RECAP & REVIEW: Doctor Who – ‘The Doctor Falls’ (Series 10, Episode 12)

So what happened?

Still aboard the colony ship, we learn in flashbacks that after The Doctor realised Bill had been turned into a cyberman, Missy attacked him, propelling him towards one of the computers where he managed to broaden the perimeters of humanity, meaning the Cybermen will now see Time Lords as prey to upgrade. In the meantime, Nardole managed to escape. Twelve explains what he did to Missy and The Master after they hauled him up to the roof, and threaten to kill him in numerous different way, including flinging him over the side. As they all set about escaping to another floor on a spaceshuttle Nardole has stolen, a cyberman grabs The Doctor and electrocutes him, leaving the newly modified Bill to save him.

Missy Bill The Master DW ep 12
Missy (Michelle Gomez) and The Master (John Simm) threatening The Doctor, as a newly modified Bill looks on.

After punching their way through as many floors as possible before the shuttle gives out, they find themselves on a higher floor that’s doubling as a solar farm, and which is home to a number of children and a few adults who are caring for them. Before their visitors arrived, they were fending off cybermen prototypes, who were then routinely used as scarecrows after being recaptured. After his arrival, it’s clear that the regeneration process is starting for The Doctor, but he manages to suppress it, instead focusing on trying to broach the topic with Bill that she’s been fundamentally changed after her ‘upgrade’, as she doesn’t understand why the adults and the children are so wary of her. After seeing herself in a mirror brought to her by a young girl, he explains that her mind is so strong as a result of her time resisting The Monks that it’s created a perception filter, which won’t allow her to accept her transformation. When she cries and a tear falls down her cheek, something that Mondasian Cybermen can’t usually do, Twelve explains that where there’s tears, there’s hope. In the meantime, whilst arguing over siding with their ‘old friend’, Missy and The Master find a camouflaged lift in the middle of the woods, and thinking it could be their escape route, he presses the call button. Rather than proving to be a means of getting away, it transports an upgraded Cyberman to their floor, and they’re all forced to pool their fire power to defeat it. After they’re successful, The Doctor explains that ‘time dilation’ means that their foes on the lower decks will have more scope to formulate a plan to get to them.

Attempting to find a way to delay the Cybermen’s attack, Nardole discovers that fuel pipes in the floor below can be used to trigger explosions that make them seem a greater threat than they actually are, thus forcing their enemies to hang back for longer. Well aware that they’ll still eventually be defeated, The Doctor urges his assistant to take the children and the other adults to one of the higher levels, which he reluctantly agrees to, whilst Bill insists that she’ll stay and fight beside him. The same can’t be said of Missy and The Master though, who in spite of Twelve urging them to stand beside him to the end, still head off to the lowest floor to fix his TARDIS and escape the space colony. On the way though, Missy decides she will go back and help The Doctor, stabbing The Master and triggering his next regeneration. Furious with her, he uses a deadly shot from his laser screwdriver to stop her in her tracks, explaining that she won’t be able to regenerate as he’s used the full blast on her. As he hurtles towards his TARDIS in one of the lifts they discovered earlier, Missy dies on the forest floor.

Bill Heather ep 12 DW
Heather (Stephanie Hyam) and Bill (Pearl Mackie) embarking on a new life together.

Finally the Cybermen arrive, and attack. For a short amount of time The Doctor manages to fend them off, but he’s soon shot, spurring him to ignite the fuel pipes and effectively blow the solar farm up, killing the majority of the army that were opposing him. The blast has left him motionless on the ground in the charred landscape though, and it’s there a distraught Bill finds him, dropping to her knees and sobbing over his body. It’s those tears that summon Heather, The Pilot from the series opener, who rises from a puddle of water in the aftermath of the explosion, and frees Twelve’s companion from her Cyberman body. After sharing a kiss, they take The Doctor back to the TARDIS, and then Heather gives Bill the option of once again taking on her human form, or travelling the Universe with her in her current indeterminate state. Before agreeing to go with her, Bill kisses Twelve’s cheek as he lays on the floor of his time machine, and leaves a tear on his forehead, reiterating his previous pep talk to her that it signifies hope.

When he’s alone, The Doctor wakes up and the regeneration process starts again, leading him to relive those moments just before his tenth and eleventh incarnations regenerated. He refuses to change who he is again though, leading the TARDIS to transport him somewhere of its own accord. Once there, he stumbles out into a wintry landscape and drops to his knees as the regeneration energy begins to flow from his hands and face. Stubbornly, he refuses to let it happen again, stemming his transformation and pulling himself to his feet. Amidst a snow storm, he notices a figure walking towards him and the cloister bell in the TARDIS sounds. After revealing himself as The Doctor, the other man disputes that, and counters that he is in fact the ‘original’. Aghast, Twelve realises he’s come face to face with the First Doctor.

Monster of the Week

Marieke: The Cybermen have been activated, and because of the time zones of the spaceship they have managed to evolve into the super slick Cybermen of late. Now they are back to just being the stomping army. They want to kill everything with a heart, but after a slight modification by the Doctor, beings with two hearts aren’t safe either. Even though they are very powerful, Nardole seems to blast them away pretty easily. The Frankenstein feel the early Cybermen had is gone too, making them the boring, same old foes again.

Danielle: It is a shame that the Cybermen ‘upgraded’, isn’t it? Their Mondasian counterparts have a certain charm that their newer, slicker counterparts lack. I bet their batteries last about as long as the old Nokia mobile phones as well. 😉

Cybermen DW ep 12
To upgrade, or not to upgrade: the original Mondasian Cybermen are far more chilling than their newer, slicker counterparts. 
Creep Factor

Marieke: The atmosphere of the hospital ward, where the people were made into Cybermen is completely gone. They are effective in killing people, but that doesn’t make them scary. The atmosphere has been dumped in favour of the Doctor’s demise, the squabbling Masters and the Cybermen attack.

Danielle: I did think there was something quite sinister about those prototype Cybermen hobbling towards the ranch where the children and Hazran were staying. Equally disturbing was the fact they were recaptured and turned into scarecrows. But then I’ve never liked them. Am I the only one who finds them ridiculously creepy?

Mystery

Marieke: The Doctor refuses to regenerate. Is this why the TARDIS brought him to see the First Doctor? Will Bill’s tear she left on the Doctor come in to play later? Will we see Bill ever again? Is the Master/Mistress character truly dead? (Probably not). But mostly… WHO WILL BE THE NEW DOCTOR???? It is quite surprising it has not been leaked yet, nor announced. Also how Olivia Coleman manages to keep that quiet, absolutely amazing…

Danielle: It is puzzling why the TARDIS brought Twelve to see the original Doctor. Perhaps the idea is to show him that, despite all those different faces, he’s still essentially the same person, so he can regenerate with peace of mind. Sadly, I do think Missy might be dead for good, but I’m not sure we can rule out there being other regenerations in between Simm!Master and her.

Familiar Face
David Bradley DW ep 12
David Bradley as the First Doctor.

David Bradley played the First Doctor here. After first expertly transforming into William Hartnell in An Adventure in Space and Time, he has returned to actually take on the role Hartnell himself played. Let’s hope he hasn’t brought any Red Wedding-like tendencies with him in the aftermath of his character’s demise on Game of Thrones.

Twelve and his Companion(s)

Marieke: “Moffat never really managed to let anyone die though…” is how I ended my verdict last week, and again we see death is not a concept in Moffat’s Whoverse. Bill escapes her Cyberman death fate because Heather the pilot, from ‘The Pilot’, pops up again. I had actually forgotten about her, and never figured that she and Bill had that much of a connection, even though she did leave Bill her tear. The tear being important is a typical Moffat vehicle, but one that is clever enough to work and not obtrusive. However, when I expected a happy ending for Bill I thought about the girl she thought she couldn’t get. The one she went on a date with and got interrupted by the Pope, in the simulation. I guess Bill talking about Heather in other episodes would have ruined the surprise, but I did not entirely feel this watergirl ex machina. I am glad Bill will be going on having adventures, and did not die a miserable death as a Cyberman though. That would have given her the worst companion ending since Donna, who still firmly holds that mantel. Whether Bill knows The Doctor is not truly dead and that he will regenerate, I’m not entirely sure. We never see them talk about it, yet she has witnessed the fake regeneration in ‘The Lie of The Land’. She still gave him the tear, an act which saved her life too. Maybe until Christmas..?

Nardole was pretty badass this episode, easily making weapons and computing along whilst eating, making destroying Cybermen look like an easy pastime. The flirting from the lady felt off though, just as Nardole settling in to protect the children forever. It did not really feel like a Nardole finale to me. It would be nice to see him pop up again in the future, since his role in this series has not been done justice entirely. He deserves at least one last ride driving the TARDIS.

Missy. Oh Missy. You had love for the Doctor, but your past self was not too keen on that. She did trick the Master a little about knowing him, but apparently it was also his presence which clouded her memories. Bit of a mess, that timeline. Especially because it was Missy setting of the Master’s regeneration into her. But he shot her in the back because of his eternal hate for the Doctor. The Master’s appearances destroying each other, but also flirting with each other was rather fitting for the character. If it was not a children’s show at heart, they would have snogged because they love themselves so much. Even though their demise was fitting, it was a shame to see them busy with mostly each other and not really with The Doctor. His plea for the need to stand up and do good for a change worked on Missy, however, but The Master was not having any of it, yet he was not actively trying to kill Twelve either. It was a bit messy, Missy’s ending. It is a shame to see her go, but she worked so well with Capaldi that I cannot see her Mastering to another Doctor.

And then we come to Twelve. The Doctor I liked earlier this series. Capaldi acted his socks off, but I do not mind seeing him go now. Bill brought out the best in him, and she is off on her own adventure. It is time for a fresh approach, which lasts longer than only five episodes. It did feel like the Doctor had accepted his fate, but him refusing to regenerate and seeming to have stopped it is new. We will have to see how the First Doctor will respond to this.

Danielle: I too have my issues with Heather literally popping up out of the blue from a nearby puddle to save the day, but at the same time it was considerably better than the alternative where Bill died as a Cyberman. That the thought of living her life and dying as a husk of her former self depressed her, seemed right, especially after she realises everyone was scared of her. The bubbly companion didn’t deserve to eventually be reduced to a mindless machine, and this denouement allowed there to be no perimeters to her existence at all. Time and Space was her’s to explore.

In a similar vein, I’m not sure Nardole’s ‘happy ending’ was entirely earned on Moffat’s part either. It might have helped if we’d seen Twelve’s assistant yearn for some sort of domestic set up at some point during Series 10, but I don’t recall that being the case at all. It just didn’t ring true that he’d be accepting of that kind of life with Hazran, although he’s definitely the one they need to protect them all when the Cybermen finally reach them again.

In stark contrast to Bill and Nardole, I thought Missy’s ending was practically perfect. I love that she actually had changed, but it breaks my heart that The Doctor never got to see that the effort he put into rehabilitating her wasn’t wasted. She would have stood by him, in Extremis, and died beside him if it wasn’t for the pesky Simm!Master offing her, for good it seems. Still though, Gomez and Simm’s chemisty was great, and of course they’d fancy the pants off each other, and then effectively kill each other. That’s exactly what sociopaths with narcissistic tendencies would do if they met themselves! They ARE their own worst enemies. Unlike Marieke, however, I’ll be extremely sad to see Twelve go. Capaldi knocked it out of the park in this finale, and I suspect that even naysayers will come to miss his interpretation of the character in year to come.

The Verdict?

Marieke:  For a two parter finale, the first episode was again stronger in its set up than the second episode was in its execution. The atmosphere was entirely different. Even the villains had changed into their modern selves again. Nardole protecting the villagers and beating Cybermen felt a bit like a side quest and not the main threat. The bickering Masters were also a bit of a distraction. Was this what Simm came back for?? He was not even a threat to The Doctor, only to his former self doing something good. Can we really say trickster Missy would not be up to her old tricks right after helping The Doctor? I doubt she would turn good forever, but The Master would rather kill herself (get it?) than even think about helping his greatest foe. What a one dimensional villain! As I said, them not agreeing is fitting, but more for their characters than the episode itself. I doubt the character of The Master is truly dead, she/he will somehow regenerate anyway, because the other side of the Doctor’s coin just cannot stay blank.

Bill having a semi-happy ending (she has to leave the Doctor behind!) was nice, but as stated before, a little too unexpected in terms of how it played out. Perhaps this leaves the door open to appearing in the new series? However, Rose being able to be a good companion to two Doctors is more luck than a given. The Clara debacle showed us that,she should have just stayed with Eleven. Because Bill was so important to Twelve’s comeback after Clara, it is perhaps better to let her have fun with her own pilot, which is, funnily enough, exactly the same send off Clara had… It is a shame Bill could not have been given a more original ending!

Of course the episode was eventually all about Twelve, and preparing to leave the show behind. I had actually read about the first Doctor coming back, but had totally forgotten about it, which meant I did have a bit of a surprising ‘AHA!’ moment now. It not only opens the door to new questions about regeneration in the Christmas episode, but also to a very interesting confrontation. Capaldi will be able to show us one last time what he is capable of as the Doctor. After having a very uneven run as the Doctor he does deserve a proper send off. Sadly this will always be overshadowed by the reveal, which will hopefully be on the show itself. By which I mean it will probably be on Twitter beforehand.

Twelve One DW ep 12
Meeting himself coming back: why did the TARDIS drop Twelve off at a location where it knew he’d meet up with the original Doctor?

Danielle: There were undoubtedly niggling problems with this finale, but overall it was a strong, penultimate outing for Capaldi’s Doctor. Yet again the warmth of the performances papered over the cracks, creating an episode that didn’t shy away from packing an emotional punch, which is exactly what you’d want as Twelve’s time draws to a close. I can’t help but feel that the issues we both had with the end to Bill’s and Nardole’s stories stem from the fact Capaldi only decided he wanted to leave halfway through filming. Without climbing into Moffat’s mind, I can’t know for sure, but I suspect he would have left the door open for Chibnall to keep them both on as companions if his leading man had decided to stay on for another series. In which case, I think this might be why both denouements seemed rushed. At least the door is open for both of them to return one day. I’m especially pleased that’s the case with regards to Bill. Pearl Mackie has been a breath of fresh air on-screen, and I’d have happily sacrificed one of Clara’s series to keep Bill on for another year.

So that brings us onto where we’re going with the Christmas Special. Unlike my Fezzy friend, I wasn’t aware of the rumours about the First Doctor making an appearance, so that was a nice surprise. Finally we got some payoff for that photograph of Susan on his desk! I think it’s fairly obvious that TARDIS has brought Twelve to see his original iteration so he can come to accept his impending regeneration, almost as if he’s been sent to see his very own ghost of Christmas past to help him realise the advantages of him striking forward into the future with a brand new identity, without losing who he is at his core. Speaking of the photographs on his desk, the ardent River x Doctor shipper in me cant help but hope that Twelve is uploaded to the Library rather than the Matrix, or conversely that there’s a way to copy The Doctor’s wife over to his final resting place. He is, after all, her Doctor. There’s something pretty hilarious about her living out eternity with his eleven previous incarnations too. I’m sure River would love that far more than he would though!

And Finally…
  • The Doctor is on the verge of regenerating. Is that making him go through little quirks from his past bodies again? Jelly babies anyone? (M)
  • Did anybody else think all the energy spent on Bill’s Mum, for it to essentially lead to nothing, was a bit of an anti-climax? (D)
  •  I would have liked to have seen the Doctor and Missy regenerate together and that in the next scene we would not know who would be who… I am coining this idea for a future regeneration! (M)
  • Seen as Twelve seemed to survive that fireball with little more than the odd scratch, anybody else wonder if he has Targaryen blood? #Doctor4theIronThrone (D)
  • Missy thinks the Master has a very round head. See, a disguise will never help him. (M)
  • Clara became a Dalek, Bill became a Cyberman. We are out of robots to change into now. (M)

Our Fezzy Score: rsz_fuzzy_fezrsz_fuzzy_fezrsz_fuzzy_fezrsz_fuzzy_fez

So what did you think of the series finale? Let us know in the comments…

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