Six Smart Women Discussing Doctor Who

Yes. That is really what this episode is called. Join Deb, Erika, and Lynne as we stumble over the title, and possibly stumble a bit over the episode itself–or at least, over this as a “finale”.

What did you think of “The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos” as a finale for this series? Or even just as an episode itself? Let us know in the comments!


Happy things:

Deb’s interview with Anneke Wills
Season 19 Blu-Ray
Support Verity! on Patreon!

Download or listen now (runtime 1:12:40) 

Comments on: "Ep 185 – The Last Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos" (30)

  1. Greg! said:

    I quite enjoyed it but, it certainly wins my award for the most difficult title to remember accurately.

  2. Greg! said:

    I quite enjoyed it but, it wins the award for the most difficult title to remember accurately. It’s also the first episode this season where I felt that not all the companions were going to make it to the end credits.

  3. Vicki Picciuolo said:

    So what is the two-word phrase you mentioned for women who can do no wrong? We are stumped.

  4. I tend to agree with Deb’s daughter.

    One of the many reasons why I love series 9 is that it has some killer scenes of the Doctor being called out. There’s the scene with Ashildr at the end of the series and the one with Bennett in ‘Before the Flood’. It’s impossible to imagine this Doctor ever being called out. It would just seem wrong, like kicking a puppy.

    The problem with all this niceness is how clearly we’ve been shown in recent series how niceness doesn’t always get the job done. I think it’s an interesting exercise to put this Doctor into ‘Mummy on the Orient Express’ and think how it would play out. When Perkins asks for a moment to grieve would the Doctor still say that people with guns to their head don’t have time to grieve? Would this Doctor ask Clara to lie to Maisie? How many extra people would die in the episode as a result? I think it might be quite a few.

  5. markalanix said:

    I loved this episode and the whole series.

    I really don’t think this a finale – pretty sure that will be New Year’s Day.

    Watching Peter Davison’s first season in the new Blu-ray release, there’s an awful lot that reminds me of this last season.

    Every new Doctor has different characteristics, and I hate comparing them.

  6. terminuspodcast said:

    Definitely a lackluster finale and overall lackluster season for me, personally. But then when it comes to Doctor Who, I do have a pretty big preference for more challenging stories and THAT is my ‘comfort food’. So, yeah, I just felt very disengaged with much of this story and kept checking my watch to see how much time was left as I was mostly kinda bored. I mean, I’m not saying it’s inherently ‘bad’, I guess this just isn’t “Doctor Who for me”. Hoping next season makes up for this one!

    P.S. The passivity of the Doctor this season has been extra-weird for me *more than usual, at least), especially in the not-killing/hurting-the-villain sense. I mean, I get that she doesn’t want Graham to murder Tim Shaw, but isn’t placing someone in permanent stasis forever basically the same thing — or worse — as killing them? It’s like with letting the spider die horribly instead of just shooting it to put it out of it’s misery (and letting all the spiders die the same way eventually in the panic room). I get not wanting to hurt the baddie with violence, but just trading one way of killing them for another just feels…off? I don’t know.

    • Sarah42 said:

      i tend to agree with terminuspodcast’s opinions; we seem to differ from a lot of the rest of fandom in similar ways.

      Capaldi being more challenging turned out to be exactly what I wanted from DW, and so many others tell me how wrong I am, that he was the worst ever, and Whittaker’s brilliant. Unfortunately, to me, she’s just adequate. She’s certainly competent at playing the Doctor as a passive, ineffectual, nonconfrontational noninterventionist who lets baddies go free and get away with their badness, but it turns out that I never have wanted to see the Doctor written or acted that way, especially not in these times with resurgent fascism. Why does the first female Doctor have to be so… nothing? She was great when she engineered her sonic all on her own, but that was pretty much it. Nothing there interests me. There is no “there” there. I see moments of strength, but she mostly feels completely miscast to me.

      I also think Chibnall in charge of DW and attempting to write it (attempting because I find his writing mostly drivel) feels as if DW’s being produced by people who never watched the show making DW for people who never liked it. Which is odd, as Chibnall was a fanboy as a youngster. He was also a fanboy who went on TV to complain about how 1980s DW was no good anymore. Unfortunately, as an adult professional, he shows no ability to do DW well; he’s absolutely mediocre. So, his DW isn’t for me. I knew it wouldn’t be, and vowed not to watch S11. However, I gave in out of loyalty to DW and because I’ve given every era a chance. I think, however, I’m so disgusted with S11 that it’ll be the first DW period for which I won’t buy the DVDs, because I have zero interest in rewatching this tedious, dumbed-down, exposition-dump-laden mess with an actor who thinks she should wave the sonic around like a magic wand (and I even rewatched RTD’s era despite hating it). My only regret in not having DW for a year is that it’ll take longer for Chibnall and Whittaker to finally go away, unless they leave at S12’s end. (One rumour said Chibs would drag this out until a new year’s special in 2023, which would be a horrific joke.)

      • That really sucks that it’s not working for you at all. I’m sure that another era will work for you, this show moves very slowly (like Marvel comics story arcs, groan).

      • Sonja said:

        @Sara42: +1 to every single word.

  7. I thought that this series was very solid. There really were no stinker episodes, not sure that there were any great ones, but there were a bunch of very very good episodes. As for the Yaz dynamic, allow me to offer this perspective…I have always had a very matriarchal family structure. In addition, my father before he passed, was a member of the auxiliary police, so there is that as well. Yaz acted consistently with her police training. She trained not over react to situations, and be where the danger was. I looked at both her and the Doctor as strong confident women that knew how strong they were. If her (and or the doctor) character was more “screamy” there would be complaints that why do the women characters always scream? My only hope is that they don’t fall into the easy trap of Yaz & Ryan. So not interested in that.

    • Male heroic characters show us how you can be very loud and maybe overreact to stuff sometimes, and not be “screamy”. How often do you see heroic (ie not villains or hapless sidekicks) women in a towering rage, vs the men?

      Yaz and Ryan would be boring, I agree.

  8. Saxon_Brenton said:

    Like Erika I wasn’t sure whether Graham would go through with his intentions to kill Tim Shaw.
    Here in Australia there was speculation on the Whovians after-show that the reason why Graham was being presented with so much time and sympathetic charactersiation was so that the emotional gutpunch to the audience would be so much worse when he inevitably died in episode 10. So when Graham stated his intentions and in return the Doctor told him he wouldn’t be able to travel with her anymore, I had a mad 2+2=5 moment and for a minute or so wondered whether the emotional gutpunch would be that he would be chucked off the TARDIS as a Failed Companion, just like Adam was.

  9. Thanks for another great episode. Always a highlight of my Australian Friday. (Also, Tanya, I miss youuuu!)

    I gotta agree about the Doctor being relatively lacking in flaws (and rage). It’s something I actively LOOK for in heroic women, and it seems like it’s something we get SO MUCH MORE in men. I was really excited that a woman would be playing a flawed character like the Doctor, and, well, Thirteen is still definitely the Doctor, and I really like her, but with a lot of the edges sandpapered off. Heroic girls and women get to be “competent” more than anything else. I notice that a lot in kids’ shows too, it’s not just adult ones.

    I do think that if you list a whole bunch of “feminine” traits, the Doctor’s character ticks a whole bunch of these boxes this season and not so much for a good long while. It is a really interesting change, not unwelcome as such, and Whittaker is just great, but I do think it aligns with conventional gender roles slightly more than I was hoping. (I’m all about blurring gender boundaries.) She gets to be goofy, and sometimes get it wrong, which yay and I enjoy that, but it’s more adorable than anything else, so far?

    A lot of fans I’ve seen just want to see the Doctor lose her shit, lose control, at some stage, become not just competent. For my taste, interesting characters tend to have sparks and bumps and edges to rub against others. Graham got the most of that this series, then Ryan, then the Doctor, then Yaz. I never thought the Doctor would have less than a companion, but the dudes get more of that here! I really really enjoyed Ten and Donna, because they both had an absolutely impressive amount of sparks to play off each other. It’s true that Four was my childhood hero because of how, um, weird and rude and cheeky he was, so I guess I prefer that in characters, and I just see it way more in male characters.

    I guess I just want to see a lot more banter in the TARDIS. Especially with the women, thank you. Get some companions to run off, disobey the Doctor more, the Doctor pisses them off in some way, etc etc. Something more for Yaz to do, to learn, etc etc. Get her faith in the Doctor tested.

    Chibnall CAN do consequences of actions, three series of Broadchurch were all about the long slow reveal of the consequences of a single terrible act. It is weird how many episodes this series didn’t do that. I just don’t know if he’s pulling his punches or what. Conventionally, villains get their comeuppance. I thought after the first few episodes that it was a comment on power and current politics, that people with power doing bad things often get away with their actions, but Erik? The Ux? A little too lightweight for me.

    I hope it’s like you say, and he was just being very cautious this series, and with the greater ratings and getting a sense of the lay of the land, that he can go a bit deeper and a bit more challenging next time.

    • * Conventionally, villains get their comeuppance – so Chibnall not doing it feels like a deliberate choice, but why?

      • * I know he didn’t write them all, but I’m sure he commissioned the scripts with certain themes, and edited them too.

  10. Myk Dowling said:

    Talking about companion story arcs, it seems to me that Ryan and Graham got a complete story arc, and I’m left wondering whether they only signed up for a single series, and maybe they’re going to decide they’ve traveled enough and want to get on with their normal lives, and maybe we’ll have a change in the fam for next series.

  11. squibby said:

    I agree completely with Deb. This incarnation of the Doctor is served badly by the stories being written with no grit, little shadow and no dealing with the consequences.

    How many people died on Earth when the Hux attacked it? Did people panic? What damage did the red field do to the atmosphere? Apparently all of that is irrelevant, because science and consequences don’t matter. The attack was just a cool special effect.

    It seems to me that the production team thinks ‘aimed to include children’ means ‘make it safe’ and ‘talk down to the audience’.

    They also seem to think they’re writing for Big Finish. They write scripts with the Doctor telling people what she’s doing as she’s doing it. Imagine if other stories were written in the same way –

    Vincent and the Doctor – “I’m going to take you forward in time Vincent and then we’ll go to a big art museum. Can you see the big museum Vincent? There are stairs into the museum Vincent, we’re walking on them. Oh look there’s a man talking about your paintings. Hello man talking about Vincent’s paintings, this is Vincent, isn’t he funny….”


    • “They write scripts with the Doctor telling people what she’s doing as she’s doing it. ”

      The Doctor has always done this. Ten was notorious for it. They babble babble babble exposition. Traditionally the companions nod, listen, and ask questions. I can see it’s not working for you with Thirteen though.

      “What damage did the red field do to the atmosphere? ”

      Science has always been wibbly wobbly on this show. Sometimes it’s hard, sometimes it’s magic. Generally it requires a willing suspension of belief subject to enjoyment of the story.

      • squibby said:

        Ten’s babbling is why he’s my least favourite Doctor. Perhaps that’s why the current series is not my favourite, too much Ten over-caffienated-hyperactivity.

        I’m happy to suspend my disbelief. But the story has just told us that the Hux killed all the people on all the planets they shrunk, and now they’re doing the same to the Earth. Did everyone in the red zone die or does the death not start until the shrinking?

        Given the ‘no one cares about consequences’ approach this year, I’ve assumed that a few million people died

  12. Neil A Ottenstein said:

    Thanks for mentioned and posting the link the RFS fluid links you tube videos. Just tried one of them. Very charming.

  13. markalanix said:

    The Doctor has been frequently wrong in jumping to conclusions this last season. She was, in Demons by, pre-judging the Thijarians, and not taking into account that they might have changed. She was basing her knowledge on out-dated evidence.But she’s still willing to change her opinion given new evidence. That is very Doctory. She’s done a lot og guessing, and then revised her evaluatin based on new evidence.

    She’s been bery ‘sciency’, which I’ve loved.

  14. markalanix said:

    As for the season as a whole, every regeneration means a new look. This regeneration has, to me (and to whom would it else be?), a new look, a different take.

    I’ve enjoyed the risk-taking Rosa,(Demons, Kerblam!). I’ve enjoyed the topicality.

    Fans seem to think they own Doctor Wh, whereas the vast majority drift in and out. The question is, how to grab those people and get them to stay.

    We may think we’re the centre of the Whovian universe, but we really aren’t 🙂

    • markalanix said:

      If it means alienating 10K Whovians, and attracting 2 million new Who fans, I know what I’d choose.

      • squibby said:

        Retaining the 2 million new fans is important. A lot of that depends on keeping it interesting and keeping Bradley Walsh.

        I was standing in a slow moving supermarket checkout queue behind two elderly ladies who were discussing Doctor Who. They were talking loudly about Doctor Who and it was obvious they were new viewers to current Doctor Who and one of them had watched some classic Doctor Who a long time ago.

        So they chatted about Bradley Walsh, his game show, and the latest Doctor Who series. And the one who was new to Doctor Who commented that it was a pity that Doctor Who wasn’t as good quality as Father Brown. And the previous watcher agreed with “its only daytime kids tv, they just show it in Australia at night”.

        I didn’t say anything, but I was surprised when they agreef that it was so nice of The Doctor to let HIS friend fly his spaceship. They had both decided Graham is the Doctor and Jodie Whittaker is his funny friend

  15. forestj said:

    I get that Yaz may seem unrealistic as she doesn’t have any apparent flaws. I’d like to steer away from the idea of having her act impulsively, aggressively, or angry to counter this ‘lacking’. Lots of police shootings in the US are caused by reacting too quickly and not taking a moment to think. There are many studies about how requiring a little thought saves lives, here is just one of them:

    Yaz is how we want law enforcement to be. She is an ideal officer. She thinks before acting. She makes sure she won’t make the situation worse. This is a critical skill for all emergency services workers which isn’t taught enough (in the US). I want her to stay that way so that future (and maybe current) emergency services workers look up to her and learn from her.

    A generation of doctor’s had to unlearn the incorrect intubation practices they saw on ER. Let’s have a generation of emergency services workers learn from Yaz how to safely enter a dangerous situation and reduce the risk to lives.

    If Yaz needs a character flaw lets make it a caffeine addiction, imposter syndrome, or an eating disorder. Please not something that makes her worse at her job.

  16. Andrew said:

    I somehow managed to watch this episode without realising it was the season finale (until the teaser at the end), so I had none of the associated expectations. I’ve enjoyed every episode of the season up to this point. But this whole episode fell flat for me and I’ve struggled to work out why. I was pretty tired when I got home from work that evening, so it’s possible that I was simply too weary to engage with the story properly, but I found myself struggling to care about what was happening on screen and that’s really unusual for me. (A far cry from giggling with glee throughout the spider episode.)

    It’s helpful to know that other people who’ve been enjoying the series had difficulties with this episode. I won’t be rewatching any episodes until the blu rays come out, but am hopeful that I will find more to like about it then.

  17. Thanks for another lovely podcast!

    I think your views on this season are generally similar to mine. It’s been fine, but there’s been a definite lack of…something. Aside from the two historicals, there was nothing very challenging or memorable.

    I wonder how much of that was a choice made by Chibnall, or if he was under any sort of pressure from the Beeb to make a certain kind of show. Maybe that’s the source of the rumours about there being some tension behind the scenes? Maybe Chibnall wants to make a more challenging show but the Beeb reined him in? Maybe we’ll find out one day!

    Anyway, whoever made the decision to knock all the sharp corners off the show, I hope they put a few back on again for the next series!

  18. I’m writing this comment without having listened to the season wrap-up and without having read other people’s comments, so forgive me if I repeat some things that have already been said.

    Someone during this episode of the podcast mentioned, without exactly saying it, that Doctor Who sometimes can be like an abusive boyfriend — or rather, any difficult, dramatic romantic partner — who puts you through hell and once you’re out of the hell your sense of what’s normal is warped.

    I really liked this season!! I really liked the low stakes!! I was tired of every season of DW being a convoluted mystery and EVERY SEASON culminating in a universe-ending-level story. I was really tired of being emotionally jerked around because to be honest in later seasons sometimes I wasn’t even being affected by the attempted emotional manipulation. I was just over it. I WANTED Doctor Who to be less dramatic and just be FUN again.

    So I got that!! Hooray!! Everyone in the podcast and in the comments presumably is coming from a place of “they didn’t take risks because of the new Doctor”, but to be honest I think there’s also a good argument of not being too convoluted & complex for new *fans*. Based on the viewing numbers, I really hope there were a lot of new fans getting a sense of what DW is and enjoying this season.

    I get where y’all are coming from with feeling like things were not challenging enough, or certain people didn’t get enough to do. But I feel like I can put a positive spin on a lot of those things. Like, what a coup to have an entire season of a show with the male characters doing the emotional heavy lifting and having the female characters just be competent and badass. When do you EVER see that anywhere ever?!?!

    In hindsight, it does feel like it’s at least partially a choice because they were shying away from giving a female Doctor weaknesses. But like you all said, the people who were going to pick apart any weaknesses in the Doctor were the ones who were just against this season from the outset and were never going to enjoy it. So fingers crossed that moving forward Chibnall & the writers are more willing to explore the bad parts / weaknesses of Thirteen.

    Okay this is getting long-winded so I’ll stop, I just need to say one more thing:


    In every TV show that I ever watch I am always SO FRUSTRATED that characters have to resort to murder. Especially if they’re (not in this show but in others) highly-trained agents who COULD just shoot someone in the arm or the foot and incapacitate them. I was practically jumping out of my seat an screaming that someone FINALLY just shot someone in the foot because I have been wanting that from every TV show ever. Maybe the takedown did feel a bit underwhelming and they could have done more showing / telling that Tim Shaw was already weak from the DNA bombs and had never been the same etc etc but STILL. YAY!!

    I’m looking forward to the New Year’s special, looking forward to the next season, and looking forward to all of your thoughts!!

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