The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos
Cast: Jodie Whittaker, Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill, Tosin Cole, Mark Addy, Jan Le, Phyllis Logan, Percelle Ascott, and Samuel Oatley
Writer: Chris Chibnall
Producers: Chris Chibnall, Matt Strevens, Alex Mercer, and Nikki Wilson
Composer: Segun Akinola
Director: Jamie Childs
Doctor Who was created by Sydney Newman, and follows the adventures of the time-traveling alien known as the Doctor, along with their companions, as they explore and help the universe.
In the Series 11 finale, the Doctor and her friends arrive on the planet known as Ranskoor Av Kolos to answer a series of distress call, only to find that the planet itself has become a battleground. Within minutes, they come across a man who can’t remember his name, as well as a mysterious object that everybody seems to be after. With lives on the line, and staring down the face of an old foe, it’s up to Team TARDIS to stop whatever’s happening on the planet before things go from bad to worse. Can they succeed before time runs out?
I’ll start this off by saying that this episode is one of the weaker finales in the show since its revival in 2005, but in all honesty, a lot of them have been somewhat inferior to their penultimate episodes. However, that doesn’t mean it’s in any way bad, as I personally think this is a much better episode than the past two that Chris Chibnall has written. There are faults, yes, but none that compromise the episode as a whole. It’s an incredibly enjoyable episode, but as a finale, it has a bit to be desired.
Jodie Whittaker continues to do fine work in this episode, with several great moments that she can add to her highlight reel. Admittedly, this episode felt less about her and more about Graham, which I’ll get into in just a bit, but regardless, she’s still fantastic. After this series, I feel like she’s definitely found her stride as the Doctor, and I hope that in the New Year’s Day Special, as well as in Series 12, she gets challenged to go even further beyond in terms of character.
This episode absolutely belongs to Graham, and whether or not that’s good or bad depends on the viewer. Bradley Walsh has immediately become one of my favorite actors on this show, and no matter what happens, I genuinely hope he can stick around, as well as Mandip and Tosin. For reasons I won’t spoil, his character arc brings him to a collision course with the Doctor, which creates a beautifully intense moment between the two. His arc might have gotten resolved a bit too quickly, but overall, it was done incredibly well, and overall, he was the MVP of Series 11.
Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole bring their A-game as well, as do the rest of the supporting characters in this episode. Neither of them feel like they drew the short straw, and they both equally contributed to the cause. However, it feels like nobody in this episode got enough screen time, and that brings me to my main issue: this story should have been a two-parter. While it doesn’t suffer from this issue as much as, say, The Tsuranga Conundrum does, it still has so much going on in it that it needed breathing room to flesh things out properly. The ending especially was far too abrupt, and while we do get a nice short monologue from the Doctor, nothing about it feels conclusive enough. Perhaps it’s because this series had no mystery-box story arc, but it felt like there was something missing. It doesn’t break the episode at all, but even so, it made it more underwhelming.
In the end, The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos was definitely a very good episode, with lots of fantastic character moments, high stakes, and drama, but it wasn’t a strong enough finale. The story and characters felt somewhat confined by the one-hour time limit, and it needed to be a two-parter with a far more conclusive ending. However, I did absolutely enjoy and have fun with it, and overall, I think it’s one of Chibnall’s better episodes. Almost there, but not quite at the mark yet.
Final Thoughts on Series 11:
And so, here we are, the end of Jodie Whittaker’s and Chris Chibnall’s first series of Doctor Who. I have got to say, while it wasn’t perfect by any means, I think it was one of the stronger first series for a new Doctor, and a new era of the show overall. Jodie was phenomenal as her version of the Doctor, the companions were well-developed and likable, and the stories feel like the perfect balance of Classic Doctor Who and New Doctor Who, at least for the most part.
The one I’m split on after this series, however, is Chris Chibnall. It still baffles me how he made the decision to make each episode stand-alone, despite his strengths as a writer and showrunner coming from long, overarching stories, as he demonstrated with his show Broadchurch. Because of this decision, a lot of stories this series were held back, and could’ve been better had he given them time to breathe. However, the way he’s been demonized by certain people is absolutely ridiculous, and without a doubt, I hope he stays on the show, so long as he learns from his experiences and gives the stories in Series 12 the breathing room they deserve. He has the talent, all he needs to do is let himself use it.
This series has had some fantastic episodes, as well. From Rosa, to Kerblam!, to It Takes You Away, there’s a lot of good stuff here that I can easily see as becoming new classics for future generations to watch. There have been highs, lows, and everything in between, but overall, Series 11 has been one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had watching this show since I started at 14 years old. Despite the best efforts of certain people, Jodie’s Doctor has come out on top as a new icon and fan-favorite, and rightfully so. I greatly look forward to the New Year’s Day Special, and while Series 12 is so far away, premiering in early 2020, I do hope that Chibnall and co. make it all worth the wait. All in all, this experience has been, “brilliant.”