“Well, I am that mysterious adventurer in all of time and space known only as Doctor Who, and these are my disposables – Exposition and Comedy Relief.”
So, the Doctor Who series finale is upon us and they really started us off with a solid first half to this two-part finale – albeit a little confusing and/or emotional, depending on whether this is your first time watching or if you’re a seasoned Whovian. The episode opens on the TARDIS materialising in a thick layer of snow surrounded by mountains, which would be fine if the Doctor didn’t step out only to collapse to his knees. If possible, he looks older, and his hair is much longer, or at least much messier than we have ever seen it this series. None of this signifies a good outcome to this series, especially as his hands and face start to glow with regeneration energy (Timelords have the ability to change their body when death is imminent). As the opening credits roll for the second time this series, dread is among my other not so positive emotions which follow me into the rest of the episode.
Moving away completely from the first scenes of the episode, we are back in space. A large cylindrical spaceship is suspended in space, one end pointing directly into a massive Black Hole. To top it all off, once the TARDIS materialises within this spaceship, it is not the Doctor who steps out of those doors, it is Missy. Yes, Missy, villainous Timelord who has been locked away in the vault for most of this series for various crimes. She is followed by her “plucky assistants: Thing One and the Other One”, Bill and Nardole respectively. She claims to have followed the distress call of that particular space ship hovering before the Black Hole. It is seconds before a siren blares though the speakers, and any humour in Missy’s words suddenly dissipates. It is here that we discover the Doctor is in fact sitting, feet up on the TARDIS console monitoring the situation as a test for Missy. Flashbacks to before the spaceship incident confirm that the Doctor thinks he can turn Missy ‘good’. At this point – to make matters worse – a panicked, blue skinned man runs into the room and demands to know if anyone in the room is human. Everyone is too shocked to answer so he pulls out an alien looking gun and repeats the question.
“Are any of you human? … One of you must be human! They only come up if they detect human life-signs! … They take them away.”
As the Doctor hears this he intervenes, and for a moment it looks like he’s going to tell the man that he is the human one, before Bill speaks up first, and his face falls. Almost instantly, the man turns his gun on Bill and the Doctor goes into panic mode while trying to talk the man out of shooting his friend. Then as the lift holding the mysterious intruders reaches their floor and pings to notify they have arrived, the man shoots. The camera pans down to show a gaping hole in Bill’s chest, and then as she falls to the ground the ‘Intruders’ walk in. Telling them to stand away and that Bill will be repaired. This is all well and good, but the mechanical voices are very recognisable though at this point, with the creatures still looking relatively humanoid, the Doctor doesn’t quite make the connection regarding what they are. As Bill is taken away, the Doctor leaves a message in her head that he will save her and to wait for him. This however, is easier said than done, as time moves slower at the end of the spaceship closer to the Black Hole, so the few minutes conversation the Doctor has with the group before going to get Bill, marks weeks for Bill in what can only be described as the hospital from hell.
I have serious mixed feelings about this episode. At one level it has been very cleverly written so as to slowly introduce the big bad for the final two episodes this series. For those who don’t follow the Doctor Who hype but have background knowledge about the show, the creatures would be easily recognisable. Plus, there is nothing creepier than a dark hospital where the faceless patients can only speak through an automated voice. Especially when they only say things like ‘pain’ or ‘kill…me”. On the other hand the ‘death’ of Bill is something which I can’t get behind in any way, even though it drives the episode. Her ‘death’, and what happens as a result at the end of the episode, honestly turned me into a sobbing mess, something which my concerned family questioned. You can’t spend eleven episodes with such a great character and not feel something. Especially when the Doctor’s reaction is so heartbreaking. In addition, the aim to try and make Missy ‘good’ is a near impossible plan if you ask me – there is no way that Missy could ever be completely good. She may do a good deed, but that doesn’t make her ‘good’.
Overall, this episode is something which though cleverly plotted, and extremely creepy, has issues, namely in terms of a characters wasted potential. I highly doubt this is going to be the last we see of Bill, it’s Doctor Who: they always find a way, but there is no ignoring the fact that as a character Bill has not been treated kindly this episode. The reintroduction of both a classic monster, and an old foe will make for an interesting last episode this series. It’s going to be interesting to see how the last episode of this series unfolds.
Plot: 3.5/4 – Character: 2/3 – Monster (‘Misunderstood Alien’) of the Week: 3/3