Doctor Who: The Doctor Falls
July 2, 2017 3:29 AM - Season 10, Episode 12 - Subscribe

The Master - in his John Simm incarnation, prior to regenerating into Missy - has unmasked himself, seemingly having been behind the cyber-conversion project on the lowest, and thus slowest, level of the Mondasian time-dilated colony ship. One of the products of that cyber-conversion project being Bill Potts...

The idea of Bill Potts being strong enough to survive the mental trauma of conversion, but so in denial of it that her self-image is still of being human, is very close to how we were introduced in 'Asylum of the Daleks' to Jenna Coleman as Oswin Oswald - later revealed to be one of many avatars of Clara Oswald - who was similarly in self-denial about her conversion into a Dalek. However, it allowed Pearl Mackie some of her best performances of an already strong season as Bill, as she sought to deal with how she had waited a decade for the Doctor to save her, only for him to be just too late.

Bill's salvation: is it a deus ex machina if it was carefully set up in the first episode of the series? Again, it feels like we're repeating ourselves; Heather and Bill left exploring the universe, just as Clara and Ashildr were in 'Hell Bent' (also directed by Rachel Talalay - I like a friend's theory she's setting us up for their adventures together.)

As with 'World Enough and Time', lots of continuity references and call-backs. As well as the Mondasian Cybermen, we get to see the more modern version, explained by the Cybermen of the lower levels continuing to develop in their faster timestream. During his final battle with them, the Doctor names a series of previous encounters with the Cybermen; more details here, including the observation that several apparently incompatible accounts of their origin are now canonical. I blame The Great Time War. Or the Cracks in Time. Or something.

Of course the biggest, bestest continuity reference of all came at the very end. Having convincingly depicted William Hartnell playing the First Doctor in the docu-drama An Adventure in Space and Time, David Bradley now returns as the First Doctor himself, the BBC confirming that he will be starring alongside Peter Capaldi in the Christmas special.
posted by Major Clanger (47 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Bill's salvation: is it a deus ex machina if it was carefully set up in the first episode of the series?

Yeah this was my biggest issue with this episode.

It would of been one thing if there had been, like any, indication that Heather was still around/keeping an eye on Bill over the course of the season (even as a "Bad Wolf" style series of background bits or easter eggs) but this just came out of nowhere really. The Simpsons did it as an intentional joke when at the end of "Das Bus" they have a final bit of narration: "So the children learned how to function as a society, and eventually they were rescued by, oh, let's say...Moe." Here it really felt like...uh yeah....Heather can save her....why not.

The rest of the episode was alright. The Master/Missy were fun as always...I do hope we get to see Missy again...since while she's "Dead" that doesn't really mean anything. It seemed she remembered more than she let on so maybe remembered shooting her self in the back so made sure to put on her laser proof undies that morning.

No idea where they are going with the First Doctor stuff and we have 6 moths to wait to find out.
posted by Captain_Science at 3:59 AM on July 2 [8 favorites]


We heard the sound of the Cloister Bell as the Tardis landed in the snowscape; although this is often taken (including by many writers) to indicate that the Tardis considers itself in danger, it seems to be really a warning that the Tardis is causing, or involved in, a causality violation. I'm wondering if the events of 'World Enough and Time' / 'The Doctor Falls' will somehow have interfered with those of The Tenth Planet, and we're going to see the resolution of that.
posted by Major Clanger at 4:25 AM on July 2 [5 favorites]


Missy won't be coming back as Michelle Gomez has said she won't be returning.

Can I say tho, the music was so intrusive I almost gave up watching this episode after 20 minutes. The point about "incidental music" is it's meant to be incidental, not a continuous whine over all of the characters' dialogue from the start of the episode to its end.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 5:16 AM on July 2 [5 favorites]


I went into this pretty pissed off that they Cybermanned Bill, and was hoping they'd have some sort of resolution to pull her out of it. (after all, there are two TARDIS's around - I was expecting some sort of "Okay kid - this is where it gets complicated" machinations.)

The resolution of Bill's situation was ... okay and trending towards pretty cool. Yay love interest! And if Hannah can turn Bill back into plain-old-mortal Bill if she wants, then that's much better than satisfactory.

But, I'm a bit annoyed that the ending of Bill's storyline this season is basically the same plot twist as with Clara's departure. Companion is doomed, sort of dies, and then spends an indeterminate amount of time traveling around the universe with a character we met earlier in the season who is not normally mortal. While I thought Clara's departure with the memory wipe was a nice inversion of the tragedy of Donna Noble's departure, this seemed like just a rerun. More so with Cyberman Bill seeing herself as Bill while Dalek-Clara sees herself as Clara.

My wife tells me that, per the Big Finish audio Dr Who dramas, Time Lords change gender when regenerating after a suicide, so the Master -> Missy at this regeneration certainly conforms to that.

I really liked the concept of time flowing differently along the differing parts of the space ship. It's an interesting plot twist and I don't think I've seen it done before. Capaldi's "I don't want to go" was outstanding, and he managed what sounded like a pretty spot-on Baker imitation in there, too.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:44 AM on July 2 [5 favorites]


Peter Capaldi does a pretty good Tom Baker impersonation, which he's dropped into a couple of times during his tenure as The Doctor (notably in 'Mummy on the Orient Express' and 'Empress of Mars').
posted by Major Clanger at 6:17 AM on July 2


My toddler really hated Bill as an early cyberman. Guess I'll hold off on showing her Sharkey's Day for a few more years.

If they'd set up the romance between Bill and the girl with the star in her eye all of this would have made more sense. Even in that episode where they are being chased across time and space by a puddle the whole thing isn't set up very well. That's the problem with Moffat and why he needed to go. He's always writng these clever twists that you'll never see coming, but then you won't see it coming because it was never set up properly.

I am pretty excited to see David Bradley in the christmas special. He's played a lot of curmudgeons over the years, and while they are generally unlikable characters, he really gives his all as an actor. (Maybe we'll get to see Sean Pertwee play the third (or second!) Doctor someday?)
posted by Catblack at 6:28 AM on July 2 [1 favorite]


Nothing against Sean Pertwee, but somehow Stephen McGann is significantly more of a Second Doctor lookalike than he is.
posted by nonasuch at 6:34 AM on July 2


The Master shooting Missy in the back was perfect. Michelle Gomez just sold the whole uneasy doubting growth thing so well.

The Bill/ Puddle thing was very Xanadu.

And now, one more loop.
posted by hawthorne at 6:48 AM on July 2


Just realised: Missy made the regeneration companion montage.
posted by hawthorne at 6:57 AM on July 2 [8 favorites]


So...Unless the intention was to kill-off the Master as a continuing character, Simm's Master has to survive without regeneration. Otherwise, if he regenerates, he becomes Missy (but Gomez won't be back) Or has it merely been an assumption that Simm's Master would regenerate into Missy? I suppose we could have more Masters between Simm's character and Missy, yes?
posted by Thorzdad at 7:07 AM on July 2


I feel like we were getting some heavy foreshadowing of a younger, female doctor regeneration. It's not just all the Master/Missy byplay, but also some very pointed lines:

"Is the future going to be all girl?" "We can only hope."
"You know how I'm usually all about women, and kinda people my own age..." "Yeah." "Glad you knew that."

Moffat: you'd better not be trolling this time.
posted by ourobouros at 7:15 AM on July 2 [5 favorites]


Nothing against Sean Pertwee, but somehow Stephen McGann is significantly more of a Second Doctor lookalike than he is.

Wouldn't Sean Pertwee be cast as the Third Doctor?
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:03 AM on July 2 [4 favorites]


So...Unless the intention was to kill-off the Master as a continuing character, Simm's Master has to survive without regeneration. Otherwise, if he regenerates, he becomes Missy (but Gomez won't be back) Or has it merely been an assumption that Simm's Master would regenerate into Missy? I suppose we could have more Masters between Simm's character and Missy, yes?

Nah, I think it's still Simms-to-Gomez, it just means that the next time the Master/Mistress appears in the series wearing a new face, there will be some handwavey non-explanation of how they regenerated. I mean, what about that bit of regeneration energy that the Doctor emitted from his hands into the 'ground' before he keeled over, couldn't that have made its way into Missy? I think Missy/Master is as dead as the Master was trapped in Gallifrey forever, i.e. not at all.

I thought the Doctor's final dialogue with the Master & Missy, and the final Master/Missy murder/suicide scene were well done and interesting, while Bill's story was just a retread as everyone above has pointed out. I was impatient to get to the end and finally learn who the next Doctor will be, and then annoyed when I realized we weren't finding out until the Christmas special (not sure why I'd thought we were getting the reveal now - I guess I'd heard that it was already filmed so I assumed it was in this batch).

Moffat: you'd better not be trolling this time.

When is he not trolling? I'll be astonished if the next Doctor isn't another white (British) dude. (As a Lucifer fan, I'm most anxious about how the Tom Ellis casting rumor/theory pans out - while I'm sure he'd be a perfectly adequate Doctor, if it's a choice between the two shows I'm a much bigger Lucifer fan than a Whovian after the suckitude of Moffet, and I'd be very sad if Lucifer's run ends prematurely because of scheduling conflicts.)
posted by oh yeah! at 8:12 AM on July 2 [8 favorites]


The Master trying on eye shadow to get prepped for his stint as Missy was pretty fucking great, not to mention a really good look for John Simm.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 8:26 AM on July 2 [15 favorites]


Moffat: you'd better not be trolling this time.

It's not up to him. But I do think he's trying to lock Chibnall in.
posted by Grangousier at 8:44 AM on July 2


BBC1 did a slightly modified intro to last night's episode.

(Only a pedant would note that Test Card F didn't come in until 8 months after the until-now only appearance of the Mondasian Cybermen).
posted by Major Clanger at 9:00 AM on July 2 [3 favorites]


Bill's salvation: is it a deus ex machina if it was carefully set up in the first episode of the series?

I think it's a fair ending because the puddle-girl didn't stop the Cybermen. Bill and The Doctor did their heroic duty to wrap up the plot. So if Moffat wants to magic up a solution and let them live that's better than killing them off or taking a ton of time to explain their way out the hard way. Heather is like the eagles in Lord of the Rings is what I'm saying.

As for the Christmas special, I'd be happy if they did a Ghost of Christmas Past (First Doctor), Ghost of Christmas Future (next Doctor) sort of thing. He'd have to get Chibnall on board, but I don't think there's any point trying to leave the regeneration a surprise when the BBC is going to announce it the moment (s)he's signed.
posted by Gary at 10:53 AM on July 2 [1 favorite]


I was so sure missy had passed something to the Doctor in their last handshake, but yes taking some regeneration energy could also work.
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 11:39 AM on July 2 [2 favorites]


I got the distinct impression toward the end that Moffat was intentionally writing-off all the current non-Doctor characters, 'clearing the decks' and intentionally leaving Capaldi's Doctor alone for his swan song either as a way to give the new showrunner a "fresh start" or to make it harder on him. Of course nothing is impossible in the Whoniverse, but Chris Chibnall probably doesn't want to start his tenure with a "oh, that's a cheat" plot twist.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:01 PM on July 2 [1 favorite]


I, too, thought Missy's extended handshake with the Doctor was her handing something off to him. I'm assuming Missy knew all along that the Master was going to shoot her so she took proper precautions.

Both Moffat and Rachel Talalay were on The Aftershow (YouTube) with a bit of additional insight into Moffat's choices (he thinks the show should be aspirational, not gritty) and a bit of trivia (the Christmas episode scenes were filmed less than two weeks ago).

Aside from the aftershow it sounds like Bill's ambiguous ending was to give Chibnall the option of continuing the character.
posted by plastic_animals at 12:56 PM on July 2 [1 favorite]


Of course, if it turns out Master killed Missy but did NOT prevent her from regenerating, the character can return but not as Michelle Gomez. The big question is whether the link between gender-change and suicide/self-killing means the new M will be a Master or a Mistress. But the Doctor really should have (if not MUST have) a Time-Lord adversary popping up from time to time.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:49 PM on July 2


The big question is whether the link between gender-change and suicide/self-killing means the new M will be a Master or a Mistress

The only time we've seen a time lord regenerate and change gender was when the doctor murdered someone the other year, which presumably doesn't count as suicide unless just interacting with the doctor is considered so inherently dangerous it's sort of a suicide by default.
posted by dng at 1:56 PM on July 2 [2 favorites]


(Maybe we'll get to see Sean Pertwee play the third (or second!) Doctor someday?)

I would give my right ovary if Sean Pertwee was the next Doctor. The Curator opened the door to "familiar faces" and Sean totally has his father's face.

I thought the shots of CyberBill were incredibly well done. And I'm totally okay with Bill's reunion with Heather because I think there was a set up there. Where there are tears, there's hope. Bill said way back when that she wanted to be with Heather, and now she is. (Although why weren't they dripping wet in the TARDIS? That bothered me.)

Elsewhere on the interwebs, I read an interesting theory about how Nardole is actually Missy's regeneration. Missy would remember SimmMaster killing her, and she was very insistent that they would indeed stand with the Doctor.

I liked it. I wish we had more time with 12 and Bill because they had great chemistry.
posted by Ruki at 2:26 PM on July 2 [1 favorite]


So Bill shimmered off before The Doctor woke up? So he still thinks she got blown up at that level? And Nardo and the children are all a few floors up with a city full of evolving cybermen? Was The Doctor blowing up all the floors below to clear the ship of cybermen, and that included all of the actual people on the decks below? And if so, did blowing up all those decks effect the engines? I hate that there always seems to be too many questions at the end of an episode when Moffat's the showrunner. Such lazy writing.
posted by Catblack at 2:39 PM on July 2 [8 favorites]


Here's Sean Pertwee dressed as the Third Doctor for Halloween a few years ago. I'd love to see him did that as a guest spot.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:47 PM on July 2 [10 favorites]


Pretty irritated that I've lost my favourite ever Doctor, companion, and Master all in one go.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:13 PM on July 2 [10 favorites]


DevilsAdvocate, I'm having a pretty good day, but that picture made it even better.
posted by Ruki at 3:38 PM on July 2 [1 favorite]


This episode seemed to me an appropriate end to the season. Lots of recycled ideas, but hey Bill got a happy ending. At this point, that's all I really cared about. I just want to get Moffat out of there and see if the show can improve. I do hope we see Nardole again as I love him. Sending Nardole to protect the humans reminded me a bit of what happened to River Song in the Library.

It is interesting that Nardole thinks Bill and the Doctor are dead, Bill thinks the Doctor is dead (but there is hope) and most likely the Doctor thinks Bill is dead. I feel like there is usually more closure between the companions and the Doctor when the regen happens (like 10 "checking up" on his companions before regen) so this was an interesting departure in terms all three main characters not really knowing what happened to the others.
posted by miss-lapin at 3:53 PM on July 2 [5 favorites]


Moffat: you'd better not be trolling this time.

It's not up to him. But I do think he's trying to lock Chibnall in.


If anything, they're probably consulting each other so that Moffat can tailor the last few episodes to lead into Chibnall's run.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:01 PM on July 2


Moffat is more likely winding up the BBC after they floated the idea that they were looking to cast a dashing David Tennant type for the next Doctor.
posted by plastic_animals at 7:09 PM on July 2


Major Clanger, Test Card F played a pretty big role in Life on Mars. I assume it was a callback to that, not the era of the Cybermen.
posted by sldownard at 9:47 PM on July 2


The Master trying on eye shadow to get prepped for his stint as Missy was pretty fucking great, not to mention a really good look for John Simm.

This is more of a nod to the Classic Era Master, who have a goatee and wore eyeliner.
posted by crossoverman at 4:43 AM on July 3 [8 favorites]


So...Unless the intention was to kill-off the Master as a continuing character, Simm's Master has to survive without regeneration. Otherwise, if he regenerates, he becomes Missy (but Gomez won't be back) Or has it merely been an assumption that Simm's Master would regenerate into Missy?

That logical conundrum of a later incarnation being the cause of her own existence is so vexing that the show could go in any direction next. It would make sense (enough sense for Doctor Who, anyway) to say that each regeneration is context-dependent. If I am killed on Tuesday I would take one form, but if I die on Wednesday I would take a different one. In the original timeline, SimmsMaster could not have been killed by a Missy who didn't exist yet, so when Missy ends his life earlier than it originally ended, he doesn't regenerate into her but into someone else. Yes, Missy thought that he was going to become her, but it's possible she was mistaken. This might be the first case of the same Time Lord incarnation having been killed at two different times, and her assumption that SimmsMaster inevitably becomes Missy hasn't been tested.

(Regardless, I'm going to miss Gomez as much as Capaldi. This show needed what she brought.)
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:12 PM on July 3 [4 favorites]


Personally, I think that the Master's puzzlement that Missy had no memory of all this is a clue. I mean, it's also a necessary condition for the plot, but I have a strong suspicion that writing it all this way makes it easy to just say that Missy did remember, but couldn't let on, and so appeared to completely die before the Master left, but actually had some plan in motion to protect her. The Master would never know and by the time he'd regenerated into Missy, she'd be planning on how to avoid being murdered by her previous self. I don't think that with something of the magnitude of a Time Lord being murdered by a previous version there would be the possibility of altering the timeline -- I think that this event is "fixed in time" and the fact that it causes itself is just timey-wimeyness. And it all works out fine for whoever Missy regenerates into.

Plus, the next regeneration of the Master won't necessarily be bound to the changes he experienced as Missy with the Doctor. Or, better, not completely bound by them; but, rather, the next version of the Master will be an adversary, but the friendship portion of their frenemies relationship is reinforced. This might be especially fun if we get a female Doctor and a male Master (though heteronormative). So, they have options with the Master. But we aren't likely to see Michelle Gomez again. That's a pity, because she's been the best Master.

I've liked Capaldi as the Doctor a lot, and Bill is my second favorite NuWho companion, after Donna. So insofar as that's true, I'm sorry to see them go (well, Capaldi at xmas). But I've been so annoyed at Moffat's writing and version of Doctor Who, I'm more than willing to give those two actors up to get a new showrunner. I'm excited about what Chignon might do. I'll probably be disappointed, though.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:01 PM on July 3 [2 favorites]


Filming the battle with the Cybermen (YouTube, 1m49s).

Includes trampolining Cybermen, explosions, and the obvious choice of music.
posted by Major Clanger at 2:00 AM on July 4 [5 favorites]


Moffat knows everyone was waiting for a regeneration, so he teased Capaldi's regeneration, Simm's regeneration, Missy's regeneration and then had the Twelfth Doctor meet the First Doctor just before his regeneration.
posted by crossoverman at 3:53 AM on July 4


I enjoyed the visual references to Night of The Hunter.

But... Nardole is still on a ship that's trying to reverse away from a black hole, right? With no one at the controls? Cybermen or no, that sounds like a pretty shit endgame for him.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 4:55 PM on July 4 [2 favorites]


Newsnight teased the next Doctor Who last night, or at least hinted strongly...
posted by pharm at 4:17 AM on July 5


Details of the Newsnight teaser if you want to read who they teased.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:37 AM on July 5


The other theory I've heard is that Moffatt will use some "future" incarnation (not 13, but a supposed later Doctor) in the Christmas special. Then Capaldi will regenerate into the real 13 at the end. That way he can hint or tease more out there choices before they settle on another white guy (or vice versa).

I don't think anyone involved at the BBC level would actually be able to pull off the ruse. But it's what I'm telling myself not to get my hopes up or down as the rumours start flying.
posted by Gary at 8:46 AM on July 5


Nothing against Sean Pertwee, but somehow Stephen McGann is significantly more of a Second Doctor lookalike than he is.

Stephen McGann isn't involved with Doctor Who, is he? Other than being related to Paul McGann, the Eighth Doctor?
posted by numaner at 10:27 AM on July 5


Newsnight teased the next Doctor Who last night

She seems like quite a good choice, actually. Certainly the most interesting realistic proposition I've seen floated.
posted by Grangousier at 10:50 AM on July 5 [1 favorite]


She is also very busy with other projects and the theater company she runs quickly denied, in no uncertain terms, that she is the new Doctor.
posted by plastic_animals at 6:03 AM on July 6


Yes. Just trying to stave off the desperately unimaginative probability that it actually is Kris Marshall. I don't really have anything against him, but he seems much better suited to adverts and bourgeois domestic sitcoms that I do my utmost to avoid.
posted by Grangousier at 5:47 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]


JODIE WHITTAKER!
posted by crossoverman at 8:59 AM on July 16


13th Doctor announcement FPP (on the [TARDIS] blue)
posted by oh yeah! at 9:42 AM on July 16


whups. posted a thing in the wrong thread. Put it over here where it belongs.
posted by rmd1023 at 3:18 PM on July 16


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