REVIEW: Doctor Who S11E3 – Rosa

People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically… No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in. –Rosa Parks

Episode Content Warning: Racism

The prologue of Doctor Who S11E3 “Rosa” starts in 1943. The setting for our episode is Montgomery, Alabama. The Civil Rights Movement hasn’t started and society is still segregated. There’s gospel music playing in the background. Rosa Parks (Vinette Robinson) just got off of work and takes the bus home. She proceeds from the front and tensions start to rise with the bus driver. He doesn’t like that. She ultimately decides to get up and use the back entrance, but the bus driver closes the door in her face and drives off without her.

Cut to present day. The TARDIS is acting up. The Doctor still hasn’t been able to get Ryan, Yaz, and Graham back home to Sheffield. Apparently, the 14th attempt lands them in Montgomery on November 30, 1955. The day before Rosa Parks doesn’t give up her seat and starts a revolution. So, what exactly is going on? Why did they decide to stay? According to the Doctor, someone else is messing with time. Their job is to make sure history stays in check. This episode takes place over the course of two days: November 30 and December 1, 1955. Welcome to Operation Rosa Parks!

NEW CHARACTERS

Krasko: Krasko is a rehabilitated criminal from Stormcage. He was given a neural restrictor while he was there so he can’t kill a living thing. The TARDIS was able to pick up his artron emissions (the same energy it runs off of). He tries to prevent the team from keeping history in check with different diversions.

Officer Mason: Officer Mason comes to inspect their motel room after he gets a complaint call. The Doctor and Graham have to act as husband and wife to make sure Ryan and Yaz get out safely. They get out and hide behind a trash bin. Officer Mason leaves and doesn’t come back. He warns them to get out of Montgomery soon. A lot of folks aren’t happy with them.

Mr. Raymond Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mr. Fred Grey: Ryan gets Rosa’s approval to help them with coffee and observe their meeting. She’s thinking about considering him for a youth leadership position in the NAACP. He gets to meet her husband Raymond, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Mr. Fred Grey. He was able to say thank you to them.

James Blake: James Blake is the bus driver that drives Rosa’s route. He’s very firm with the rules on his bus. He’s the one who calls the police when she doesn’t give up her seat.

Elias Griffin Jr.: Elias Griffin Jr. is the bus driver that was supposed to replace James Blake but doesn’t, because the Doctor and Yaz declare him a winner of a contest and send him off to Las Vegas to meet Frank Sinatra. The cell phone the Doctor gave Elvis came in handy when he gives it to Frank.

Mentions: Emmitt Till, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This is the first time the crew goes back in time. Their mixed-race group sticks out like a sore thumb and a lot of people aren’t necessarily happy about it. Ryan gets the first backlash. It gets even more frustrating for them from there, when they get kicked out of a restaurant and an officer comes to inspect their hotel room.

This episode is brutally honest about the racism people of color face. If you’re a person of color like I am and have experienced some form of racism today, this episode hits home really fast. It doesn’t hide the punches, death threats, names, and glares. Yaz gets called a Mexican when she’s actually Pakistani. We also get to see Ryan and Yaz talk about their experiences as people of color in England. Despite the hate and diversions, the group works hard to make sure Rosa doesn’t give up her seat on December 1, 1955 when she’s supposed to. Their dynamic continues to get stronger as they figure out how to work with each other.

Side note for history buffs: They don’t bring up Claudette Colvin.

The featured song in the episode is called “Rise Up” from Andra Day. It suits Rosa so well and serves as a brilliant end. One of my favorite moments was when Rosa was escorted off of the bus by the sheriff and makes eye contact with the Doctor one last time. Thank you for tuning in this week! We’ll leave you with this interview from 1995.

Doctor Who S11E4, “Arachnids in the UK,” will air on Sunday, October 28.