Doctor Who - Episode 12.01 - Spyfall Part 1 - Review

The sophomore season of a Doctor's run can be tricky. But in the case of Jodie Whittaker's 13th Doctor, and Chris Chibnall as showrunner, this is not the case yet. The premiere went off with a bang, and showed that Doctor Who has returned to form.

The cold opens that disappeared last year came back, and it was a welcome return. The show hadn't been on for 365 days. A cold open is the perfect way to ease back into things.

Jodie Whittaker, Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill, and Tosin Cole are much more comfortable in their roles than they used to be. They navigated the script with ease, and the character decisions seemed natural. Each character is coming into their own, and are establishing their identities in this sprawling universe.

The episode also got to take its time, as it was written as a two parter. Nothing felt rushed, every scene felt paced correctly. The big guest stars helped too. Stephen Fry's introduction into Doctor Who was short lived, but it was fun to see him on screen and say the words "Torchwood" and "UNIT".

The other big one was Lenny Henry, who American audiences would know best as the Shrunken Head in Alfonso Cuaron's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. He got to play this story's villain, and he does a good job as a media conglomerate.

The alien threat was spooky, and there were some legit horror elements to some of the scenes where people were attacked. The mystery returned, and the aliens felt like Chibnall wanted them there. Last year, there were a few stories where alien elements were there because they had to be. Chibnall was more interested in drama than sci-fi. This year, he figured out a better blend, and was able to have both.

The episode had fun with the James Bond aesthetic too. They made fun of all the spy stuff, and even had Segun Akinola compose some music that is very reminiscent of the Bond theme.

All of that was tied together in a neat bow. There was danger, love, laughs, humor, action, heart, and spectacle. There isn't much more you could ask for from an episode of television. After a bit of a different feel last year, getting back to the core of the show was a special treat.

The secret weapon of the episode though, was Iron Fist star Sacha Dhawan. He played a mysterious friend that the Doctor calls on for help. His addition was something of a surprise. The trailers even had him digitally removed from scenes that he was in. It was a bit strange as to why, until the climactic reveal at the end. The reveal was genuinely one of the most shocking things to be done on the show. It was incredibly well done, and acted by all parties perfectly.

The reveal also provided a lot more questions that will be sure to linger throughout the season. But the stakes are higher than they've ever been for the 13th Doctor, and it will be fun to see how her and her family will handle everything.

Spyfall gave a little something for everyone, and is going to be one of the strongest episodes of the season. Hopefully part 2 can stick the landing. The big question is if this is what they revealed in the premiere, then what does the finale have in store for us? The bar has been set high, hopefully the rest of the season can live up to it.

The world is a better place when Doctor Who is back, and (wo)man is it back with a vengeance!

You can read all of my Doctor Who reviews for this season right here.

Doctor Who airs Sundays exclusively on BBC One and BBC America.


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