Doctor Who’s ‘Thin Ice’ shows us the Doctor is ‘woke’ to the issues

Tonight’s Doctor Who episode ‘Thin Ice’ explored a side of the Doctor we never really explored before – race relations and privilege. The Doctor has had companions of color before, but their race was never questioned. Also, the Doctor has never been to a timeline where slavery was even questioned in the past. The furthest time in the past that the Doctor went with Martha was in 1913 (Human Nature). So, honestly, it was never brought up, until tonight.

The Doctor and Bill traveled to the 1814 during the Great Frost Fairs when the River Thames was frozen over. Ever the inquisitive companion, Bill asked the Doctor about the past and because of her skin tone, if there would be a problem. The Doctor doesn’t think much about these things because he had the privilege to regenerate into a white man (maybe this will be a hint for the next regeneration) and, therefore, fitting into society. It is only until Bill was mistreated by privileged aristocrat Lord Sutcliffe did the Doctor step in and punched the guy. After learning about Sutcliffe’s plans to kill off the innocent people on the River Thames for his benefit, the Doctor gave a moving speech about privilege and the value of life.

Written by Sarah Dollard, the same writer who gave us the heartbreaking episode ‘Face the Raven’, ‘Thin Ice’ explored the dark and lightness of Doctor Who. The darkness was from how quickly the Doctor is able to move on from a death. Although the fans know the troubling history of the Doctor, Bill has no idea and is obviously troubled by the Doctor’s lack of sympathy. She has never seen anyone die in front of her before, so this will have an effect on her. The Doctor is right though. There is no time to grieve when there is danger present. Instead, they must act to make sure no one else dies. I am really enjoying the dynamic between the Doctor and Bill. I feel like she brings a bit of innocence back into the series and possibly some hope in his dark nature.

I also did enjoy the comment from Bill about stepping on a butterfly and changing the course of history. Poor Pete.

Overall, this episode of Doctor Who was delightfully refreshing in a sense that the Doctor is more modern and in with the times, especially regarding privilege and the discussion on race. This topic has never been touched on and it’s great to see after 2,000 years of being alive and traveling through time and space that the Doctor recognizes this problem. Thank goodness.

Doctor Who airs on Saturdays at 9 pm on BBC America.

About author

Laura Sirikul
Laura Sirikul 1730 posts

Trekkie. Jedi. Whovian. Sherlockian. Hobbit. Sanrio. Comics. I am Spartacus. Warrior Princess. Superhero. Nerd. Follow me @lsirikul