Doctor Who had some pretty big shoes to fill with “The Doctor Falls” closing out season 10. Showrunner Steven Moffat had to give this two part finale everything he had, “The Doctor Falls” will forever be associated with his time on the show. The finale episode had to find a way to bring everything together for the Christmas Special, while also tying up season 10 and having to say some hard goodbyes to beloved characters. What lies on the other side of “The Doctor Falls” is this huge unknown of where Doctor Who will be heading next, putting a lot of pressure on this episode to be outstanding, which is absolutely was. With a new showrunner stepping in, Chris Chibnall (Broadchurch), a new actor stepping into the role of The Doctor, and a new companion on the way, never before has a season finale left us with so many unknowns on the other end while wrapping up the current run in such a beautiful way. Though I might not be ready to say goodbye to him, Peter Capaldi as The Doctor has had an amazing run and his last season finale is no exception to that.
Last we saw, poor Bill had been turned into a Mondovian Cyberman after having spent 10 years waiting for The Doctor to come save her. She befriended a disguised Master who led her right in to be upgraded with just minutes away from The Doctor saving the day. The Master revels himself and what his evil plan was to The Doctor shortly after reveling himself, to himself, well herself in this case. Wibbly Wobbly, Timey Wimey stuff. The Doctor, Bill, and Nardole have walked right into the “genesis of the Cybermen.” The Master and Missy are toying with The Doctor about all the different ways they could end him, it’s a highly entertaining scene and John Simm and Michelle Gomez are just delightful together in their role. The Doctor of course has a trick up his sleeve and he was able to redefine what “humanity” means to the Cybermen, he only had time to make one small edit to their code, a simple change from a 1 to a 2. Anything with 2 heart beats will now be considered human and the Cybermen will try and upgrade. The Master makes a deal with the Doctor, he won’t kill him right now, if he helps them escape. Nardole shows up with shuttle craft and Cyber-Bill will not let the craft leave without The Doctor on board. The end up working their way up the ship towards the TARDIS, but end up getting stuck on floor 507 (Nice little RTD nod there).
Floor 507 is a solar farm and Hazran, a wonderful rifle-toting motherly figure helps him to recover. There’s a small group of adults as well as a group of children on this level, and the Cybermen will now be coming for them all. Poor Bill is kept in the barn, her brain is protecting itself by appearing in her normal body, but all anyone else sees is a Cyberman. Cyber-Bill is the highlight of Pearl Mackie’s Doctor Who career. It is absolutely heart breaking to watch her come to the realization that she will never in fact be herself again. She’s helps The Doctor with anything she can to help save the people from floor 507, because that’s what Bill does, but she is utterly gutted and you can’t help but to shed a tear with her. Realizing that there must be lifts on this floor too, just hidden in the computer simulation environment around them, The Doctor goes on a hunt to see if he can find them. That’s when The Master / Missy just have to make things even more complicated, someone calls for the lift. But the lift was lower in the ship and that means there could be Cybermen on it, which of course there are. They now know exactly where to go and the evolved terrifying version begins the hunt.
This is the time for The Doctor to make an all out stand against the Cybermen. But he knows that this isn’t going to be a successful plan. Nardole is going to stay with Hazran and take the children to a new floor, slowing moving them up the ship and keeping them out of “upgrade” harm for as long as possible. The Doctor is going to stay here and take out as many Cybermen as he possibly can in order to give them that safe exit. Thus this is the end for Nardole as well, maybe not right away, but bringing him full circle for season 10. Bill has decided that she will stay with The Doctor, if she cannot be herself anymore she doesn’t want to be alive and The Doctor doesn’t push her on that. He is going to blow up the entire floor, taking out as many with him as possible. There is a fantastic scene of him running through the simulated forest, exploding Cybermen and yelling out locations of past victories, a treat for any Whovian.
“Mondas! Telos! Voga! Planet 14! Canary Wharf! Messier 13! Every single time, you lose. Even on the moon!”
Not to mention the speech he give the dual Masters in his plea for assistance. If there is any one scene in this episode that really truly leaves a mark on us as fans, it’s this speech. Knowing that he will not be able to “win” against Operation Exodus, the Master wants to know why he even bothers. His response echos back to every single version of The Doctor before him and will continue on long after he’s regenerated, because it’s the right thing to do. He doesn’t want a trophy or reward, he doesn’t even want to “win” he just wants to help people and be nice and kind and do what is right by others. Though the Master just laughs in his face, Missy has been changing and you can tell it eats at her when he responds. Though she’s played off the Master and her evil side quite nicely in this two part finale, you can see that The Doctor has made some kind of impact there. But that’s just who The Doctor is, every incarnation of him that has been and will be in the future. No matter what Doctor you’re watching or what time frame the episode is from that will always ring true, he just wants to do good things.
Winning? Is that what you think it’s about? Because I’m not trying to win. I’m not doing this because I want to beat someone, or because I hate someone, or because I want to blame someone. It’s not because it’s fun. God knows it’s not because it’s easy. It’s not even because it works, because it hardly ever does. I do what I do because it’s right. Because it’s decent. And above all, it’s kind. – The Doctor
So here we are, with The Doctor splayed out on the now scorched battlefield. He’s burned, unconscious and likely fatally wounded. Bill does get a happy ending here, her soul separating out from the Cybermen and joining Heather, The Pilot to explore the universe. Heather left Bill her tears way back when, and she’s been able to sense Bill’s entire journey. They can now go forward, in a new type of life, and travel the universe together. Bill and Heather take The Doctor back to his TARDIS, she knows that is where he will want to end up. The Pilot can apparently fly anything so they get him to safety before stepping out the front door and staring their new adventure, leaving us with a heartfelt goodbye to one of the best companions in modern Doctor Who.
So what ever happens with Missy and The Master? Well, I’m highly disappointed that I won’t be seeing them play off one another in this particular role again, because they were just delightfully evil. But there really isn’t a better way their story could have ended. The Master has his TARDIS on the lower levels of the ship, he can’t get it to function because it’s too close to the black hole and he needs a new part which he doesn’t have a spare of. Missy however just happens to be carrying that exact part around in her purse because sometime in her past a mean scary lady threatened the pants off of her/him over carrying around this one particular thing. Realizing that they can now go fix his TARDIS on the lower levels, thus carrying them away from the evolved and dangerous Cybermen, they take off for one of the lifts. After struggling externally with what is essentially an internal conflict, Missy plays her final hand and brings the Master plot line full circle in a beautiful way that only Doctor Who can. Missy kills The Master, bringing about his regeneration into her. He then shoots her in the back, full force, because he will never stand with The Doctor and that’s what she’s about to go do. I’m not quite sure if this should could as murder or suicide, possibly both? But the two of them laughing hysterically about how they’ve both just killed one another is really the only way for their story to come to an end.
The Doctor regains consciousness and finds himself back on his TARDIS with that regeneration glow beginning to take over. He’s so stubborn though and has decided that he will be having none of this regeneration business. Way to play at the heartstrings there Capaldi and Moffat, I’m not excited about his departure from the 12th Doctor and here he is stubbornly stomping around the TARDIS refusing to let it happen. He echo’s the 10th Doctor’s sentiments, shouting “I don’t want to go!” as the golden glow of regeneration grows stronger. Thankfully, Scottish and stubborn are synonymous with one another and we don’t have to come to terms with his regeneration quite yet. The TARDIS takes The Doctor somewhere, he thinks she’s trying to teach him a lesson about being stubborn and he ends up in a snowy landscape mumbling about change and not changing again. Enter David Bradley as the 1st Doctor, who will be joining the 12th Doctor in this year’s Christmas special. I am happy that Moffat didn’t try to also throw the regeneration in this finale, it already had a longer run time that the rest of the season and there was just too much else that needed to be accomplished. Yes, it allows me have one last adventure with Capaldi as The Doctor, but it also allowed the other characters their proper goodbyes after a well done season. What lies ahead for Doctor Who is vastly unknown. With a new showrunner at the helm, along with a new Doctor and a new companion, Whovians everywhere will be jumping into Season 11 headfirst after we finally say goodbye at Christmas.
What kinds of knowledge do you think the Original Doctor might provide and what will they get up to this Christmas? Let me know by leaving a comment or finding me on Twitter!
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