After many long months of waiting, Series 11 of Doctor Who is here and Jodie Whittaker is the Doctor. Before I get into any sort of spoilers: if you ever considered watching Doctor Who but was intimidated by the 55 years of history, 270+ stories (800+ episodes) and many different eras, well, this is your chance. Chris Chibnall, our new showrunner has stated several times that this series is intended as a jumping on point for anyone unfamiliar with the show. Based on “The Woman Who Fell to Earth,” he’s absolutely right. This feels like a fresh start while also still capturing the essence of Doctor Who, with all its sci-fi, wacky Britishness, and human core. This is the best chance to get introduced since “The Eleventh Hour”—heck, it might even be the best chance since “Rose” in 2005. Go watch Thirteen’s debut now while you can still avoid spoilers.
Doctor No. 13 – They’re a woman now!
And now for the spoilers. Although this is a review for the first episode itself, I feel like the most talked about aspect of it is Jodie Whittaker herself and the first impressions we got from the Thirteenth Doctor. Yes, the Doctor is played by a woman now and the cultural, as well as in-universe significance of that is not to be underestimated. But for now, she’s just the Doctor and she plays that role perfectly. From her falling to Sheffield to a beautiful explanation of what regeneration feels like and right up to the first time she says “I’m the Doctor,” Whittaker embraces every aspect of the character.
Her physical comedy offers a lighter side to an otherwise quite dark episode, reminding us of previous incarnations like Tom Baker’s Number Four or Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor. But make no mistake, Whittaker’s Thirteen is her own character. She balances references to other incarnations and new facets of the Doctor’s personality just as well as the episode does overall. She’s the Doctor not just because she says so and we hear the iconic theme when she appears; she’s the Doctor because she embodies all the qualities that we love in this Time Lord. She seems simultaneously ancient and childish, she’s eternally impressed by the smallest of details and yet is the only one to get the bigger picture. She has her downright rude moments, like erasing everything from Ryan’s phone, but she saves the day because she will always help those in need.
It’s important to consider that though this was Thirteen’s first episode and therefore the first impression we’ll carry with us for the rest of her run, a regeneration episode is always just the beginning. Like she said herself, she’s still changing and everything is new to her, too. She’s going to grow into the role of the Doctor—both Thirteen the character and Whittaker as an actor. As far as debuts go, this was a strong one that only makes me more excited for what’s to come. We’re going to get to see Thirteen find herself and further the legacy of the Doctor, and I for one cannot wait for that.
Companions, friends, Sheffielders all around
The first thing I noticed about this new era of Chibnall was the relatively late introduction of the Doctor herself. The buzz around the new series was mainly centered around this new female Doctor, and yet we don’t follow immediately from where “Twice Upon a Time” ended. The reason why I said this might be the best starting point since “Rose” and not “The Eleventh Hour” is because the latter did pick up from “The End of Time” as the Doctor regenerated and only got to our new companion, Amy Pond, later. This, in a way, set the tone for Steven Moffat’s era as showrunner: first and foremost the focus is on the Doctor(s) themselves.
Here, though, all three of the Doctor’s new traveling companions are introduced before she is. Or friends, as the Doctor herself calls them and as the promotional material has been calling them. Just the fact that we have a whole TARDIS team of four now—for the first time since Nyssa left Team Five back in 1983—is a huge deal. “The Woman Who Fell to Earth” does a decent job of introducing Ryan, Graham, and Yasmin and fleshing them all out in a short amount of time.
It came as a surprise that the friends almost all know each other. Yaz and Ryan went to the same school and Graham is the second husband of Grace, aka Ryan’s nan. This gives the team an interesting dynamic where Yaz and Ryan will see different sides to each other, Ryan and Graham will inevitably grow closer and finally call each other family, and perhaps there will be a few surprises with the Yaz-Graham relationship as well. And that’s not to mention the Doctor herself, who’s bound to challenge all of them in ways they’d never thought possible.
There’s going to be plenty of opportunities to talk about the three of them in the upcoming weeks and I’m hopeful that we’ll get more character-focused episodes. That being said, some initial thoughts:
Ryan’s dyspraxia was handled well and I loved his vlog being the framing device. He seems like he’s still trying to find his place in the world but is probably the most like the Doctor in many ways.
Yaz wants more from the world in the Rose Tyler kind of way and it looks like the Doctor will be the one to introduce her to what’s out there. She might fall victim to idolizing the Doctor a little too much but at the same time seems like the type to call her out when needed.
Graham is going to be the least happy about the accidental abduction that happens but could probably use an adventure just as much as the younger companions. He’s a more grounded character who seems like the oldest of the bunch and that could provide a nice contrast to the Doctor, who’s so ancient at this point that I doubt even she knows.
Series 11 is going to have no two-parter and all of the episodes are going to be more or less standalones, we know that, but hopefully this doesn’t mean that the characters will hardly evolve. This episode was a promising introduction to the Doctor and her new friends and some intriguing arcs have already been set up. In fact, this what I enjoyed most about the episode: characters and their bonds.
Monster of the week and the case of fridging
Now that the characters are down, let’s talk about the episode itself. And by that I mean let’s talk about other characters in the episode, like Grace and our villain of the week, “Tim Shaw.” It is here with these two where “The Woman Who Fell to Earth” becomes less impressive. Don’t get me wrong, Grace was a genuinely interesting character with a lovely relationship with both Ryan and Graham, and it looked like she would make an amazing companion to the Doctor. Shame it was pretty obvious from the start that she wasn’t destined to ever see the TARDIS.
The problem with Grace is her predictable and rather unnecessary death. We knew she wasn’t going to make it because, unlike the other three friends Thirteen makes, she was missing from all the promotional material. We knew it and it still got to me, but probably not in the way that Chris Chibnall wanted. Her funeral and the way Ryan talked about her were emotional scenes and I was sad to see her potential wasted, but the death itself felt cheap. It would be nice to say she died saving others but she didn’t need to die. The Doctor could probably have dealt with the Gathering Coil, so while Grace’s sacrifice was a grandiose gesture, it ultimately feels puzzling. Of course, the real reason why she had to die was so Team TARDIS wouldn’t get overcrowded, and, more importantly, so that the focus would be on Ryan’s and Graham’s grief and their eventual bonding over it. Not cool, Doctor Who, not cool.
The other, less problematic issue was the villain himself. Tzim-Sha was sufficiently scary and presented a real threat, and I loved the way the Doctor handled the situation. He wasn’t a particularly memorable or unique monster of the week, though. Not that the best monster should come first. I expect the series to produce some more nuanced villains as the episodes go by. That’s why part of me appreciates the fact that it’s going to be all new monsters in Series 11; there’s only so many twists you can do on the same old Dalek story after all. Part of me is also sorry that we won’t see Thirteen battle some old foes just yet, but I suppose we might get some of that in a later season. “Tim Shaw” wasn’t the best start but a worthy first enemy for Thirteen. Plus, his presence resulted in “Eat my salad, Halloween.” Only the very best from the BBC.
A New Hope
“The Woman Who Fell to Earth” is a good start to a fresh new era and though I’m still only cautiously optimistic, I might just be truly excited about new Doctor Who episodes for the first time in five years. Jodie Whittaker as Thirteen is a delight to watch and she shatters any doubts anyone might have had about her Doctor. The characters are the overall strongpoint of the episode, with not just the Doctor but the companions and friends also getting a good introduction. Although the perspective has shifted so that not everyone is from London (or Cardiff) but rather Sheffield, this is still very much Doctor Who and a new, promising version of it. It’s too early to say what the whole series will be like, but the first episode builds a strong foundation.
Images courtesy of the BBC
To All The People We’ve Loved Before: Black Lightning 2×02
Hello fellow Black Lightning viewers! Welcome to this week’s episode, featuring old flames, new flames, hard truths, sad pod people, and a literal round of applause for Thunder. Well-deserved, imo.
Last week, we met Issa Williams, who was killed by police but came back to life and ran away from the family that was now scared of him. Now he’s been captured by Creepy ASA Agent Guy and handed to Lynn to figure out what to do with. Lynn continues to be the real MVP of this show, which is very cool because she’s one of the only main characters without ‘powers’ (except the power she wields over my heart). She’s already dealing with a lot because somehow, a pod kid woke up and broke out of his pod. He killed a lab attendant and himself, and set free a girl named Wendy Hernandez, who can control wind. She runs off, clearly terrified and, as Lynn puts it, having a psychotic break. So, with Wendy creating hurricanes around town and Issa suddenly in her care, Lynn has a lot on her plate.
We also find out that when Issa looks at people, they tell the truth but usually just in a mean way. This leads to very un-fun dinner conversations in the Pierce household, which is temporarily hosting Issa. It’s sad because Issa can’t control anything; he’s just scared and confused and misses his family. On top of that, turns out he could either die really quickly or choose to be frozen in a pod until they figure out a way to stop whatever breakdown is happening in his body due to Green Light.
However, Issa and Jenn have a very sweet bonding moment on the roof, which is cute. Another thing that happens on the roof is that Kahlil shows up trying to apologize-ish to Jenn for being under the control of Tobias and I guess win her back? But when he touches her, she starts to light up, so she turns away and tells him to leave. Poor house-arrested Jenn is really going through it these days.
Luckily, she has a fabulous older sister, and these two have some of my favorite scenes in the whole series. There’s a great one in this episode where they bond over dating and how their period cramps have gone away since they got their powers. Jenn teases Anissa, saying she needs to get back out there, and Anissa DOES.
We learn in this episode that Anissa is very smooth with women, which is fun to watch. However, she comes on a little too strong with uber-rich musician Zoe B, who plays a house party or something where Anissa stands front and center making heart-eyes at her through her entire set. Not even three sentences into talking to this woman and Anissa suggests she play a song for her naked. Um, ok? Y’all know I’m 200% here for queer content but this line feels like some dude wrote it.
Regardless, it’s implied that they sleep together because the next morning they’re both at Zoe’s house, complete with rooftop pool and promises of private jet rides for dinner in NYC. Anissa plays it too cool (and is too busy) to take Zoe up on this insane offer, but they’re very cute together, I’ll give them that. Later, at another party, Grace (!!!) appears in a catering uniform with a tray of glasses, and is none too happy to see Anissa with a new bae.
This. storyline. has not. been given. enough. attention!
Anissa apologizes for not having called in a minute, and I’m over here like, what is happening?! Last we saw Grace they were cuddling in a library, which is the cutest gayest thing in the world! And now we’re just supposed to guess that they had a relationship and/or a ghosting situation? Does Anissa just get bored with relationships easily?
Anyway, Thunder and Black Lightning have to save the world from/help out Wendy Hernandez, who’s still on the loose. Thunder saves a cop trapped in a car in the wake of some destruction Wendy left behind, and everyone cheers for her, which she gleefully indulges with a bow and a bunch of high-5’s. I really like that she’s so excited about how cool she is, but Jefferson thinks it’s more important to be humble and concentrate on the selflessness of their acts. It’s Jefferson who finds Wendy and ends up shocking her, which snaps her out of her psychotic episode. She gets returned to her pod, where Lynn promises that she will work hard to find a way to save her and the other pod people.
Finally, Jefferson finds out that he’s about to be replaced as principal by a white guy, which of course is upsetting for everyone except the white school board. He makes a resignation speech at the school, saying he’ll stay on as a teacher, and is given a standing ovation of support from all the students. It’s very poignant and sweet. Time will tell if the board changes their minds about the principal thing, but either way looks like Jefferson will still be involved with Garfield High.
That’s it for this week! What did you think of this episode? Are you also here for everything the Pierce sisters do together? What do you think of Anissa’s new bae and the situation with grace? Let me know in the comments and see you next week!
Images Courtesy of The CW
Archie and the Whole Cell Block Rock on Riverdale
This week on Riverdale, Archie adjusts to his new life in the Big House (Josie’s words, not mine), while Bughead return to their detective roots in “Chapter Thirty-Seven: Fortune and Men’s Eyes.”
We open with Archie’s juvie admission. You know, your usual public undressing, some hosing down, etc. But since it’s Riverdale, it looks more like a Men’s Health photoshoot than anything else. Also no classic squat & cough, cause I guess that’s not sexy enough.
Before getting to his cell, Archie has a brief chat with warden Norton who gives him a, “Don’t rock the boat and we’ll be fine” speech. He also mentions they have a musical room Archie can use so, uh, that’s nice? In the cell, Archie meets his short-spoken cellmate, Mad Dog, who clearly enjoys some privileges in this place: he has a tv, a record player, and some sweet pin-up posters.
Back at home, the Cooper ladies deal with last night’s drama over some breakfast. After her seizure, Betty was taken to the hospital, where Dr. Patel estimated it was probably caused by high stress. Alice and Polly also assure Betty the levitating twins was nothing but her mind playing tricks. The discussion is cut short by a call from Jughead, who informs Betty that Dilton didn’t make it, while Ben remains unconscious and in critical condition. Later, in school, Jughead tells Betty everything about the Gargoyle King and suggests they investigate the whole thing together.
Meanwhile, Veronica informs principal Weatherbee she’s gonna be taking over Archie’s presidential duties for the school council since she wants to keep everything in place for his return. Unfortunately, Archie’s place has already been taken by Cheryl. Veronica finds her at the locker room where they, along with Josie, have a very convenient argument in their underwear. Cheryl makes some valid points about how just because Veronica is Archie’s girlfriend, she is not entitled to his spot.
Back at juvie, Archie follows his plan of joining the Serpents. It seems to be going ok, until Joaquin—long time no see, buddy!—calls him out on his bullshit. Juvie Serpents apparently are just as tired of their “King” letting all his pals into the gang just as we are. They need Archie to prove his loyalty by shivving a Ghoulie. Archie refuses, and without their protection, gets beaten up by the Ghoulies as a result.
Betty and Jughead bribe a coroner to find out the cause of Dilton’s death. It turned out to be cyanide, mixed in with blueberry soda, which resulted in both boys having blue-tinted lips. They also get a better look at the mysterious symbols carved on Dilton’s back.
While on her way to the hospital to visit Ben, Betty meets the new girl at Riverdale High, Evelyn Evernever, the daughter of the Farm’s leader. Evelyn mentions she was there when Betty had a seizure and promises to keep it a secret. Betty gets out of there as soon as she can.
Someone call the news, cause Kevin and Moose are getting a storyline! Their make out session is cut short before even starting when Moose informs Kevin his dad is the new RROTC instructor and is roaming the school corridors. They need to be careful with where they get their PDA on. Kevin feels like Moose is drifting away, continuously ignoring him in favor of his new RROTC pals. As a way to keep close to Moose, Kevin decides to join RROTC as well. What can possibly go wrong?
At the hospital, Betty and Jug find out from Ben’s mother about how friendship with Dilton made him secretive and sneaky. When Jughead notices some creepy Blair Witch doll hanging on the door, Mrs. Button suggests the nice girl with a bow in her hair (aka Ethel Muggs) must’ve left it there. The conversation is interrupted by the news of one of Dilton’s Scouts going missing.
With a little push from Cheryl, Veronica takes it upon herself to involve the Innocence Project in getting Archie acquitted. She asks for Hermione’s mayoral facilitation and the latter begrudgingly agrees.
Ethel tells Bughead that she’d been dating Ben all summer, spending their free time at the Dilton’s secret bunker in the woods. She promises to show them where it is, but when the couple arrives at the designated meetup place, there’s no Ethel in sight, only the giant creature from the Dilton’s drawing. Fortunately, it’s not very fast, so Betty and Jughead manage to escape.
At juvie, Archie, tired of the gang rivalry and his ass getting kicked, gives a motivational speech to the rest of the boys about sticking it to The Man, and solving all their problems and prejudices with the power of… football? The ever quiet Mad Dog gives him his support and hell, it actually works!
Archie mentions the match to Veronica during her visit, so when it’s finally game time, she decides to bring the Vixens for a special cheer performance of Jailhouse Rock. The fun, however, gets interrupted by Hiram, who arrived on the warden’s request. He informs Veronica she’s been banned from Archie’s visiting list and after a subtle nod to the warden, the guards start attacking the boys under a pretense of stopping a nonexistent riot (while the Vixens just kinda… stand there). After getting back to his cell, Archie finds no trace of Mad Dog or his stuff, so he asks a guard about it. The latter informs him that Mad Dog died during the “riot.” That’s what he gets for supporting Archie earlier, I guess?
Betty and Jughead discover Dilton’s bunker, where they find all kinds of stuff: the now infamous roleplay game, Gryphons and Gargoyles, the cyanide, and oh! A missing Scout! The kid is a little out of it and seems to be as obsessed with the game as Dilton and The Crew. Later, Betty and Jug confront Ethel in school, but just as she seemingly starts to crack, she starts having a seizure. Not too different from the one Betty was having herself. While Jughead runs away for help, Betty notices a similar face in the common room. It’s Evelyn Evernever! Just standing there, staring, still not being suspicious.
Cheryl yet again comes through with an advice for Veronica and helps her to find a new way to visit Archie. As it turns out, all you need is a fake id and a cheap ass wig (seriously, how dumb are the people working there?). After Ronnie’s visit, that night Archie gets another, less pleasant one. It’s warden Norton and apparently, he’s so impressed with Archie that he decided to make him his “new Mad Dog.” Whatever that means.
On the other side of the town, we get an actual interesting development. All the major parents, including Fred, Alice and FP, Sheriff Keller and Sierra McCoy, Hiram and Hermione, and even Penelope Blossom, are gathered in the mayor’s office for some unknown reason. Hermione explains that now that the Scout kid is found, he’ll probably start talking, and whatever he says might lead back to them and to the secret from their past. Some of the parents seem a little confused, but when she finally tells them about how Ben and Dilton were found in the woods with blue lips, it’s clear the shit just got real for Riverdale Parents.
After taking Ethel to the hospital, Betty can’t help but think that both of them having out-of-nowhere seizures can’t be just a coincidence. She and Jug decide to check on Ben while they’re there, and to their surprise, he’s awake. They find him sitting at the window sill, speaking nonsense about flipping coins, ascending, and joining Dilton. The episode ends with Ben jumping from the window to his death.
The juvie storyline feels just as contrived and unnecessary as I assumed it would be. The show continues struggling with tone, having trouble deciding if it’s Shawshank Redemption or Cry-Baby. It better not last longer than a couple of episodes, cause I’m bored already.
The Gargoyle King stuff… I’m officially hooked! You already had me at supernatural murder mystery but apparently, parents are now involved?! Sign me up! Can’t wait for the flashback episode! And even more, can’t wait for some Sabrina!
Maybe I’m alone in this, but Kevin was frustrating this episode. Or rather, his writing was. He just seems so oblivious! Moose is obviously not out, his father is obviously no Sheriff Keller, and I think it’s safe to assume the cadets of RROTC are not building a pride float anytime soon. Kevin, sweety, read the room.
This is minor, but Veronica’s fight with Cheryl about the presidency was so ridiculous. The entitlement of it all! But at least they got to argue in their underwear, and it was #confirmed Cheryl owns only one bra.
Speaking of bras, is it just me or the nudity quota was seriously raised for this season? The boobs and pecs keep popping up in the most unexpected places.
Next week promises more Farm stuff, the return of Toni, and some Falice sexy time!
Images courtesy of CW
In Scorpion, I like my women…oppositional
Scorpion had many flaws and there were plots that could have been handled better. Thankfully with a small exception they were able to write decent female characters which gave us a variety of characteristics and strengths. While leaving the characters on opposite sides of the spectrum.
The waitress liaison
When we meet Paige she’s a waitress at a diner who’s barely getting by. She works two jobs and everything she earns goes to her son Ralph.
We know very little about Paige. There were just a few details that we know. Her father died and her estranged mother is a con women. Their relationship wasn’t the best but they managed to repair it. (Although Veronica leaves at the end of episode 3×14.) Not without leaving some cash for her daughter and grandson. It’s clear to see that Paige tried very hard not to become a mother like her own. She’s very attentive to Ralph’s needs and even though she isn’t aware that he’s a genius in the beginning, she tries very hard to connect with and understand him. She protects her son fiercely.
Paige is a college drop out. During the show she took some night classes in European history to finish her education. Although Paige isn’t a genius, she often contributes some useful ideas to solve problems or offers a comment that helps the others to find a solution.
Throughout the course of the show, she starts understanding and learning more of the science. Her main area of expertise is communication with clients and other people that the team meets. That’s why Walter hired her. She’s supposed to be their liaison to the normal world. She also often takes charge and helps the team to refocus as their minds tend to wander. Paige isn’t a mom only to Ralph—she has to take care of the whole team as they do things like forget to eat.
The waitress had some problems fitting in at the beginning. She didn’t really know her place or role, but with time she became a natural at her job and solidified her position on the team. She did have some trouble with Happy, but they worked it out while dangling on a broken cable in the air.
As wonderful as she sounds, Paige is only human and has flaws like any of us. She is stubborn to a fault and doesn’t like to admit defeat, which doesn’t always sit well with Walter. She can be overprotective of Ralph. Paige has abandonment issues. They can originate from her mother or Drew leaving her when Ralph was little. She was also cheated on. Even though she had abandonment issues, she often used her own fear against Walter who has the same problem. She left him at the end of season 1…which was understandable since Ralphs life was in danger but after that she did it again. Sometimes she lets her emotions cloud her judgement.
Paige is the epitome of a struggling single mom who pushes trough no matter what. Most of her actions are dictated by her heart and the love for her son. Although flawed, she is an excellent example on how to master life’s challenges
The mechanical prodigy
Happy Quinn is a genius mechanic with a rough exterior. She often seems as if she doesn’t care or feel. It’s not true because under the tough shell hides a loving women.
She grew up in a foster home after her mother died. She didn’t see her father until she grew up and found him. Her dad (Patrick) has an Auto repair shop, which can be viewed as the source of her mechanical talent. Repairing stuff is also how she bonds with him.
Her father isn’t the only special man in her life. She shares a profound bond with Cabe, who has kind of stepped up to the role of her father. He was the one who gave her away on her wedding.
Although she may not seem like it, she cares about a selected few very much. Especially team Scorpion. She nursed Walter back to health after he spent some time in the rabbit hole, showcasing her gentle side. She even married him so he didn’t get deported to Ireland.
Happy shared a special relationship with Toby. They got married after she divorced Walter and planned to start a family together. They tried to get pregnant but even then they met another obstacle. Sadly we’ll never know how that plot ended because of the shows cancellation, but I digress.
What I find special about their relationship is the strong foundation in friendship and how well they know and trust in each other. Toby is the only one who didn’t abandon or betray her.
Happy is a representation of every women who makes it in a field dominated by man and was hurt by life. Regardless of that she, was able to build a family and gain success.
The new chemist on the block
We meet Florence as the new chemist who moves to the building next door to the garage. She isn’t a genius, but she’s very smart. She started her own company but lost it. She then moved to start a new business venture.
She can’t really get along with the team in the beginning. Within the course of the show, however, their relationship starts to get better.
Personally, I didn’t enjoy this character. She was created to be a competition to Paige and to show a really smart individual who isn’t a genius but has the same problem as them. Sadly the character comes off as inexpressive and bleak. Her story and problems didn’t manage to get my attention or interest me.
I enjoyed her growing relationship with Sylvester, but it went down the drill since Flo had to have a crush on Walter. The character had potential and maybe with time she could grow on me but alas we’ll never know
The genius whispering sister
Megan was Walter’s older sister. She was a sickly child with a happy attitude. She was one of the few people who understood or tried to understand Walter and build a relationship with him no matter how different he was. She was very ill. She had multiple sclerosis (MS), which eventually killed her.
Even though she was deadly ill, she soldiered on and always saw the glass as half full. She was always kind and lived her life to the fullest. Megan inspired everyone around her, and comforted them when needed. This included Walter and Sylvester in the same episode, at one point (1×12).
She always supported and stood by Walter. Megan was her brother’s biggest cheerleader. Being ill didn’t stop her from having her own opinion. She didn’t want to be on a respirator and she got her way.
Something worth mentioning is her relationship with Sylvester. This particular romance was sweet like a middle school one—the feeling was strong and build on a foundation of trust. Megan gave Sylvester enough strength and courage to go against Walter’s wishes and marry her. Even if they only had a short time together, they were very happy and Megan died having lived a full life.
Megan was the character that showed us that even in the darkest times there’s always hope and a chance to be happy.
Although the woman of Scorpion are on opposite sides of the spectrum, they are united by one characteristic. Strength. Every female character showed strength in her life and soldiering on, making them prime examples on how to handle obstacles.