The events of The Woman Who Fell to Earth come back to bite the Doctor on the butt in the last episode of the current series (*sob*) Aboard the TARDIS, the team receives nine separate distress calls from planet Ranskoor Av Kolos, which translates as “disintegrator of us all.” Cheery!
But of course #TeamTARDIS can’t refuse a cry for help, and off they go, only to materialise aboard a battered space ship oddly lacking in a crew. Well, sans a man who can’t remember anything due to the manipulation of the planet (not the first time there’s been a sentient one of those in Doctor Who – and Ranskoor Av Kolos did remind me a lot of the Cheetah Planet in Survival.)
As the team try to fill in the gaps in the man’s memory, they receive a transmission from Andinio (Phyllis Logan) of the Ux, who demands that Paltraki – our amnesiac commander, played by Mark Addy – return what he’s stolen. The screen then switches to “the Creator”, who has a very familiar-sounding voice. Turns out that three thousand years previously, after the Doctor ruined his transporter whatsit, Tzim-Sha/Tim Shaw landed on the planet and then set himself up as its people’s god.
Tim does away with one of Paltraki’s crew, and the team head off to the floating block of rock that’s serving as Tzim-Sha’s lair. Here they find more mysterious crystals that match the one Paltraki stole, and cryo chambers containing the remaining crew members. The Doctor happens across Andinio and demands she take her to the Creator.
I’m surprised it took to the last episode for the writers to bring Tzim-Sha back, seeing as the Stanza’s fingerprints were all over the ruin of the planet (The Ghost Monument.) I was also surprised, after nine episodes of providing mild comedic relief, how fierce Graham was in declaring his intentions towards Tzim-Sha. It clearly rattled the Doctor more than the Stanza’s appearance. She tells him categorically that if Graham goes ahead and commits murder, then he won’t be allowed to travel any more.
With Ryan finally calling Graham “granddad” last week, I was pretty sure Graham’s time was up and knew he wasn’t going to listen to the Doctor. There was going to be a confrontation between him and Tzim-Sha – but would he try to kill the alien, or be the better man (and possibly end up dead himself)?
In the end, Graham chose not to commit murder, though Tim was less restrained. The day is saved by Ryan distracting the alien and Graham shooting him in the foot. They then sentenced him to life imprisonment in one of the cryo chambers with the declaration he should think on one word: Grace. They leave him and the floaty rock thing is sealed up, and it seems like Ryan and Graham finally have closure.
Back to the plot, Yaz has found the source of Tzim-Sha’s power – he’s wired the other Ux, Delph, to the ship and gets Andinio to link with him. This is where the Doctor learns what’s in the crystals – each contains a shrunken, stolen world. And unlike Davros’s scheme in which the inhabitants survived the shift, Tzim-Sha’s victims definitely have not. He’s committed genocide several times over… and his next target is Earth.
The Doctor and Yaz risk their sanity by removing their neural blockers and putting them on the Ux, breaking their connection. The Doctor then breaks it to Andinio that Tzim-Sha is not the Creator she believes him to be. She finally sees the light and with Delph and the TARDIS, they manage to put the planets back before they regain their full size inside the floating rock.
So my thoughts? Overall, I found The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos one of the stronger episodes of this season, on a par with The Woman Who Fell and It Takes You Away. Yet it didn’t have the “big” feel of a season closer. I expected bigger stakes and bodies on the ground. Don’t get me wrong; it was a good episode, but a little disappointing none-the-less. I did, however, love the references the Doctor made to The Stolen Earth and Boomtown.
#TeamTARDIS return on New Year’s Day (as opposed to the usual Christmas showing) with an Earth-based story called, aptly, “Resolution”. They’re going up against what the Doctor says is the “most dangerous creature in the universe.” So a Dalek, then? It’s got to be a Dalek.