5) Was King James Homosexual?
Doctor Who season 11 episode 8, "The Witchfinders," makes it clear that King James is attracted to Ryan. "What is your field of expertise, my Nubian prince," he asks the Doctor's friend lasciviously, "Torture?" There's a clear sense of fetishism in this comment, and his attraction is restated at the end of the episode when the King asks Ryan to return to London with him as a courtier. This is actually a matter of historical accuracy, with the King rumored to have countless relationships with his male courtiers.
King James was so open about these affairs that it was common to hear him called "Queen James." In 1617, King James addressed the Privy Council with an official affirmation of his right to love men. "You may be sure that I love the Earl of Buckingham more than anyone else," he said, "and more than you who are here assembled. I wish to speak in my own behalf and not to have it thought to be a defect, for Jesus Christ did the same, and therefore I cannot be blamed. Christ had John, and I have George."
4) What Is A Witches' Mark?
The 16th Century saw the rise of a new superstition, the idea of a witches' mark. This doctrine suggested that any birth-mark could be a sign that a man or woman had been touched by the Devil; being found to have a so-called "witches' mark" was seen as undeniable proof of witchcraft. Just as in Doctor Who season 11 episode 8, "The Witchfinders," inquisitors carried needles with which they pierced any birth-marks to see if they bled. "Professional" witchfinders, who were paid handsomely for uncovering a village's witches, often faked this; they carried a range of clever tools, including pins with hollow wooden handles and retractable points. The idea of the witches' mark was prevalent into the 17th Century, and then died down with surprising speed.
3) What Did King James Mean When He Suggested The Doctor "Hides" Behind Her Title?
Doctor Who season 11 episode 8, "The Witchfinders," drew a fascinating parallel between the Doctor and King James. The Doctor accused the King of wearing the crown as a sort of mask, using his role to avoid dealing with the darkness of his own heart. "It must be comforting playing that role," she observed, "Hiding behind a title." The King's response was a fascinating one; "Just as you hide behind 'Doctor,' perhaps," he suggested, and the Time Lord was silenced. It was a fascinating scene, one that suggests the Doctor's heroism is indeed an attempt to avoid admitting that she has the potential for evil within her. There's a sense in which this is the theme of "The Witchfinders" - that the real danger lurks within, and must be confronted.
2) Will Historical Adventures Be More Dangerous Now The Doctor Is A Woman?
Jodie Whittaker has made history as the first female Doctor, but Doctor Who has generally avoided tackling the issue head-on. Showrunner Chris Chibnall has been careful to treat Whittaker as just another incarnation of the Doctor, even hinting that previous Doctor incarnations have also been female. What's more, the actress' portrayal has been particularly evocative of Patrick Troughton's, giving a strong sense of continuity.
But Doctor Who season 11 episode 8, "The Witchfinder," includes one of the few overt references to the fact we now have a female Doctor. "Honestly, if I were still a bloke, I could get on with the job and not have to waste time defending myself," the Doctor fumed. It's an interesting point; the Doctor will no doubt find historical adventures more of a challenge now she's female. Human history has been rife with sexism, with precious few time-periods even believing in the idea of educating women.
1) Who Were The Morax?
The villains of Doctor Who season 11 episode 8, "The Witchfinders," are only revealed towards the end of the episode. They're an alien race known as the Morax, a ferocious monarchy who committed unknown war crimes millennia ago. Presumably defeated in battle, they were imprisoned beneath Pendle Hill. It's unclear whether the Morax were originally a mud-race; the Doctor makes a throwaway reference to the aliens' essence being "concentrated" in some form. Whatever the truth may be, these creatures are dangerous monsters who can possess living beings or inanimate corpses. They were restrained by an ancient "lock" that was inimical to their very nature, and had been disguised as a tree. Unfortunately, the mechanism had been damaged, and they had begun to escape - at least until the Doctor repaired the lock, which drew all Morax essence back into the ground.