“The Witchfinders” is the latest Doctor Who episode to star Jodie Whittaker alongside Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole, and Mandip Gill. Joy Wilkinson wrote this tale of the Doctor and her crew in 17th century England where they come across a witch trial. It doesn’t take long for the Doctor to realize there is indeed an unearthly menace afoot, however it’s something considerably different from what the frightened villagers had in mind.
Alan Cumming guest stars as King James who is there to supervise the hunting of these accused witches. Cumming is a pretty accomplished and talented actor, and he is fairly amusing in this episode.
I thought this episode worked fairly well. Whittaker still seems to rely on characteristics of previous Doctors., which could make sense since the Doctors are all one person is various forms. It was amusing to find the Doctor’s change of gender sort of hamper her in her investigations since the king was reluctant to take her seriously. Graham ends up getting a surprise promotion to Witchfinder General after the Doctor attempts to adopt that guise with the aid of the psychic paper.
Dear Yasmin seemed a little less superfluous this time around. I could be finally getting used to the new TARDIS crew somewhat. That’s not to say that I necessarily am on board thinking some of the fundamentals changes to the series is some stroke of genius from head writer Chris Chibnall. It just so happened this episode annoyed me a little less than many of the others in this current series.
Of course, this episode did the obligatory reminder of how unfairly women were regarded around 400 years ago yet had Siobhan Finneran playing the county landlord or whatever she was supposed to be.
Of course, there was the matter of people of misusing Scripture to justify these witch trials. It was mentioned, but I didn’t catch anything too heretical when the Doctor mentioned the sequel to the Old Testament which would make drowning women to test their capacity for witchcraft as rather unnecessary.
I was also pleased that an alien menace with real malevolence appeared. It was also a new alien adversary with whom the Doctor was unfamiliar.
It was one of the better episodes of this series. It’s not one of the great ones of the series as a while, but his is still shaping up to be fairly mediocre series in spite of some of the efforts to make some radical changes.