Doctor Who: The Doctor Falls Recap

Synopsis of 10×12: In a season finale that brought me to tears, Peter Capaldi gets the perfect send-off for the Twelfth Doctor. Cybermen attack, the Master flirts with Missy, and the cliffhanger will keep you up until Christmas.

Rating:
I think I’ve been clear that I have little faith in Moffat wrapping his own storylines in a concise and satisfactory manner. That being said, this was a thrilling, emotional, well-paced, and well-written season finale. Moffat is paving the way for Chris Chibnall to have a smooth transition, and it’s making the last few episodes of Moffat’s final season, well, fantastic.

Remember, this is a two-parter, so read last week’s recap if you need to.

“Where there are tears there is hope”

Bill’s back, in a way. She’s cognizant, sentient, and almost blind to the fact that she’s a Cyberman. Perhaps it’s her way of dealing with trauma, visualizing herself as she previously was. If so, it works out brilliantly. Her loneliness and isolation becomes more real. She sees herself as harmless; the villagers see her as the enemy. She manages to make some friends, and she manages to become part of the team.

The Tardis Three expands

Our heroic threesome now carries along with it two vagabonds: The Master and The Mistress. Their dynamic from the last episode comes through in this one. They crackle on-screen, because you’re never sure what these two strains of Crazy will get themselves into. Is Missy good, or just playing it? Is the Master going to blow everything up or not?

And then there’s the Male-Female aspect. The Master seems more surprised than angry about becoming a woman. As we know, for Time Lords it’s not a huge deal to change genders. But the perceived weakness of femininity does irk him, and that’s led to some telling moments. He asks aloud if in the future everything will be girls and the Doctor replies that he hopes so. This “The Future is Female” exchange gives me more and more hope that the next incarnation of the Doctor will be a woman.

In the end, absolute evil corrupts absolutely. The Mistress and the Master part ways by killing one another. It’s where they’ve been heading all the time. And it only makes sense. Only someone with a completely narcissistic, childlike, vengeful demeanor could manage to kill its past and future self.

“Because it is Kind”

This speech for The Doctor is his big one for the season. And it’s spectacular. It’s about being kind and decent, not because it’s easy or fun. But because it’s right. They’re words we need to hear in the day and age that a president can promote violence against the news media and a government can deny healthcare to millions. And I’m not being heavy-handed in these references. The Doctor lists the inevitability of Voldemort. This is the second or third time the show has mentioned the US President. Maybe because they know America needs a Doctor.

“Let Go, Doctor”

With the enemy at the gates (or flying through the floors, as it may be), the Doctor forms a plan. First, Nardole uses his computer genius to write a code making basically everything a bomb. Second, he creates an escape path for all the townspeople.

He assign Nardole the task of caring for the townspeople, which Nardole begrudgingly accepts. The Doctor’s final plan: blow up the whole floor. He knows he’s starting to regenerate, thanks to some early parting shots from a Cyberman. And he might as well make the best of it.

So in the end, the Doctor dies in battle, saving those he swore to protect. He takes two Mondassian hits (how he can regenerate after that I don’t know) and then the world explodes.

“When the Doctor was Me.”

In the end, it’s the companion who saves the Doctor. Bill finds him and takes him to the Tardis to Rest In Peace. Bill is also saved by Puddle-Heather The Pilot. How this exactly occurred, I don’t know. Looks like I’ll have to re-watch that episode! Something about atoms, and science, and repurposing of bodies.

Either way, Bill is back in her body. She can travel the universe with Heather forever. And she’s left the Doctor with a parting gift: a single tear of hope.

That tear from Bill led to a million years from me. I’m a sucker for Doctor Who fan service and Moffat does that well. A cavalcade of memories from companions who one by one say his name; Rose, Donna, Jack, River, and more call out for the Doctor. It’s enough to revive him, to remind him that he’s needed, that he has a purpose.

As the regeneration starts, he resists. “I don’t want to go.” When the Doctor was me, he says (a reference to the 2007 mini episode for Children in Need). He wants to stay (though we know he won’t). Who should arrive to scold the whine of this sad man? The original curmudgeonly Doctor. The first Doctor, reprised by William Bradley of the 2013 Adventure in Time and Space special.

Christmas will feature these two Doctors and I am here for it! Christmas episodes are traditionally my least favorite, but I’m ready for this duo!

Highlights:

  • The parallels between last past two finales and this one are extreme. A Cyberman with a soul? Check for Danny Pink in Death in Heaven. A companion he can’t save? Check for Clara in Face The Raven. A companion who’s only sort of dead, who can now travel the universe forever? Check mate for Me and Heartbeat Clara in Hell Bent.
  • The Master hitting on himself is pretty wonderful. He would be narcissistic enough to want to frolic with himself.
  • The Master/Missy is still my favorite villain. And having a declawed Missy play with a post-sacrificial Master was delightful dark.
  • Tying in something from the first episode to this one may be considered a deus ex machina, but I loved it. Did it entirely make sense? No. But did it give Bill an ending I can be happy with, since her future is unknown? Sure.
  • The time travel aspect was brought to the forefront as the different variations of Cyberman. More fan service. No problems.