasis planets either, just bits of rock in a capsule, no water, no ice no atmosphere all at odds with the stasis chambers used for individuals. This easily could have been resolved if the with a bit of timey-wimey doo-dah (Insert resolution of your choice)

    My better half felt The Doctor “talks too much” I get where she is coming from but all the previous Doctors have also had a proclivity to talk too  much too. This could also be centuries of Male dominated culture subliminally raising it’s dark maw to murmer “shhhh woman”. I was in the awkward position of potentially criticising my wife for her opinion on the basis of sexism so in a moment of clarity stopped before opening my gob and just said maybe analysis of scripts for Doctors word count would be useful as they’ve always been pretty talkative.  Spousal armageddon temporarily put into a stasis chamber.

    This is one of the good things that has come out of the regeneration it makes you think about equality,  hopefully it will make me a better person just by making me think about it.

    Now do I actually do a word count, or is winning an argument about sexism with your wife misogynistic?

    Wow rambley-wimey or what/Who

    More coffee is the answer ………

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