Featured Image: The Doctor, Ryan, Graham, Yaz and O in formal wear from Spyfall Part 1.
SPOILER WARNING- This post contains direct spoilers for Spyfall and indirect spoilers for the rest of Series 12 so far, including Fugitive of the Judoon, so maybe don’t read on if you haven’t caught up yet!
If you read my last blog post, you’ll know that last year I did a big re-watch of all of New Who. In this re-watch I decided to really pay attention, to understand what does and doesn’t make me tick as a fan. I finished about a week before Christmas. In the process I realised that it hadn’t really been *my* Doctor Who since the Ponds left, but I reasoned that that was OK, because it was definitely someone else’s Doctor Who, and because I would always have my episodes to go back to. I also had faith that one day, maybe not until the next showrunner’s era or the era after that, but one day in the future, it would come back around.
Reader, that day was New Year’s Day. Spyfall Part 1 made me grin from ear-to-ear, made adrenaline rush through every inch of my body and made me fall in love with a certain Sacha Dhawan! Spyfall Part 2 (apart from some considerable WTF?! moments, I’ll link to Nicole Hill of Black TARDIS’ excellent analysis of these) gave me exactly what I needed when I needed it, made me sob with joy and gratitude and did so much to heal some of the wounds left by previous eras. Orphan 55 was messy and all over the place, but it was intriguing, and it held on to the promising vibes of Spyfall. Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror was gorgeous, fun and gave me tingles. Writing this hours after watching Fugitive of the Judoon, I still don’t really know what to say, only that my jaw fell open after that first reveal, and the waves of shock and awe just kept coming! I’m surprised I remembered to breathe! I’m blown away and I have no idea what to think. No words can really do it justice.
So far, Series 12 has hit me straight in the face, and the chest, and the gut. It has made me feel a strength and depth of emotions that I thought had disappeared along with Amy, Rory and my teenage hormones, never to be felt again! I am absolutely living for mardy 13, her developing relationships with the companions and supporting characters, their fun and thrilling adventures, and an arc that I can 100% get on board with, even if it doesn’t pay off.
After only re-watching series 7B and 8 out of habit and not re-watching series 9-11 at all until late 2019, I’m suddenly desperate to watch the new episodes over and over again. Before the Series 12 trailer came out I wasn’t interested in fan theories or speculation at all, even the Judoon reveal was just meh, but now I want to devour all of the behind the scenes footage and cast interviews I can, like I did when I was a kid. The music is hitting me round the head once more (just how I like it), and then finding its way directly into my veins. I cannot get enough of the new Master’s Theme; I’m practically using it as a lullaby! Segun Akinola, I salute you.
In retrospect, it honestly feels like I’ve been sitting outside the TARDIS doors peering in through the windows for the past 7 and a bit years, but now it’s as if 13’s held her hand out and invited me in again, and Yaz has made me a cup of tea. I can’t describe how wonderful it feels!
As you might imagine, all of this has been pretty intense. I may have believed that Doctor Who would swing back around for me one day, but I didn’t think these particular feelings would ever come back at all, let alone hit me all at once! They built much more gradually the first time round from 2005-2012. Honestly, I’m not sure how to deal with this! I’m supposed to be a proper grown up adult with a real life, not spending every waking hour inhabiting a TV show! I’m going back to uni this week and I have an essay due in 3 weeks. I’m not entirely certain how I’m going to focus and get myself back on an even keel instead of spending my days on Doctor Who podcasts, YouTube, Twitter and iPlayer, and my nights wide awake with excitement and anxiety, or dreaming of the TARDIS, but I trust myself to figure it out. Writing like this helps, and therapy is also great!
I mentioned anxiety, and the past 4 weeks have been phenomenal but also incredibly challenging. Up until last year, watching Doctor Who was a pretty solitary activity for me. Everything I thought and felt was between me, the Doctor and the companions. This year is the first year I’ve been properly engaged in fandom while the show is on air, and wow, it has been a lot. Having to deal with my own incredibly intense emotions and then process a whole internet’s worth of feelings and interpretations on top of that has been unexpectedly difficult.
Before the series began, I was more excited about getting to listen to and read reactions in real time than I was about the show itself! I’d been getting such a buzz out of hearing other people’s takes on various Doctor Who podcasts, but since the series started, I’ve been feeling every emotion so deeply that it put me in a very odd space. Absorbing any criticism of the series, however constructive, valid or necessary, left me feeling defensive, sad or unduly anxious that my readings were wrong. Luckily, I managed to keep most of the negative thoughts and energy private; I didn’t inflict any Twitter rants on anyone or anything, but it’s been rough. I even questioned whether I should step back from the community until after the series was over and I was able to separate my feelings from those of fandom at large again.
Thankfully, I think last night’s episode snapped me out of that. The big reveal made me confront that this series isn’t just mine. It has the potential to bring meaning to and belong to so many fans that have been ignored and marginalised for 57 years. So, whilst yes, I can feel all my feels, I also have a responsibility to step out of them and listen to the voices of those that will be most affected by how well or badly this plays out.
Of course, Series 12 is walking a very fine line and there is still plenty of time for all of this to go horribly wrong, in terms of lore, canon and representation. However, I am somewhat reassured by the fact that Chibnall has recruited creatives that are actually qualified to do this storyline justice. There’s no guarantee that it will work out well, but right now there is so much hope and excitement for what is to come, and that in itself is absolutely worth holding on to. Whatever happens now, I, we, will always have these 5 episodes and right now, in this moment, I could not be happier or more grateful.
I’m ending on a plea- if you’ve switched off from Doctor Who for whatever reason in the past few years, maybe, if you can, give this series a go; if you are a regular fan and you have yet to catch up then PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD GO AND WATCH IT RIGHT NOW!!!; and finally if you’re not a Doctor Who fan, firstly well done for getting to the end of this emotions waterfall, but secondly please find something that makes you feel as deeply and as happy as I do about Doctor Who. It may make you sound like a weirdo and be a lot of hard work, but for me it is so so worth it! My Doctor Who is officially BACK and there is genuinely nothing like it.