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31 July 2017 @ 08:38 pm
World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls  
World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls must form one of the best season finales in NuWho. In general I've been pretty unimpressed by these finales, feeling they had a tendency to over-emphasize spectacle at the expense of any real coherence. I thought Heaven Sent/Hell Bent were a marked improvement on previous attempts but thought this was even better - possibly because I was never that invested in Clara as a companion where I really did like this Tardis team and am genuninely sorry to see it to an end. Actually, just as I feel I couldn't really critically view The Eater of Light because it was such a nostalgia fest for me, I suspect I can't view this as critically as it might deserve given how invested I was in this Tardis team by this point.

The odd thing here is that there is a lot in the construction of these two episodes that would normally spoil a story for me. The time dilation from one end of the ship to the other is a neatly clever idea but its implications have not really been thought through carefully enough - particularly the time it takes the Cybermen to move up the ship in The Doctor Falls but also the distribution of population signals shown in the first episode, and the hand-waved explanation about why no one is travelling back up the ship doesn't really add up (one can construct explanations for all of this, often involving the Master, but it isn't there in the episodes as shown).

While the rest of the Internet seems to have adored everything involving the two masters, I felt his/her inclusion was largely pointless after the reveal at the end of episode 1. There was some nice thematic and character work going on, but the Master didn't really do anything. I suspect the problem here is that I've never been that interested in the Master (let's face it, Ainley was my first Master and he is not an auspicious place to start), so all the time devoted to the two Masters sniping at each other, or the Doctor gazing soulfully at them was time when stuff was not being done with Bill, Nardole and the Doctor nor was the Cybermen threat being properly worked out. I liked the Doctor's speech as the Master left, and I thought the Master shooting himself in the back was a great moment but that was pretty much it.

I did like Bill as a Cyberman. I was genuinely surprised how effective the way it was filmed was (and thank God they didn't film it straight with her as a Cyberman because that would have been dire!). I liked pretty much everything about Bill here, I thought her interactions with the Master in his Razor persona were great. In an ideal world she wouldn't have spent 10 years waiting for the Doctor, six months is probably the appropriate dramatic interval, but I can live it. Nardole had some great bits, particularly in The Doctor Falls and the opening sequence with Missy roleplaying as the Doctor was lovely.

World Enough and Time was, I would say, the stronger of the two episodes - though with the observation that beginnings are easier than endings. I found it genuinely creepy and unsettling and liked the way it presented the evolution of the Cybermen. The moment with the volume control was particularly effective.

Obviously over the past two season finales we have had the Doctor's friends converted into Cybermen and over-coming their conditioning and the Doctor's companion dying only to be resurrected and run off to have adventures of her own with her space girlfriend. I thought this finale handled both of those ideas better so it's sort of a shame that Moffat had to try them both out first before getting them right. The Teenager was quite disapproving of the space girlfriend bit - particularly the fact that Bill and Heather didn't really know each other that well - but when I floated the idea from the Verity podcast that this should be viewed as a space first date (since it was quite carefully set up with a number of outs for Bill - presumably in part to give Chris Chibnall plenty of leeway for what he might (or might not) want to do with the character) she was equally indignant that I was downplaying the romance. I liked it. I thought it was as well set up and thought out as anything in Doctor Who tends to be, and liked the open-endedness of the fact it could be a quick trip around the universe and back in time for tea, or the start of some grand epic adventure romance.

As for the actual ending with the first Doctor in the snow. I'll confess it warmed the cockles of my fangirl heart though there are so, so many ways this could go horribly wrong up to and including the possibility that that isn't antarctica at the end of The Tenth Planet at all but is, in fact, Victorian Christmas Planet all over again.

So yes I liked this. I liked this mostly for the Cybermen in World Enough and Time and Bill's story throughout. Despite the fact there were a number of flaws (particularly in the logic of the situation) I thought it stood up pretty well in general, especially in comparison to other season finales.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/457787.html.
eve11eve11 on July 31st, 2017 09:00 pm (UTC)
In light of the 13th Doctor announcement I can see meta reasons why they would want to include both Simm and Gomez masters in the finale. I liked them together, though I thought that the Doctor's speech to them in part 2 was too long.

I really liked Bill in this. And 12 as well. The part where she asks him "Did you say that?" "Were you lying?" "Were you right?" was heartbreaking.

Edited at 2017-07-31 09:00 pm (UTC)
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on August 1st, 2017 09:02 pm (UTC)
Oh! That exchange was gorgeous - so much better than "I'm so sorry" and its variants. But it captured perfectly his optimism and his sorrow.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on August 1st, 2017 06:13 pm (UTC)
I also really liked this, a strong ending to an often disappointing season. Agreed about the first half being better, and I also don't usually like the Master much, particularly the John Simm incarnation, but I felt he wasn't too bad here.

The Teenager was quite disapproving of the space girlfriend bit - particularly the fact that Bill and Heather didn't really know each other that well

I take it for granted that romance on screen is almost always rushed and implausible, particularly in Doctor Who.

I don't know if you count trailers as SPOILERS, but the official trailer for the special seems to imply that this is indeed Antarctica, although the first Doctor is in rather better condition than he was at the end of The Tenth Planet. I have mixed feelings about recasting the first Doctor (yet again), but am resolved to wait and see how it pans out.
louisedennislouisedennis on August 1st, 2017 09:04 pm (UTC)
I take it for granted that romance on screen is almost always rushed and implausible

So do I, but the Teenager has strong views on this point and often comments with disapproval about the love lives of fictional characters.

I think you are correct, particularly given the trailer, that this is proper Antarctica and not Victorian Christmas Planet - though I would say that absence of VIctorian Christmas Planet was guaranteed.
liadtbunny: DW One Barbara & Ian justliadtbunny on August 2nd, 2017 03:00 pm (UTC)
I thought it was clever how they did Bill as a cyberman too. If she was in cybermode all the way through it would have made her emotional lines laughable. I thought the first part was better too the plot sort of slumped after that and slightly worried for Nardole!

louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on August 2nd, 2017 07:40 pm (UTC)
I think we are encouraged to assume Nardole will probably be OK, even though the Cybermen will get there eventually he has some time and, in the Doctor Who universe, any number of things may happen if there is time!