REVIEW: ‘Doctor Who’ Season 12, Episode 1 – Spyfall (Part One)

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Fellow Whovians, the time that we’ve been waiting for an entire year has finally arrived. The season 12 premiere of Doctor Who aired on New Years Day with a bang. I’ll be honest in saying that I wasn’t a fan of season 11. There were a lot of factors that just took away what made the show appealing to me. For instance, I wasn’t too keen on the multiple companions, a lack in an overall season villain, or the fact that the episodes didn’t really flow well. I was also disappointed in how the Daleks were reintroduced in last year’s holiday episode. However, I knew it was too quick to judge the show after only a year of Jodie Whittaker being the new Doctor. After watching the official trailer for the season premiere, I had hope that both parts of “Spyfall” would rejuvenate my love for this show.

The episode opens with intelligence agents around the world are being attacked by mysterious alien forces. We’re then given a sort montage that shows what the Doctor and her companions have been up to since we last saw them. Yas (Mandip Gill), Ryan (Tosin Cole), Graham (Bradley Walsh), and the Doctor are all picked up by MI6 agents who are in desperate need of help. The team, along with some new recruits, travels the world in search of answers. With the Earth’s fate once again on the team’s shoulders and threats coming from all sides, the Doctor and her companions are facing their biggest challenge yet. But they soon discover that not all is as it seems and that this conspiracy goes a lot farther than they think.

Any worries that I had about my love for this show decreasing went away by the end of the first part of “Spyfall”. No other season premiere has left me this excited since Matt Smith’s introduction back in 2010.  Now that the Doctor and her companions have had their debut season, I was able to fully appreciate their characters. Though they came together as a team, they’ve evolved into a unique family. That bond was definitely a big part of this episode, especially with the odds that they’re up against. Given the way the episode ends, it’ll be interesting to see if this bond carries them forward to saving the world yet again.

Without getting into direct spoilers, I feel the need to talk about the twist at the very end. One of the many things I’ve gotten used to is being spoiled by news outlets or social media in regards to the casting of actors and what characters they’ll play. However, I’m grateful that nothing was revealed and I was able to fully enjoy the twist for what it was. It’s a type of twist that hasn’t been seen since River Song’s real identity was revealed. All I saw in my Twitter timeline after the episode aired were people’s genuine shock. It was fantastic to see an entire fandom be shocked and appreciate the major twist. In an already incredible episode filled with action, mystery, science fiction, and humor, the twist elevated the episode and made it much greater than I would’ve imagined.

However, there were definitely issues in “Spyfall” that threw its flow a bit off balance. For one, the opening scenes were great, but I feel like they overdid it with the transition captions. Limiting the locations or finding a way to make the captions look the way they did would’ve helped. The episode length was also an issue and left me feeling that a few scenes could’ve been cut out. I understand that these live episode airings are accompanied by commercials, but the episode still felt unnecessarily long. It still makes sense that the story had to be split into two parts, but shortening the first part would’ve made me care for. There were moments where I felt that I didn’t have to pay any real attention to what was going on.

Even with its issues, I enjoyed the season premiere of Doctor Who, “Spyfall.”  It’s been a long wait for a new episode but I’m just glad that the show is back. The show has brought back several elements that made me fall in love with the show in the first place. The twist left me completely speechless, which no other show has done in quite a long time. The issues took away some of the magic of the episode, but I’m still hopeful that future episodes continue with the momentum that this episode developed.

It also wouldn’t be a season of Doctor Who if no alien invasions happen on Earth in at least one episode.

New episodes of Doctor Who air every Sunday at 8 PM on BBC America

Final Rating: 8/10 James Bond References