When I first heard that Doctor Who would be visiting Rosa Parks in Montgomery, Alabama, during 1955, I was a bit nervous. The show has a tendency to go wild with the sci-fi elements when meeting historical figures (such as HG Wells meeting lizards known as Morlox or Shakespeare fighting alien witches). At times, this can be fun; although, it could easily disrespect her contribution to the Civil Rights Movement.
“The Ghost Monument” gave us our first look at Doctor Who’s new opening credits and theme song (which were both absent from last week’s episode). Keeping with the throwback to the classic Who aesthetic that Chris Chibnall has been cultivating, both feel very reminiscent of their counterparts in the early years of the show. There was a massive regime change behind the scenes this season, and I was most worried about previous composer Murray Gold’s departure from the show; however, his replacement Segun Akinola is off to a fantastic start. Gold’s music brought a full orchestral sound to the show, but Akinola’s theme shifts to the more alien and ethereal qualities present in the beginning of the show’s long run.
Before I begin my review, I feel the need to lay out some ground rules as the use of pronouns in Doctor Who have become much more complex. For the sake of simplicity, I plan on using the current Doctor’s gender when referring to the character in general, but when discussing a specific iteration of the Doctor, I will use that regeneration’s gender.
Welcome, True Believers, to the penultimate episode of season two. The phrase “Vanishing Point” means two things. The first is the art term (shades of “Les Écorchés,” two episodes ago), in which in a perspective drawing (an invention during the Renaissance) it is the point at which receding parallel lines appear to converge. In other words, it is an art concept that allows three dimensions to be viewed in two. The second is the more general conceptual definition: the point at which something that has been growing smaller disappears altogether. Both definitions apply to this week’s episode.
Not gonna lie, compadres – this might be the best Westworld episode of all time. One day after airing, and it has a 9.4 on IMDb. Avengers: Infinity War (the highest rated film in the franchise) has an 8.8. The Shape of Water, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture last year, has a 7.4. The Handmaid’s Tale, which won the Emmy for Best Prime-time Drama series, averages 8.6. Not that scores mean anything much, I just bring this up to show how much this episode is already becoming a fan and industry favorite. And count me in on that. My reaction when the end credits ran was a combination of shock and joy and for the first time in my life (or so I think), I stood up off the couch and just stood there looking at the television, knowing I wanted to do something and not knowing what. Yeah – I want to marry this episode and have a million of its babies. It’s that good. But I don’t want to oversell it.
Howdy, pardners. Before we git to this week’s hootenanny, some corrections and apologies must be shared. Last week, the person I called James Delos is actually Karl Strand, which kills me a little, because that name is so rich in meaning. “Strand” is German for “beach,” as in the place where they found all the dead hosts, and “strand” is English for either “land bordering water,” “to leave behind or abandon,” or “a fiber or filament twisted together to form a unit,” OR “one of the elements interwoven in a complex whole.” You could not have done more if you named this character “Karl Metaphor.” He is, after all, the one who said, “How did all these disparate threads come to create this nightmare?” Karl Strand wants to know the manner in which the strands came together!?! Damn, people.