Disney Airs Most Controversial Doctor Who Episode

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

Disney doctor who boom

Recently, Disney+ aired the Doctor Who episode “Boom,” written by veteran franchise writer and former showrunner Steven Moffatt. It was a pleasant surprise to have Moffatt bring us another Doctor Who tale, but what was perhaps more surprising is that Disney brought us such a controversial episode. The streamer has historically tried to present itself as politically neutral and (relatively) family-friendly, but this episode is a giant critique of religion from beginning to end.


Disney doctor who boom

If you don’t have Disney+ or just haven’t watched the latest Doctor Who episode, you might be wondering how “Boom” approaches this particular controversy. For starters, the only other characters aside from the Doctor and Ruby are Anglican Marines who we have previously been seen as members of The Church (a major galactic organization with an obviously militaristic bent).

These soldiers are generally nicer than most other members of The Church that we have encountered before, but they are still devoutly faithful, something that annoys and even angers the Doctor.


Disney doctor who boom

While Disney has gotten a little less precious about controversial content on their streaming platform, it was still wild to see how the Doctor Who ep “Boom” went right for the throat when it came to religion. At one point, the Doctor very pointedly criticizes the faith of the Marines, noting that “faith” is “the magic word that keeps you never having to think for yourself.”

The episode does end with the Doctor reluctantly noting he personally has to have a bit of faith even if he doesn’t like it, but that is likely a cold comfort to religious audiences angered by the earlier comment.

Thoughts And Prayers

Another way that Disney’s latest Doctor Who episode effectively criticizes religion is that “Boom” very explicitly mocks the notion of having “thoughts and prayers” for others. This phrase is apparently important to the Anglican Marines, but we mostly hear it from a lethal ambulance robot that utters the phrase right before someone is about to die.

The message from writer Steven Moffatt seems clear: that this is an empty phrase exploited by others and that people should (like the Doctor usually does) take direct action to help others rather than just crossing their fingers and sending those who need help our thoughts and prayers.

Living In A Blip

The final way this Disney ep of Doctor Who critiques religion is from a quick line that is easy to miss: when Companion Ruby Sunday learns about Anglican Marines in “Boom,” she asks what they are and then asks “since when was the Church an army?”

Ncuti Gatwa’s Doctor replies “since most of your history” and accuses her of “living in a blip.” This could be a reference to several different things but is most like an allusion to the Crusades, the dark historical event that many critics of religion bring up when believers claim that Christianity is a wholly peaceful religion built solely on meekness and humility.

Cue The Angry Parents

Before the believers of the world come for us, we’re not endorsing these fierce critiques, and before the atheists take out their own pitchforks, we’re not saying Moffatt shouldn’t have offered them.

It’s simply notable that Disney+, a streaming platform that once had angry parents complaining about content their children weren’t ready to see, has now aired a Doctor Who episode like “Boom” explicitly criticizing faith and organized religion. Forget the Daleks and the Cybermen–let’s hope the Doctor is ready for the fiercest foe of all: angry parent groups.