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TV REVIEWS: FTN Reviews Doctor Who Season 11 Episode 6: Demons Of Punjab

November 12th, 2018 by Todd Black Comments

With this episode, the 11th season of Doctor Who is now in its back half, and as many have noted, the season is more about the Doctor and her companions facing dangerous without and within than an “external threat”. By this time in Capaldi’s first season, we were seeing more of “Missy”, hearing about “Heaven”, and more, wondering where it would all end. Here? Not so much. But that’s not a bad thing, as “Demons In Punjab” gave another powerful showing of how hate can destroy things, especially the ones we love.

In many ways, this episode was a foil to “Rosa”, as we had another time-traveling event that focused on the hate that was coming, but this time, to India via the Partition that literally divided the country in a way that cost millions their lives even though it was meant to be a “victory” for the country.

The twist here was how they interwove Yaz and her family history into it. This seemed like another destined ‘doomed-to-be-bad’ scenario, not unlike what Rose did to No.9 back in their first season together. But instead, not only could Yaz not interfere, she had a crisis of conscience when she started to realize that the life her grandmother had lived wasn’t as clear-cut as she thought.

Seeing the events unfold as we went from “Who is my grandfather?” to, “What are those aliens?” and then, “Why can’t we interfere?” and then beyond were very powerful. Especially when we learn that Pram, who technically was her grandfather in a way, wasn’t only meant to die, but meant to die because of his own brother and the beliefs of hate and purity that he had gotten while Pram was away at war. This is a truth that people forget sometimes, that war doesn’t just affect one person, but all who are around them, even if they come back alive.

As for how this was a foil to “Rosa”, it’s because unlike that episode, where they fought to ensure that Rosa could meet her legendary date with destiny, here, they had to step back and let destiny take its course. For if they didn’t, Yaz wouldn’t have been born. It was a sad reminder that as great as a Tardis is, it can’t fix everything. There are some things in the universe that honestly can’t be changed, and that’s how it has to be sometimes.

There were a lot of great little moments here. From the Doctor and her childlike whims, to Graham giving some very sage advice to Yaz as she struggled with the truth. And my personal favorite, the reveal of an “ancient species of the universe” that went from being deadly assassins to the watchers over the lost and forgotten after they passed. It was a clever nod to the finale of Capaldi’s run where the aliens honestly weren’t the bad guys.

I do wish that there was a little more clarity with the ending. You’d think that the grandmother would’ve opened up more about Yaz’s real grandfather, or that she would’ve remembered meeting her LITERAL granddaughter in the past long before she was born. But hey, timey-wimeyness and all that.

In the end, “Demons of Punjab” was another great episode that led to more great character stories. Season 11 continues to be a thrill, and I’m going to be sad when it’s over in 4 episodes.

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Todd Black is reader of comics, a watch of TV (a LOT of TV), and a writer of many different mediums. He's written teleplays, fan-fictions, and currently writes a comic book called Guardians (guardians-comic.com). He dreams of working at Nintendo, writing a SHAZAM! TV series, and working on Guardians for a very long time!