Pirate Planet v2.0 (or, Castrovalva v2.0)
It seems crazy to say this, but after just over two years I am only one day away from having viewed every single televised Doctor Who episode (including all spinoffs) ever broadcast while walking on the treadmill. After nearly four and a half million steps I am about to cross the finish line. But before I can do that, I have this penultimate viewing to talk about.
The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos
(TARDIS Data Core recap)
When I watched this episode on its first airing, there were two elements in it that were pretty distracting. The first, and most obvious, was using the stolen-planets-shrunken-down-into-impossibly-dense-containers idea from the Fourth Doctor era story The Pirate Planet. It is a unique enough concept that it is impossible to miss, and frankly I thought that Douglas Adams handled the reveal much better than Chris Chibnall. The second, less blatant, echo was having the Ux trussed up in some WhateverDevice in order to use the power of his mind to alter reality. A little less obvious, and not quite as distinctive, but still an echo. Both things kept me from really appreciating the rest of the story.
On second viewing, though, I found I enjoyed it much more and was much more engaged with Graham's story arc. As with much of this season, the story isn't really about what it's about. By which I mean, yes, there is a conflict that must be resolved, but it is the emotional journey of the characters that really matters. After the previous story in which Graham came face-to-face with an almost perfect recreation of his dead wife Grace, and in which Ryan finally acknowledged him as "granddad", here in this story he comes face-to-face with the monster that killed Grace. Thus, the real conflict is not whether or not the Doctor will defeat
Tim Shaw Tzim-Sha, rescue the stolen planets, and prevent the Earth from being stolen as well (of course she will). Instead, the real conflict is whether or not Graham will take vengeance for his wife's death, and in doing so alienate himself from the Doctor.
Honestly, it really could have gone either way and been just as satisfying. Given the same circumstances, I'm not so sure I would opt for the high road.
The really interesting thing is that the climax of the story is constructed such that Graham has to make his decision while the Doctor is fully occupied elsewhere and not available to appeal to his better nature. It comes down to Ryan and Graham coming to terms on their own, and only later revealing their decision to the Doctor.
So yeah, lots of good character stuff here and a nice, solid season finale. On the whole I thought it was somewhere in the middle of the pack for the season, but that's not bad company.
Tomorrow is a day off from the treadmill as I do some yoga instead, and then Friday morning I finish Phase Two of this ridiculous project. Yay me.
Companion(s): Graham O'Brien, Ryan Sinclair, Yasmin Khan
Episode(s): The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos
Steps Walked: 7,523 today, 4,465,995 total
Distance Walked: 4.02 miles today, 2,339.28 miles total
Push-ups Completed: 100 today, 11,200 total
Sit-ups Completed: 0 today, 5,665 total
Weight: 262.60 lbs (five day moving average), net change -44.70 lbs