Doctor Who: The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos
December 9, 2018 12:26 PM - Season 11, Episode 10 - Subscribe

On the planet of Ranskoor Av Kolos, a battlefield, a conflict-scarred survivor, and a deadly reckoning await the Doctor, Ryan, Yaz and Graham.

On the planet of Ranskoor Av Kolos lie the remains of a brutal battlefield. But as the Doctor, Graham, Yaz and Ryan answer nine separate distress calls, they discover the planet holds far more 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 her friends towards a deadly reckoning.
posted by fearfulsymmetry (27 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Ooh - that was intense. And awesome. I don't know that I could have been the better man in Graham's shoes.
posted by freya_lamb at 12:38 PM on December 9, 2018 [2 favorites]


Tim Shaw back... not really a surprise. Thought may be there'd be a 'surprise' Dalek or something but Chibbers really did stick to his guns.

And no Dr Who in 2019... (bar the New Year's Day special)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:40 PM on December 9, 2018 [1 favorite]


That link goes to page not found. This link works.
posted by Pendragon at 1:21 PM on December 9, 2018


Cut and paste (and glass of wine earlier) error... should be here
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:24 PM on December 9, 2018


I really like Tim Shaw's voice for some reason. It has a very Kylo Ren With His Mask On ring to it.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:11 PM on December 9, 2018 [5 favorites]


That was an excellent finale for an excellent season! That left me very satisfied...

And no Dr Who in 2019... (bar the New Year's Day special)

... aw fuck.
posted by homunculus at 6:29 PM on December 9, 2018 [6 favorites]


Running about disused quarries! Sneaking around stasis pods! Cut-rate Cylons! So great.

And no Dr Who in 2019

boo!
posted by BungaDunga at 6:42 PM on December 9, 2018 [3 favorites]


I was proud of Graham for not wanting to kill Tim Shaw personally.

That said, many earthbound people would consider "locking the criminal up in a stasis chamber of his own construction, to be awake but trapped forever" to be an even harsher punishment than death.

They did a good job of elevating Tim Shaw into the pantheon of serious villains.

But I'm still hoping that the New Year's special brings in a classic villain. 13 has been terrific and that's the one thing I really want to see stepped up.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:23 PM on December 9, 2018 [1 favorite]


I liked this episode, seemed pretty solid. I know that doesn't sound like high praise but I generally hated the saving-the-univese season finales of the last few seasons.

I really liked the low-key way they handled it when Graham finally got his fist-bump: he just confusedly keeps his fist up for a few seconds and then doesn't mention it.

Shame they're skipping a year though, that's going to feel like an eternity for the kids.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 2:03 AM on December 10, 2018 [4 favorites]


There was only one hour of Doctor Who in 2016, as well. I think the kids will be alright and the show will be fine. Still, boo.
posted by crossoverman at 3:09 AM on December 10, 2018


I honestly think this was a pretty bad episode of television, and easily the worst finale.

There are some interesting ideas here. Religious fanatics being tricked into doing wrong. A planet which subverts your mind. Planets trapped inside crystal (it was unclear to me, were those planets dead or not?). But I don't think it works for me at all. The whole mind altering thing was just used as a plot device, and in a very uninteresting way, even when the Doctor and Yas took their devices off they just put them back on a little while later and were basically fine. Chibnall seems to do this all the time, sets up chekovs guns then shoots them at the floor.

The religious fanatic thing could have been interesting, but just wasn't done very well. Why did they believe Tim Shaw was the creator? It was not clear all why they thought so, which made their decision to stop following him feel just as abrupt. Why wouldn't the creator of the universe know who the Doctor is? The Doctor worked harder, and failed to convince James 1st a few episodes ago.

The sniperbots are just terrible enemies, and managed to be less effective than last time. They were defeated by Graham and Ryan ducking down! It's cartoonish. I know sometimes Dr who enemies are defeated in similarly absurd ways, but this felt super on the nose.

Even the best plot arc, Graham and Ryan's talk about revenge, felt pretty out of nowhere, and Graham's decision to not kill Tim Shaw felt pretty unmotivated, and lacked tension; after all, the big villain of the season was for some reason unarmed (well ok he had touch powers, but Graham had a gun!) so shooting him in the foot was an easy option, especially with the stasis cube right there.

It just felt like their victory here cost them nothing, and barely showed any character arc at all. I want Doctor Who to surprise me, and Chibnall never does so. He writes workmanlike scripts full of exposition.

There was some good stuff here. I still fundamentally like all the characters and enjoy spending time with them, but I really do want better than this.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 3:45 AM on December 10, 2018 [12 favorites]


I liked it, around some "why??" holes like what Cannon Fodder lays out above. But then, I'm easy to please.

It may be too heavy for a family-friendly show, but I wondered whether they'd lean into the Monster-style repercussions of the Doctor's super-pacifist stance. I'm not one to be all "yay, murder," but the show brought it up implicitly - those 6 (5?) planets full of beings died because the Doctor let Tzim-Sha go - and then dropped it. And yeah, the villain has free will, and it also wouldn't have happened if the Ux hadn't been so dense about accepting the first murderhobo they see as their lord and savior. But for a while now, the show has been banging the drum that the Doctor is the cause of basically everything that happens, and everything that matters is important mainly in relation to the Doctor. So maybe they're trying to question that or go in a different direction. I can't really tell. Guess we'll see.
posted by cage and aquarium at 4:47 AM on December 10, 2018


I kind of liked the
"But you said no weapons!"
"My rules are flexible, don't quote them back to me"
exchange and it reminded me of viewers complaining that the Doctor's "no weapons" rule wasn't consistent with past behaviour...
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:50 AM on December 10, 2018 [6 favorites]


Why did they believe Tim Shaw was the creator? It was not clear all why they thought so, which made their decision to stop following him feel just as abrupt.

He materialized halfway through some Extremely Important Ritual they were doing, which I took to mean they saw his appearance as divine intervention.
posted by BungaDunga at 7:42 AM on December 10, 2018 [6 favorites]


Cannon Fodder: I honestly think this was a pretty bad episode of television, and easily the worst finale.

I'll be the fanboy to throw up some counter-arguements, but I'm not completely disagreeing with your points.

Cannon Fodder: There are some interesting ideas here. Religious fanatics being tricked into doing wrong. A planet which subverts your mind. Planets trapped inside crystal (it was unclear to me, were those planets dead or not?). But I don't think it works for me at all. The whole mind altering thing was just used as a plot device, and in a very uninteresting way, even when the Doctor and Yas took their devices off they just put them back on a little while later and were basically fine. Chibnall seems to do this all the time, sets up chekovs guns then shoots them at the floor.

Perhaps I'm being too nit-picky here, but "religious fanatic" seems like the wrong term here. The Ux can transform matter with their minds, which they take to be a gift given to them by The Creator. That's a proper power, and being bound to a sparse planet (assuming it's all as grim as the rock quarry setting in this episode) as a lonely pair of beings, I can imagine how long-lived beings could create some fantastic theories about their powers.

Reading between the lines (for all the exposition, you think that wouldn't be necessary ;)), I think those planets are held in stasis, like the pod people: "The Stenza held people in stasis as trophies, but that was never the goal. Our ultimate goal was to hold civilizations." (Emphasis mine)

And the mind-altering effects of the planet seem to build up (and dissipate) over time, so I can buy a bit of headache and disorientation after a few minutes, leading to lack of long- and short-term memory with prolonged exposure.

Cannon Fodder: Why did they believe Tim Shaw was the creator? It was not clear all why they thought so, which made their decision to stop following him feel just as abrupt.

Despite being able to create things (from the world/ universe around them), the Ux are not an exploratory people, so the first being who literally appears on their planet, and as a bonus, has a repository of immense scientific understanding, makes sense as a possible god.

Cannon Fodder: The sniperbots are just terrible enemies, and managed to be less effective than last time. They were defeated by Graham and Ryan ducking down! It's cartoonish.

Oh, agreed 100%

Cannon Fodder: Even the best plot arc, Graham and Ryan's talk about revenge, felt pretty out of nowhere, and Graham's decision to not kill Tim Shaw felt pretty unmotivated, and lacked tension

I chalk that up to a mix of bad writing and uninspired acting in that moment. I would say that much of this season has been carried by the acting for me, but that bit was a let-down. Graham might not have mentioned getting revenge for Grace, but killing her killer doesn't sound too far-fetched.

There is plenty of bad TV, but I wouldn't put this at the bottom by any means. Bad for Who in general? Sure, it was clumsy and not terribly surprising. But that's my take on this one.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:14 AM on December 10, 2018 [5 favorites]


The sniperbots are definitely ridiculous. And I agree that Andinio's shift from obedient belief in The Creator to active resistance of him felt abrupt and underdrawn. But, honestly, this was maybe my favorite episode of this run of the show.

I loved the unabashed weirdness of it, starting from the very first scene. And I felt more emotionally connected to this Doctor than I have so far. Like, it felt like she embodied a deeper and broader emotional range in this episode. I'm thinking specifically of her conversation with Graham towards the beginning, when she is stern and clear and angry. And also of the somewhat flippant moment when she says, "My rules are flexible, don't quote them back to me." And of the confrontation with Tzim-Sha, when he's telling her that she made all this possible and her complex look of defiance mixed with underlying mounting horror and a smidge of, oh shit, maybe he's right?

Feels to me like Jodie Whitaker is more deeply embodying the fullness of Doctor Who, which feels exciting and important enough to overlook the wobbliness of other aspects of this episode.

(I did think the stolen planets were all dead, but I guess it does seem like the M.O. of the Stenza is to keep their trophies/prisoners alive.)
posted by overglow at 12:09 PM on December 10, 2018 [4 favorites]


agree with most of the points, it's not a strong of a season finale as I would like, but I still enjoyed nevertheless as a solid episode of this season. I think it should've been stretched out into two episodes with one focused on convincing the Ux to turn against Tim Shaw and the real finale focused on Graham and Ryan against him.

was anyone else as giddy as I was when Yaz was like "I'm with you no matter what" and didn't leave the Doctor?
posted by numaner at 7:35 PM on December 10, 2018 [6 favorites]


I’ve seen a couple of reviewers state they thought the kidnapped planets were dead, but a couple of bits in the episode contradict that: one, the Doctor only mentions genicide hypothetically when discussing how the only leverage she thought she had against Tim Shaw turned out to threaten an entire planet with extinction

Also, the way it was important for Delph to use the TARDIS telepathic circuits to return the planets to where he got them. If they’d been devoid of life, they could have just as easily dumped them all in some blank region of space.
posted by ejs at 11:33 PM on December 10, 2018


So one more gripes and I'm done :).

One thing I didn't talk about was how the conclusion played out, which has been my common frustration with Chibnall, that he can't end episodes. So the solution for disconnecting the Ux is reasonable (put the psychic blockers on them), even if dramatically it's underbaked (both Yas and the Doctor think it will be a sacrifice but it is in fact not at all).

But there's still a problem; the planets need to go back. The Ux can do it... but they can't do it alone, so the Doctor plugs them into the tardis and they can. My issue with this last part is there's just no drama. If he had chosen, Chibnall could have written that the Ux could send the planets back, but he chooses to have the additional complication of plugging into the Tardis. But that doesn't involve a sacrifice on anyone's part, a choice they have to make. The Doctor just talks a lot, comes up with a solution, and plugs them in. There's no actual difference in what occurs other than more time was spent with the Doctor saying technobabble. This kind of stuff is just fundamentally unsatisfying.

I think this kind of thing is bad science fiction writing. Technobabble should exist to create drama, not resolve it. "Ah yes, I can triangulate the cross fields to connect up the tardis... but there's a problem. It's going to be hard to keep it connected, really hard, so hard I'm the only one who can do it... but I need someone else to hold the connections in, and that could kill them."

Yas: "I'll do it".

She does it, then nearly dies/dies/has life changing injury. Any of those options are fine, she can even be ok, but at least there's drama.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 11:49 PM on December 10, 2018 [4 favorites]


I've just finished bingeing this season. I did this before with season 7, because it's a good way of not investing lots of extra energy in a show and just getting it out of the way once it's all been released. So...

This was underwhelming for a finale. We've had the nicked planets before, the Daleks did it, and that plot had much more peril involved. Here, oh they're planets. Oh, really? Should I care? Ok, so this one is Earth. Hmmm, not feeling the peril still. No shots of that red planet wiper thing from on the planet, so guess what? No peril. But hey, there have been much worse finales.

What troubles me, still after 10 episodes is that the characterisation still feels very flat to me. I don't think it has anything to do with the acting, but everything to do with the writing. It feels a lot like the writers don't know what makes the show work. It's like they're working in the dark. It's like they're writing Who by the numbers or building an Airfix model. It looks and sounds like Who, but I'm afraid the spark, or the chemistry, or the quirkiness - it just isn't there for me. It's still early days though for the new team, so hopefully things are better in season 12.
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 12:36 AM on December 11, 2018 [4 favorites]


Doctor Who has typically been in the realm of going beyond handwavium to sheer bafflegab. I think what worked this time for me is that it wasn't just the usual, "I'm going to wave a sonic screwdriver, do magic things with The Tardis, and all the Dalek's magically explode." This Doctor has been big on collaboration and consent, so I find it significant that the bafflegab involved the participation of both Humans and Ux, especially the acknowledgement (again) that she's asking other people to do things that are dangerous and painful, and that wouldn't be ok under other circumstances.

I agree that the credulity of the Ux was a bit of a stretch. I feel that the dynamic of mutually dependent partners where one needs faith in something, while the other is more skeptical could have benefitted with better writing, as well as a bit of exposition about how and why they're isolated and willing to trust Tim Shaw's bafflegab for so long.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 9:27 AM on December 11, 2018 [2 favorites]


In some ways, I saw this episode as a nod to everyone who were pining for a “save the Earth from total destruction” Doctor. She even used the TARDIS to extend its somethingorother field to protect everyone. It was very easy to imagine Tennant delivering the technobabble.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:35 PM on December 11, 2018 [1 favorite]


While this was not a great episode, probably my least favorite of the season in fact, I thought it was fine. I'd rather have an understated finale than a big bam boom nonsense armageddon. All the sci-fi business was just handwaving. What was really important was how our heroes reacted and developed. Graham has had a great through-line plot this season. Ryan and Yas less so--maybe they'll hang around for another season while Graham goes home satisfied.
posted by rikschell at 7:48 AM on December 12, 2018 [2 favorites]


I've been thinking about this all night. Critically this episode was a bit of a mess. I mean, no more than the usual Doctor Who mess, but I kind of don't have the heart to pick it apart for that. I think I just need a kids show right now.

I was waiting for doom the entire episode and I was honestly relieved when it didn't happen. Everything is painful and terrible in the world, and it seems right to have the Doctor saying, "Be the better person, don't kill, everything's gonna be ok - let's just make sure all our friends get home safe."

I didn't expect to feel that way, but here we are.
posted by Space Kitty at 8:49 AM on December 12, 2018 [8 favorites]


I finally watched this one. After watching it, I agree with almost all of Cannon Fodder's points, but the pace of the episode was so fast that I didn't think about them while watching the episode. I really like this group of companions, and I felt like they were all given something to do in this episode. I also feel like they seem to be growing as people while they are with The Doctor, which is what you would think would happen if you're traveling with a Time Lord.

I would like to see a Dalek in January, though.
posted by wittgenstein at 7:58 AM on December 13, 2018 [2 favorites]


I thought the five planets Tin Shaw stole weren't actually dead -- they were in serious danger of it, but not actually dead, and the big dramatic thing the Ux did at the end was putting them back where they were supposed to be.

(I would have liked to have seen a little of what was actually going on ON those planets during the whole stasis/ being put back thing, but there was already so much going on in the episode that I can understand them no having time for that.)
posted by sarcasticah at 7:29 AM on December 17, 2018


Critically this episode was a bit of a mess. I mean, no more than the usual Doctor Who mess, but I kind of don't have the heart to pick it apart for that.

This is where I landed. Also, the stuff I didn't like about it tend to be things that are kind of inherent to the whole idea of big sci fi finales, so I'm willing to cut it slack for sticking to its subgenre.

At least the Doctor didn't get turned into a house elf only to be resurrected by everyone on Earth believing really hard.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:21 AM on December 31, 2018 [1 favorite]


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