I felt a number of emotions when I went into this episode. Historical’s are some of my favorite stories from the show. But I also knew that there weren’t gonna be a lot of fun moments this week. Landing in Montgomery Alabama in 1955, a period of racial segregation, The Doctor and her companions must stop the efforts of a time traveling criminal who plans to stop Rosa Parks from playing a pivotal role in the civil rights movements.
I was wondering how were Malorie Blackman and Chris Chibnall going to pull off a story that was not only set during one of the worst periods in American history, but also cover a very serious topic in a respectful way.
To my surprise, they didn’t shy away from showing how terrible it was for people of color. Right from the beginning we see how Ryan and Yasmin are treated by most of the town. Ryan is physically attacked after trying to help a white woman and both are called racial slurs and kicked out of most public places. It was hard to watch but I’m glad they showed it. It wouldn’t have been right if they tried to dance around the subject.
I’m happy to say that everyone was on fire this week. All the companions had plenty of moments to shine this week. One moment that stood out was when Ryan and Yasmin were hiding by the side of a dumpster. Ryan is feeling very bleak but Yasmin reminds him that while things are not perfect, it’s because of people like Rosa Parks that made it possible for someone like her to become a cop. It’s a beautiful and poignant scene that was wonderfully acted by Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole.
Vinette Robinson was absolutely fantastic as Rosa Parks. I couldn’t take my eyes off her whenever she was on screen. I have no doubt that Rose will go down as one of the best historical figures in the shows history.
My only criticism was with the villain. Now it’s clear that he was not meant to be the main focus, he’s just an obstacle and I’m fine with that. It would have been inappropriate if this had some alien terrorizing the town with Rosa somehow in the middle. At the same time, he felt very flat as a character. As a viewer I’m suppose to hate this guy, and his motive is pretty despicable, but he was ultimately forgettable. Also, the way he was defeated was very anticlimactic.
The last thing I’ll mention is the climax was very powerful and I found myself coming close to tears. This is a high water mark for Doctor Who. This episode gives us a strong story, top notch performances, and it’s educational. When Doctor Who started back in 1963 it was originally meant to be an educational program for kids. It’s good that were starting to see that again.