‘Doctor Who’ 11x01 recap: ‘The Woman Who Fell to Earth’ welcomes Thirteen

By @chelean on
Thirteenth Doctor (Doctor Who)
The Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) in tattered Twelve's clothes -- "Doctor Who" season 11 episode 1 "The Woman Who Fell to Earth" BBC

“Doctor Who” series 11 started with a sombre tone and ended with a cliffhanger. “The Woman Who Fell to Earth” saw how the Thirteenth Doctor’s (Jodie Whittaker) trio of companions had been formed, how she got her new sonic screwdriver and her funky new clothes.

The following contains spoilers from “Doctor Who” season 11 episode 1 “The Woman Who Fell.” The episode was aired on Sunday on the BBC in the UK and will air on Monday on the ABC in Australia.

With Ryan Sinclair (Tosin Cole) starting the episode with a solemn YouTube video praising a woman he admired, it’s clear from the start someone would die. A few days prior, he was thrust into an adventure when he inadvertently touched a set of lights that suddenly appeared mid-air. The lights disappeared and were replaced by a blue pod. Ryan called for the police, with PC Yasmin Khan answering the call. Meanwhile, his grandma, Grace, and her second husband, Graham, were travelling by train home when their ride was abruptly stop and the power was cut. The couple, along with another train passenger, found themselves trapped inside with a strange floating orb that looked like tangled cables turned up. Ryan and Yasmin, answering their call, rushed to the train to help.

A mysterious woman suddenly fell through the ceiling of the train, helping them momentarily stun the orb creature. The woman was, of course, the Doctor, though she couldn’t remember it at that time as she had regenerated just half an hour ago.

The blue pod that Ryan discovered earlier revealed an alien who promptly killed a local man who took the pod in. The Doctor, with the help of her new friends, discovered that the alien, who called itself Tzim-sha, was a member of the Stenza warrior race who killed their targets and claim their tooth as prize. He came to Earth to hunt down a trophy from its human population using the orb, which turned out to be a fused mass of biologically created data-gathering weapons, to complete his hunt. The Doctor and the others also found out they were each implanted with a DNA bomb, which could go off at any time.

The third passenger in the train earlier was crane-operator Karl, who was unknowingly became Tzim-sha’s trophy target. The Doctor and her new companions rushed to where Karl was working to save him. The Doctor ordered Tzim-sha, who was about to take Karl, to leave Karl alone and go home. Tzim-sha expectedly did not believe her, instead preparing to detonate the DNA bombs. The Doctor told him that she removed them before she found the coil, implanting the bombs back int it. So when the Tzim-sha gathered information from the coil, he had unknowingly implanted his own bombs into his body. He was then sent off the planet.

Grace, with the help of Graham, destroyed the coil but died after falling off from a height. Ryan created a vlog about his nan, honouring her memory. The Doctor also found new clothes off a thrift shop. She then asked Ryan, Yaz and Graham for help for the last time in finding her TARDIS with some homemade teleport. But instead of finding the blue box, she and the trio found themselves drifting in outer space by accident.

Doctor Who The Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) with Yasmin Khan (Mandip Gill), Ryan Sinclair (Tosin Cole), Graham O'Brien (Bradley Walsh) and Grace (Sharon D Clarke)  BBC

The new sonic screwdriver

When Thirteen’s new sonic screwdriver was first shown to the public, many fans wondered how she came up with such a unique design. Some thought it was reminiscent of a steampunk design, while others thought it was a mix of organic and metallic. None of Thirteen’s predecessors had such rough, almost primitive-like, sonic design as theirs were carefully crafted in the TARDIS.

Thirteen, who was thrown out of her blue box at the last scene of the Christmas Special just moments after regenerating from Twelve (Peter Capaldi), found herself without the TARDIS and her sonic screwdriver. She had to resort to crafting a sonic while on Earth and with limited materials, without the sophisticated technology that the TARDIS could offer. And so she improvised and got spoons as materials for her new sonic.

Yes, the sonic was made of basic tableware. And it worked out perfectly.

Thirteen (Whittaker) making her new sonic screwdriver in "Doctor Who" season 11 episode 1 "The Woman Who Fell to Earth Thirteen (Whittaker) making her new sonic screwdriver in "Doctor Who" season 11 episode 1 "The Woman Who Fell to Earth"  BBC

Praise for dyspraxic character

Ryan looked like any other healthy young man in the show, but with a hidden disability. In the first fiew scenes, Grace and Graham were seen trying to teach Ryan how to ride a bicycle, which appeared unusual for someone his age. It turned out Ryan was dyspraxic, or a person with a developmental coordination disorder called dyspraxia. He has trouble with movements and coordination, hence his inability to ride a bike.

The inclusion of a main character who has such disorder was praised by Whovians on social media. They thought Cole had done so well representing people with dyspraxia on television.

Join the Discussion