9:30 am EST, December 10, 2018

‘Doctor Who’ 11×10 review: A competent series finale that lacked a significant spark

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Doctor Who capped off season 11 by tying back into this season’s premiere and giving a few characters some needed resolution.

The show teased the return of a familiar face in “The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos” but alas it was not the appearance of anyone fans wanted to see like River Song. Instead, Thirteen and the crew went another round with Tim Shaw a.k.a. Toothy McToothface who is undoubtedly one of the dullest villains of all time.

It wasn’t overly surprising considering The Doctor hadn’t killed him and the Stenza came up intermittently throughout the season, but I was hoping he would remain a loose thread that was never tied up. Oh well.

Tim Shaw landed on the titular alien planet and somehow convinced the Ux that he was their god. Their ability to manipulate the shape of the universe with their thoughts was pretty sublime itself, so it’s beyond me how they thought a random weirdo with teeth shoved in his head could be a powerful deity.

But, that’s what happened this time around and The Doctor couldn’t resist coming down to check out what was going down on this planet.

I loved the idea of a planet producing waves that would make visitors lose their sense of self, which was explored via Paltraki as he began to piece together what happened to him and his crew. This season has had its share of great episodic characters and Paltraki was an effective character to help Thirteen build an understanding of what transpired in recent years.

I have mixed feelings about Graham’s storyline in this episode and how it tied into their seasonal arc. The show has focused heavily on his difficult emotional journey after losing Grace and it came to a major head at the reintroduction of Tim.

It was a bit jarring to watch Graham butt heads with The Doctor after openly declaring that he was gonna murder Tim Shaw whether she liked it or not. Honesty is the best policy, right? Graham was def about that action.

From his perspective, it made sense to want revenge because Tim Shaw was indirectly involved in Grace’s death, even though she made the conscious choice to take out that electric ball thing. And, Tim Shaw is also painfully annoying.

No one blames you for wanting to take him out Graham. Of course, Ryan was ultimately able to talk him down by saying his Nan would want them to be the bigger person. He also threw in a very Ryan-like “I love you” and called him Granddad once again.

Strangely, Ryan calling him Granddad is more unrealistic than him just admitting that he loves and cares for the old man. Their little Men in Black-esque moment with Tim Shaw was both hilarious and a bit heartwarming.

Graham shooting Tim Shaw in the foot to shut him up and begging Ryan to his act of “violence” a secret from The Doctor was perhaps one of my favorite moments between the pair. I’m not gonna lie, Graham has really grown on me as a character even if I am a bit iffy at how much he has been centered in the last couple of episodes.

And, the pair jointly deciding to freeze Tim was a good way to give them some justice for what happened to Grace. I still don’t like the show’s decision to focus more on Graham’s pain that Ryan’s over her death, but this made for an overall great moment.

As usual, The Doctor delivered a range of powerful emotions mixed with callbacks to her previous adventures. I loved how she praised her ever-wonderful TARDIS – who was a major MVP here – by bringing up her towing Earth back to place in Journey’s End. And, the Slitheen egg mention wasn’t too badly placed either.

However, I can’t help but feel underwhelmed by this episode. There was a lot of information dumping and explanations It was certainly a competent Doctor Who story, but it was missing that big finale spark.

Yes, there were the kidnapped planets and the threat against Earth, but the stakes really never felt but so high here. It would have been interesting to have some scenes cutting to Earth of perhaps Yaz’s family to see their reaction to what was going on.

A lot of this likely rested on Tim Shaw being ineffective as a villain because the other parts were there for this to be a great finale. After all, he was taken out by being shot in the foot.

Speaking of Yaz, her relationship with The Doctor is sublime. Thirteen may have given Graham credit for being one of the bravest people she knows, but it seems like she has a closer attachment to Yaz.

They spend more one-on-one time together and have this effortless chemistry. Yaz is her right-hand woman and very much in awe of The Doctor, which can be a scary thought.

I don’t believe she has a romantic attraction to her, but I can see her being a companion who will have to be somehow forced away from the TARDIS because she will never choose to walk away.

It looks like fans will have to wait until New Year’s to be dazzled by a great villain who, according to The Doctor, is the most dangerous creature in the universe. No one knows its identity at this time, but anything is a step up from a tooth-faced foe.

Sadly, it will be the only Doctor Who episode in 2019 because season 12 will not land until 2020.

This season’s finale lacked the wow that fans have grown accustomed to over the years, but it was certainly a step up from the penultimate episode.

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