Synopsis: The Doctor and her friends travel to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955. There they meet someone trying to rewrite the history of the black civil rights movement.
Review: This was a spectacular, phenomenal episode. The new series has a tendency to gloss over the attitudes of people in past time periods to race which was absolutely not the case here.There were some very hard hitting scenes such as when Ryan was punched in the face by the passer-by and the tension created when the Doctor and her friends were in the restaurant and they were asked to leave.
I loved the part when 13 said “You can walk away from this” and Ryan’s response “Rosa Parks can’t”. There were some lovely hopeful moments threaded throughout the otherwise horrifying setting such as when Rosa Parks said to Yaz “An education makes you unstoppable” and the very real and human conversation between Yaz and Ryan when they talked about their experiences of racism in 2018, which was delivered with great tenderness by both Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill. Fantastic was the part where Ryan said “These people don’t win.” The part where Ryan sent Krasko back to the past with his own temporal displacement gun was brilliant and a nice metaphor for the victory of the future he came from over the dark past that Krasko wanted to preserve.
I liked that the Doctor and her friends had to research the time period and do a lot of legwork which felt very Classic Who rather than just arriving where they needed to be by contrived coincidence. This felt very much like an episode of Timeless with the villain attempting to change history by small actions rather than invading or destroying. Joshua Bowman played Krasko as a real scumbag and a savvy one as well, who I felt was a great foil for the 13th Doctor. I liked the reference to the storm cage and I thought it was interesting how he could not harm or kill anyone due to the neural restraint in his head, which I felt was a brilliant touch. Jodie Whittaker delivers the Doctor’s intensity, humour and quirkiness excellently in this outing and continues to get some really great lines such as the reference to her being Banksy as well as her passionate determination to safeguard history. 13 utterly becomes the Doctor when she says “No” to Rosa Parks’s question of whether things will be better for black people if she takes the Doctor’s survey.
There was a nice call back to the 9th Doctor’s meeting with Charles Dickens when the 13th Doctor told Rosa Parks she was a big fan and Rosa’s reaction to it. Bradley Walsh gave a great performance when he clumsily claimed to have invented the mobile phone and introduced himself as Steve Jobs. Vinette Robinson is perfect as Rosa Parks. The scene at the end of the episode where she refused to give up her seat and the musical score that accompanied it was the standout moment of possibly this entire series. Very emotional was the scene at the end in the TARDIS when the Doctor shows the impact of Rosa Parks’s life on the world and the entire universe, and the lovely moment where 13 and her friends watch the asteroid named after Rosa Parks from the doors of the TARDIS.
Overall, an outstanding and emotional episode that could potentially replace Vincent and the Doctor as the series’ best.
- Incidental Music10