This season of Doctor Who has been met with some eyeroll-worthy pushback thanks to its so-called "social justice warrior" status. We who've been yelled at for such horrors welcome you to the fold, Doctor Who. Come on in — there's organic fair trade kombucha inside (lol, here, have some booze).
Because in 2018, making points like "racism is bad" is deemed divisive. Casting a woman is considered a political act. Having a diverse cast and telling stories from diverse writers is met with demands for the show to go back to the non-political a-historical series it's literally never been. This is dumb. Here, play with some bubble wrap.
Perhaps that's why this episode, while lacking the emotional and beautiful resonance of "Rosa" or "Demons of the Punjab," still takes current issues and puts our heroes in some manner of simulacrum, and seems hellbent on reminding us that this Doctor is the same Doctor we've always known and loved. From mentions of Agatha Christie to the reappearance of Venusian aikido to one particularly welcome cameo from an old friend......"Kerblam!" is dead-set on letting us know Doctor Who is still business as usual, just like it's always been. The callbacks are hammered so hard, I wouldn't be surprised if there's a deleted scene in which we learn she has jelly babies in her coat pocket. It's either a cloying attempt to reassure naysayers or a delightful troll just to piss them off. Actually, I like that second one. Let's go with that.
This episode introduces us to Kerblam
azon, the galaxy's largest purveyor of shipped wares, all delivered via decidedly terrifying robots that look like the Maytag repairman. These robots make up 90% of Kerblam's workforce, thanks to a labor law demanding that 10% of a company be staffed with actual people, leaving that 90% to keep their "organic" colleagues on task and productive.
Its basis in the reality of certain major corporations' impact on society and treatment of their own "organic" workforce aside, in this particular circumstance, I kind of get it. In the Doctor Who universe, most people only exist to deliver a sweet, sad speech to our heroes about their own tragic backstory before almost immediately dying. Frankly, it would be difficult for any company to maintain operations with that kind of turnover.
The seemingly sweet Charlie disagrees, however, and his activism in favor of a people-based workforce turns deadly in frankly the most failproof way imaginable: by counting upon and weaponizing our universal need to pop bubblewrap. I'd be dead in seconds, truly.
"Kerblam!" may not be enough to quell the cries of the season's annoyingly vocal dissenters (though it should — it literally posits that this mega-corporation has a conscience) but it's a fun return to monster-of-the-week form that makes episodes like "Demons of the Punjab" all the more spectacular. Plus, we will always stan a fez.