Doctor Who : Rosa
Episode 3 of series 11 saw the Doctor and friends try to make history run smooth after accidentaly landing in Montgomery, Alalamba at the end of November 1955, and discovering traces of Artron energy all over the city, which really shouldn’t be the case. They then quickly realising where they were and what was about to happen in that place, once they bumped into the tituar character Rosa Parkes.
This episode was the best episode of the series so far, in my humble opinion. It was a pseudo historical with a small amount of alien involvement which, realy had to be there in order for the story to work, but wasn’t really that interesting when compared to the main plot which was much more interesting and well done.
I am not sure what to make of the alien involvement in this episode as it seemed to be one guy who was from the future locked up in the prison where River has been held who has stolen a vortex manipulator and gone back to that time to make sure that Rosa did not get to go on the bus that fateful day for a reason which isn’t quite explained apart from a line to Ryan about people of his kind not getting above themselves. So it seems that racist groups still exist in the far far future. That must please Nigel Farage if he was watching.
I liked that the episode did not pull any punches in its depiction of racism in that part of America at that time and this time it was the Doctor’s companions who suffered that at first hand. It all started when Ryan tried to give a woman back her glove but instead getting punched by her husband for daring to approach them even though he was just trying to help (which is when they met Rosa Parkes and realised where they were).
Then they were asked to leave a cafe as they didn’t serve none white people(i.e Ryan and Yaz) which, although abhorrant, in todays society, was quite normal for that period of time and is probably more shocking given that the companions have actually been victims of racism themselves.
Neither Ryan or Yaz had a good time in this story due to the climate of the time and if anything Ryan had it worse than Yaz did as he was the one who got the direct abuse of people with Yaz just being referred to as a Mexican, which I guess they might have done as it was unlikely they got many people of Pakistani origin in the American Deep South at that time so they saw that Yaz wasn’t white and just called her the other things that they didn’t like, again, I am sure a common occurance at that time.
Both Ryan and Yaz were quite chuffed to meet Rosa Parkes though which was the one good thing for both of them in the episode and Ryan also got to meet Martin Luther King in quite a funny and poignant scene where he talks about his nan and starts calling them both by their full names.
Yaz gets a bit more to do in this episode and does some research of her own and also has a nice scene with Rosa near the end which is nice to see as she hasn’t been given that much to do before so that was a nice development for her character.
Ryan and Yaz had a nice little heart to heart about their own experiences of racism when they had to hide from the police in the motel when the police came looking for them. I thought that that scene was important as it reflected the fact that racism still exists today and that although the world has come a long way it has not go rid of racism, and Krascow proves that even in the future it still exists in some form or other, but that with people like Rosa Parkes it will always be fought against which, I would say, was the whole point of the episode.
This was a strong episode with a particularly strong performance from Vinette Robinson as Rosa Parkes and also from the regulars who all gave a good account of themeselves once again and they are getting better with each episode as they get used to their characters and they really work well as a team in this episode and all of them have something to do.
The scenes near the end of the episode where they all have to remain on the bus so that Rosa can make her stand was also very powerful as you could tell by the expressions on their faces that none of them wanted to be there but that the had no choice but to stay there and be part of the event themselves.
I even did not mind the song playing over the bus scenes and them replacing the end titles with the song, as it didn’t really take me out of the drama of the scene, and I am not that precious about having the theme over the end credits.
I have to say that I really enjoyed this episode, and that it made my wife cry!