I have a few confessions.
I think representation really, really matters.
I think that Jodie Whittaker’s take on Beth Latimer in Broadchurch was just fine, but probably not a fair barometer of what her Doctor will be.
I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the patriarchy sob at the mere idea that the Doctor, who canonically can be female and has shown some interest into regenerating into a womanly form, is a woman. The fact that ONE character might spend a couple years and one of 14 personhoods as a woman is enough to cause a year of mourning. Ah, fragility.
Eleven was “my Doctor” and I never really connected with 12. That is not because of anything but what seemed to be a meandering overall arc that never found its way. I wept when Matt regenerated, but I have Netflix, so I didn’t wish him back.
So, this afternoon I sat down with a very snuggly dog and some cheese to watch the debut of 13. I really like regeneration episodes. They mimic the audience’s adjustment. The Doctor is never quite sure who she shall be as the audience feels the same. There are vestiges of the past and new weirdnesses and far more questions than answers. I await the first time the Doctor self-identifies. (Honestly, this moment for Matt’s is one of the reasons I loved him. That and floppy dark hair and dorky wit.) What I don’t do in a regeneration is hold the past form against the new, wish the past actor were still there, or - honestly - reach any verdicts about the new path. I feel that, as a fan of the series, watching the Doctor’s first steps (again) is not enough for that kind of judgment.
I will say this, however: I enjoyed it. I smirked at some lines with the traditional Doctor quirkiness. I invested in the characters. I appreciated that the Doctor maintained a sense of justice that did not let the human’s off easily. I liked the references to change that resonated more fully due to the controversy of ridiculous proportions.
Earlier this week, I read where someone said that this needed to be the best Doctor Who episode ever to silence the critics. I do not agree. That is an impossible bar. For those who watched today committed to hating whatever they saw, it could have been “Don’t Blink” and they would have hated it. Regenerations will never be the best episodes because there is too much work to do and they are different because of that. I think that this episode did everything it needed to do, naysayers be damned. Most of us are never sure until halfway through a new Doctor’s first season.
There may well be some who walk away because a Doctor - an alien who travels through time and space in a period police call box - cannot realistically be a woman. To those “fans” I say go with grace and please just don’t mention that decision to the women in your life who deserve to not be devalued because of their sex.
The rest of us will be right here. Enjoying the Doctor and the upcoming adventures...no matter what form they all take.