When looking at the repercussions of season 11, episodes like Kerblam! and Resolution, make it easy from the point of view of finding a flaw in the story. And by flaw, let me explain that I don’t mean the story is bad, but it leaves a mess that the Doctor just walks away from. Episodes like Rosa and Demons of the Punjab make it harder because they are real events and whatever the Doctor walks away from is “part of established history”, so clearly things worked out, right? We know the consequences already. The Partition of India did happen; it was an actual event in 1947. But I’m not going to give people a history lesson now. I’m still looking at the impact of the episodes on the larger world of Doctor Who and the Partition does not feature heavily, at all. It’s a real event that happened over half a century ago and while this was a major cultural event at the time, it’s just an accepted piece of history now, so there’s no reason to suspect it would play any influential role in future Who stories.
The people involved are equally insignificant to the overall story of Doctor Who. Not that they are not important but we are introduced to only a few people and only one of them has relevance even into our time: Yaz’s grandmother. She’s significant to Yaz, which is good enough for me, but her influence on the series is going to be fairly minor. I should have done a Richter scale with all of the episodes to see just how bad the damage would be; this one would come in pretty low. Low, but not non-existent…
Those Thijarians throw a spanner in the works because, sadly, they make no sense. Yes, I like them, they are great looking and I absolutely love when an alien menace ends up being simply misunderstood, but there are problems with them. When the Doctor explains who they are, she believes they are assassins. They explain that they returned to their home world to find everyone dead and now are on a mission of peace, to preserve the memories of all those who die alone. Great! What a kind, hopeful alien race. Bit of a 180 in terms of motivation, but hey, people change.
So I have to ask: why earth? If Doctor Who has done anything for the world of Science Fiction, it’s that it has populated the universe with a vast multitude of creatures. Star Wars has nothing on Doctor Who! In The Rings of Akhaten, alone, we see more creatures than Mos Eisley! The sheer volume of alien races means the Thijarians could have gone anywhere for the same effect. Random decision? When Orson Wells performed his famous broadcast of War of the Worlds, he put his finger on a map and selected the landing site: Grover’s Mill NJ. (Right near where I live and work, in fact…) Maybe the Thijarians did that too. Earth was the Grover’s Mill of the Thijarian star charts. But are they just going to be left here? Will they be like Mothman? A local legend of India that people misunderstand?
Then what about leaving them here. Sooner or later those two creatures will die. As it is, the Doctor was pilfering their technology over and over again. Won’t some of that tech be found? Clearly they couldn’t stop the Doctor walking off with their stuff; who’s to say anyone can’t do the same? Or is the Doctor of the mindset that India is so sparsely populated that no one will stumble upon them for centuries? Because, you know, it’s sparsely populated. Right? …. It seems the Doctor is willing to turn a blind eye to the potential fallout that would result in allowing them to stay. This seems suspiciously like the Doctor not thinking through her actions.
And that’s the issue with season 11 in a nutshell. This Doctor has not learned from her past. She walks away leaving complications waiting to be uncovered. Here again, it’s not the act that’s wrong, it’s the message. Don’t think actions through. Consequences don’t exist. Look it would have been an easy fix. “Finish what you are doing for these people, see them through, then get off this planet. There’s too much danger in you being discovered.” DONE! The Thijarians, being somewhat holy, would understand her concern, move on, and do the same for another race. Maybe travel the universe stopping off here and there for emotional support as people die. Not just leave it hanging. See, I want to see more thought put into these stories, especially from the Doctor. Let’s see the Doctor realize “hey, my actions have consequences!” Especially with the mandate to go back to educational storytelling, I think one of the most profound messages you can teach a child is that their actions carry weight. That’s an educational message worth conveying. ML