Warning: this review contains huge, whopping spoilers for the two-part finale of Doctor Who series ten.
YouTube: Next Time on Doctor Who: World Enough and Time – Series 10 Episode 11 – BBC One
YouTube: The Doctor Falls trailer – Doctor Who: Series 10 Episode 12 – BBC One
Well then, series ten, all wrapped up.
Although, not quite. The Christmas special was very heavily involved in the ending of the episode, with far more than a hint at what is to come – but I’ll get to that later.
Approach with care if you’ve not watched the finale of series ten yet – in fact, don’t approach at all. Go away, you. You’re not meant to be here. Watch the episodes first and then come back.
Twitter: The Doctor makes his final stand tonight at 6.30pm on BBC One…
#DoctorWho https://t.co/hMN7saWWP1 (@bbcdoctorwho)
I think the best way to start a review of nearly two hours-worth of television is a big old recap. So: Bill, Nardole, Missy and the Doctor arrive on a 400 mile-long spaceship, desperately trying to reverse out of a black hole. There, they meet a scared blue man who shoots Bill, because she’s attracting some scary cloth-masked dying people, who are attracted to human life. The scary patients take Bill away, to the bottom of the ship, where the enormous hole in her chest is fixed.
There, she meets a man that looks just enough like John Simm for us, an audience waiting for John Simm to appear, to realise that it’s the Master in disguise. He looks after her for ten years. No big deal. They realise, though, that time moves a lot faster at the bottom end (black hole end) of the spaceship than at the top end, where the Doctor, Missy, and Nardole still are. Those three are still busy sussing things out. But they haven’t been figuring things out for ten years! It’s only been a matter of minutes for them. Because time.
The Doctor, Missy, and Nardole head down the spaceship, only for Missy to encounter her previous incarnation, and for the Doctor and Nardole to find Bill – but it’s too late, she’s been turned into a Mondasian cyberman! Those scary cloth people were being turned into cybermen the whole time. CyberBill sheds a tear that seemed insignificant and downright impossible (apart from that time in series two that the head of Torchwood was turned into a Cyberman but stayed good and cried but whatever).
Twitter: RT @stuart_manning: My poster for The Doctor Falls, tonight’s #DoctorWho finale, starring @Pearlie_mack, @MichelleGomez, @RealMattLucas, di… (@stuart_manning)
That leads us into this week’s final episode. Bill has managed to remain herself despite being a Cyberman and, to avoid a Mondasian Cyberman speaking like a Millennial all episode, Moffat and co. made the wise decision to mostly just show Pearl Mackie throughout. The Doctor and crew are at a farm in the country, but still on the spaceship. They’re waiting for the attack of the rest of the Cybermen, and Missy and the Master are kind of good but kind of bad, it’s confusing. The Doctor realises his best bet is to send all the children up a few floors, where they can be cared for by lovely Nardole, and the Doctor, Missy, the Master, and CyberBill will stay and blow up the whole level, including the majority of the Cybermen. This will give Nardole and his adoptive children enough time to grow and prepare for the next invasion of Cybermen.
The Master and Missy (although mostly the Master, Missy’s still struggling with her new identity as ‘kind of good’) decide to run away to the Master’s Tardis, which is stuck on the bottom floor. But Missy decides against it and kills the Master! But then the Master kills her! And that’s the last we see of them, and neither of them even start to regenerate so who knows what’ll happen there.
Twitter: RT @Markgatiss: Goodbyes, tears and pain…pain…pain. It’s the end…almost. Hold tight. ‘The Doctor Falls’ #DoctorWho BBC1 6.30pm (@rtalalay)
Meanwhile, the Doctor successfully blows the level up, and lies there dying. CyberBill approaches, cries, and then suddenly Heather appears! Wait, who’s Heather? You know, that one from episode one? Who was wet? No? The star in her eye? Ohhh that one. What? Why’s she suddenly appearing again. I don’t know. Something about how she said she’d wait for Bill, I guess. Oh yeh that rings a bell now. Yeh, I wasn’t expecting it to be important either. Oh well. Then Heather and Bill return the Doctor to the Tardis, Heather turns Bill into whatever she is – but also says she can turn her human again, so if Chris Chibnall listens to fans at all, we might actually see more of Bill – and they fly away to be girlfriends in space together. Then the Doctor wakes up, starts to regenerate, shouts no a few times, basically refuses to regenerate, and then David Bradley turns up as the first Doctor.
Okay, so. Where to begin.
Twitter: I have deleted all emotions and am now a grinning idiot. https://t.co/jPg0LugRvu (@rtalalay)
I’m thrilled that we got some more Pearl Mackie. The idea that last week’s kind of pathetic goodbye would be the last of her absolutely killed me, she deserves so much more than that. And this, presumably her last episode, was her finest too. The realisation that she was a Cyberman/woman/Bill was devastating, and her coming to terms with that was one of the strongest elements of the episode. I’m also very pleased that she got a girlfriend, it was something I know a lot of people were rooting for but I felt was possibly a bit unlikely, especially with one/two episodes remaining. The return of Heather was very surprising, I had no idea what was happening. It wasn’t a storyline that I felt needed wrapping up, but I’m glad they did it. It gave Bill a far nicer send off than just dying as CyberBill. It was very similar to Clara’s ending, but whatever let’s overlook that.
Speaking of overlooking similarities, let’s also overlook the following:
- Bill being turned into a Cyberman/Danny Pink being turned into a Cyberman.
- Both of the above somehow remaining good throughout the process.
- CyberBill crying/CyberHead-of-Torchwood crying.
- Working in two different time zones, leading to the demise of a companion, a la ‘Amy’s Choice’ (S5E7).
I really enjoyed the pace of both episodes. It’s was a strong point of the series up until the unfortunate Monk-based three parter that we can all agree to forget about. ‘World Enough & Time’ was slow-building, patient, and careful in its scene-setting, but also featured enough action to remain exciting. ‘The Doctor Falls’ could have suffered from the same action-filled mayhem that almost has almost ruined finales in the past: ‘Utopia’ and ‘The Sound of Drums’ in series three were genius, but were ever-so-slightly let down by ‘The Last of the Time Lords’; ‘Dark Water’ was superb in series eight, but ‘Death in Heaven’ was poor; and ‘Heaven Sent’ in series nine was Steven Moffat’s finest hour* (*forty-five minutes), but stumbled to the finish line in ‘Hell Bent’.
This was not the case this time around though – hooray! Helped by its longer runtime, ‘The Doctor Falls’ had enough time to perfectly balance the emotion of CyberBill’s situation, the Doctor slowly dying, Missy’s good-vs-evil conundrum, and Nardole’s unexpectedly sincere turn, while also blowing up a bunch of Cybermen and using up the remaining series ten budget.
However good Peter Capaldi is at them, I’m getting slightly tired of his passionate speeches. I loved the anti-war speech in ‘The Zygon Inversion’, but some kind of limit has to be implemented, surely? One per series? It’s getting a bit much.
Now then, the ending: just as was suspected by many, David Bradley is returning as William Hartnell as the first Doctor in the Christmas special. You’ve no idea how happy this makes me. If you’ve not seen An Adventure In Space & Time, I can’t recommend it enough. The Mark Gatiss-penned fiftieth anniversary special saw Bradley playing William Hartnell in the Doctor Who origins story, and it’s simply superb. Bradley is brilliant in the role, and I’m thrilled he’s returning. Who knows what’ll happen, but I’m very excited. I just hope they nail the Christmas special; Capaldi deserves a good send off.
Twitter: “The original, you might say!”
#DoctorWho will return with Peter Capaldi and David Bradley this Christmas! https://t.co/lbTE36m4eO (@DrWho247)
Of course, it’ll all be ruined if Kris Marshall is the new Doctor, but let’s wait and see.