Doctor Who season 11, episode 3 recap: Rosa


Doctor Who fans were collectively wiping away their tears after this week’s historically jarring episode starring Rosa Parks.

Doctor Who is three episodes into this iconic new season, and it’s safe to say they are doing something right. Not only have we immediately fallen in love with Jodie Whittaker as the new female Doctor, but the first three episodes have been absolutely wonderful.

This week took it up another level as the Doctor and her group of companions find themselves in 1950’s Montgomery, Alabama. A time of racial segregation in the United States and a frightening reminder that less than 70 years ago, races were asked to sit in designated areas or eat in designated restaurants.

This episode’s focus was on Rosa Parks, a Civil Rights activist that refused to give up her seat on the bus, a decision that forever changed the concept of segregation forever. What makes “Rosa” such a special episode is that the first female Doctor and her companions are tasked with the responsibility of making sure that history is preserved, and that Rosa takes the seat she refuses to get up from.

There were a few things that had to happen to ensure that history played out in the way it was always meant to, Rosa getting on a packed bus on Dec. 1st in a bus driven by James Blake. Unfortunately, an enemy of the Doctor by the name of Krasko shows up to try and muck up history.

Credit: BBC America

The reason the group ends up in Montgomery, Alabam is because the Doctor is trying to get them all home, but the TARDIS has other plans. It’s attracted to this specific time period because it contains the same type of energy as the TARDIS. When they leave the TARDIS and venture out into Montgomery, they quickly learn how things were during that time.

When a white lady drops her handkerchief on the floor, Graham tries to give it back to her but her husband explodes with anger because a black man dares to speak to them. During this scuffle, Rosa Parks first makes her appearance as she tries to break up the fight.

Doctor Who dives into the problem at hand immediately, with the group of companions eager to help out in any way possible. Tracking the energy, the Doctor ends up coming face-to-face with Krasko and starts to learn about his intentions and all his gadgets that have the ability to blast people into another time period.

It becomes clear that Krasko intends on making sure history is altered and Rosa never gets on that bus, because tiny things make a big impact, and Rosa taking a stand on the bus that day changed the world forever.

The group follows Rosa around for the day to learn about her daily routine, including finding out where she worked, getting her address from a phone book (imagine that!), and figuring out what bus she gets on to get home. There’s a moment when Yaz boards the bus on the line they think Rosa Parks takes and is confused as to where someone of Pakistani heritage would sit.

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While Ryan tries to follow Rosa home, she confronts him asking his intentions on following her. She figured he wasn’t really someone dangerous, and invited him into her home where he meets her husband…and Martin Luther King, Jr.!

Meanwhile, the Doctor learns that Krasko has a device implanted in him from his days at Stormcage (the prison) so he isn’t actually able to hurt or kill anyone, even if he wanted.

But that doesn’t mean he can’t use other means to make sure Rosa doesn’t get on the bus and take that seat and do what she does.

Taking care of any of Krasko’s attempts to prevent history from taking place, the group found themselves having to sit through the entire ordeal of Rosa being asked to move seats.

It was a very emotionally painful moment for all the characters who didn’t think they’d have to witness it happening, but as the Doctor points out, they were always meant to be a part of this piece of history.

That’s why they are even there, and as much as they’d love to protect Rosa, they knew they had to let it happen as it was meant to because it would result in the Civil Rights movement progressing in a positive direction. And just as expected, when asked to get up from her seat, Rosa Parks refused and was arrested, but not before she flashes a smile at Ryan. Bravo, Doctor Who, Bravo.

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Back in the TARDIS, the Doctor goes through all the historical events that follow Rosa Park’s arrest including the boycotts, the eventual end of buses being segregated a year later, and a quick look at Rosa Parks receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1999 by President Clinton.

After the TARDIS is floating in space again and the Doctor opens the doors, she points out an asteroid numbered 284996, and yes, this asteroid was indeed named after the amazing Rosa Parks.

Thank you for giving us such a memorable and inspiring episode, Doctor Who. It was truly an amazing one–and we won’t forget it.

Doctor Who airs every Sunday on BBC America at 8 PM EST!