DOCTOR WHO: Story 282 “Demons of the Punjab” – Family, History, & Aliens

FIRST IMPRESSION

I thought this was a good episode. I don't want to hurt Chris Chibnall's feelings — “Demons of the Punjab” was written by Vinay Patel — but this is probably my favourite episode of the season so far. The message was good without being preachy. It was full of emotional moments without being melodramatic. Well done, folks.
“Demons of the Punjab”
- Advertisement -

“Demons of the Punjab” aired on November 11th, and helped right the DOCTOR WHO ship after its dip in ratings following “The Tsuranga Conundrum.” Rebounding from that episode’s Rotten Tomatoes rating of 6/10, “Demons of the Punjab” caused DOCTOR WHO’s rating to gain nearly two points on the same scale.

Although I tend to like the Doctor’s futuristic space adventures more, “Demons of the Punjab” managed a relatively intriguing period story about a pivotal moment in India’s history largely unfamiliar to western audiences, the partition of India.

DOCTOR WHO: “Demons of the Punjab” – “Please? I promise I won’t change history!”

Even though reality nearly tore itself apart when the 10th Doctor reunited Rose Tyler with her dead father, the 13th Doctor throws caution to the wind and takes Yaz back in time to meet a younger version of Yaz’s grandmother Umbreen. The TARDIS uses a broken watch that Umbreen gave Yaz to home in on a specific moment in time, and the unlikely team wind up in the Punjab on the 14th of August in 1947. The Doctor notes that they’ve arrived the day before the partition of India — similar to “Rosa,” in which the team arrive the day before Rosa Parks’s famous protest.

DOCTOR WHO: “Demons of the Punjab” – Not My Grandad

Things are going well enough for the team until Yaz finds out that her grandmother is planning on marrying someone other than her grandfather. A Hindu man named Prem is Umbreen’s intended, and because Umbreen and her family are Muslim, Yaz isn’t the only one taking issue with the interfaith marriage. Members of the young couple’s families, especially Prem’s brother Manish, and some other members of Umbreen’s and Prem’s respective communities disagree with the marriage.

- Advertisement -

In 1947, tensions are running particularly high between Muslim and Hindu communities in the Punjab because of the impending partition, which draws provincial boundaries in British India and creates the national boundaries of the Dominions of India and Pakistan. That these boundaries are drawn by the British, mainly to separate Muslim and Hindu communities from each other, makes Prem and Umbreen’s wedding all the less welcome to the people around them.

Despite all this, in her usual cavalier way, the Doctor urges the young couple to get married as soon as possible since performing a Hindu–Muslim wedding will be much harder after the partition. This is, no doubt, true since the partition displaced around 14 million people, caused the deaths of as many as two million, and saw the two newly established countries erupt in violence.

DOCTOR WHO: “Demons of the Punjab” – A Very Late Officiant

On her way to the wedding, the Doctor has a vision of aliens who she identifies as Thijarian, and Umbreen and Prem’s wedding seems even less likely when they find their wedding officiant, Bhakti, dead in the forest. The Doctor’s vision makes her think that the Thijarian are responsible for Bhakti’s death, but further investigation reveals that these Thijarian are harmless, seeking only to memorialize those who die alone.

Prem corroborates the aliens’ story by revealing that he saw them on the battlefield when his brother died in service during the Second World War.

The Thijarians reveal that Prem will be killed during the partition, and the Doctor asks the aliens if she can see a recording of Bhakti’s death. The recording shows Manish, Prem’s disturbed younger brother, killing Bhakti.

DOCTOR WHO: “Demons of the Punjab” – Irrational Nationalists

The Doctor officiates Umbreen and Prem’s wedding in Bhakti’s place. After the ceremony, Manish exclaims that none of it matters, insisting that the partition will change everything. When the Doctor accuses Manish of Bhakti’s murder, Manish informs the wedding party that he has told a number of Hindu nationalists about the wedding. Although the rest of the party make it out, the armed nationalists shoot and kill Prem.

DOCTOR WHO: “Demons of the Punjab” – Final Thoughts

My knowledge of the partitioning of India and Pakistan is sketchy at best, so I can’t really say how on point this episode is historically. I thought, though, that this episode was better than the thematically comparable “Rosa.”

The writing felt more genuine, full of nice touches, like Yaz’s reaction to Prem and Umbreen’s wedding, the species of reformed assassin aliens who commemorate those who died alone, the Doctor’s insistence that the unlikely couple marry, and Umbreen discussing Yaz’s henna at the end of the episode.

I wondered why Umbreen never mentioned that Yaz looks exactly like a woman she knew when she was much younger. Even if it were just one line, mentioning this particular paradox would have been a nice touch.

This season has focused a lot on the Doctor’s companions’ familial relationships in a way that previous seasons haven’t. Although Yaz’s grandmother was, basically, just a vehicle by which to explore a particular historical setting, this layman thought the creative team handled their chosen subject well. Historical accuracy aside, the story was touching and disturbing in equal measure, which made for a good episode.

Save 50% on graphic novels, statues & more!

TRENDING THIS WEEK

Review: Depression’s Effects On Relationships Explored In MIDDLEWEST #11

MIDDLEWEST's angsty protagonist Abel is on a mission to find a way to deal with the uncontrollable power inside of him. Led into The...

Review: NAPOLEON DYNAMITE #1 is Flippin’ Sweet

For a generation not raised on Rocky Horror Picture Show, Napoleon Dynamite might be the absolute definition of a cult film. So when IDW...

Review: BLACK HAMMER: AGE OF DOOM #12-The End of an Epic

With Anti-God threatening existence once again, Abraham Slam, Golden Gail, and company are forced to make a difficult choice in Black Hammer: Age of...

Review: YOU ARE OBSOLETE #1 – A Leisurely Stroll Through Secluded Hell

The children are smart, clever, and are creepy as @#$% in You Are Obsolete #1, out this week from Aftershock. You Are Obsolete #1 is...

Review: The Cavalry Arrives In ABSOLUTE CARNAGE #3

Absolute Carnage #3 continues the series’ exceptional start and the whole team continues to impress

Cosmic Ghost Rider Gets Gamma Bombed In Our AVENGERS #24 Exclusive Preview

Avengers #24 hits your local comic shop next week on September 25, but thanks to Marvel Comics, Monkeys Fighting Robots has an exclusive four-page...

HOUSE OF X #5 – Get Ready For Your Mind To Be Blown

This week Marvel's mutant mania continues with HOUSE OF X #5. Jonathan Hickman's brain keeps spilling brilliance right into our hearts and minds, this chapter is particularly creative.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #9 – The Universal Chuch Of Action

This week Marvel unleashes GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #9 upon their faithful cosmic followers. Donny Cates delivers another heavy metal soaked script that artist Cory Smith packages in a fast-paced and action-packed issue.
Avatar
Michael Bedford
Under intense scrutiny by the Temporal Authorities, I was coerced into actualizing my capsule in this causality loop. Through no fault of my own, I am marooned on this dangerous yet lovely level-four civilization. Stranded here, I have spent most of my time learning what I can of the social norms and oddities of the Terran species, including how to properly use the term "Hipster" and how to perform a "perfect pour." Under the assumed name of "Michael Bedford," I have completed BA's with specialized honours in both theatre studies and philosophy, and am currently saving up for enough galactic credits to buy a new--or suitably used--temporal contextualizer ... for a friend.

SPONSORS

If you want your BUSINESS to be part of something bigger than itself, you might be a good fit to partner with Monkeys Fighting Robots.

DOCTOR WHO: Story 282 “Demons of the Punjab” - Family, History, & Aliens 3

CONTACT US

DOCTOR WHO: Story 282 “Demons of the Punjab” - Family, History, & Aliens 4

Are you a creator looking for a review of your book?
Use the form below to end us a message.

Are you a fan of the website and have a comment, question, or concern? Drop us a line, and we will gladly answer all your questions.

JOIN THE TEAM

Monkeys Fighting Robots is looking for passionate writers to drive the site’s coverage of the comic book industry. Authors will be responsible for a particular niche, providing reviews, opinion and news coverage, while building a reader community using his or her multimedia storytelling skills. The best candidates have solid writing skills, WordPress knowledge, and are engaged on social media. Do you love comic books and have a strong opinion, then we would like to speak with you.

DOCTOR WHO: Story 282 “Demons of the Punjab” - Family, History, & Aliens 5

MEET THE TEAM

COMIC REVIEW DIGEST, sign up today! At Monkeys Fighting Robots, we strive to talk about ALL aspects of a comic book, instead of just giving you a recap of the story.
  • Did you notice how epic the colors were?
  • That was a wicked panel layout by the artist!
  • What was the letterer thinking?
  • How did this comic book make you feel?
  • Most importantly, should you buy it?

Every Wednesday you will receive an email with our latest reviews and analyses, as well as our original comic strips and exclusive editorial content.
Thanks for signing up!