Posts Tagged Pearl Mackie
Vworp… Vworp… Vworp… Spoilersss!
Yes, it’s that time of the year again. Doctor Who’s Christmas Special happened and with it we have Peter Capaldi’s final bow as The Doctor. For some, an epic last hurrah to his tenure as our favourite Time Lord. For others, a lukewarm letdown for the Twelfth Doctor’s swan song.
But for every fan, it was also the first on-screen appearance of Jodie Whittaker as the new Doctor. And yes, it all ends in a cliffhanger.
To bring it all to a close, we have David Bradley as the First Doctor. That means he gets to impersonate the late great William Hartnell as well as deliver a few lines from another time long ago with mixed results. Mark Gatiss is also along as the Captain, a little easter egg for long time Whovians. I should add that quite a few people will determine his lineage on appearance alone. We also get Pearl Mackie reprising her role of Bill Potts for the entire episode.
In the end, we get a final episode of Doctor Who with a twist. Testimony, the supposed antagonist, is not the big bad. There is no big bad. And with that, we get a surprisingly emotive retelling of the Christmas armistice of 1914 during the First World War plus the passing of the torch from Capaldi to Whittaker. Does it work? Yes, it does! I’m not sure why some people hesitate or consider it subtle. A few things work, a few things seem a bit unnecessary but there’s no bloated filler. It’s a good, lean and filling last meal of a Doctor Who Christmas special.
Highs, Lows and Vworps:
- Peter Capaldi is given his times to shine both as the Twelfth Doctor taking on seemingly unsurmountable odds and being flummoxed by Bill Potts or The First Doctor. He also sends advice to the next Doctor in line as his time for regenerating finally comes.
- David Bradley’s plays William Hartnell playing the Doctor. There’s really very little “The Doctor” moments with him. He never really does dispense advice as much as he criticizes Capaldi’s Doctor, but he’s still fun to watch. There’s a couple of dated remarks that are supposed to be lightly sexist and end up cringy. I’m not asking to revision history but you could’ve had the First Doctor learn from those mistakes and evolve a little more.
- Pearl Mackie plays the always fun and unbreakable Bill Potts. And yes, it’s still her and her memories formed in Testimony. She still challenges and moves the Doctor to action and/or emotion. I’m sad she’s not hanging around as a companion.
- Mark Gatiss plays the Captain, who only gets to state his identity at the end. It’s Captain Archibald Hamish Lethbridge-Stewart. It’s extremely obvious from the beginning that he’s related to the Brigadier, Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, the leader of UNIT played by Nicholas Courtney who has made appearances in the show from 1968 to 2008.
- There’s a brief but meaningful appearance of Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald, finally giving The Doctor back his memories of her. I guess Clara Oswald eventually gets added to Testimony, but as we know she’s still out there. I wonder if we could put Ashildr and Clara’s diner in a future episode. (See: Series Issues: Doctor Who 9×12 – Hell Bent)
- There’s also a brief cameo by Matt Lucas as Nardole. Of course, Nardole gets no respect as usual.
- The face-hugging things were stupid. Sorry, that has been overdone. Only Aliens gets to keep using facehuggers from now on.
- The secret stash of Aldebaran brandy in the TARDIS is not known by Twelve until River Song reveals the secret panel to him before learning he’s the new incarnation. Does this mean that the First Doctor learned this and then forgot it? The Doctor is supposedly immune to paradox (so is the show, let’s be honest).
- And finally, it’s Jodie Whittaker’s first on-screen appearance as The Doctor. She doesn’t quite get to stretch her wings as Thirteen though. With the TARDIS broken up and her new occupant in free fall, we’re left where all the Doctor’s adventures begin again: a cliffhanger.
That will do for now.
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.
Enter Bill Potts as the new Companion,
I really prefer to think of the Doctor’s Companions more like a viewers’ personal guide. They literally re-introduce the Doctor to the people watching, often not assuming that everyone’s has already gone for a ride on the TARDIS before. It also gives the show a chance to re-invigorate itself, as a every Companion has a different perspective.
This easter weekend we got The Pilot, the first show of the 10th season of the Doctor… I know that the show has gone on longer than that, I’m just going with the official convention of starting the recount on 2005.
Pearl Mackie plays the plucky and charming Bill Potts. So far, I love her character. She’s more warm than sassy, more caring than cool and a lot more into science as she slips into the Doctor’s lectures. Apparently the last Timelord has managed to get employment in a university giving out lectures about quantum physics. Or poetry. Same thing, really. Also along for the ride is Nardole (Matt Lucas), who I gladly accept as more of the sidekick. Bill feels more like the sorcerer’s apprentice.
There’s not much of a real threat in the first episode. The Doctor is investigating a vault door, something that we might see develop into a future episode. Meanwhile Bill becomes friendly with a student named Heather who has a star in her eye. Unfortunately, she’s been absorbed by a water monster that appears to have a yearning for Bill as well. The fact that Bill and Heather have an attraction is not played up, but treated very casually which was also refreshing.
We also get the TARDIS out for some traveling hijinks as the Doctor decides to test the water fiend’s ability to track them down, and then ingeniously decides to throw none other than the Daleks on its way.
A decent, but not amazingly epic start for a new season, which is the last for Peter Capaldi.
- Peter Capaldi is still the Doctor. Actually it feels like he’s been the Doctor for even longer.
- Pearl Mackie’s portrayal of Bill Potts is charming and her chemistry with the Doctor is enjoyable so far.
- That being said, I’m glad she has enough insight and sci-fi familiarity to recognize and stop a mind wipe.
- The Doctor has pictures of River Song (wife) and Susan Foreman (granddaughter) on his desk. *Sniff*
- The pencil holder with a bunch of sonic screwdrivers.
- The TARDIS with the out of order sign.
- Yeah, I know they’re obvious easter eggs. And it’s Easter. Fitting.
- Okey, not much substance to make it memorable, but this was kind of the slow intro to the song. Let’s wait for the chorus to hit.
That will do for now.