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As series 10 of Doctor Who draws to a close, what do we know and what can we hope for from the final episode after last week’s start to the finale? (Contains spoilers from part 1!)
We saw, what has quickly become of the most popular companions in recent Who history, Bill Potts get shot in the stomach, partly repaired with that turned out to be Mondasian Cyberman technology and then fully turned into a classic series Cyberman. It seems unlikely that this will be the end for Bill. I’m not saying Steven Moffat is above killing off a beloved character, but it seems like such a "Skin of Evil" way to do it. For those not familiar, this refers to Star Trek: The Next Generation's killing of a main character in their first series in the first 10 minutes of an episode. A brave thing to do, but ultimately unsatisfying. Yes, this isn’t the first 10 minutes, it’s the end of an episode. But as a two-parter, it would be a shame to lose Bill in this way and I can’t see that happening.
Another thing much anticipated about this finale has been the last episode to feature lots of different styles of Cybermen. In the opener to series 9, we saw a Dalek episode that had all the versions of them meeting up. But how on Mondas will they manage this with the Cybermen as there is no obvious route pointed to at the end of the first episode? There is a worry with two versions of the Master on screen (we are getting to that in a bit), two companions, a Doctor who is teased to be due to start his regeneration (again, later) and so many other elements, this could be a lot to introduce. Moffat has often by fans during his tenure at the helm of Doctor Who been accused of making plots too convoluted. And as the first part was so well received it would be a shame for this to happen here. One theory I have revolves around the time on board the ship having been sped up or slowed down depending on where on the ship you are. The Master teases the audience & Doctor alike that this is the "Genesis of the Cybermen," a nice call back to the Genesis of the Daleks from classic Who. But what if it isn’t? Yes, this is a Mondasian ship with proto-cybermen being made, but that doesn’t mean that isn’t also happening at the same time on Mondas in parallel. So with time being sped up on the ship, the Cybermen in the lower decks could evolve and if they don’t need to go back to Modas to full-fill the original rise of the Cybermen. That gives the Doctor the option to stop them without messing up the timeline. All we would need is some Cybermen to end up at one deck and the others at another, then you have Cybermen from different points in their evolution. There was a group of Cybermen already mention that went away not to be seen again… yet.
The Master & Missy...
By the end of the episode, we only saw a glimpse of the wonder of Simms Master and Gomez as Missy together. As a child, I always longed to see versions of the Master meet and was so pleased when earlier this year Big Finish did this in audio form. Now to see the TV version do it as well is so good and has not disappointed so far. It was a shame that we knew it was coming and that Simms mask maybe didn’t stand up to not looking like a mask, thus giving him away. Otherwise, his performance and the voice he did I think would have had me fooled. But having said that I got the feels so much when this reminded me of the classic Who stories where the Master would dress up and change his name to fool the Doctor. It never bothered me that you could tell it was him, so why let it now?
Am glad they didn’t undo the idea that Missy was genuinely trying to change. When I heard she was to meet her former self I suspected that they would say that she knew this was coming so engineered getting into this place by gaining the Doctors trust. It’s even more impactful to me that she instead really had tried to and been successful in changing. How more profound then when she gets lured back to the dark side by her past self she doesn’t remember meeting?
Getting back to Simms Master. I really enjoyed him playing it a little darker. We only got a bit of him after the reveal of taking off the mask, but straight away it felt stripped of the camp that his character was given when he first played the part. His outfit even having nods to the past Masters all dressed in black.
Going into the second part I would like to see Missy fighting with her "re-programming" back toward the good the Doctor has given her. Maybe the Master will not like what he see’s in her and will seek to avoid his fate and becoming her and try to live on? Is that where he loses his memory, so he can’t avoid it? Is it also too much to hope for we might even learn what happened to him after he was sent back to Gallifrey and ended up becoming Missy? As we don’t yet know where in his timeline he is from it’s hard to say, but he did refer to himself as Bill’s "former Prime Minister." So it must be after his first death at least, so this would suggest it can only be after the last time we saw him.
Partly I just didn’t want to leave him out. I have LOVED Matt Lucas as Nardole in this series. He has kept the humour of the part from the first time he played it but added layers. Him being a caretaker of the Doctor, mothering him and reminding him of his duties has been great and given Capaldi a lot to play off. The whole way they have written him as a fish out of water and that he can have the perspective as seeing humanity for the first time has added something we haven’t seen much of in the Tardis crew since the new run. So what now? We know (as long as this isn’t a classic Moffat long con) he and Bill are due to depart in time for the regeneration. What hasn’t been made as clear is if they will both make it to the Christmas special. If they get rid of them before then you do save on having to find a way of having the leave the Doctor when he most needs them as he regenerates. But then if you write them out before you need to introduce another character to play companion at Christmas and the Doctor doesn’t have someone established by his side as he goes through the change. I am guessing they won't want to give away the new companion and have them written by anyone else before Chibnall takes over and gets to write them how he wants to. But what about a compromise? Maybe have Nardole leave the Doctor's side at the end of this adventure and have a hopefully recovered Bill go with him. You could even have her be around for the first episode of the new Doctor. She could act as a point of continuity between the 2 Tardis crews and a new companion could be introduced as she is leaving. Maybe even Chibnall has decided to persuade Pearl Mackie to stay. We might be in store for a reveal like when Clara seemed destined to leave a series before she did in that year's Christmas episode. There certainly seems to be enough support for Bill to keep the character on.
The Doctor's Regeneration...
Not slated to happen till the Christmas special, but at the beginning of this week's "World Enough & Time," we did see what appeared to be the Doctor starting to regenerate in the snow. True there have been enough false regenerations within the last few series that it would be no surprise if it wasn’t really happening, but let’s, for now, assume it is the beginning of a regeneration.
Firstly, I am going to assume that this isn’t going to be a case of Capaldi regenerating out before Christmas. Would be a great surprise, but I doubt it.
The first thing we notice is the Doctor is alone. Yes, it’s possible straight after Bill and Nardole come out to help, but if he is alone that might be a clue to them leaving in this adventure. The question then is, is this not a flash ahead to the end of this two parter, but indeed to the end of the Christmas special? As the First Doctor is heavily rumoured to be in the Christmas special (to the point now, where if he isn’t it really would feel like a let-down) maybe they will use this as a device to get rid of the need for companions at Christmas, the First Doctor essentially becoming the companion. Or maybe he will have Susan with him and she will serve as companion to them both? Seeing as they are re-casting the First Doctor, why not the companion too?
If it is from the end of this two-part adventure I hope this doesn’t mean we are going down the Tennant, endless time to regenerate route. When a Timelord is regenerating his body is dying (they even made of point with Ten’s regeneration of calling it a death). That for me does not give him time to search all of time and space and find every past companion and still have time to be sang to sleep by the Ood. I thought something like Eleven’s regeneration was better for this. Yes, he had the big regeneration moment on the clock tower and didn’t change straight away, but he just had enough time for one last scene after the "reset" and then that snap regeneration into Twelve really made you sit up in your chair.
In the shot of Twelve possibly regenerating he was in the snow. Another point of similarity to the First Doctors Cyberman involved regeneration. What if this isn’t a coincidence? Another theory I have maybe involves the events we are seeing with the genesis of the Cybermen maybe leading into the events of the Tenth Planet. Why not somehow have the Cybermen we are now seeing turn out to be the start of the ones in The Tenth Planet. Maybe the Twelfth Doctor and Capaldi don’t meet, but rather Capaldi lurks in the shadows keeping history on track during the events of the "Tenth Planet" which saw William Hartnell turn into Patrick Troughton?
This has been an amazing series that has brought back to the table a lot of fans that had got restless with the way the Twelfth Doctor had been written. I was not one of them, but hey, give me a 2000-year-old man in a Blue Box and I’m pretty easy to please. This looks to be a really dynamic finish to the last full series for the Twelfth Doctor, as long as handled correctly. We have at least two types of Cybermen, two companions, and two Masters. The scene is set Mr. Moffat, now please send us home on a high.