“Love is the Strongest Weapon” (Doctor Who: Demons of the Punjab TV Review)
Demons of the Punjab
Cast: Jodie Whittaker, Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill, Tosin Cole, Amita Suman, Shane Zaza, Hamza Jeetooa, and Leena Dhingra
Writer: Vinay Patel
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.
Wanting to find out more about her past heritage, Yaz coaxes the Doctor into taking her and the rest of Team TARDIS back to India in 1947. As they touch base with Yaz’s grandmother, Umbreen, and the rest of her family, the Doctor senses a strange, alien presence lurking within the woods. As the country is being torn apart, and with the Partition looming, the Doctor and her friends must find out what creatures are lurking within the lands, and what their intentions are. Will Yaz be able to keep herself from undoing her own history? And who are the real demons of the Punjab?
So far, this series of Doctor Who has thankfully mostly been full of hits, with maybe some slight misses. While the last two episodes were definitely enjoyable, and by no means bad, they’ve definitely felt underwhelming, especially after an episode as powerful as Rosa. I’m incredibly happy to say that the show has come back swinging at full force this week, as Demons of the Punjab is simply fantastic.
Jodie Whittaker continues to knock it out of the park week after week, adding more and more layers to the Thirteenth Doctor. We get to see more of that subtle wickedness that she showed against Krasko in Rosa, and it’s an aspect of the character that Jodie performs brilliantly. Despite this, and I don’t want to get ahead of myself, I have a strong feeling that she will end up being remembered as the Doctor who advocated love, like Capaldi was the Doctor who advocated kindness. And honestly, in this day and age, we could use the Doctor being a symbol of love right now.
The plot, while I don’t want to spoil anything, is incredibly well-done, throwing in a good amount of surprises, twists, and turns. It also allows us to give great development towards Yaz and Graham, particularly to the former. Despite having the most companions of New Who so far, the writing team has done an excellent job of balancing and developing all of them. This episode is Yaz at her absolute best so far, and her plight is incredibly relatable to anyone. It’s very nice to see that all three companions have been fully developed and paid attention too, and I don’t want them to go anywhere for a good while.
The side characters for this episode were all compelling and down-to-earth as well, particularly Umbreen and Prem. Again, I don’t want to get into spoilers, but what they go through is something incredibly real and emotional, and definitely resonates with the world we live in today. While the monsters this week didn’t particularly feel incredibly dangerous, I absolutely loved them and their designs, and they carry on a theme presented in Twice Upon A Time from last year, which to me, is always nice to see. No matter how different it may feel, just like the character, Doctor Who is still the same show it was a year ago, and the same show it was fifty-five years ago.
In the end, Demons of the Punjab was yet another exquisite, emotional, and gut-wrenchingly real episode, and is definitely on par with Rosa from earlier in the series. Aside from a couple nitpicks, this episode continues to present how Doctor Who this year isn’t afraid to hold back and have these kinds of conversations, and I love the show all the more for it. Without a doubt, I can’t wait to see what next week, and what the rest of Series 11, has in store!
Summary Another home run from Series 11, creating an incredibly entertaining, yet emotionally powerful episode.