The Eleventh Season of Doctor Who has now come to conclusion, offering decent episodes and some stinkers. “The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos” has the task to conclude the season and tie up some lingering plot threads.
On a distant planet a pair of physic aliens attempt to create a floating tower just as their ‘creator’ arrives. 3,704 years later the Doctor answers a distress call and discovers a man with no memory (Mark Addy) with a mystery object. An enemy from the Doctor’s past demands the object and threatens to kill a crew from a crashed spaceship.
The biggest strength of this episode was Graham’s development. The enemy of the episode was Tzim-Sha (Samuel Oatley), or “Tim Shaw” – the alien from “The Woman Who Fell to Earth.” Tim Shaw was responsible for the death of Graham’s wife and he wants revenge. His return leads to a clash of ideologies between Graham and The Doctor. The Doctor deplores violence and threatens Graham that he can no longer travel with her. They have the best arc in the episode, building on their relationship in the past few episodes.
There has been a big build-up for the previous season finales, at least in the modern era. This is not the case with “The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos.” Despite the title this episode is a smaller affair, it’s no “Doomsday” or “The Big Bang.” Not all finales have to be saving the whole universe or need an event like a regeneration or a companion leaving, but the finale needs to be special. There was clearly a good idea for a finale, but Chris Chibnall does not do grand stories, his skills set is in smaller stories.
Chibnall’s style is evident because the episode was more focused on talking and explanation instead of action. There was little investigation or mystery, and the the supposedly huge planetary stakes are not felt. Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffatt would have done a lot more with this premise.
A criticism of Moffatt’s run was that he turned Doctor Who into a fairy tale series. These people should make the same criticisms towards this episode because it features a rare species of psychic aliens that only live in pairs. They are introduced by performing a ritual and they have belief in a creator. Yet again, Moffatt would have at least made the moment of their introduction a more epic affair.
“The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos” wastes its potential. The episode clearly has good ideas and concepts, but it wastes them in a lackluster episode. Even in bad season finales like “The Wedding of River Song” and “Death in Heaven” did have a scene of scale and memorable moments. “The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos” will be forgotten.