Mixed emotions on the ‘Doctor Who’ season finale

Ismail Hussain, Contributor

This article contains spoilers.

Jodie Whittaker’s swansong episode of “Doctor Who” aired last Sunday, Oct. 23. The episode was called “The Power of the Doctor.” Honestly, I had mixed feelings. While it might have been Jodie Whittaker’s best, I am annoyed that in his three years as showrunner, Chris Chibnall was only able to write a handful of decent episodes.

With it being the British Broadcasting Corporation’s centenary, the abundance of homages to the past made it feel like the 60th-anniversary special. Seeing Tegan, Ace and the multi-doctor cameos were a great touch and Chibnall found a way to incorporate them while making them an integral part of the story. The ending where Graham assembles a support group for the Doctor’s former companions, with a surprise appearance of Bonnie Langford’s “Mel” and William Russel’s “Ian Chesterton,” showed how far the show had come when he found out the Doctor regenerated as a woman. For context, the basic premise of the show is a time-traveling alien called the Doctor who can regenerate and change every part of their body, including gender and race.

The episode had some heartfelt moments between Ace and the seventh Doctor, and Tegan with the Fifth, the latter also referencing Adric’s death in the story “Earthshock” when Tegan was trying to bring the Cybermen down and save Kate Stewart. 

And who could forget the Master’s Rasputin dance as Rasputin? That is a moment I could never forget. Or the referencing of Nitro 9, Ace’s signature weapon, and how it never used to work on time. In many ways, the episode was everything that I wanted and more, somewhat of a multi-doctor story with a mix of the original 1963 through 1989 and the revived era. I also loved how Paul McGann got some time to shine.

But this was not just a great episode, it was Whittaker’s last. Like many, I think she is the Colin Baker of new Who. Unfortunately for Baker, she is a great actor who was extremely unlucky, just like Colin. Now admittedly, I have not seen all of Baker’s run — I have mainly watched “Trial of a Timelord” and a handful of other episodes and clips here and there. But even I noticed that if Baker was given good writing and the ability to act, he would be able to shine. Baker’s denouncing of the timelords showed how great Baker could be. Whittaker also had her moments in the episode, like when she sees Tegan and Ace and feels sorry for having left them for decades, which addressed something that lingered in the back of my mind – the Doctor having left companions behind. Also, the Doctor’s regeneration was nice and heartfelt. Honestly, it is weird that the Doctor took this long to regenerate outside the TARDIS — at least since 2005 — and spare some damage.

Unfortunately, Chibnall’s era was not my favorite. “The Timeless Child” was poorly handled and pointless. The first season showed how unimaginative new villains could be and led to the entire reversal of the no-old monster’s rule. Flux was passable, and a handful of episodes were stuff I genuinely enjoyed, like “Demons of the Punjab,” “Rosa” or “Spyfall.” Sacha Dhawan’s “Master” was great, especially in this episode. The TARDIS was overcrowded for most of the tenure, so no one really had any substantial character development. I will never forgive a wasted opportunity to have some decent Muslim representation — Yaz’s religion was mentioned a handful of times. She gets an episode about the partition of India and another about giant spiders, where the Doctor meets her family, and that is it really. 

I am excited for Russell T. Davies’ second tenure as showrunner, especially with the shocking regeneration of David Tennant at the end. I want to see how Tennant is used, particularly as he is officially confirmed as the Fourteenth Incarnation and not merely a previous Doctor. And I want to see how Ncuti Gatwa puts his own spin on the Doctor, but I also feel Whittaker didn’t get the multi-doctor episode feature she deserved.

All I can do is wait until the 60th anniversary in Nov. 2023, and hope the show becomes great again. Especially with the big budgets and the Disney+ deal.