STORY 286: THE BATTLE OF
RANSKOOR AV KOLOS
We now limp into the series/season finale of Her first season with The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos. You would not be faulted in thinking this was going to be a Greek history lesson given the title. The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos is not so much bad as it is boring, with one ghastly decision after another that pretty much dooms it and calls the continuation of this nightmare into question.
On a mysterious planet, Andinio (Phyllis Logan) is encouraging another of her kind, Delph (Percell Ascott) to create something when a figure starts emerging to them.
Jump to the TARDIS, where The Doctress (Jodie Whittaker) receives a distress signal from the planet Ranskoor Av Kolos. Being who She is, She goes and takes Her 'fam': Graham (Bradley Walsh), Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Ryan (Tosin Cole) with Her.
Ranskoor Av Kolos, we are told, translates to 'Disintegrater of the Soul', which might have been a better title for this episode but I digress.
Once on the planet, they find Paltraki (Mark Addy), a shell-shocked pilot who was part of a rescue mission. We also see the return of Tzim-Sha (Samuel Oatley), whom we met in The Woman Who Fell to Earth. "Tim Shaw", mistaken for a god by a devout Andinio and a more reluctant Delph, wants an object Paltraki has in exchange for his crew: a case containing a circular object.
As a side note, would this be considered an homage or ripoff of the Fourth Doctor story The Pirate Planet, but whatever.
The Doctress defeats "Tim Shaw"'s plans, Graham finds he's the better man and he and Ryan merely imprison "Tim Shaw" and free Andinio and Delph of the Ux.
Again, The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos is not so much bad as it boring. There are no stakes to be held, especially with the return of Tzim-Sha.
I felt it then and feel it now that ridiculing "Tim Shaw" in The Woman Who Fell to Earth was a terrible mistake. Mocking the villain defangs him/her, makes him/her less a threat and more a joke. For reasons I cannot fathom Chris Chibnall decided to double-down on "Tim Shaw" and bring him back.
There was no reason to bring him back. You might as well brought back Krasko from Rosa or Robertson from Arachnids in the UK back. They were more menacing despite being foolish. You cannot take a villain seriously if he's already been mocked, and She goes out of Her way to continue mocking "Tim Shaw". Not once would we take him seriously.
Not that we would take Her seriously either. I've given up on Whittaker's take on The Doctor: all 'quirky' and 'wacky' without an ounce of sense to Her. The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos showcases why she was all wrong and it has nothing to do with her gender. Whittaker's version of The Doctor goes from 'deadly serious' to fangirl in a switch. One moment She's going to take down "Tim Shaw", then immediately squeal about meeting an Ux.
How can anyone rally around a character that seems dead-set on being brain-dead?
The acting was not strong, though to be fair the actors really did not have much if anything to work with. Guest star Addy I think was miscast as this wounded warrior. He gave it as good a go as possible but his first appearance was nowhere near as tense as he and director Jamie Childs thought. Eventually Paltraki faded in terms of importance to where I forgot he was there.
Also, the name 'Paltraki' does not shake the idea that Chibnall came up with this episode while dining on souvlaki and chugging far too much ouzo.
The main cast was also bad, which is a terrible disappointment. I'm used to seeing Gill and Cole be bad. It's always a contest to see which one of them is worse and here Cole is the clear winner, with his Ryan being so blank and monotone as to be comatose. The disappointment was Walsh, who has been the only good thing on Doctor Who this series/season. His efforts to be the wrath of God fell almost hilariously flat. He never convinced me that he had a mad desire for revenge or was consumed by rage.
Perhaps by this time he was just tired and decided it was not worth the effort to lift the series. Same goes for Segun Akinola's score, which once was subtle and effective but now has gone full-Murray Gold in beating the 'tension' into things. Walsh and Akinola were the polar opposites: one underplaying things, one overdoing things.
As for Whittaker, her scrunchy face acting and wild hysterics are now rote. Maybe a Female Doctor would have worked. Jodie Whittaker however shows that just because you got a woman in the role does not mean that any woman will do.
The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos was boring. I don't think anything actually happened, and unfortunately this episode was not worth being a series/season finale. It wasn't even worth being a regular episode.
Next Episode: Resolution