purplecat: Twelfth Doctor and the number 12 (Who:Twelve)
[personal profile] purplecat
World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls must form one of the best season finales in NuWho. In general I've been pretty unimpressed by these finales, feeling they had a tendency to over-emphasize spectacle at the expense of any real coherence. I thought Heaven Sent/Hell Bent were a marked improvement on previous attempts but thought this was even better - possibly because I was never that invested in Clara as a companion where I really did like this Tardis team and am genuninely sorry to see it to an end. Actually, just as I feel I couldn't really critically view The Eater of Light because it was such a nostalgia fest for me, I suspect I can't view this as critically as it might deserve given how invested I was in this Tardis team by this point.

The odd thing here is that there is a lot in the construction of these two episodes that would normally spoil a story for me. The time dilation from one end of the ship to the other is a neatly clever idea but its implications have not really been thought through carefully enough - particularly the time it takes the Cybermen to move up the ship in The Doctor Falls but also the distribution of population signals shown in the first episode, and the hand-waved explanation about why no one is travelling back up the ship doesn't really add up (one can construct explanations for all of this, often involving the Master, but it isn't there in the episodes as shown).

While the rest of the Internet seems to have adored everything involving the two masters, I felt his/her inclusion was largely pointless after the reveal at the end of episode 1. There was some nice thematic and character work going on, but the Master didn't really do anything. I suspect the problem here is that I've never been that interested in the Master (let's face it, Ainley was my first Master and he is not an auspicious place to start), so all the time devoted to the two Masters sniping at each other, or the Doctor gazing soulfully at them was time when stuff was not being done with Bill, Nardole and the Doctor nor was the Cybermen threat being properly worked out. I liked the Doctor's speech as the Master left, and I thought the Master shooting himself in the back was a great moment but that was pretty much it.

I did like Bill as a Cyberman. I was genuinely surprised how effective the way it was filmed was (and thank God they didn't film it straight with her as a Cyberman because that would have been dire!). I liked pretty much everything about Bill here, I thought her interactions with the Master in his Razor persona were great. In an ideal world she wouldn't have spent 10 years waiting for the Doctor, six months is probably the appropriate dramatic interval, but I can live it. Nardole had some great bits, particularly in The Doctor Falls and the opening sequence with Missy roleplaying as the Doctor was lovely.

World Enough and Time was, I would say, the stronger of the two episodes - though with the observation that beginnings are easier than endings. I found it genuinely creepy and unsettling and liked the way it presented the evolution of the Cybermen. The moment with the volume control was particularly effective.

Obviously over the past two season finales we have had the Doctor's friends converted into Cybermen and over-coming their conditioning and the Doctor's companion dying only to be resurrected and run off to have adventures of her own with her space girlfriend. I thought this finale handled both of those ideas better so it's sort of a shame that Moffat had to try them both out first before getting them right. The Teenager was quite disapproving of the space girlfriend bit - particularly the fact that Bill and Heather didn't really know each other that well - but when I floated the idea from the Verity podcast that this should be viewed as a space first date (since it was quite carefully set up with a number of outs for Bill - presumably in part to give Chris Chibnall plenty of leeway for what he might (or might not) want to do with the character) she was equally indignant that I was downplaying the romance. I liked it. I thought it was as well set up and thought out as anything in Doctor Who tends to be, and liked the open-endedness of the fact it could be a quick trip around the universe and back in time for tea, or the start of some grand epic adventure romance.

As for the actual ending with the first Doctor in the snow. I'll confess it warmed the cockles of my fangirl heart though there are so, so many ways this could go horribly wrong up to and including the possibility that that isn't antarctica at the end of The Tenth Planet at all but is, in fact, Victorian Christmas Planet all over again.

So yes I liked this. I liked this mostly for the Cybermen in World Enough and Time and Bill's story throughout. Despite the fact there were a number of flaws (particularly in the logic of the situation) I thought it stood up pretty well in general, especially in comparison to other season finales.

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October 2017

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