Doctor Who: World Enough and Time
June 25, 2017 10:09 AM - Season 10, Episode 11 - Subscribe

The Doctor, intent on seeing if Missy can be redeemed, sets her a test. Things do not go according to plan. We meet an old enemy, in unexpected circumstances. And another old enemy, in equally unexpected circumstances.

There's a lot to be unpacked from this episode, the first of a two-parter that closes Season 10 and, seemingly, Peter Capaldi's run as the Doctor. We get two cliffhangers: the one at the end of the episode, with Bill converted into a Cyberman and Missy apparently pairing up with John Simm's Master, but also the one in the cold open, with the Doctor stumbling out of the Tardis into a blizzard and starting to regenerate (implying that the whole two-part story is being shown in flashback.)

This episode delved heavily into Who's continuity and mythos. The most obvious element of this was the return of the Mondasian 'Mark One' Cybermen, as first seen in 1966 in The Tenth Planet, the story in which William Hartnell's First Doctor regenerated into Patrick Troughton's Second Doctor, and indeed which introduced not only the Cybermen but the whole concept of regeneration that has allowed the show to survive for 54 years. The Tenth Planet was of course set in Antarctica, and it's hard to avoid the suspicion that the cold open may well be part of a connection between it and this story.

We've seen an origin story for the Cybus Cybermen of the parallel Earth in 'Rise of the Cybermen' and 'The Age of Steel', who crossed over into the main universe of the show in 'Army of Ghosts' and 'Doomsday'. Now we have an origin for the Cybermen of the original series, with the Master stating that this is "the Genesis of the Cybermen", in a blatant nod to the classic Fourth Doctor series Genesis of the Daleks. The scenes in the dark, polluted and failing bottom level of the generation ship are very reminiscent of the non-canonical audio drama Spare Parts; although Spare Parts notionally formed the basis of 'Rise of the Cybermen' and 'The Age of Steel', the scenario of this episode if anything seems closer and more faithful to it.

A 400-mile ship hovering above a black who, with radically different time dilation at each end, is the sort of science concept that Classic Who often used to to (and I'm almost surprised it didn't feature earlier as a plot device - the physics has been know for decades.) Mind you, it means we've had the idea of 'a moment here equates to much longer over there' twice in two successive episodes.

So, is this it for Bill? Previous stories in Classic and New Who (and even that execrable episode of Torchwood we don't talk about) have made it pretty clear that Cyber-conversion is not a process you come back from. Perhaps not coincidentally, one of the few long-term companions to have been killed, Adric, also died thanks to the Cybermen.
posted by Major Clanger (34 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
If they cyber-fridge another PoC I'm going to be pissed off!!
posted by Pendragon at 10:24 AM on June 25, 2017 [15 favorites]


I'd like Bill to die... I still haven't connected with her as a companion, she should have died at the end of the Monks storyline, a noble sacrifice to correct her mistake and atone for the many deaths she caused.
We have Nardole and Missy as spare companions and having them would add some fresh dynamics. I think she'll survive though, all they have to say is "The procedure wasn't fully developed, it can be reversed!"
posted by FallowKing at 10:29 AM on June 25, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'm going to choose to believe that the Master spent a lot of time on that colony ship watching his collection of Babylon 5 DVDs and was deliberately channeling Zathras with his Mr Razor persona.

And a good disguise it was! I'm annoyed that they put Simm (and the Mondasian Cybermen) in the trailers as I don't think I would have twigged that it was him under the get-up, and would have loved the end of that episode to have been a proper surprise. Still a very good 'un, mind.
posted by sobarel at 10:44 AM on June 25, 2017 [12 favorites]


Really creepy episode. Possibly the best this season. I didn't realize Mr. Razor reminded me of Zathras until sobarel mentioned it. I agree that it's a shame the Master reveal was in the preview.
posted by wittgenstein at 11:33 AM on June 25, 2017


Best episode in ages, although the threat of the Bury Your Gays trope making an appearance is maddening.

A spaceship so enormous that it suffers intense time dilation along its length is a great Doctor Who conceit. Too cartoonish for Star Trek, too sciencey for Star Wars. For the Doctor, it's just right.

I really loved Mr. Razor and I happily didn't see through his disguise. I was so surprised during my viewing to actually enjoy a side character in this show. Couldn't all side characters be written with that much care and love?

After watching the previews for next week, I'm starting to wonder if, somehow, Missy won't be piloting the TARDIS for awhile.

I had the same thought. The way she sashayed out of the TARDIS calling herself "Doctor Who" was fantastic. I still think it's a remote possibility that she'll be the next Doctor, no matter what the creators have said.

When mulling over how this could take place, here's an unlikely possibility I came across, more fanfic than prediction. The (Simm) Master takes over the Doctor's body somehow, through a mind swap or by pushing down his psyche or something. That regeneration we see at the beginning of the episode? That's the Master in the Doctor's body, regenerating into... Michelle Gomez, who then flies off with a bunch of Cybermen to terrorize Danny Pink and get into other scrapes we've seen. So this whole time, we've already been watching the Thirteenth Doctor's body, mind-controlled by the Master.

At this point, the other Missy we've been watching, feeling contrite, gives the Doctor his body back. If her psyche is still in there, pushed down by his, he'd become a figurative vault watching over her and he wouldn't have to go back on his oath. And then in the next season Gomez could hilariously act as her own companion, switching personalities and talking to herself from time to time.
posted by painquale at 12:07 PM on June 25, 2017 [4 favorites]


And a good disguise it was! I'm annoyed that they put Simm (and the Mondasian Cybermen) in the trailers as I don't think I would have twigged that it was him under the get-up

And that's the reason why I don't watch the previews. They spoil so much...
posted by Pendragon at 12:49 PM on June 25, 2017 [5 favorites]


Although I didn't twig until halfway through his conversation with Missy, and I had seen the preview, so it was still a surprise to those of us in the Stupid Community.
posted by Grangousier at 1:34 PM on June 25, 2017 [11 favorites]


I also had no clue about Zathras oops I mean Razor being the Master. None! (Apparently some people recognised his voice? Also the laws of dramatic conservation or what have you.)
posted by Coaticass at 1:52 PM on June 25, 2017 [1 favorite]


Furthermore: Hey Missy, you're so fine (etc).
posted by Coaticass at 1:55 PM on June 25, 2017


Reviewing the end titles, I'm a bit disappointed to see that although the BBC credited Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis, who came up with the idea of the Cybermen, they omitted to give any screen credit to Alexandra Tynan, who designed the original Cyberman costume as seen almost unchanged in this episode.
posted by Major Clanger at 2:36 PM on June 25, 2017 [4 favorites]


Does Raymond Cusick get a Daleks credit? I mean, he probably should, but what are the precedents?
posted by Grangousier at 2:40 PM on June 25, 2017


Well, for decades Delia Derbyshire received no on-screen credit for the Doctor Who theme music, that going instead to Ron Grainer, even though Derbyshire did the then-novel electronic realisation of Grainer's score. (In fairness Grainer apparently sought screen credit for her, but the BBC refused for reasons of bureaucratic snobbery.)

I don't believe Ray Cusick ever got an on-screen credit either, again it seems because the BBC preferred to recognise those who came up with concepts over those who realised them. Mind you, Cusick himself only got the Dalek design job at the last minute, after the originally-assigned BBC designer - some chap called Ridley Scott - had a scheduling conflict.
posted by Major Clanger at 2:55 PM on June 25, 2017 [3 favorites]


If they cyber-fridge another PoC I'm going to be pissed off!!

That's pretty much my only concern with the whole story.

Apart from that, I loved this. Not-Zathras was great and I'd totally watch a Missy-centered show. Also, I agree that the time dilation thing was just the right amount of science fantasy for Doctor Who. (Stargate SG-1 did a story involving this one time, too.)
posted by mordax at 4:21 PM on June 25, 2017 [3 favorites]


If they cyber-fridge another PoC I'm going to be pissed off!!

This. But also another "girl who waited for the Doctor"? A lot of Moffat tropes being recycled lately and I do not like it.

I was saying to a friend I'd totally watch a Missy show or even a Missy Nardole show.
posted by miss-lapin at 5:45 PM on June 25, 2017 [5 favorites]


The ship reminds me of Sim City. The Master has a city that he's tending to, and if he wants to adjust the speed to African swallow all he has to do is go up a few levels.
posted by FallowKing at 6:40 PM on June 25, 2017


Considering this is the prototype cyber-conversion, and cyber-bill displayed emotion and individualized speech, I think it's pretty reasonable that she could be brought back. I hope so anyway.

So, what exactly is the supposed chronology for Simm-Master? When did he goatee-up and hitch a ride on a Mondas colony ship? For that matter, do we know when/how he regenerated into Missy? Or will that maybe also part of this story. I suppose it would serve to cement her heel-face turn if Missy somehow saves Bill and then initiates her own regeneration by killing the Master.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 7:12 PM on June 25, 2017 [1 favorite]


If Bill is brought on for another season then I hope they can recover her. I would like to see her with a new Doctor to give some continuity. But if she's leaving then I'd prefer she stays as a Cyberman and give this show real consequences.

(But yes, given that the white magic pixie dream companions have all their dreams come true I promise to be happy for her if she gets a good ending too, even if it makes no sense).
posted by Gary at 7:30 PM on June 25, 2017


This season has seemed short. I still feel like we're just getting to know Bill, and now she may be gone soon. Hell, I still feel like we're getting to know Capaldi's Doctor, and now he's almost gone!

Simms did such a good job as Razor that I didn't recognize him until just before his final reveal, even though I knew he was in this episode. (I skipped the previews.) Great reveal on the Cybermen too. I don't think they've been this scary for a long time.

So, what exactly is the supposed chronology for Simm-Master?

Here's his page on the Tardis Wiki, although it only says he "escaped Gallifrey" before regenerating into Missy.

I have a feeling Missy will end up killing Simms' version of the Master. And then, if he regenerates into her... would there be two Missys? (Or maybe he kills her. Gomez has said she doesn't expect to return, so...)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:27 PM on June 25, 2017 [4 favorites]


(Apparently some people recognised his voice? Also the laws of dramatic conservation or what have you.)
Occam's Razor?
posted by rallumer at 2:24 AM on June 26, 2017 [1 favorite]


I really hope the next regeneration gets lighter storylines. It's kind of frustrating that my kid has been able to watch fewer and fewer episodes each season since Capaldi came in. He heard the "Pain! Pain! Pain!" cyber-wailing and noped on out in a hurry from this one.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:20 AM on June 26, 2017 [3 favorites]


Bill was fantastic. I hope she doesn't go out like this.

My guess is some kind of black hole time bending creates a loophole to save her.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:22 AM on June 26, 2017 [1 favorite]


The Doctor spending whole minutes explaining about time dilation, when he could have summoned the elevator and explained on the way down, saving Bill literally years of her life seems like an unusually dick move, even for him.
posted by BungaDunga at 7:31 AM on June 26, 2017 [28 favorites]


I really liked Bill's tear in that last closeup, presaging the "tear" seen under the eyes of all subsequent Cybermen.

This was a properly good episode. Can't wait for next week.

I thought it odd that the Doctor says they can't use the TARDIS to travel through the ship because the gravitational forces from the blackhole would affect accuracy. Yet, he had just landed the TARDIS squarely in a tiny control room at the point closest to the blackhole.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:32 AM on June 26, 2017 [6 favorites]


Yet, he had just landed the TARDIS squarely in a tiny control room at the point closest to the blackhole.

That's where the distress call was originating from so [something sciencey] easier to target.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:50 AM on June 26, 2017 [1 favorite]


saving Bill literally years of her life seems like an unusually dick move, even for him.

It was annoying that Bill wasn't allowed to do anything down there either (by the writer, not by in-show logic). No daring escape plans, no meeting the people and learning their culture, or even learning a new skill. She just sat around for years admiring The Doctor's eyebrows.

Which is a shame because I really liked the rest of this episode. I like it when they actually have a science fiction premise. This is the most interesting the Cybermen have been since the Daleks were insulting them. But they should have either made the time dilation a lot shorter or given her something to do.
posted by Gary at 6:24 PM on June 26, 2017 [10 favorites]


Zathras have lasting cultural impact, but no lasting credit. Is bad for Zathras - but then, Zathras is used to it.
posted by Mr. Excellent at 12:59 AM on June 27, 2017 [10 favorites]


I really liked Bill's tear in that last closeup, presaging the "tear" seen under the eyes of all subsequent Cybermen.

Purely for the sake of pedantics: The Cyberman tear design didn't appear for the first time until their fourth story The Wheel in Space. I was actually initially bothered that the Mondasian Cybermen in this episode had five fingers until I went back and double-checked, and realized that it was Tenth Planet with five fingers, The Moonbase, The Tomb of the Cybermen, and The Wheel in Space with three fingers, and then back to five fingers in The Invasion (which featured the finalized overall look that stayed with the Cybermen throughout the rest of the classic series).
posted by Lokheed at 12:33 PM on June 27, 2017


It was annoying that Bill wasn't allowed to do anything down there either (by the writer, not by in-show logic). No daring escape plans, no meeting the people and learning their culture, or even learning a new skill. She just sat around for years admiring The Doctor's eyebrows.

It was lazy writing, but they did explain that Mr. Razor repeatedly ignored Bill's request to leave the hospital, and once she did she couldn't go very far before her mechanical heart started forcing her to turn back, and the "in process" patients gang up when they think you're trying to leave via that patio door.
posted by numaner at 3:12 PM on June 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


Turning down the volume on the "pain" and "kill me" Cybermen felt like an accusation.
posted by hawthorne at 8:08 AM on June 29, 2017


Are there any other folks here who heard "Pain! Pain!" cries and immediately went to Pain Bot 3000 from Teen Titans Go?

ALL I KNOW IS PAIN.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:05 PM on June 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


I really enjoyed Mr Razor, and this episode in general... though I could've done without the Master's sexually threatening 'Give us a kiss' at the end.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 3:09 PM on July 3, 2017


It's kind of frustrating that my kid has been able to watch fewer and fewer episodes each season since Capaldi came in. He heard the "Pain! Pain! Pain!" cyber-wailing and noped on out in a hurry from this one.

Heck, I almost nope'd out. But now he's has the classic 80's Dr Who experience of having the living shit scared out of you.
posted by GuyZero at 9:33 PM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


That was the trouble with those Mark I Cybermen, all they’d do is just sit around demanding bread.
posted by dr_dank at 7:10 PM on January 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


Wow. I'm really glad I skipped the preview in the prior episode, because they did a spectacular job of walking the line of "Huh, maybe it's not the Cybermen," almost to the point where I'd convinced myself.

Zathras was also perfect in the same way. Since it wasn't spoiled for me, the reveal was simultaneously shocking, and made sense in hindsight.

The rest of the plot was rubbish though. Cybermen are the laziest way to kill off a central character.
posted by schmod at 6:01 AM on November 7, 2018


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