“If it should be anyone, it’s you,” are the words Doctor Who Fans will be holding on after Sunday’s Easter special. Showrunner Chris Chibnall teased that Jodie Whittaker’s (and indeed his) penultimate episode would portray the “evolving” relationship between the Time Lord and her companion Yaz (Mandip Gill); The episode could be titled “Legend of the Anglerfish” but it could just as easily be called “Yaz and the Doctor: Will They or Won’t They?” The answer, it seems, is still pending.
The setting is a village in 19th-century China, where the steely Madame Ching has stolen a statue and accidentally released a flock of monkfish. These villains were first confronted by Jon Pertwee’s Doctor in 1972, and in the nicest way, you can definitely say they’re a BRTD (pre-Russell T Davies) creation. They might have been pinched and tucked away, but as with many old ones WHO Monsters, these bug-eyed lizard monsters are too cartoonish to be really scary.
Fortunately, the episode has an excellent ensemble cast. Crystal Yu brings a sharp edge to warrior Madame Ching, while Marlowe Chan-Reeves is sweet and immensely likeable as Ying Ki. It is easy to apply Doctor Who for its CGI, but the effects here are impressive, with plenty of stunning shots of rushing seas and alien armies.
The story is compelling enough, but by the end it feels like a background noise of romance. After Yaz Dan (John Bishop) finally confessed her feelings in the New Year’s special, the Doctor took her companion by the hand and the words “Yaz, with me” rolled off her tongue as if they were the most natural thing in the world.
Preventing the end of humanity turns out to be a great backdrop for serious relationship chats, with the Doctor telling Yaz that “dates aren’t something I really do” without stopping to catch her eye see. You can practically see Yaz’s heart drop. But then these words. “If I did, believe me, it would be with you,” says the doctor. “I think you’re one of the greatest people I’ve ever known.”
It’s a beautifully delicate scene, but step back and there’s an emptiness. After all, a clock is ticking for the doctor. She was told in the last series that her journey “is coming to an end” and that time is running out. Audiences who’ve read the endless speculation about who will replace Whittaker when she leaves at the end of the year know it too.
Yaz and the Doctor will likely get their big romantic moment in Whittaker’s final episode; after all these hints, it would be cruel not to do it. But given the fact that the Doctor will regenerate, it feels like a bury your gay moment — and look how that played out kill Eve. “I wish this would go on forever,” says the doctor. Fans will probably think the same way.
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