‘THE BATTLE OF RANSKOOR AV KOLOS’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
The Return of Tzim-Sha and the Sniperbots
I saw the season finale of Series 11 of ‘Doctor Who’ with my parents via BBC iPlayer and really enjoyed it! Mind you, Ranskoor Av Kolos is quite a hard name to remember a planet by in the tale. 😀
‘The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos’ by Chris Chibnall is a satisfying episode to conclude this season of ‘Doctor Who’ on. And that’s a season that I’ve enjoyed so thoroughly for ten weeks in Autumn 2018.
This is unlike any other ‘Doctor Who’ season finale that has come before in the new TV series. ‘The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos’ may not have plenty of elements that were in Series 11 to make it epic.
But somehow, this episode does round off a certain arc that has been going on throughout this TV season to make it worth a finale. And that’s more to do with the characters rather than on spectacle.
The story feels straight-forward and low-key. Yet somehow it feels rewarding at the same time. The journeys that our main heroes have been going on somehow fulfil themselves for this season finale.
This is especially with Graham and Ryan’s characters as well as Yaz and the Doctor’s characters. There’s also the return of an old enemy in this story which was a true delight at the end of Series 11.
The episode takes place on the planet Ranskoor Av Kolos where our TARDIS foursome respond to a series of distress calls. The TARDIS lands inside one spaceship that sent out one of the distress calls.
Apparently the atmosphere of Ranskoor Av Kolos can affect a person’s mind, specifically causing memory loss and altering a person’s mood. This seems the case as our TARDIS heroes meet Paltraki.
It’s also why the Doctor gives some neuro-balancers to her three friends as well as to herself to keep their minds stable and immune from the planetary atmosphere. I did find that a pretty neat concept.
Like I said, when the TARDIS travellers meet Paltraki, he has trouble keeping his mind together and loses his memory, forgetting our heroes. This is especially when he points a gun at our main heroes.
Once the Doctor realises what’s going on, she gives Paltraki a neuro-balancer as well in order to keep him as an ally. The Doctor and friends have Paltraki help to find out what’s been going on the planet.
It becomes clear that Paltraki lost his crew. They’re being held captive by someone called ‘the creator’. This creator is a supposed deity worshipped by the Ux, a species that usually come in pairs.
One pair of Ux in this episode is Phyllis Logan as Andinio and Percelle Ascott as Delph. They can create matter with the use of their minds and can glow fire from their eyes! Things must get hot. 😀
Andinio and Delph have been waiting for the creator all their lives, especially in the first scene when they’re on Ranskoor Av Kolos. Very soon, somebody appears to them out of nowhere on the planet.
But as the episode progresses, especially when it is 3,407 years later by the time the Doctor and her friends turn up, Andino and Delph’s fiery powers get misused. It is the Doctor who has to help them.
It also transpires that the Ux’s ‘creator’ happens to be…Samuel Oatley as Tzim-Sha (or ‘Tim Shaw’ as the Doctor called him). Tzim-Sha is of course an enemy that the Doctor and her friends faced before.
That was in ‘The Woman Who Fell To Earth’, the very first TV episode of the Jodie Whittaker era. I was pretty pleased when Tzim-Sha/Tim Shaw came back for the final showdown for the series finale.
It was pretty good to have an old enemy back, especially for Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor at the end of her first season. I wondered what had become of Tzim-Sha/Tim Shaw and whether he was still alive.
He wasn’t killed off in the first episode of Series 11 as he was zapped out when he used a teleportation unit. We get to see what happened to him as he ended up on Ranskoor Av Kolos itself.
Apparently Tzim-Sha has been abusing the Ux’s religious beliefs in their creator by making them do his work for him. It becomes clear that Tzim-Sha has been developing a terrible and deadly weapon.
This is in the form of a shrine built for the Ux’s creator and he plans to use it to destroy the planet Earth with total revenge. Wow and it took him about 3, 407 years to do that. He doesn’t waste time. 😀
And all this revenge Tzim-Sha has is laid against…the Doctor of course! Tzim Sha blames the Doctor for what happened to him following the last time they’d met during ‘The Woman Who Fell To Earth’.
It was interesting to see how the consequences of the Doctor’s actions end up being resolved in this story. It’s also interesting how Tzim-Sha becomes obsessed with the Doctor in the years he’d spent.
Involved in Tzim-Sha’s plan is the usage of a number of planets regressed to small sizes to create a powerful engine. These happen to be planets that Tzim-Sha stole! Wait! This does sound all familiar.
Before Tzim-Sha came to Earth and faced the Doctor, did he have a run in with the Pirate Captain from ‘The Pirate Planet’ here?! It would make sense! I’m surprised there was no a reference to it. 😀
Jodie Whittaker’s been brilliant as the Doctor in this episode. What I’ve noticed about Jodie’s Doctor in this particular TV story is how she shifts from being funny and flippant to being serious and edgy.
This is especially when she confronts her enemies like Tzim-Sha/Tim Shaw. I like how Jodie strikes a balance of that in her performance as the Doctor and this is particularly throughout her first season.
She also notices things, especially when confronting Andinio who points a gun at her during their first meeting. Jodie’s Doctor warns Andinio about using a gun on her until she soon tries to help out.
This is especially when she knows who ‘the creator’ is and she tries to save Andinio and Delph’s lives. She also takes a few precautions in the story, especially when defeating Tzim-Sha/Tim Shaw’s plans.
I really like how Jodie’s Doctor confronts Tzim-Sha in the final episode. This is when she tells him off; says what he’s doing is wrong and that everything he is doing can change the nature of the universe.
The Doctor works hard in this episode to find a way to stop the Earth from being destroyed with the Ux’s help. I like how the Doctor utilizes the TARDIS as well as the Ux to send the planets back home.
Bradley Walsh is equally brilliant as Graham and goes on a pretty significant character journey in this episode. This is when the TARDIS team realise that it is Tzim-Sha/Tim Shaw of the Stenza who’s back.
Graham becomes pretty determined to exact his revenge on Tzim-Sha over what happened when Grace died. I found this to be quite unusual to see in Graham’s character in that he wanted revenge.
I liked that scene between Graham and the Doctor, as he has a private word with her about his plans for revenge. The Doctor tells Graham to go back to the TARDIS but Graham is determined about this.
The Doctor warns Graham about his plans of revenge, almost threatening him to not let him travel in the TARDIS ever again. It seems that Graham needs to be strong and to not succumb to any revenge.
I like how Graham seems to appear battle-hardened in the episode, especially when he’s blowing up the SniperBots in the episode. Oh yeah, the SniperBots from ‘The Ghost Monument’ are back in this!
I also like how Graham confronts Tzim-Sha/Tim Shaw in the episode and makes his final decision about him. I did wonder whether Graham was actually going to kill him or not watching the episode.
Tosin Cole is equally good as Ryan in this episode. I love the scenes that Ryan shares with Graham in this episode, especially when they’re tackling SniperBots with laser rifles on board Tzim-Sha’s base.
I suppose the SniperBots are like the robot warriors for the Stenza – thus why they serve Tzim-Sha/Tim Shaw. Ryan also learns some lessons about using guns from the Doctor in the TV adventure.
Ryan too tries to persuade Graham not to take on plans for revenge against Tzim-Sha/Tim Shaw, saying that it’s not what her nan Grace would’ve wanted. Intriguing how Ryan tries to dissuade him.
Graham tries not to listen to Ryan, saying that it is what Grace would want him to do. But Ryan tells Graham he loves him and he has never considered him less worthy being his granddad in the series.
Mandip Gill is very good as Yaz in the episode. Yaz gets to spend a lot of time with Paltraki in the episode. I enjoyed it when they exchanged the names of the planets they come from in the episode.
It was amusing when Yaz and Paltraki don’t think much of their planet names Earth and Stebble. They soon discover the crystal boxes containing the regressed planets in miniature form in the story.
I liked it when Yaz was determined to keep the Doctor company as well as to try to find a way to use the Ux in order to save the planet Earth. Yaz does comes across as being so loyal to the Doctor here.
Yaz and the Doctor soon risk it with taking off their neuro-balancers and giving them to the Ux to stop them destroying Earth. I liked it when Yaz pulled a cable from the TARDIS for the Doctor’s plan.
Mind you, and it pays me to say it, but Yaz does seem the least developed of the TARDIS four. Mandip Gill is superb and the TARDIS regulars have been likeable. But Yaz does seem overshadowed.
It’s like when Nyssa was overshadowed by Tegan and Adric in Season 19 as well as Susan being overshadowed in Season 1. Yaz here gets overshadowed by Graham and Ryan throughout Series 11.
Again, this is always going to be a problem with a crowded TARDIS, especially in 10 episodes lasting for about an hour’s length. But at the same time, I enjoyed the interaction between the TARDIS four.
Graham, Ryan and Yaz are characters that want to be there with the Doctor. This season could easily have had Graham, Ryan and Yaz being combative like in the Peter Davison era. Thankfully it was not.
I prefer it when the TARDIS four are really good friends in the series. Some say it makes them bland, but I didn’t find that as I found the characters and their journeys so compelling throughout Series 11.
It’s those nice little continuity references from the TV show’s past that remind me that this is still ‘Doctor Who’. I hear they’ll be using some more classic ‘Doctor Who’ monsters for Series 12 next. 😀
Thankfully, all is well and Paltraki’s crew are saved. Tzim-Sha/Tim Shaw gets what he deserves by Graham and Ryan when they stuff him in stasis. The two soon reunite with the Doctor and Yaz here.
I liked it when Graham told the Doctor that he couldn’t kill Tzim-Sha/Tim Shaw and that he was too weak to do it. But the Doctor tells Graham that she’s the strongest man knows…well one of them. 😀
The TARDIS heroes soon go off into the TARDIS whilst the Earth is safe. I liked how the Earth gets to be peril during the TV episode before the Doctor and friends save it, which is usually seems the case.
‘The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos’ has been a compelling episode to finish off Series 11 of ‘Doctor Who’. I enjoyed watching it and seeing the character journeys of the Doctor, Graham, Ryan and Yaz.
I like how everything comes ‘full circle’ (no pun intended) in the episode. I also like how the Doctor and her friends get to face an old enemy in Tzim-Sha/Tim Shaw who I was amazed to see come back.
After seeing the episode, I did read up that the reviews on the season finale had been mixed. Many said that it was a disappointing series finale. I agree it has not been as epic as previous series finales.
But somehow this a welcome change and a refreshing one at that. The Earth being in peril during the episode did seem to be underplayed. But at least it was there for this particular tale for this new era.
And like I said, I found how compelled I was into the story and the characters, enjoying the Doctor, Graham, Ryan and Yaz as a TARDIS foursome. Even after watching it a few more times, I did enjoy it.
The DVD/Blu-ray special features on this episode are as follows. On Disc 4 of ‘The Complete Series 11’ of ‘Doctor Who’, there’s ‘The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos’ – Closer Look’ featurette.
Also on Disc 4 of ‘The Complete Series 11’ of ‘Doctor Who’, there’s the additional bonus features. They include ‘Becoming the Doctor’; ‘Friends of the Doctor’; ‘Regenerating Doctor Who’; ‘Directing Doctor Who’; ‘Video Diaries: Bradley on a Train’; ‘Video Diaries: Mandip’s South Africa Diary’; ‘Everything You Need To Know About The New TARDIS’; ‘Making the Theme Tune’ and the ‘Best of Social’.
Before we finish, I have found Series 11 of ‘Doctor Who’ to be pretty good! It’s not a perfect season and there are a few issues I have with regards to some of the episodes featured in Series 11. In my opinion, ‘The Tsuranga Conundrum’ is the weakest of the ten episodes from the whole of Series 11.
But overall, this has been a pretty solid season of ‘Doctor Who’ with good storytelling, good characters and good acting throughout. The music by Segun Akinola has been wonderful to listen to and the tone and atmosphere of the season feels refreshing and enjoyable, making it easy to watch.
In many ways, I do feel Series 11 of ‘Doctor Who’ is a direct response to the Steven Moffat era. The series’ tone doesn’t feel silly and pantomime as things were taken more seriously in the season. There are moments of humour but it was very well-balanced with good character drama throughout.
The storytelling provided by Chris Chibnall and his writing team doesn’t feel convoluted. I was able to enjoy the episodes from beginning to end. ‘Kerblam!’ is my absolute favourite and episodes like ‘The Woman Who Fell To Earth’, ‘Rosa’, ‘Demons of the Punjab’, ‘The Witchfinders’ and ‘It Takes You Away’ are brilliant.
I found how easy it was to like the main characters that have come across as heroes for me. Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill excel as proper companions in Graham, Ryan and Yaz, who wanted to be there in the TARDIS. They weren’t combative at all as they became pretty good friends.
As for Jodie Whittaker, well she won me over in an instant as the Thirteenth Doctor and continued to be even more likeable and reassuring as I watched the series. And, I know you think I’m going to sound crazy here, but Jodie has become one of my favourite Doctors in the entirety of ‘Doctor Who’.
I really mean that! Jodie Whittaker is one of my favourite Doctors alongside Peter Davison and David Tennant. She was exactly who I hoped she’d be in how she played the Doctor. She was funny when she needed to be and she was serious when she needed to be. She is also very warm and energetic.
I know many people will disagree with me on these points, but it’s how I feel and Jodie’s interpretation of the Doctor is the way I would have gone with for a female version of the Doctor. I had doubts before Series 11 began again, but I’m glad to say Jodie’s Doctor made me happy indeed.
But…it’s not over yet! Believe it or not, while ‘The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos’ is technically the finale for Series 11…it also isn’t. There’s another ‘Doctor Who’ episode after Series 11 with the Thirteenth Doctor TARDIS team. It’s of course…the 2019 New Year’s Day Special called…‘Resolution’.
‘The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos’ rating – 8/10
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