This season of Doctor Who has been a wild ride from start to finish. With throwback characters and new characters alike, the lore of Doctor Who and its fantastic universe has been called into question. Season 12 has stood out as the most interesting so far, not only for the familiar tropes, but also for the way in which it has altered the origin of The Doctor altogether.
Jodie Whitaker has brought some differences to her performance this season. In the last season, she was really coming to terms with playing The Doctor and trying to add lots of layers and nuance to her performance. In season 12, Jodie brings not only this grounded performance, but also the characteristic zaniness of The Doctor with her own uniquely thought-out quirks and eccentricities. It is refreshing to see her putting the lives of her companions first.
The Doctor is not only dealing with the return of The Master (Sacha Dhawan), but the emergence of a version of herself that she doesn’t remember regenerating into (Jo Martin). This triggers a kind of identity crisis, making The Doctor question her entire history and origin.
The Master is a fan-favorite villain of the Doctor Who universe. The way the character was kept secret until the final reveal demonstrated masterful writing. The performance of Dhawan has cemented him as one of the best actors in British television, mostly because he adds a lot of difference to the role and comes across as more chaotic and playful than previous iterations.
Jo Martin’s turn as The Doctor in the episode that also saw the brief return of Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), another fan-favorite character from many years ago, showed a side of The Doctor that we not only haven’t seen before, but also that The Doctor hasn’t seen before. Jo Martin’s Doctor is like the War Doctor, but female, with a zany and out-there style of dress and serious personality.
This season’s episodes have all been brilliant. Broadcasting an environmental message to episodes set in accurate historical settings, each one felt meaningful and joyful to watch. Seeing the companions – Graham (Bradley Walsh), Ryan (Tosin Cole), and Yaz (Madip Gill) – as they start to question the methods of The Doctor, and the ways they play off Whitaker’s interpretation of this classic character, have at times been predictable but also enjoyable viewing.
Fans of Doctor Who that might still be hesitant about watching will be happy to know it is now harking back to the original characters and villains, with the Cybermen and the judoon coming back as well. This new season has been such a good time, the Christmas episode can’t come soon enough. Hopefully we see more seasons with Jodie Whitaker’s Doctor, as she has brought a whole different feel that hasn’t been done before.
ANDREW DE THIERRY