Synopsis 11×10: As the season wraps up, the Doctor encounters old enemies and Graham makes a difficult choice.


‘Tis the last episode of Doctor Who Season 11, and what a wonderful season it was! New worlds, new monsters, and new friends. And no Daleks or Cybermen to slow it down. It was a season where friendships flourished, loved ones where lost, and the Doctor realized how frustrating it can be when you’re in a female body. At least her coat had pockets.

In the last episode, Chris Chibnall ties up the journey nicely, bringing back the Big Bad from episode one. Which puts everyone in quite a dilemma.

Remember episode one, “The Women Who Fell To Earth“? When the Doctor still looked like a magician, and Ryan still refused to call Graham grandad? When Grace was still alive and kicking before Tzim-Sha attacked? Well, when the Doctor shot him back into space, he landed in just the right place at the right time.

During the cold open, we see two very religious and devout aliens attempt to build a shrine to their Creator. One of the aliens is played by Phyllis Logan aka Mrs. Hughes from Downton Abbey, and I will only refer to her as such from her on out. (PS- did you see the teaser trailer to Downton Abbey? I digress.) Just as they begin to build using some form of telepathic power, Tzim-Sha beams down and they’re convinced their Creator has come. The zealots have found their god.

That’s what the Doctor and friends encounter when they answer the distress signal coming off the planet Ranskoor Av Kolos. Roughly translated, it means “disintegrator of the soul.” Par for the course, right? So of course the team go to help whoever is in trouble, but not without precautions. The Doctor places neuro-balancer on everyone to keep them sane. If they don’t have them on, the planet will basically try to drive them mad.

And evidence of that phenomenon appears in the form of Paltraki, a ship captain who’s stolen something precious from Tzim-Sha, something the Doctor can’t quite decipher, and Paltraki can’t remember what it is. All he knows is that Tzim-Sha has his crew. Veteran actor Mark Addy plays Paltraki and he’s a gem. Most probably know him as Robert Baratheon from Game of Thrones. He’s always wonderful when he shows up in a guest spot. And he know joins the likes of Dame Diana Rigg, Masie Williams, and Iain Glenn, as well as over 30 other actors who have starred in both DW and GOT


So the Doctor and friends are off in search of the missing crew. And Graham decides he’s going to kill Tzim-Sha onsight as revenge for Grace’s death. Ryan seemed to get over Grace’s death pretty rapidly, while Graham has two episodes dedicated to his mourning. We all grieve in different ways, I guess. And Ryan’s way is to be “the better man” like Grace would have wanted.

As the team split up to find the crew, the Doctor meets Mrs. Hughes, here playing Andinio of the Ux. Turns out the Ux are a duo species. Only two ever exist at once, they live for millennia, and they’re “faith-driven dimensional engineers.” Hence the telepathic building and the zealotry around meeting the Creator. They’ve essentially built a giant weapon at Tzim-Sha’s request, believing him to be their God. In turn, he uses Stenza tech and the capabilities Ux to exact revenge on planets that have wronged the Stenza. He commits mass genocide and captures whole planets, only so he can eventually destroy the Earth. That’s what Paltraki took, a planet captured in an Ux-made holder.

Once the Doctor realizes what the plan is, she goes to fix it. The beauty of this Doctor is that she’s so resourceful, such an engineer. She doesn’t spend time wailing about how stupid humans are, or bragging about how clever she is. She gets right to the point: what do they have that can fix the problem at hand? After some negotiating and with the help of the Ux and the Doctor”s TARDIS, they manage to save the earth. Shout-out to the Ghost Monument!

That’s only one problem solved. What about the missing crew? Graham and Ryan find them, free them, and Paltraki takes them back to the ship. So that’s thing two down. Now what about Graham?

Graham doesn’t kill Tzim-Sha! He decides to be the better man, the stronger man. Instead of murdering the enemy, he and Ryan lock Tzim-Sha up in a stasis chamber for the rest of his days. Compassion and mercy have always been one of the defining qualities of Doctor Who, and I’m glad they kept hold of that ideal with Graham.

So what now? I was completely wrong when I said that Ryan’s father would be featured. Guess that’s something for next season. And if characters who were zapped away in a time vortex are coming back, then perhaps the white supremacist alien Krasko from “Rosa” will also return at some point. Both Jodie is set to return as the Doctor and Chris Chibnall will run the show for another season. The rest of the team will likely be back as well. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before there’s another season, there’s a New Year’s special!

So here’s to a happy eleventh season, and the completion of the first season of Doctor Who starring a female Doctor. She was truly fantastic. 

Doctor Who will return for a New Years Special January 1st, 2019 on BBC America.

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