Doctor Who Debuted New Companion Bill in the Season 10 Premiere. What Did You Think?
This past weekend, BBC and BBC America aired the Season 10 premiere of Doctor Who featuring new companion Bill. How did you enjoy Pearl Mackie and Peter Capaldi together?
This isn’t a full-on review, more of an open thread for fans to chat, but I did want to say I enjoyed the new episode. I found Bill interesting to watch and I liked that the Doctor was staying in one place, on Earth, for a while incognito (sort of). I’m still not sold on Nardole’s role. We find out Bill is living with her foster mom (played by Jennifer Hennessy who previously starred in Doctor Who’s “Gridlock”) and that the Doctor has visited her birth mother some time in the past.
Once we learned Bill was gay, many of us were concerned with how that might be explored considering showrunner/writer Steven Moffat isn’t the best at handling delicate topics. One particular aspect of the decision was brought to the forefront at the end of the episode when I realized we’re likely going to be experiencing a lot of the “Bury Your Gays” trope this season. Not that companions are finding love left and right on the show typically, but now, when Bill does, there’s a higher chance of a queer character dying. While it’s great to see more LGBTQ+ characters, I’m not sure the exchange is one I’m personally comfortable with under Moffat.
Speaking of which, while it was nice the show revealed Bill to be gay straight away, the way in which Moffat wrote it included fat shaming. I saw fans begin to raise concerns as the episode aired in the U.K. and was wondering exactly how it went down. Later on that night I watched the Doctor ask Bill why she’d been attending his lectures considering she’s not enrolled in the school. She dives into a story:
My first day here in the canteen, I was on chips. There was this girl, student, beautiful, like a model, only with talking and thinking. She looked at you and you perved. Every time. Automatic, like physics. Eye contact, perversion. So I gave her extra chips. Every time. Extra chips. Like a reward for all the perversion. Every day, got myself on chips, rewarded her. Then finally, finally she looked at me, like she noticed, actually noticed all the extra chips. Do you know what I realized? She was fat. I’d fatted her. But that’s life, isn’t it? Beauty or chips. I like chips. So does she so that’s ok.
To which the Doctor responds, “And how does that in any way does that explain why you keep coming to my lectures?” And she says, “Yeah, it doesn’t really, does it? I was hoping something would develop.”
We’ve seen Moffat time and time again ruin a perfectly good episode by making a tasteless, unnecessary joke. This dialogue is shaming a lot of women actually, and as is clear in the following dialogue, it served no purpose whatsoever. Unless you count making Bill look unlikeable?
That ugliness aside, I enjoyed the episode. It had some good scares, introduced a companion with a lot of potential, and has a lot of fans excited for what’s to come. Here’s some behind-the-scenes from the episode.
And teasers for next week’s episode:
Class also premiered her in the U.S. the same night but I haven’t had a chance to watch yet. Feel free to discuss that first episode in the comments as well, just please note “Class spoilers” before your comment so folks can skip over if need be.