Love. Love will tear us apart. Again. The Pilot: Reviewed.
The Doctor (now based at Bristol University which is actually Cardiff University) has a dream job. All the fun bits of being an academic with none of the committee meetings or paperwork. Striding about a stage saying whatever comes into his head. No notes. No powerpoints. And the students love him – and none of them interrupt him to ask “is this going to be on the exam?” Can you imagine the Doctor at an Academic Programmes commitee meeting? Can you imagine him describing course content and learning outcomes in less than 500 words?
And then there’s Bill. I haven’t read anything about Bill’s sexuality that hasn’t made me cringe.
Imagine if a straight couple were to invite a gay couple over to dinner and half way through the main course, one of them were to announce. “I must say, it feels remarkably normal and natural having both of you over.” I’m thinking the evening would instantly cease to become normal and natural.
Discussions of how normal it feels having a black lesbian companion on Doctor Who have a similar feel to them. So I’ll say no more. I’ve said too much already.
What is not irrelevant to Bill as played Pearl Mackie is her capacity for courageous and sacrificial love. This quality is integral to why the Doctor chose her has his star student, even though she works in the canteen serving chips. Nobody can have that sort of capacity to love without also having a capacity to learn. Her love for Heather is symptomatic of other potentialities. She’s Tardis ready. I love Bill. The Doctor loves Bill insofar as the Doctor loves anybody. Bill loves love.
Some are complaining that the episode was “a bit slow”. In all honesty, slowness is needed after such a long time away (I don’t count Christmas specials). We need to establish some characters. We need to fall in love with Peter Capaldi’s Doctor again and remember why he’s the best Doctor of the twenty-first century. And we need another slow reveal of who and what he is (or might be). In some ways An Unearthly Child needs to be remade on a regular basis. And this is one of those occasions. It takes time to introduce a new companion to strangeness and wonderment and this is what The Pilot had to do and what The Pilot has done.
There was no Doctor Who in 2016 (I don’t count Christmas specials). Instead, we had Brexit, Trump’s election victory, a bunch of cool people dying and the world going to rack and ruin generally (except for a few lucky students at Cardiff University).