Doctor Who: The Battle of Blah, Blah, Blah

Doctor Who | Season 11 | Episode 10 : The Battle of Rans Koor Av Kolos
Feature image

Kbear Rating
Two out of five koalas 


For a quick read, go to Review.
For a complete summary, go to Recap.

KBear Recap
[Read  time: 5-7 min]

You call it training. I call it building doubt.” Delph

Two Ux, Andinio (Phyllis Logan) and Delph (Percelle Ascott) are on a desolate planet. Andinio: “It’s time. You ready, Delph?” Delph: “I don’t think I am.” Andinio: “Seventeen years is enough. This is what I’ve trained you for.” Delph: “You call it training. I call it building doubt. Every lesson that you’ve given me, I feel like I’ve understood less, not more.” Andinio: “Which is the point. The more we learn, the less we realize we know. This is our faith. This is our existence. The Creator would contend the world is not to be understood, only experienced.” The Ux have the ability to create things with their minds. While Delph is creating something with rocks, something appears behind them from nowhere.

3407 years later, the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) tells her companions they have received nine different distress signals from Rans Koor Av Kolos. She explains that the planet emits violent psychotropic waves which alter mood, it’s dangerous. To combat the psychotropic waves she gives them each a neural blocker to wear. Graham O’Brien (Bradley Walsh): “And it has to be us does it? Answering these signals from this planet?” The Doctor: “No, not at all. But everyone else has passed them by. Y’think we should do the same?”

The TARDIS materializes in one of the ships that sent the signal. The Doctor wonders where the crew is. A man (Mark Addy) appears with a gun aimed at them. He asks who sent them. He is clearly confused, he doesn’t even remember his own name. The psychotropic waves are messing with his mind. Graham, Ryan Sinclair (Tosin Cole), and Yasmin Khan (Mandip Gill) find a control panel that lists the ship’s crew. Graham: “He’s the commander.” Ryan: “Maybe he killed his own crew.” Graham: “Always one for the cheery option.” The Doctor gives him a neural blocker. The ship is in good shape and can fly, the Doctor wonders why he didn’t leave. The neural blocker is working; soon he remembers his name is Paltraki.

“We’ve got unfinished business with that monster.” Graham O’Brien

They get a transmission from Andinio asking Paltraki to come back because the creator demands it. The creator comes on the screen, it’s Tzim-Sha/Tim Shaw (Samuel Oatley) from the first episode. Graham’s face grows hard. He wants back what Paltraki took from him. He threatens to kill his crew if he doesn’t. He puts a female crew member on the screen, she tells Paltraki not to return the object, so Tim Shaw kills her. He tells Paltraki he’ll kill the other two if he doesn’t bring it soon. The Doctor asks what he took, it is a mineral containing something. It’s too complicated for the sonic to read. They find his mission briefing. Graham says, “We’ve got unfinished business with that monster.” The Doctor looks concerned. They decide to rescue Paltraki’s remaining crew. The Doctor is surprised she can lift up the mineral with its density.

Outside the ship, everyone is feeling a little sick. Graham wants to talk to the Doctor in private. He tells her he plans to kill Tim Shaw. The Doctor tells him to go back to the TARDIS. They are on a rescue mission and she won’t allow anything to interfere with it. If Graham kills Tim Shaw, he becomes like him. Graham doesn’t care, he wants revenge on the creature that killed Grace. The Doctor warns him that he won’t be able to travel with her again if he does. She is serious about this, so is Graham.

They come upon a battlefield, the Vanquished of Rans Koor Av Kolos. A large edifice floats in front of them [think of the edifice in “Arrival”]. The Doctor has brought a large collection of weapons from Paltraki’s ship. Ryan: “What happened to ‘never do weapons’?” The Doctor: “It’s a flexible creed. Doors, locks, walls, buildings. Fair game. If it can be rebuilt, I’ll allow it.” He asks about the time he shot the Sniper-bots and she got on him. She tells him he was new and she had to set some rules, “Don’t quote that back to me, my rules change all the time.” The Doctor divides up the team, Paltraki and Yaz are to find out what his original mission was. Ryan and Graham are to rescue Paltraki’s crew and she will confront Tim Shaw and find out why he wants this mineral back. The Doctor booby-traps the mineral. The Doctor: “Grenades. As insurance policy.” Paltraki: “You think that’s smart?” The Doctor: “I think it’s a precaution. I like precautions. Always take precautions. Especially when you don’t know what you’re doing.”  They walk under the edifice and it beams them in.

Ryan knows what Graham is thinking. Ryan: “You think that’s what Nan would want?” Graham: “No, I think your Nan would want to be alive. She actually liked being alive and she was really good at it. And she’d say to me, ‘Graham, if you get the chance, you send that little piece of rubbish to kingdom come,’ Because, you know why? Your Nan might’ve been kind, but she was also tougher than you and me put together.” Ryan asks him not to wreck what their group has together. Some Sniper-bots show up and start shooting at Graham and Ryan. The two men dive for cover and the Sniper-bots end up shooting each other in the crossfire.

The Doctor runs into Andinio, and is excited to find out she is an Ux, a duo-species that lives up to a millennium. They are faith driven dimensional engineers. She asks Andinio what happened at the battle. Andinio tells her they defended the creator. The edifice is their shrine. The Doctor asks to see Tim Shaw. Tim Shaw sees the Doctor and tells her to bring the Doctor to him. She doesn’t understand how he knows her.

Yaz asks Paltraki where he is from. He’s from the planet Steeple. He asks where she is from, he laughs at the word Earth. Yaz takes offense to that. Paltraki’s memory is coming back to him, he remembers that he was sent here by the Congress of the Nine Planets. Sniper-bots show up but Paltraki easily shoots them down. Paltraki and Yaz reach their destination. They find more mineral samples, five in fact. His crew fought to reach these minerals.

Graham and Ryan find the crew and other Tim Shaw prisoners in stasis chambers. Ryan wonders how they will get them out. Graham worries that Tim Shaw has bobby-trapped the chambers to kill the prisoners if anyone tries to open them. Ryan thinks that gives Graham another reason to kill Tim Shaw. Graham tells him to look around. Ryan asks if these trained soldiers couldn’t take out Tim Shaw, what makes him think he can. Graham asks why does he care, he didn’t think he was good enough for Grace. Ryan says that was back then, he tells Graham he loves him and that they are family. Graham tells him he took long enough to say it. An alarm goes off, Sniper-bots on the way.

“You look in a bad way. Whereas I have a new coat. What do you think?” The Doctor

The Doctor asks Andinio why they call Tim Shaw the creator. She and Delph are the first generation to see him. Andinio is tired of answering the Doctor’s questions. Andinio: “I don’t have to answer all these questions.” The Doctor: “That’s what my teachers used to say. Usually, just as they quit teaching.” The Doctor can tell Andinio is not a warrior, and she can see the doubt in her eyes. Andinio asks how the Doctor can know him. They arrive at Tim Shaw’s chamber, he tells Andinio to ready Delph, there will be a new target. Andinio hesitates but says nothing. He orders her out of the room. The Doctor: “You look in a bad way. Whereas I have a new coat. What do you think?” The Doctor asks how he ended up here. He tells her she disabled his recall system sending him here 3,407 years ago. He can’t leave without dying. Tim Shaw brags that with his knowledge of the Stenza hive and the Ux’s power, they gave him what he wanted, revenge. The revenge is for her. He blames her for him not becoming the Stenza leader, but he thanks her for becoming a god. The Doctor tells him not to put this on her. She asks him what the mineral’s for.

Yaz contacts the Doctor about the other minerals she and Paltraki found. The Doctor tells her she’s busy at the moment. Andinio walks into the room Yaz is in, Delph is tied up to a device. She tells him, “By the creator’s will.”  He begs her not to do this, it’s wrong.  Andinio tells him they have to follow their faith. Delph says it will kill both of them. Their eyes light up. The Doctor asks Tim Shaw what is happening. Stenza technology can hold people in stasis. With the Ux’s power, he has constructed a weapon capable of stealing, shrinking, and storing planets. The planets are stored in the minerals. The Doctor warns him that storing all of those stolen planets in one place could destroy the universe. Tim Shaw doesn’t believe it. His next target is Earth.

The codebreakers from Paltraki’s ship are opening the stasis chambers. Tim Shaw receives an alarm telling him someone is freeing his prisoners. He leaves to stop it. The Doctor joins Paltraki and Yaz. He leaves to help Graham and Ryan. Yaz tells the Doctor she is staying with her. The sniper-bots break into the stasis chambers room, but Paltraki is behind them and shoots them down. He’s quite good at this. Paltraki is going to take the freed prisoners back to his ship. Ryan and Graham are going to stay behind to free two other prisoners. The Doctor is going to use the neural blockers she and Yaz are wearing to block the Ux psychic link. After they put the neural blockers on them, the Doctor uses her sonic to block the link. It stops them from shrinking our planet. Andinio is upset the Doctor stopped them from completing the task the creator gave them. The Doctor tells her who Tim Shaw really is. Andinio says he was their creator. The Doctor tells her that she and Delph are the creators, Tim Shaw turned them into destroyers. The planets in the minerals are ready to crack open the minerals they are encased in.

“No. I’m the better man.” Graham O’Brien

Ryan and Graham free the last two prisoners; someone is trying to break through the door. Graham tells Ryan to take the other two prisoners out, he will set up an explosive, and he needs to stay behind to detonate it. He’ll join Ryan after he’s done it. Graham sets off the charges. Tim Shaw enters the room. Graham grabs a weapon. Ryan catches up with Paltraki, he tells him to go ahead, and he’s going back for Graham. Tim Shaw and Graham confront each other. Tim Shaw: “You are no warrior.” Graham: “No. I’m the better man.” Tim Shaw calls Graham weak, Ryan shows up and tells him not to insult his granddad, Tim Shaw turns to shoot Ryan and Graham shoots him in the foot.  Ryan: “Hey! You shot him!” Graham: “Yeah, but just the foot. Just in the foot. Just to shut him up. Don’t tell The Doc. She’ll be livid.” They put him in one of his own stasis chambers and tell him they are sentencing him to live. They tell him the last name on his mind should be Grace. They fist bump and leave.

Keep your faith. Travel hopefully. The universe will surprise you. Constantly.”   The Doctor 

The planets need to be placed back in their exact locations. The Doctor uses her sonic to summon the TARDIS. She is going to use the TARDIS, the Ux, and Stenza technology to send the planets back to their proper locations. The Ux are happy to help since they realize Tim Shaw wasn’t their creator. The Doctor’s plan works, and the planets are back in place. Paltraki is ready to take the freed prisoners back home. Delph asks can they go. Andinio thinks they should stay on this planet, but Delph says they need to see more of the universe. She consents to leaving. Paltraki will give them a lift. The Doctor tells the Ux as she’s boarding the TARDIS, “No one knows for sure what’s out there. That’s why we keep looking. Keep your faith. Travel hopefully. The universe will surprise you. Constantly.” 

A case file on the Ux.

 A closer look at Episode 10. 

KBear Review
[Read time: 1-3 minutes]

The TARDIS receives nine distress calls from Rans Koor Av Kolos. The planet emits violent psychotropic waves that mess with your mind. They materialize into one of the ships that sent a distress signal. They are met by the ship’s armed amnesiac commander, Paltraki. Once the Doctor gives him a neural blocker, his memory comes back. He was sent to retrieve some minerals that have planets in them that were stolen by Tim Shaw and the Ux. The Ux are a duo-species race that have the power to create things with their minds. They believe that the evil Tim Shaw is their creator, so they heed his commands. Graham plans on killing Tim Shaw for killing Grace. The Doctor is against this and tells him he won’t be able to travel with them if he does. Ryan and Graham rescue Paltraki’s crew along with other prisoners. They are also able to capture Tim Shaw and condemn him to a life sentence in his own stasis chamber. The Doctor is able to convince the Ux that Tim Shaw wasn’t their creator and gets their help in returning the planets.

This was the season finale and they brought back their first villain, Tim Shaw. Tim Shaw was a boring villain at the beginning of the season, and he hasn’t grown any more exciting since. Mark Addy was Paltraki and he was a good character, unfortunately he was underused. The Ux were an interesting concept, but they were under developed also. The episode wasn’t awful, just disappointing. The technobabble was off the charts. Nothing really exciting happened. Aside from Paltraki shooting a few sniper-bots, there wasn’t too much action. There wasn’t any tension from Earth being Tim Shaw’s last target. Even the psychotropic waves turned out not to be that big a deal when the Doctor and Yaz took off their neural blockers. The Doctor got a slight headache, and Yaz didn’t say anything, so it turned out not to be a big deal. There wasn’t any payoff for anything they set up. If this was the fourth episode in the season, no big deal, but for a season finale, you expect something big, good or bad. For a season finale, it was rather boring.

I liked this season, not the best season of NuWho, but definitely not the worse. My three favorite episodes were “Rosa”, Demons of the Punjab”, and the “Witchfinders”. The other episodes were good to pretty good. I like the new Doctor and her companions. The one companion that needs some work is Yaz. There are some episodes that you nearly forget she was there. They gave Graham and Ryan an arc, but I don’t know what is different about Yaz from the first episode until this one. I think Chris Chibnall is a good showrunner, but he isn’t a good Doctor Who writer. Aside from “The Woman Who Fell to Earth”, his other solo episodes have been the show’s weakest. This episode was his weakest one yet. See you for the New Year’s Day special.

A look back at season 11.

Anthony (Kbear!) Nichols | Editor-in-Chief
Latest posts by Anthony (Kbear!) Nichols | Editor-in-Chief (see all)