Doctor Who season 11 episode 1 review

Doctor Who Reminds Us How Terrifying the Thanos Complex Is

Cool motive, still murder, dude.
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The Doctor and her friends find themselves on quite the journey on this week’s Doctor Who. When the Doctor receives a mysterious message in a “Kerblam” package (that held a fez, for all you Eleventh Doctor lovers out there), she has to go to the Kerblam factory to see what’s going on. The message is asking for help and, as the Doctor is wont to do when someone needs help in the world, she’s ready and willing to be there for them.

A typical episode of Doctor Who commences. The Doctor, Yaz, Ryan, and Graham are separated based on how they would benefit the company of Kerblam best and begin “working” in order to see who sent the letter, thinking that one of the employees sent it. In this new world, robots have taken over almost all the jobs (leaving Kerblam with 10% human employees) while almost everyone was too busy looking at their phone to realize what was happening.

There were people who fought back against the rise of the machines, and thus the 10% rule was put into place at all companies. No matter what, they were required to have at least 10% human employees, but as we come to learn in the episode, to some, that isn’t enough.

While the entire episode was interesting and had me on the edge of the seat, the last reveal was what threw everything into perspective. Once again, the show found a way to throw a message into the episode that you don’t necessarily see coming. Charlie, a maintenance man who Graham befriends, reveals that he’s the one who has been planning an attack with the Kerblam robots.

Throughout the episode, the Doctor thinks that one of the higher-ups is killing off their own human employees to “prove” that it’s too dangerous for humans to work there. Then, another theory she has is that the system is attacking itself, and that’s why the Kerblam robots are attacking. What we learn, by the end, is that the system isn’t attacking itself, but rather, was trying to send a message to the Doctor for help because it realized what was happening with Charlie.

Charlie reveals his plan to send explosives to customers of Kerblam in the form of bubble wrap, only admitting everything as the system kills Kira (Charlie’s crush) in an effort to put a stop to his plan. There’s one exchange of words that shows the real depth of the episode, though. The Doctor screams at Charlie that he isn’t an “activist” and that what he’s doing is just cold-blooded murder, which feels like a timely message.

We’re seeing Charlie thinking that he’s doing something “noble,” killing thousands to save millions. The problem is that he’s still planning on killing thousands. It’s like the Thanos complex all over again. These men think that, by sacrificing a few, the greater majority will be better off, but it isn’t up to them who lives and who dies. They don’t get to decide.

Ultimately, the Doctor outsmarts Charlie as she often does, and we’re left with the reminder that we cannot play god. We don’t get to decide what is best for the good of the people.

Doctor Who continues to be a brilliant reminder of the kind of people we should want to be and who we shouldn’t aspire towards.

(image: BBC)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her current obsession is Glen Powell's dog, Brisket. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.