This week’s installment felt a lot like an episode of Quantum Leap with the TARDIS crew trying to put right something going wrong with history. But where most Quantum Leap episodes (well, at least until season five) were concerned with history on a personal scale, “Rose” found the Doctor and company at a pivotal crossroads of world and universal history.
It made for a fascinating hour of television, buoyed once again by the performances of the quartet that makes up the TARDIS crew. It was interesting to see Ryan and Yas have to confront racism is Montgomery, Alabama at the birth of the civil rights movement. Going back to Quantum Leap, it felt a bit like an early episode when Sam leapt into an older African-American man and was forced to confront the horrors and realities of racism.
Both Sam and the Doctor have to put history back on course. But whereas Sam seemed to make a positive impact on the lives he influenced, it feels like the Doctor and company don’t really get to win. In the end, they have to become part of the history they are trying to save and make life difficult for Rosa and her family for the foreseeable future. It’s nice that the show gives us a glimpse of the impact she makes on history and that the future is better for a lot of people because of her courage.
Meanwhile, there’s a lot of threads left hanging. Or so it would appear.
Maybe I missed something, but Krasko’s incentive and/or reasons for subverting history were never quite made clear. He’s just out of prison and wants to achieve..something. I can’t shake the feeling that this isn’t the last we’ve seen of him, since Ryan simply banishes him to the far future, using his own technology against him. I kept waiting for there to be some residual artron energy that he was trying to harvest when history didn’t reach the pivotal moment in the episode. Or perhaps no one has warned him about the impact of changing history that we saw all the way back in “Father’s Day.” (I doubt we would have seen the time eaters from that particular episode show up here given Chris Chibnel’s stance that this season will be as standalone as possible.)
As with last week’s installment, I can’t help but think that Chibnel is putting some pieces into play that will come back later in the season. It certainly feels like Krakso could be a recurring adversary for the Doctor and one with a significant grudge against this Doctor and TARDIS crew heading forward.
It also felt a bit like Krasko was a darker version of Captain Jack Harkness.
Overall, the Chibnell era of Doctor Who is off to a solid start with three solid episodes. None of them have quite blown me away yet and been instant classics. I also find it interesting that Chibnell has fallen into the same pattern of stories that the Russell T. Davies era had. First episode is meet the new companion/Doctor, second episode is a sci-fi premise, third is an historical centered episode. I wonder if this pattern will continue as we move forward….