Doctor Who season 11 episode 1 review

Review: Doctor Who Is Back, Diverse, and Better Than Ever

Jodie Whittaker is the Doctor and the season is looking promising

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***Spoilers for season 11, episode 1 of Doctor Who***

The Doctor has arrived and she doesn’t need to make a big deal about her being a woman. The greatest part of the season premiere for Doctor Who was that it was established that she was a woman and then that was that. With a lot riding on the episode, Chris Chibnall and the creatives behind the beloved BBC drama focused more on bringing the feel of the show to Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor.

For the first few moments of season 11’s first episode, “The Woman Who Fell to Earth,” the Doctor is nowhere in sight. A character named Ryan, his grandmother Grace, and his granddad are trying to teach Ryan how to ride a bike. Ryan, who suffers from dyspraxia, is struggling and he angrily throws his bike, resulting in him having to walk down the mountain to retrieve it. There, he accidentally invites an alien to earth resulting in the Doctor, who had lost the TARDIS, to crash land nearby to help.

Much like every other regeneration episode, the Doctor is struggling with who she was and who she is becoming, trying to figure out her own mind while solving the episode’s “case” of an alien trying to hunt down a human being. What worked with this episode was that it felt like a middle of the season episode, like we were dropped right into the familiar. With so many changes happening to the show at the same time, having the Doctor struggling to find herself being a secondary issue and not the main emphasis worked well.

I know that the Doctor being a woman angered many a fanboy across the internet, so for Chris Chibnall to basically ease the audience into her ascendance is exceptionally smart. Change too much out the gate, you anger fans who have been there from the beginning and have all sorts of ideas about what and who Doctor Who is. This episode managed to bring the weight of her being the first woman to say “I’m the Doctor” while also maintaining the quintessential Doctor Who feel.

Once the Doctor joins Grace and Graham (Ryan’s step granddad), Ryan and his police friend, Yas, join them all to try and figure out what is going on. Throughout the episode, the Doctor can’t remember her name. She just knows that she is missing her TARDIS and that she doesn’t have a sonic screwdriver.

Finally, she takes to making her own sonic “Swiss Army knife” and figures out exactly what is going on. While the episode just feels very Doctor Who and doesn’t stand out too much in the vast pantheon of episodes, the last few moments will take your breath away. The Doctor is trying to save everyone from the alien on the hunt, Grace and Graham are trying to destroy the alien’s tool to gather information and when Grace gets shocked, she ends up falling to her death and dies in the arms of Graham.

Solemn and darker than most first episodes, the Doctor soon after goes to find her outfit, getting ready to transport herself to her TARDIS. The problem? She accidentally brings everyone with her to the middle of space with no way to save themselves.

This season looks promising. Maybe the first episode wasn’t at the level of “The Eleventh Hour,” but it brought to life the new era of Doctor Who and I, personally, can’t wait to see where Thirteen takes us. I’m ready to go with her.

(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 work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.