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26 ноября 2018, 17:27

‘Doctor Who’ Episode 8: Team TARDIS Bewitch in 17th Century Monster Mash


Stay on target

This article contains spoilers for “The Witchfinders,” episode eight of Doctor Who season 11.

“Becka wasn’t kidding—these are hard times for women: If we’re not being drowned, we’re being patronized to death.”

Once again knocked off course by her trust TARDIS, the Doctor & Co. land in 17th-century England—just as Bilehurst Cragg landowner Becka Savage is preparing to “duck” another accused witch.

Moments after reminding her companions not to interfere with history, the Doctor herself is diving into a frigid lake to fish out Old Mother Twiston (Tricia Kelly), a complete stranger who is, in all likelihood, not actually a dangerous conjurer.

Doctor Who

The Doctor ain’t afraid of no ghosts—or mud-zombie aliens (via BBC)

The twisty-turny romp—penned by Joy Wilkinson (also the writer of next Sunday’s installment) and helmed by “Arachnids in the UK” director Sallie Aprahamian—quickly turns rural Pendle Hill upside down, sending townsfolk into a frenzy and scary underground tendrils into my nightmares.

It doesn’t take Yaz’s anecdote about school-age bullying to know Lady Savage (Siobhan Finneran) is hiding her own secret by pointing the finger at everyone else. Or Willa’s (Tilly Steele) nervous indictment of the Doctor to know the Time Lord would be implicated as a witch.

Wilkinson, however, did manage one grand surprise.

Doctor Who

The Doctor finds herself in the hot seat (via BBC)

Three episodes from the end of the season, this felt like the first real nod to the Doctor Who s that came before.

I commend Chris Chibnall and his revolving door of guest writers for their ingenuity; this series has felt like a breath of fresh air after a decade of being caged in Steven Moffat’s mind.

But Doctor Who is, at its core, a show about adventure, travel, companionship, and aliens.

So when Becka Savage morphed into the mud-zombie Morax leader, she boosted this year’s proper monster count to … two. (Bathtub-sized arthropods don’t count; spiders are of this world, a tooth-faced warrior and an imprisoned alien army are not.)

Doctor Who

Becka Savage (Siobhan Finneran) morphs into the first proper scary monster of the season: the Morax leader (via BBC)

The episode, however, suffers from an abundance of characters, each vying for attention on an already-overflowing platter of people. We’re still getting to know the Doctor, Graham, Yaz, and Ryan—now I have to form an emotional attachment (or aversion) to Becka, Willa, and King James, too?

The second Good Wife guest star of the season, Alan Cumming easily steals the show with his turn as King James VI (of Scotland) and I (of England and Ireland).

More camp than crown, James’ interest in witchcraft—specifically witch trials—brings him to Pendle Hill, where he condescends and cowers his way through a decidedly non-Satanic invasion.

In reality, James became obsessed with the threat posed by witches, and in 1597 wrote Daemonologie , a philosophical dissertation on necromancy, divination, and black magic.

He personally supervised the torture of women accused of being witches (a task he assumes Ryan the head of), though later became skeptical, writing to his son Henry that “most miracles now-a-days prove but illusions, and ye may see by this how wary judges should be in trusting accusations.”

Doctor Who

Condescending and cowardly, King James (Alan Cumming) leads Lancashire witch trials (via BBC)

King James isn’t the only authentic aspect of “The Witchfinders”: Pendle Hill rises in the east of Lancashire, England, famous for its links to three 17th-century events, including the Pendle witch trials in 1612.

More than 400 years later, the ridge is still associated with witchcraft, and hordes of people climb it every Halloween (an activity recently discouraged by the authorities).

Missed episode seven of Doctor Who ? Check out our recap of “Kerblam!” Also, find out what happens when you lambast Amazon on international television, and check out these gifts for the ultimate Whovian.

Doctor Who glossary (for all your British-to-American English needs):

  • Lassie: A girl or young woman
  • Kit: A set of articles or equipment needed for a specific purpose
  • Bloke: A man
  • Berwick: Berwick-upon-Tweed, the northernmost town in England

Source: https://www.geek.com/television/doctor-who-episode-8-team-tardis-bewitch-in-17th-century-monster-mash-1762714/?source=news