The Doctor’s new friends face a life changing experience on Desolation when they’re dragged into a race specifically designed to test your limits. But what do they reveal about themselves along the way?
This week on Doctor Who, the Doctor’s friends were thrown in at the deep end of visiting alien planets. No New New York or Platform One for them. Not even an Ood Sphere. No, they’re put the wringer of near death in the vacuum of space and then Desolation, the planet ‘made cruel.’ But what did we learn about them along the way to the Ghost Monument?
- Ryan still hasn’t confronted the reality of his Gran’s death. As Graham says he “doesn’t talk about [his emotions] enough.”
- Ryan’s attitude to Graham in The Woman Who Fell to Earth was reserved but respectful. But he’s a little bit more snarky here. He obviously thinks Graham isn’t so wise as he thinks he is, and is too quick to talk about his emotions. It’s not clear how much of this is due to Grace’s death. Perhaps Ryan was always this surly whenever his Gran’s back was turned?
- Ryan’s a gamer, who’s played a lot of Call of Duty in his nineteen years. Though if he uses the same tactics he uses here – running into the middle of a crowd of bad guys and shooting wildly – he probably dies a lot.
- Doctor Who Dyspraxia watch. Dyspraxia can manifest in lots of different ways. This episode we learn that Ryan’s gross motor skills are the worst effected. In running away from the crashing Cerebos he face plants in the dust, and he still hates ladders. But his hand eye coordination is pretty good, based on the shots he takes at the Sniper Bots. He also comes up trumps when the group need to evade the Sniper Bots by not running in straight lines — not travelling in a straight line is basically a Dyspraxic’s superpower.
- He’s smarter than even he gives himself credit for. After being dismissive of his own ability to fix the boat’s engine, he realizes the solution even without the Doctor’s help.
- Almost the opposite of Ryan, Graham “talks about this [emotions] stuff too much,” according to the younger man. How much of this conflict is down to the traditional Northern/Southern view of of each other, we can’t say.
- Similarly, while last episode you might have thought Graham was making an effort with Ryan for Grace’s sake, this week there’s no doubt he really does consider Ryan family.
- The retired bus driver’s not bad with an engine himself. He volunteers himself and Ryan to try and get the boat working. And then is perfectly at home dragging cables around access shafts.
- While Graham was the most reluctant to get involved with the aliens business in the premiere, he’s clearly no coward. He’s fierce in his determination that Angstrom go back and rescue the Doctor and Yaz, and refuses to be intimidated by Epzo.
- Yaz still lives at home, with her father (who drives her bananas) and her sister (who keeps trying to drive her out so she can steal Yaz’s room.) Nevertheless, she must have a close relationship with them. After all she misses them on Desolation even though she only saw them the day before.
- Of the Doctor’s new friends, she’s the one who already has the most confidence in the Time Lord. She’s certain the Doctor will find a way to get them off the planet, even when the Doctor herself is close to despair. And she subtly takes the Doctor’s side in any of the debates or arguments along the way.
Special Entry: The TARDIS
- The TARDIS has spent a very long time stuck on Desolation, drifting in and out of phase with reality. So long that her appearances once every thousand rotations have led to her being weaved into the culture of the nearby systems as the mythical ‘Ghost Monument.’
- She’s done herself up. With a new white-on-black metal door sign, blue lamp and smaller windows and generally slightly more slimline shape. Maybe she was wounded by all the comparisons with her younger self in Twice Upon a Time?
- She’s redecorated inside as well. The time rotor no longer extends to the ceiling as it has since 1996, and instead four crystal pylons loom over the console. The alcove introduced in The Snowmen has now evolved into an entire Police Box shape within the console room itself. And there’s a unique double wall, with dark burnished metal behind a kind of fence of silver hexagons and blue lights.
- Oh, and the console has a biscuit dispenser now. Move over Jammy Dodgers, it’s Custard Creams time now!
Overall, we’ve learned a bit more about Ryan and Graham on Doctor Who this week. In particular about their relationship to each other. But for a second week in a row Yaz has been rather sidelined and we’ve learned little about her. Hopefully that will be addressed in upcoming Doctor Who episodes and she’ll receive more focus. Especially as Yaz seems to be the one most on board with the idea of the Doctor’s life, while Graham and Ryan have almost fallen into it by accident.
The Doctor Who adventure continues…
Doctor Who continues on BBC One at 6.55pm this Sunday with Rosa by Malorie Blackman. Series 11 stars Jodie Whittaker (The Doctor), Mandip Gill (Yasmin Khan), Bradley Walsh (Graham O’Brien), and Tosin Cole (Ryan Sinclair). Rosa guest stars Vinette Robinson as Rosa Parks and Josh Bowman as Krasko.
“If she can live here her whole life, a couple of hours ain’t gonna kill me. They ain’t gonna kill me, right?” Montgomery, Alabama. 1955. The Doctor and her friends find themselves in the Deep South of America. As they encounter a seamstress by the name of Rosa Parks, they begin to wonder: is someone attempting to change history?