Monday, July 03, 2017

My Review of Doctor Who's 10x12: "The Doctor Falls"


Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Rachel Talalay

The Doctor (to Missy/the Master): "It's not because it's fun and God knows it's not because it's easy. It's not because it even works, because it hardly ever does. I do what I do, because it's right. Because it's decent. And above all, it's kind."

In that speech is everything that has ever and will ever capture the Doctor's motives for helping people and I have to admit, like a certain speech in the Zygon two parter, it's moments like this where the Twelfth Doctor well and truly shines. In this penultimate episode/finale, did he truly shine though.

Opening up with getting smacked about by both the Master and Missy, it didn't take long for the Doctor to get his old frenemies to get on side when he made the Cybermen go after Time Lords for conversion and having the Master and Missy helping certainly livened proceedings a bit as everyone went up another level of the ship from last time.

Having a bit of a mood whiplash here, we've got from a city polluted by fog and Mondasian Cybermen on the rise, to a nice countryside with a bunch of kids and an overprotective woman named Hazran (Samantha Spiro), who seemed to have a thing for the not equally receptive Nardole. Despite some of the popular rumours that floated around and that even I believed, Hazran was just a new character. A good one, but not the one we were expecting though.

Speaking of Nardole, he had his moments in this episode. I liked his pragmatic stance with both the Doctor and Cyber-Bill and I certainly enjoyed his scenes with both Masters but his exit was a little on the rushed with him being volunteered as protector for Hazran and the kids though against the evading and evolving Cybermen though.

This episode was all about the exits though. The Master and Missy in particular had one of the best with the pair of them stabbing and shooting each other in the back. Despite all their flirting, their conflict over whether or not to help the Doctor was the thing that turned them on each other. Missy was edging towards some form of redemption while the Master himself still revelled in being evil as his mocking of both the Doctor and Bill more than demonstrated. As exits go, it was a dramatic one for both of them, excellently played by Michelle Gomez and John Simm but while the character will be undoubtedly rested for a bit, we will see the Master again in some form though.

Then there's Bill herself. She spent most of this episode pulling an Oswin by perceiving herself as still human while outwardly looking like a Cyberman but she did forgive the Doctor for endangering her and she did stick around during the final battle itself to actually help him. However for those of us who feared that Moffat contributed to the 'bury your gays' trope with Bill, well he did manage to subvert it at the very last minute.

Despite there being no continuation since The Pilot, Heather came back and yanked Bill out of her Cyberman suit and the pair of them shared a kiss before putting the Doctor back in his TARDIS and exploring the universe. It's hard to deny that it's an exit that mirrors the Clara/Ashildr thing from last series but it works decently enough as a way to write Bill out of the series though.

As for the Doctor himself, he spent most of the episode holding back his regeneration, wanting to take out the Cybermen while also trying to save his friends and redeem both Masters too. He might have mostly failed with the latter and even Bill to a point, but he did succeed elsewhere and the near regeneration sequence was pretty stunning.

Of course with Christmas on the way, it was still held off but this time around we saw the Twelfth Doctor actually meet the First Doctor. It was rumoured for months and while I do have some reservations about a multi Doctor story for an outgoing Doctor's last episode, I did like the bit of David Bradley as the original you might say that this particular episode ended with.

- David Bradley previously played William Hartnell playing the First Doctor in An Adventure In Space And Time. He was also Solomon in Dinosaurs On A Spaceship.
- We saw both the 2006 and 2013 Cybermen in this episode. I think Moffat missed an opportunity by not including some 70's or 80's Cybermen while he was at it.
- Companions we saw in Twelve's head were Rose, Martha, Donna, Jack, Sarah Jane, Amy, River, Clara, Bill, Nardole, Vastra and Jenny along with Missy. Odd there was no Mickey or Rory though.
- Nice references to past regenerations and encounters with the Cybermen in this episode too.
- Rachel Talalay has now directed three finales in a row. That's got to be a record for the series, right?
- Chronology: Two weeks after the events of World Enough And Time.

The Doctor Falls could've let the side down after such a brilliant set up with it's previous episode but I genuinely think it didn't. Yes, Bill's exit was too similar to Clara's and the Cybermen were relegated to being blown up but with all the emotional beats and the hook for Christmas, it really does look like Peter Capaldi will go out on a high note.

Rating: 10 out of 10

1 comment:

noybusiness said...

Bill ended exactly as I always hoped she would. I was prepared to be disappointed by Heather never returning. I was pleasantly surprised.

One of the best episodes in a while, even better than the first part.