Doctor Who season 11 is a wrap and fans are still processing everything that went down.
It was a fresh start for the show with a new showrunner, Doctor, companions, writers, and composer and broke major barriers by featuring a woman Doctor and South Asian companion.
This season wasn’t without its faults, particularly some disjointedness in the Stenza/”Tim Shaw” arc (if you can call it that) and epic adventures that fizzled out or wrapped up far too quickly in the final minutes. Many of the villains were meh at best and the issue of how the show handled Grace’s death and Ryan’s pain raised more than a few eyebrows.
But, it was an overall fun season that brought many former fans back into the fold and proved to non-believers that a woman Doctor could monologue, run, tackle issues, and score solid ratings like her predecessors.
Season 11 was short with only 10 episodes, but there were three that were exceptional standouts.
Best ‘Doctor Who’ season 11 episodes
Many fans were apprehensive about the show tackling 1950s Alabama and an iconic civil rights figure. But, “Rosa” stands out as perhaps the best episode of season 11 as it blatantly explored racial injustice through Ryan and Yaz (to a lesser degree) and forced The Doctor to check her own White privilege for perhaps the first time.
Doctor Who’s history with Black companions and their treatment, especially during times that are dangerous due to the social climate, hasn’t been stellar but “Rosa” faced these issues with extreme care, thought, and brilliance. It was the first episode penned by a Black woman (cheers to Marjorie Blackman) and continued the long tradition of the show being an educational tool at heart.
It was an exceptional Doctor Who story that garnered the general approval of critics and fans alike. Years from now, fans will laud and praise this episode with the same fervor that they do Classic era masterpieces like “Genesis of the Daleks.”
‘Demons of the Punjab’
This episode was a visually stunning exploration into the partition of India through the eyes of Yaz’s grandmother. The show has had companions interact with their family members in the past, but it has never been done with such rich emotion wrapped up in one of the saddest wedding stories of all-time.
Once again, The Doctor wasn’t able to rush in and “fix” the problem but instead had to stay mostly on the sidelines to guide the inevitable. Writer Vinay Patel put a lot of research and time into developing this story, complete with rich dialogue and interactions between the characters.
I loved seeing Graham and Yaz interact with each other as well as Prem’s bold and tragic final stand at the end. “Demons of the Punjab” was a reminder that so many ancestors hold deep stories inside of them that their descendants may never know.
It really be ya own people sometimes. “The Witchfinders” explored how women’s worst enemies can be women who strive to uphold patriarchal standards. The Doctor is accused of being a witch and has to blatantly face the issues that will continue to arise for her as a madWOMAN in a blue box who doesn’t fit into society’s…box.
“The Witchfinders” was directed (Joy Wilkinson) and written by a woman (Sallie Aprahamian) and it shows with realistic scenes like King James believing that Graham is in charge instead of Thirteen. Alan Cumming is an absolute delight as King James and every moment that he flirted with Ryan was quality television.
Graham wore a fantastic hat, corpses were reanimated, evil Becka got the death that she deserved, and The Doctor verbally annihilated King James. It was pretty much fantastic all around and is one of the most re-watchable stories in recent years.
Is it really a Doctor Who season if one episode isn’t absolutely strange? Kerblam has a quality name, creepy robots, killer bubble wrap, and Ryaz (keep up with the shipping names folks) jumping off conveyor belts moving at warp speed.
Graham is hilarious and pretty good at finessing important information from a fellow janitor, who throws a plot twist at everyone by revealing himself to be the real enemy. The ending is a bit weird and Charlie’s motivations are questionable, but there are enough fun moments to smooth it out.
And, isn’t the message always about how automation and robots are going to be the death of us all in some way?