Spoilers might shoot you in the back.
You know how this goes, as much as that spoiler warning goes up. I don’t really like to recap an episode, specially when I like it so much. The series has been giving little hints about something else, and as it happens it goes all the way back to the first episode, to The Pilot.
But I’m jumping ahead. Pearl Mackie has been a subtle force to be reckoned with as Bill Potts. I really thought that we lost Bill. As it happens, we get to see Bill as Bill again. Bill is still a Cyberman. We see Bill because she still has her self-image as human. It’s a really good way to perceive her sometimes as she sees herself and sometimes as the Cyberman that other people cower away from.
They’re going into a battle that they can’t win. The Cybermen are coming. The Master and Missy are leaving, despite the pleas from the Doctor. Missy hesitates longer than normal, and we know we could be seeing a turn. A turn that when it comes, it comes a little too late. The Master seems to have a problem turning into Missy, and Missy seems to have evolved beyond her past incarnation. A pity that the Doctor never gets to see it.
There’s a quixotic attitude in the Doctor for this confrontation, a sense that he’s going into a battle he can’t possible win. He knows it, he knows the odds, he’s just doing it because it’s the right thing to do. A heroic and altruistic mindset that knows that even if he gives his life he might be giving the small community of humans a very slim chance, a chance that might translate into barely a few more drops of time living. There was a certain feeling, like running at windmills, of bravery regardless of outcome.
I was glad to see that Bill was spared the cursed life of a Cyberman prison. I didn’t expect Heather to turn up (the water fiend/friend from The Pilot). Now what used to be a doomed destiny becomes Bill’s chance at freedom. In typical cruel irony, the Doctor doesn’t get to see Bill’s future.
Instead, he’s transported to his beloved TARDIS. He’s sustained enough damage though. With an imminent regeneration looming, the Doctor stalls. He doesn’t want to regenerate. He doesn’t want to change anymore. It’s a middle-regeneration crisis he’s going through. He stumbles out of the TARDIS, still trying to put out the regeneration fires. Then a voice calls out and he calls back.
It’s the Doctor. Not a Doctor, but THE Doctor. The first ever Doctor in the flesh. Of course this is David Bradley (Filch!) playing the role of the original William Hartnell as he did back in 2013’s An Adventure in Space and Time.
- I was glad to see Pearl Mackie again in the flesh, even if it was Bill having a illusory image of herself. That was very well executed.
- The Master and Missy’s double betrayal. Backstabbing each other is the literal interpretation of the Master sabotaging himself.
- Missy’s sonic is an umbrella. A dark Mary Poppins indeed. I will miss Missy though.
- Nardole actually organizes the resistance. That almost makes me forgive him for running away and leaving the Doctor in the hands of the Master and Missy.
- “Where there’s tears, there’s hope.” That line had a lot of reach in this episode, when said by the Doctor to a doomed Bill, when said by Heather to a converted Bill and when said by Bill to a dying Doctor.
- The Doctor figuratively becoming Don Quixote and charging at the Cybermen as if they were his proverbial windmills. Also, Nardole blows up a windmill.
- The Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) meeting the First Doctor (William Hartnell played by David Bradley).
- I thought The Doctor would end up using his regenerative energy to restore Bill Potts’ body. Then again, I like this solution much better.
- If the intention was to have Heather be the solution for Bill’s predicament, I wish some more forecasting had been used sprinkled across the rest of the series. Some scenes make allusion at Bill’s tears, however. I guess we just had to believe there was no way out for Bill.
- The mystery of how the Twelfth and the First Doctor meet, and the actual regeneration to Thirteen will be revealed in the 2017’s Christmas Special.
That will do for now.