In recent years, shows like
The latest egregious example of this is “Revolution of the Daleks” character Leo Rugazzi, played by Nathan Stewart-Jarrett. Leo is a scientist who helps Jack Robertson (Chris Noth) and Jo Patterson (Harriet Walter) in their attempts to make Britain “more secure” by creating security drones in the image of the Daleks.
A Black man enthusiastically participating in the creation of a police state creates an immediate disconnect for the viewer. In both the UK (where the drones are) and the US (where Robertson plans to go next), Black folks just like Leo face persecution and violent deaths at the hands of police. Why would the creation of machines which can be further weaponized against Black people excite a Black man? Why would he want to help harm people who look like him and are presumably a part of his community?
Leo’s participation in Robertson and Patterson’s schemes is not the largest issue. The most damaging factor is his subsequent possession by the Reconnaissance Dalek and what comes next. The Dalek takes away Leo’s bodily autonomy, removes his ability to consent to what others perceive as his own actions, and leaves him unable to even speak with his own voice.
Leo, a Black man, having a Dalek, a creature known for their obsession with purity and supremacy, take ownership of his body and autonomy is
All of these choices feel intentional, and the episode itself shows us that this is true. After the adventure is over and Robertson escapes unscathed to explain himself on TV, Graham asks Ryan, “Can you believe that?” and Ryan says, “Yes.” The pattern of white disbelief and Black resignation is laid bare on the screen. This suggests someone in the writing room was at least somewhat aware of the optics yet they made these choices anyway.
The creators behind this
Unfortunately, this episode is not an isolated event. Consider Praxeus and the character of Aramu, a Black man who was casually killed off and then never mentioned again throughout the episode. It makes you almost wonder if anyone noticed his death (or him) at all. Furthermore, this problem is not exclusive to the Chibnall era.
A person in a blue skin shot Bill, a beloved companion, out of fear simply for being a present human. Then, she becomes a Cyberman while others, including The Doctor, police her emotions because of fear about her potential reactions. Her conversion comes only two season after Danny Pink, a Black man who also dies and turns into a Cyberman. This only makes Bill’s traumatic ending even worse. These are just a few of many painful choices against Black characters.