This past week’s episode of Doctor Who – the third of the season – took us on a trip into the past and across the pond to Montgomery, Alabama in 1955, just a day before Rosa Park refuses to give up her seat on the bus and launches a movement. The Doctor and her companions are pulled there, of course, because there’s someone who wants to stop Rosa from doing this. Something about this moment starts something that our villain does not like and The Doctor, Ryan, Graham and Yaz must get all the pieces in place to make it happen. There were some mixed feelings, it seems, when it came to this episode but let’s jump in and find out what I thought.
Original Air Date:
October 28th, 2018
Vinette Robinson as Rosa Parks, Joshua Bowman as Krasko, Trevor White as James Blake
When I first heard that there was going to be a Rosa Parks episode of Doctor Who, I immediately thought “oh god.” Not in a bad way, not in a “I hope its not preachy” way and not in a “I hope its not too politically correct” way. It was that Doctor Who has a fantastic way of making me feel incredibly emotional and with a pivotal election coming up in just a couple weeks, I didn’t know if my emotions could handle something like this.
It definitely could not.
Let’s start with this – I saw a lot of complaints on how it was unnecessary, boring, irrelevant and I even saw a post where a person was complaining that they made the American episode about racism and we’re not that racist here. Insert eye roll here. Look I think its okay if you didn’t like the episode. But I think it being boring and irrelevant completely incorrect, with the administration that we are currently under. It may be that the episode didn’t hit as hard as it intended because a big majority of the audience is NOT American but I know it definitely hit something with me.
Rosa Parks did a huge thing and it launched an even bigger thing – a strike of the buses that eventually led to the de-segregation of buses. That one moment, that one small person, did that. And its a powerful thing that we learn about as children but we don’t speak enough about as an adult. Its hard enough to speak out about racism today in 2018. This episode illustrated how difficult it truly was to be a person of color back then, especially in a place like Alabama. The way Ryan is treated is especially important to note – he deals with racism every day but to experience it like that, where people threaten to hang you, where you’re kicked out of restaurants and made to sit in different areas of the bus and not allowed to be in a hotel room with your white friends. To see that on screen, its just heartbreaking, and its especially heartbreaking because there are still so many people who wish it was that way. I really started liking Ryan more in this episode. Previously, he was sort of irritating me with his anger toward Graham – it felt so immature – but I think this episode gave him a lot of substance.
I also want to comment on Vinette’s performance. She has something that I think is sorely lacking in leadership – this intelligent, classy strength. She’s smart and she’s angry – you can see she’s angry – and tired and she is able to make such a big statement by simply saying no. I think Vinette manages to capture something graceful and beautiful and emotional about Rosa Parks. The moment with her refusing to give up her seat made me cry, because its such a monumental moment, such an important moment and you just FEEL it. You feel the significance in such a small act and I think that boils down to two things – Vinette’s performance as Rose and Graham as a character. Graham stands through the entire thing, watching, refusing to believe that he’ll take part as the “bad guys” during this moment, and his reaction and his emotions to the entire thing is so real, so raw and really makes for a great episode.
I do know a lot of people said that the villain, Krasko, was sort of weak and I do kind of agree with that. His actions were great but his motivation didn’t seem to totally be there. If the motivation was purely racism, then that’s a great villain – it doesn’t need a back story, it doesn’t need reason – some people are just purely racist and I think there’s something really important to note in that. But we never really find out if that was the issue or if that particular moment in time led to something that made Krasko become a prisoner…I don’t know. There wasn’t a lot there. But seeing Rosa and being there in that moment, even though it was fictional, was incredibly powerful.
4.5 out of 5 Stars