Clint Hassell provides his spoiler-filled commentary on the sixth episode of Physician Who Collection 11.
Observe: this evaluation accommodates full SPOILERS for episode 6 of Collection 11.
I simply completed “Demons of the Punjab,” the newest episode of Physician Who.
Me too! What did you assume?
I’m conflicted. It’s each the sort of story that I want Physician Who would do extra of, and an underwhelming journey.
That’s undoubtedly a battle!
I would like episodes that resonate with the viewers as a result of they’re scripted by passionate writers with distinctive visions. I would like tales which are reflective of a extra numerous, international viewers. I would like Physician Who to teach, and to touch upon the human situation.
I feel that describes “Demons of the Punjab.”
Sure, however I additionally need the episodes to be tautly scripted and interesting, and to make the most of the present’s premise and its characters nicely.
So, you didn’t like the episode, however you’ll be able to see the benefit in what it tries to perform?
Sure, that’s in all probability truthful. I can’t write an trustworthy evaluation with out mentioning the script’s ample issues, however I hate criticizing the work of a first-time Who author who turned in a really private script.
Let’s begin with a praise, then. What’s one thing you assume Vinay Patel’s script does properly?
It made me study the Partition of India, which isn’t often coated in historical past courses, right here in the United States. “Demons of the Punjab” was my first publicity to the occasion.
That’s incredible! Mr. Patel would in all probability be thrilled to know that his episode taught you about the occasion.
Sure, besides it didn’t “teach” me. Except for the Physician’s assertion that the Partition would trigger “rioting in the cities, tens of millions of people . . . to be displaced, [and] more than a million . . . to die,” the episode is surprisingly mild on info relating to the sociocultural setting in India that result in this prevalence. It felt like the episode assumed I already knew the background particulars of the occasion. I didn’t, and so needed to look on-line for the solutions to the quite a few questions I had.
Properly, it’s a sci-fi TV present, not a historical past lecture! The purpose is to be entertaining, whereas hopefully additionally thought-provoking. The historical past is secondary.
Agreed. Nevertheless, in case your dialogue is so sparse that your viewers has to look elsewhere for the info wanted to put your story into applicable historic context – – that’s dangerous scriptwriting. Worse, as a result of the prevailing attitudes in India aren’t higher defined, Manish appears one-dimensionally prejudiced towards Muslims. It’s troublesome to inform a layered story with shallow characters, so the message of the episode finally ends up being an over-simplified “prejudice is bad.”
Didn’t you say that “Rosa” suffered the similar problem?
I did! (right here) In some ways, “Demons of the Punjab” mirrors “Rosa”: Group TARDIS visits some extent in historical past particularly vital to at least one of the companions, resulting from their ethnic background. Whereas there, prejudice is inescapable, and the Physician and her pals are pressured to observe idly as horrible occasions unfold – – to do the “wrong” factor for the “right” causes. Characters are deified. Particular music performs over the closing credit.
Perhaps these similarities are half of the cause you are feeling unhappy by “Demons of the Punjab” – – it mines the similar story beats as “Rosa,” hoping for the similar emotional repay, making “Demons of the Punjab” really feel like a retread of a greater episode?
Sure, in all probability.
Do you keep in mind how we thought that “Rosa” appeared oddly positioned in the center of what was clearly meant to be a three-part reintroduction to Physician Who consisting of “The Woman Who Fell to Earth,” “The Ghost Monument,” and “Arachnids in the UK”? What if “Rosa” was moved to 3rd in broadcast order to separate it from the too-similar “Demons of the Punjab”?
That wouldn’t shock me in any respect. There’s precedent of that taking place, in Collection four and 6.
If it so intently follows the storyline from the stellar “Rosa,” then why is “Demons of the Punjab” so underwhelming?
“Demons of the Punjab” fails largely as a result of it insists on incorporating an alien presence. The Thijarians are the worst version to the Whoniverse in ages.
Since the Sandmen in “Sleep No More”?
Oh, a minimum of. Now, you talked about one of the “Episodes That Shall Not Again Be Discussed,” so, go put a greenback in the swear jar.
I didn’t perceive the Thijarian mission. They state that they “travel beyond, seeking the unacknowledged dead, across all of time and space . . . to bear witness to those alone, [to] honor life as it passes.” But, all 3 times we encounter the Thijarians, they’re both mourning a lifeless individual that’s neither “alone” or “unacknowledged,” or one that may be found solely seconds later, had they not intervened.
Proper?! Looks like a waste of the capability to traverse time and area, no? Why not spend these “100 generations” recovering as a lot of your misplaced tradition as attainable, relatively than mourn another person’s deceased?
Why have been they initially recognized as assassins? They appear scary and appear to be threatening, even with out the Physician describing them as “the deadliest assassins in the known universe.”
There’s undoubtedly a development of the alien threats being over-hyped, in Collection 11. Tim Shaw of the Stenza warrior race, “conquerors of the Nine Systems”? Defeated in a single night time. “Toxic atmosphere” on Desolation? Not a lot as a cough from the forged. The “fatally violent” Pting? It eats, like, three items of scrap and a bomb – – which truly saves everybody – – earlier than being ejected into area. Every week, the narrative describes the monster utilizing ridiculous hyperbole, however not often delivers on the promise.
“Show, don’t tell,” no?
Precisely. The issue with the Thijarians is that they’re purple herrings – – the episode wastes rather a lot of time making an attempt to persuade the viewers that they’re the menace, solely to disclose that they don’t seem to be.
That point might’ve been used to additional talk about the Partition.
Sure, or higher clarify Manish’s motivations.
“Demons of the Punjab” doesn’t belief its viewers to have an grownup, nuanced dialog about the nature of prejudice, or to understand a purely historic episode of Physician Who, so, to pad out an episode in any other case brief on plot, the Thijarians are launched.
The actual tragedy is that the episode focuses consideration on the Thijarians to the exclusion of the companions. Ryan simply disappears from this episode, and Graham gives little greater than a pep speak to Yasmin.
Did you discover that the canister of glowing, purple mud solely pops up from the middle management console as a result of Ryan was (once more) randomly pushing alien buttons?
Sure! A enjoyable continuation of that operating gag.
Additionally, I recognize that Graham’s remark to Yasmin – – “I honestly don’t know whether any of us know the real truth of our own lives, ‘cause we’re too busy living them from the inside. So just enjoy it, Yaz. Live this moment, and figure it out later” – – appeared like one thing Grace would have stated. She had such a robust affect on Graham and Ryan, so, to see Grace additionally have an effect on Yaz, even second-hand, is a pleasant by means of line.
Nonetheless, we’re six episodes right into a ten-episode collection and Graham and Yaz are solely simply now having their first, substantive dialog.
Yeah, that’s the drawback with three companions.
Additional, take a look at this shot from the episode:
That is the second that Yaz places all of the items of the grandmother’s chronology so as, the briefest trace of a smile showing as her eyes widen. The shot is outstanding, and can be an excellent second of character improvement, had it not been reduce brief by the modifying.
OK, so there are some main issues in “Demons on the Punjab,” however you stated you have been “conflicted.” Did you discover something to like about the episode, apart from the scriptwriter’s ardour for the historic setting?
I did, however it’s principally a collection of unrelated, however lovely, background moments.
Gimme your record!
I like that the journey is private to Yasmin, who asks to be taken to a selected place in spacetime. We’ve solely seen this twice in the trendy period of Physician Who: in “Father’s Day,” when 9 agrees to take Rose to see her father, and in “Dark Water,” when Clara calls for that the Physician save Danny Pink.
Particularly contemplating the quantity of motherless companions – – together with Amy, Rory, Clara, Invoice, and Ryan – – you’d assume that there can be extra requests to go to misplaced kinfolk.
I recognize that Prem ponders whether or not the apparently British Physician and her companions are associates or the enemies who’re invading his nation and “carving it up.” The second provides his character sensible depth that’s missing in the youthful Umbreen and Manish.
Equally, I really like that the Physician doesn’t right the Indians’ perception that the Thijarians are “demons” till she has proof of their alien origins. At that time, she merely states, “I don’t think they’re demons.” The visitor characters appear to be simpletons with their antiquated beliefs, however the Physician by no means treats them as such.
I liked the scene the place the Physician marvels at the design of the Thijarian ship’s inside. “It’s beautiful,” Prem says. “Yeah, you are right. It really is,” responds the Physician. She continues, “They can surprise you, ‘demons,’” apparently pondering how one thing ‘evil’ might create one thing so marvelous. Jodie Whittaker’s supply of the line hints at the hope at the core of the Physician’s character.
This ties in with 13’s assertion at Umbreen and Prem’s wedding ceremony ceremony, which once more references hope, and provides us a peak at the Physician’s spiritual background: “Something I believe in my faith: love, in all its forms, is the most powerful weapon we have, because love is a form of hope, and, like hope, love abides in the face of everything.”
Sure! And she or he makes use of her sonic screwdriver to knock down the rope barrier separating each Prem and Umbreen.
And, India and Pakistan. Or, figuratively, Hindus and Muslims. It’s a strong visible.
. . . made much more highly effective when Umbreen takes that image of division and makes use of it to bind herself to her new husband!
Lastly, I really like that, even after 55 years, a present about time journey might provide you with an endearing strategy to present an ideal second, frozen in time:
So, the episode isn’t all dangerous.
No, the primary concept is patent, and there are delicate moments of perception in the episode, however the script principally fails to realize its objectives. It isn’t as instructional as a historic episode must be, and it ignores half of the major forged in lieu of an alien race that contributes little to the general plot.
I simply thought it was boring.
You stated it, not me! You wanna caption a photograph earlier than we go?
The grandiose means that 13 brandishes her sonic screwdriver has given her carpal tunnel syndrome.
(Time) Capsule Review
Whereas I worth the distinctive voice that writers of numerous backgrounds can convey to Physician Who, “Demons of the Punjab” suffers by focusing extra on alien pink herrings than on analyzing the episode’s historic context.
Actually, a lot time is spent on the Thijarian “assassins” that Ryan and Graham might be faraway from the episode totally and never have an effect on the general story. That’s dangerous.
. . . As is the one-dimensional depiction of prejudice which prevents a nuanced, layered narrative that the material actually deserves.
Nonetheless, a number of lovely moments happen in the episode, together with a scene the place the Physician officiates Umbreen and Prem’s wedding ceremony – –
I’m nonetheless choked up that the rope used to separate the two nations then unites the couple!
– – and two scenes the place the Physician shows the delicate empathy missing in the episode’s visitor characters.