So I’ve given myself some time to think over Spyfall Part 1 because holy shit and I’m just so happy because it’s exactly what I needed it to be. I just had this gut feeling that Chibnall was listening and aware of what we as an audience wanted from this new series and what we didn’t like about Series 11. This episode was as good as it was because it felt like he’d reworked his strategy, taking everything that was experimental and refreshing from before and making it into something that was more workable, more enjoyable and to be completely honest, more Doctor Who. Chibnall is making the show his own and if it continues to be anything like this episode, I absolutely love it.
I’ve already spoken in depth about the possibilities of exploring the home lives of Yaz, Graham and Ryan in terms of their abandonment of it and their relationship with The Doctor (I’ll link it here if anyone’s interested), but it was still so good to see that time was being taken out of the episode to place some attention there and develop the companions in that way. For Ryan in particular, seeing him and his dynamic with his friends was a highlight and made him feel so much more human and relatable.
Wish we’d seen more of Stephen Fry’s character since he was so hyped up but he was as brilliant as I knew he’d be. Lenny Henry’s Daniel Barton was also great and that confrontation scene between him and Thirteen was just 👌👌👌. The way she gets straight to the point with calling him out and just keeps pursuing him without giving a single shit. I love that about her character; she has no fear about ripping people apart even in the most inappropriate of situations and to me that is just so brilliantly alien. Thirteen herself has really come into her own now and I completely love her. I can’t wait to see her get tested considering what it looks like she will be facing next episode.
I was so excited when O started asking Graham about The Doctor and he revealed that she hasn’t actually told the companions anything about her past. Chibnall is a genius for turning something that was obviously lacking and heavily criticised in Series 11 into what looks to be an actual plot point in Series 12 and what’s really interesting is that this means that The Doctor is withholding information about herself on purpose. I suppose the real question, why is Thirteen in particular so reluctant to open up about even the basics of her past and of her origins? I feel like this is setting up to this vulnerability within her character that I am really looking forward to seeing more of. Maybe this explains her endless optimism, her hope, her unwavering joy and excitement for life? Maybe a lot of that is an act, a mask for her to hide behind? Who knows, but I’m definitely intrigued to see where this is taken.
Of course we have to talk about Yaz. Demons of the Punjab was proof that her character had so much potential and that Mandip Gill is not only an incredible actress, but that her talents weren’t being utilised enough. Thank god this episode fixed that. Her struggles with balancing work and time travel, her active role in investigating and interviewing Daniel Barton, her interesting dynamic with O, and of course, the obvious impact that being zapped by those light creatures had had on her. We don’t know the outcome of this yet, not even if there will be one, but it was amazing to see her take on a significant role throughout the episode.
And then there’s O and to be honest, I really wasn’t that interested in him. Although he was clearly a lot better of a supporting character than most of those in Series 11, I found him off. I found a lot of what he said to be unconvincing, his equipment and his ability to fight the light creatures just a little too convenient for the plot. And then suddenly Sacha Dhawan switches from sweet unassuming O to The Master and it’s just flawless and all those weird characteristics that didn’t sit right with me just make so much sense. I’m going to make a separate post talking about that reveal scene because I have a lot to say and I rewatch it constantly because it’s my favourite thing ever.
Will Chibnall be able to keep this up throughout the rest of the series? I don’t know, I mean TWWFTE was an amazing first episode to a series that just wasn’t able to continue that momentum. What I do know is that everything that he has pulled off with this episode looks really promising and I have a lot of hope and even more excitement for what’s to come.