comScore Doctor Who Perfectly Calls Out the Silencing of Women | The Mary Sue
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Doctor Who Perfectly Calls Out the Silencing of Women

Also, maybe it was Alan Cumming, but we're all obsessed with King James now.

Doctor Who season 11 episode 1 review

Every week, Doctor Who has been seemingly mixing a bit of history and social commentary with alien fun—so, you know, what the show was originally designed to do. After last week’s sci-fi “Kerblam!” we’re back on earth, and this time, our evil foe isn’t just an alien race out to take down mankind; it’s also King James, who you may know as the guy behind his own version of the bible.

The man who believed himself to be Satan’s biggest foe, King James leads the charge against the witches of his dominion. Or rather, he just kills lots of unsuspecting women who he thinks are witches when, in fact, they are not. In a little town in the northern part of England, the Doctor and her best friend gang find themselves pretending to be Witchfinders while looking into the situation.

The problem is that there’s evil mud that’s reanimating the fallen witches, and every time the Doctor tries to point out what’s going on, she is called a witch. That leads to the greatest line in the entire episode, when the Doctor points out that she misses being a “bloke” because she never had to justify her actions.

The whole episode is a wonderful allegory for the silencing of women. Time and time again, these women cry out that they are not witches. They prove their innocence and the only way for them to show that they’re not witches is to drown. If they escape, then they’re witches, and they get hanged. Either way, the women are murdered by the rule of a man.

The Doctor finds out that it’s landowner Becka Savage killing all the “witches” to cover up her mistake in cutting down an ancient tree that was really a prison for an alien race of warriors.

Of course, King James sees it all unfold and still is skeptical of what is happening around him. Even when the Doctor tells him that she’ll show him whatever he wants if he just stops being afraid of what he doesn’t know, he refuses to own up to his own behavior. So, the Doctor and her friends leave in the TARDIS, leaving behind a very confused King James.

While the episode had all the makings of a typical episode of Doctor Who, one thing was made clear: Women have never been taken seriously, and it isn’t much better in the 21st century. The history episodes of classic Who were meant to teach basic history to the children watching the show, but now, especially in Jodie Whittaker’s era, the histories are there to provide us with a culture shock.

All the prejudices and wrongdoings of our ancestors are still just as prevalent today. Women are still treated as less-than, and racism is still thriving in America and all over the world. Doctor Who is pointing out that nothing has changed, and the Doctor giving us a way to start to change how we view these situations is truly wonderful to see.

(image: BBC)

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