Usually a culmination of fragments sprinkled through the series (BAD WOLF, am I right?), they were explosive with emotion and entertainment – even on a tight budget. The Doctor would be emotionally tested, companions would be tragically cast away, and the Earth/Universe will be under threat of destruction. Chris Chibnall, in his first series finale as showrunner, only takes the last one on board and makes it an annoying, barely comprehensible slog.
The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and co (Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill, Tosin Cole) travel to the remarkably named Ranskoor Av Kolos, translated as ‘Disintegration of the Soul’, where a distress call is made. The planet is a massive battlefield, in which a powerful race known as the Ux reside, worshipping a so-called ‘Creator’ – which turns out to be Tim Shaw (Samuel Oatley) of the Stenza, the tooth-faced alien who killed Graham’s (Walsh) wife, Grace, in episode 1.
Chibnall deserves some praise for providing a decent series, despite its Scooby-Doo dialogue and barely passable performances from the companions. He even made a new slate without Daleks or Cyberman or other Time Lords – but Tim Shaw, the villain he’s made to replace them, isn’t too frightening or even that alluring beyond his impact in the first episode.
The emotional heart belongs to Graham, who wants revenge for Grace’s death (another desire that Walsh struggles to provide in any convincing capacity). Even more astounding, The Doctor has no apparent empathy with his reasoning – not even quivering at the memory of Grace. She’s like a robotic general.
Mark Addy as Paltraki
There have been some great moments in the series, but the great disappointment is the Doctor’s lack of inward calamity. She’s more than an eccentric fast-talker that aids people across the universe – there’s meant to be a tortured and war torn soul underneath. This isn’t only vital for the mythology, but also the multi-dimensionality of that character.
We’re offered very little of that (save a reference in episode 2), and the finale was Chibnall’s last chance. Whittaker is an excellent Doctor, her performance capable of making stars burst, but Chibnall doesn’t give her nearly enough to struggle with.
The Battle of Ranskoor didn’t feel like a finale, it’s more like a mid-season miss – needing more not only from the story but from the characters. At the climax of this historic series, neither are fulfilled.
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On 09 Dec 18, 6:25 PM – 7:15 PM