Considering the inconsistent nature of this season, I really wasn't sure what Doctor Who Season 11 Episode 10 had in store for us.
You know what? This finale worked for me. It was true to the season and tied a few loose ends up nicely.
The good guys win in a satisfying manner and there was really only one needless on-screen casualty.
Of course, the "science" is super (and repeatedly) messed up, there were multiple instances of "how did they miss that?," and the whole Ux thing is off-the-charts ridiculous but The Doctor herself states here that "[her] rules change all the time" so it's kind of true to form.
For weird glitchy bits, there's the question of whether the NINE distress signals was supposed to be significant.
Did anyone stop to count how many ships were on the battlefield? No, I didn't either. So, maybe there were eight wrecked ships and Paltraki's functional one. That makes nine.
Or, maybe, Paltraki's busted brain kept him in a Memento-like loop and he sent them repeatedly after forgetting he'd already sent them. Either way, in the end, it wasn't important.
What was important was Tim Shaw's return. (Before someone corrects me: Yes, I know he's credited as Tzim-Sha, but no one calls him that.) His exit from the premiere was not only abrupt, it was ambiguous since we didn't know where he was "returned" to.
Not exactly sure why his return trip threw him 3,407 years into the past. (Also, not sure why aliens measure time on other planets in Earth terms.) Bad timing for the Ux as Andinio obviously interpreted his appearance as divinity.
Graham: And it has to be us does it? Answering these signals from this planet?
The Doctor: No, not at all. But everyone else has passed them by. Y'think we should do the same?
I appreciate that the finale was able to tie multiple key adventures together.
Obviously, we met Tim Shaw on Doctor Who Season 11 Episode 1.
The sniper bots which apparently decimated Paltraki's fleet were introduced on Doctor Who Season 11 Episode 2.
The T.A.R.D.I.S.'s psychic circuitry was used to read Nani Umbreen's watch on Doctor Who Season 11 Episode 6. Here, poor Delph got hooked up to the blue box in order to send the planets back.
And Graham's extreme reaction to having to face Tim Shaw again is easily tied to his recent time with Not-Grace on Doctor Who Season 11 Episode 9.
Ryan: You think that's what Nan would want?
Graham: No, I think your Nan would want to be alive. She actually liked being alive and she was really good at it. And she'd say to me,'Graham, if you get the chance, you send that little piece of rubbish to kingdom come,' Because, you know why? Your Nan might've been kind, but she was also tougher than you and me put together.
Graham and Ryan have a couple of really touching scenes together while trying to rescue all the stasis captives.
It's clear that Ryan's gotten to understand Graham's thinking and, more than that, he recognizes the motivations because he probably feels the same way.
That he's genuinely concerned that Graham will get himself killed goes beyond teammate camaraderie and really gels the idea that he's accepted Graham as family.
Between the "granddad," the "I love you," and the fist bump, they may have been laying it on a bit thick but I think we've established that this season hasn't really been about "subtle."
Tim Shaw's attempt to credit The Doctor for placing him in the path of the Ux and their deification of him didn't really drive home any sort of lesson in consequence. It was a stretch to believe The Doctor would buy it. It's a laugh to think we would.
Another issue with Tim Shaw's whole (new) raison d'etre was that he was doing this largely without recognition from his fellow Stenza, assuming that their society doesn't even come into being until the last thousand years.
That just doesn't seem in keeping with the kind of Stenza he is.
Think about it. He worked his Andinio and Delph for THREE THOUSAND years to develop the planet-snatching system, simply so he could go after Earth once The Doctor was there to witness it.
That's a LONG game of revenge. Also, it's never been established what a Stenza's natural lifespan is but chances are most never see their FIRST millennium birthday, never mind their THIRD.
At that age combined with the old bio-bomb wounds, Tim Shaw must just be a massive ball of OW all the time.
And compare that with Graham's chance for revenge. He looked determined from the instant they recognized Tim Shaw's voice.
He was quietly committed to dying in the attempt to avenge Grace, recognizing that The Doctor wouldn't allow him to travel with her if he carried out his plan.
What I love is that Ryan was who got through to him when The Doctor couldn't.
Tim Shaw: You are no warrior.
Graham: No. I'm the better man.
In the end, he valued a life with Ryan over a pretty long shot at successful hand-to-hand combat revenge.
Of course, he still got to sentence Tim Shaw to eternity in stasis... and he got to shoot him. A little.
Ryan: Hey! You shot him!
Graham: Yeah, but just the foot. Just in the foot. Just to shut him up. Don't tell The Doc. She'll be livid.
The guest stars were fantastic although a little distracting.
I couldn't help comparing Phyllis Logan's Andinio to her Mrs. Hughes from Downton Abbey. In a lot of ways, Andinio, in serving Tim Shaw, was really the worst treated housekeeper position ever.
Mark Addy as Paltraki was far more heroic than his tragic Robert Baratheon on Game of Thrones. Once he had his neural balancer, that is.
Finally, there's something metaphorical about the introduction of the Ux here, a species that is defined as "completely faith-based" and suffer for throwing their considerable talents behind his drive for the best trophies.
Andinio: It's time. You ready, Delph?
Delph: I don't think I am.
Andinio: Seventeen years is enough. This is what I've trained you for.
Delph: You call it training. I call it building doubt. Every lesson that you've given me, I feel like I've understood less, not more.
Andinio: Which is the point. The more we learn, the less we realize we know. This is our faith. This is our existence. The Creator would contend the world is not to be understood, only experienced.
In a franchise with as much history and lore as the Whovian one, the tension between evolution and traditionalism has been at an all-time high this season with the showrunner and star both scrutinized and judged for both their attempts to move forward with the show and, simultaneously, pay homage to its early roots.
That The Doctor takes the time to encourage the Ux to keep believing lends itself directly as a message to the audience. With the news that Season 12 won't air until 2020, there's doubt and speculation in the wind so that little pep-talk is a nice touch.
None of know for sure what's out there. That's why we keep looking. Keep your faith. Travel hopefully. The universe will surprise you. Constantly.The Doctor
Before the New Year's Day special, take the opportunity to watch Doctor Who online and figure out what worked for you in this new regeneration.
Me, I love Whittaker and the energy she brings to the role. I like the diversity in the Companions and the variety in their perspectives.
I just wish there was more consistency to Yaz's role. She's bright and she's brave but you'd think a police officer would've noticed the guy shackled to the wall on a giant plinth and not be fixated on the shiny white crystals containing miniaturized planets.
Chime in here with your hits and misses for Doctor Who Season 11!
Your favorite alien.
Your most cringe-worthy moment.
Your trauma-induced arachnophobic nightmares. (That might just be me projecting.)
Until New Year's then, my friends! This'll be an adventure!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.