Doctor Who: Demons of the Punjab – Review

The Demons of the Punjab episode continues the thematic focus of character development overcomplicated storylines.

I am thrilled that this episode brought the focus back to Yaz. While the stories about Ryan and Graham have been wonderful, I have been worried that Yaz would be lost among the hustle and bustle of the episodes, but now we can really find out more about Yaz!

As always, spoilers ahead Sweeties!

While celebrating her Nani Umbreen’s birthday, Yaz is given a watch from her Nani Umbreen, something that is very special to her. When she asks about it her Nani Umbreen refuses to talk about it. So in true companion fashion, she goes to the Doctor and asks for her to be taken back in time to when this watch is from.

The Doctor is hesitant at first, and while the idea of traveling back to the time of the watch is fascinating to her she stresses to Yaz that they can not change or interfere with anything that happens wherever they end up.

Placing the watch on a pedestal the TARDIS brings Team TARDIS back in time – when they exit the TARDIS the Doctor intercepts a message from a species we have never seen before. As they make their way to the road they meet Prem with his flower cart and a holy man, who is on his way to bless the wedding of Yaz’s Nani Umbreen. When they arrive, Yaz finds her Nani Umbreen and learns that Prem is the man that her Nani Umbreen is going to marry.

It’s at this point that Yaz gets slightly aggetated because Prem is not her grandfather. They are muslim, and this man Prem is hindu. However, before Yaz can say anything Prem’s brother comes out and asks for help setting things up by the creek.

As the Doctor, Ryan and Graham go into the house to hear what is on the radio, Yaz helps Prem’s brother, put up what she thinks are decorations for the wedding, but finds out that it is actually detailing where the border will be. To the shock of Team TARDIS, they have landed in India on August 17th, 1974 – the day the British Empire drew the lines that would split India into India and Pakistan.

As Prem and his brother argue about where Yaz’s Nani Umbreen and her Mother belong, our “baddies” for the episode appear again, this time in front of everyone on not just in the Doctor’s head. These aliens or creates are clothed in armor with spikes on their shoulders, the best way that I can really describe them is they look almost like Shredder from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The Doctor and her friends immediately follow the creatures into the woods where they are find the holy man they had meet on the road, dead. As the Doctor tries to find out who they are and why they killed the holy man, Prem appears behind them and fires a rifle at them.

The Doctor looks at him befuddled because he ran after something that he has never seen before with out fear. Prem explains that this is not the first time he has seen these creatures and they he saw them when he was fighting in the war when his older brother was killed. The Doctor brings Ryan and Prem with her as she goes deeper into the woods to find the creates, that Prem calls Demons, while Yaz and Graham go back to get help so that the holy man can be properly buried.

The Doctor, Ryan and Prem find the ship where the Demons are and we find out that it is a Hive for a species called the Vijarians. These creatures are an ancient species of deadly assassins. At the center of the ship is the holy man’s face projecting above a container filled with purple substance a substance that they found on the holy man’s body.

The Doctor takes the container, disturbing the hive and the Vijarian’s appear and while trying to recapture their capsule, the Doctor finds transporters in the woods and collects them all to create a protective barrier around the farm so that the gang can figure out what they are going to do.

When the Doctor tries to analyze the sample, it short circuits her sonic, and she must do things analog – which leads to the greatest comedic interaction and list of supplies needed:

The Doctor: I need oil, water, tree bark, a saucepan, nine containers, an old newspaper,
a touch of ox spit, a chicken poo, and a biscuit.
Ryan Sinclair: Bagsy, not chicken poo!
Graham O’Brien: And why a biscuit?
The Doctor: I love biscuits!

After some time passes, the Doctor learns that the Vijarians are no longer assassins, because their home and society perished and no one witnessed them, so now, these final two Vijarians now travel through time and space to witness and honor those who have died or been killed. The Doctor also learns that the next person they are to witness who is killed is Prem, and that they must not interfere with that. To which Yaz’s response is, “No wonder she never wanted to talk about it”.

The gang continues with Umbreen and Prem’s wedding, much to Prem’s younger brothers dismay. On the morning of the wedding, Umbreen leads them to where Yaz and Manish (Prem’s younger brother) set up where the India/Pakistan border is to be. This is where Yaz gets to witness her Nani become the first married woman in Pakistan, just like she has always told her children.

Prem’s brother Manish is not happy that the wedding has taken place and reveals his true self at the reception being very vocal that Umbreen and her mother belong in Pakistan with the other muslims. The Doctor chases after him as he leaves and confronts him about killing the holy man with Prem’s rifle. He leaves the Doctor, and as the Doctor is talking to him, Prem gives Umbreen his watch, as a gift, a tradition that is done in muslim weddings, the watch that Prem gives Umbreen is the watch that Yaz recieves from her Nani at the beginning of the episode.

Manish returns with an armed gang to force Umbreen and her mother to leave their land. Prem goes out to talk to him and give Umbreen and her mother a chance to get away. One of the men in the gang served with Prem in the war, and while we do not see it Prem is shot and killed by this man.

The Vijarian’s reappear before the Doctor and her friends to say that Prem will be witnessed and honored. Team TARDIS returns home, and Yaz gets to talk with her Nani and her Nani asks her if she really wants to know about the watch, Yaz says no, that she doesn’t need to.

I did enjoy this episode, I liked how they gave Yaz a journey thorugh the unknown and always changing part of life that is family. I was not that thrilled that even though this was supposed to be an episode surrounding Yaz, she still did not play that big a part in things, and I was also not a fan of how she was acting so immature and childish in the beginning when things in her Nani’s life are different than what she has known.

All in all it was a good episode, and I am glad that they are continuing with character centric storylines but I wish Yaz as a character could grow and be apart of the team a bit more.

Thank you so much for checking out my review of “Demons of the Punjab”, check back next time for my review of the next episode “Kerblam!”