Synopsis: As the Cybermen begin a new conquest the Doctor makes a final stand to protect a tiny band of humans from utter destruction.
Review: The final episode of series 10 begins with a shot of an idyllic countryside. Children are playing but there are sinister looking scarecrows in the fields. We learn that these scarecrows are a type of Cyberman and we see a rocketship burst from the ground. A Cyberman exits it carrying the Doctor. Then there is a flashback to earlier when the two versions of the Master are holding the Doctor hostage. After 12 reveals he has made the Cybermen hunt Time Lords as well as humans the three Gallifreyans escape in a ship piloted by Nardole. We then see Bill, as herself, alone in a barn. After an emotional conversation with the Doctor Bill learns that she is a Cyberman. The Doctor and the two versions of the Master find a lift that can take the humans on that level of the spaceship to safety. The Doctor plans to draw the Cybermen onto that level of the spaceship so he can destroy them with explosives. The two versions of the Master realise they have a way out and are arrested by the Doctor, who delivers a passionate speech about why he does what he does. Neither Master listens and they leave 12 to his fate. The Doctor convinces Nardole to lead the humans of that level to safety while he destroys the Cybermen. After being surrounded by Cybermen and shot in the chest, the Doctor blows up that level of the spaceship. Bill finds the Doctor’s body and breaks down crying only for Heather, played by Stephanie Hyam, to return and bring the time travellers back to the TARDIS. Bill agrees to travel with Heather and says goodbye to her unconscious friend. The Doctor starts to regenerate but leaps up and vehemently proclaims that he doesn’t want to change. The TARDIS brings 12 to a snowy wasteland where he encounters the First Doctor, played by David Bradley.
This was a spectacular, phenomenal episode. There is so much in it that I love, from the emotionally charged scene with the Doctor and Bill in the barn, to the Doctor’s impassioned speech about why he tries to help people, to the returns of Heather and the First Doctor. John Simm and Peter Capaldi play off eachother very well in the scenes they share together, which makes me wish that we could see their characters meet again. John Simm is incredible as the Harold Saxon Master, with his spitefulness towards Bill and flippant dismissal of the Doctor’s credo marking him squarely as a villain. This episode contained an interesting character study of the Master with John Simm’s claim that they are always heading towards betrayal of someone, when the two incarnations mortally wound eachother.
Pearl Mackie acts stupendously in every scene she is in. Particular mention must go to Bill’s emotional “People are always going to be afraid of me aren’t they? Aren’t they?” It was very, very poignant when the Cyberman!Bill said that she was Bill Potts in the voice of a Cyberman. The entire barn scene was utterly fantastic, with the theme of humanity coming to the fore once again when the Doctor said “Nothing wrong with being kind.” to the little girl who was visiting Bill. It is interesting that we saw Bill as she saw herself, as a human. Her anger when she realises what has happened to her is very well acted by Pearl Mackie. Another excellent moment is when one of the settlers shoots Bill and apologises after realising who she is. Bill’s despondent “I understand” is a fantastic piece of acting from Pearl Mackie.
Peter Capaldi delivers the performance of his tenure in Doctor Who when he rails at the two Masters for their selfishness. We see that kindness is central to the Doctor’s character and that that is why he does what he does. I loved this line: “I’m not trying to win. I do what I do because it’s right. It’s decent. It’s kind. Just kind.” We see again the Doctor’s belief in the goodness of everyone he encounters when he implores the Masters to “At the end. Just be kind.” Peter Capaldi acts phenomenally well when he is shot by the Cyberman in the forest and when he destroys them all. It was really cool to hear the music from Heaven Sent again, which really shows us who this Doctor is and has been; someone who stands for what’s right no matter the personal cost. There was a great moment with the Doctor and Nardole when the Doctor asks “Which one of us is stronger?” and Nardole agrees to lead the settlers to safety. This shows a different kind of heroism than wielding weapons which is one of the themes of Doctor Who. Matt Lucas‘s understated “Damn.” was great acting from him and it was good to see that Nardole survived.
It was absolutely incredible to see Stephanie Hyam return as Heather. Her scene with Bill in the TARDIS was so touching. I loved when they kissed and Heather said “Does that feel dead to you?” when Bill asked if she was. The music when Heather took Bill away was awesome and so fitting. It was a nice nod to Tom Baker’s 4th Doctor when 12 saw all of the new series companions calling his name, including Sarah Jane, before he started to regenerate. It was great when he repeated the final lines said by 10 and 11 also. This scene had quite an emotional impact, with the Doctor railing that he didn’t want to be someone else ever again. It was utterly phenomenal to see David Bradley make a return as the 1st Doctor, and I am really excited to see what happens in the Christmas special.
Overall, a thrilling, phenomenal episode that I would love to watch again.
- Incidental Music10