Unbelievably, Doctor Who Series 10 is coming to a close, and this run of episodes seems to have gone down really rather well.
But how it’s remembered largely hinges on the finale, World Enough and Time/ The Doctor Falls.
No one’s seen The Doctor Falls, but a few lucky reviewers have seen advanced copies of World Enough and Time, the opening part of a story that reintroduced the Cybermen from The Tenth Planet, and John Simm’s Master. So what’s the general consensus?
Please note, this is basically spoiler-free.
While you might think there are minor spoilers, there’s nothing to stop your enjoyment – in fact, we won’t be delving into anything we don’t already know about. For instance, we know Missy and the Master are in it. Judging from the image gallery, we also know numerous Cybermen designs appear.
Preview discs also omitted an important scene too, so even those in the know aren’t completely in the know. Y’know?
Without further ado…
Let’s start with the thing that surely got Peter Capaldi most excited: Cybermen! He’s been asking for the return of those original Mondasian models since he came aboard the TARDIS, so here they are, and looking gorgeous.
“Given that this is a Cyberman episode, the reveal of the very first Cyberman is a surprisingly long time coming and cannily done. Instead it focuses on the terrifying mid-conversion stage, and it ain’t pretty,” writes Rob Smedley. “The rest of the episode is lessons on gravity’s influence on the plot and enough implied body horror to let your mind wander to some gruesome places. Oh and the word ‘pain’ gets said. A lot. An awful lot.”
DWTV relieves some worries: “Yes, even the voices are maintained! Fortunately, despite a few worries pre-viewing, they’ve translated successfully to the modern era in the episode itself. The top-knotted converts are utilized in a very effective and creepy way.”
Dave Golder reaffirms: “There’s a careful piece-by-piece build-up to the reveal of the first proper Cybermen – it’s very effective and creepy, especially the rationale behind the voices.”
“We see the horrors of forced human-experimentation and Bill is left in amongst it all,” Flickering Myth states. “This isn’t a standard episode of Doctor Who with Good vs Evil, Right vs Wrong, as we see when Bill deals with a victim in pain; though quite shocking it is very human.”
Missy and the Master
Of course, many were incredibly excited by the promise of John Simm’s return – myself included. So what about the Master, and his female counterpart, Missy, played by Michelle Gomez. Has she really turned good?
“The Master is very much back – not a dream, not a ‘Moment-esque’ type appearance – he is back, and at his evilest,” assures DWO. ” We are still unsure of whereabouts in Simm’s Master’s timeline this episode sits, but it seems to be set after the events of The End Of Time (we may be wrong, though).”
The DWC’s own James Baldock writes for the Metro: “When you have a TV show in which the lead character can not only change their appearance but also travel through time and space, it’s comparatively easy to put the two of them together. It just means that their timelines cross over… Missy is definitely the Master (whatever the fan theories tell you) – it’s just that she’s meeting up with an earlier / later / different version of herself.”
DWTV is annoyed at the publicity machine spoiling the big surprise: “It’s just a disappointing case of publicity taking precedence. Regardless, thankfully the latter moments of the episode still come the closest yet to rivalling Utopia for sheer fan excitement. Simm hasn’t missed a beat, but is thankfully more toned down than his manic hooded-hobo ways in The End of Time.”
Generally, however, reviewers skirt around the issue of the Master. Could this mean he’s only in it for a bit, with centre stage being reserved for Missy for now…?
Direction and Music
As with Series 8 and 9, Rachel Talalay is back on directorial duties (as she will be at Christmas).
“This is really, really creepy television in places, and I wonder if Talalay – appreciating she’s no slouch when it comes to horror – has been playing her fair share of survival horror videogames as well,” Simon Brew says. “Her sense of pace, light and being able to pick the right camera angle to unsettle the viewer is acute.”
“The episode is dripping in atmosphere and ramps up the scares in the more horror-y sequences,” DWTV teases, while Smedley hints, “Actually, it does make you wonder what the Christmas Special is going to be like. And oooh we’re clipping close to spoilers there.”
Murray Gold has been working on the show since 2005’s Series 1, and his scores continue to impress in Series 10.
“Murray Gold, too, puts in place another score here that instantly makes the eventual soundtrack release a corker,” says Simon Brew, and Dave Golder goes on: “Murray Gold gets to revisit one of his greatest ever pieces of music he’s written for the show (not someone’s theme) during a lovely reminiscing sequence. In fact, there’s some brilliant use of sound and music throughout.”
DWO concludes, “Murray Gold has given us something bigger and bolder, with hints of Series Three (his finest soundtrack in our opinion), and a chilling undertone that haunts throughout the episode.”
The Whole Episode
Even if all the elements are there, that doesn’t mean an episode works in its entirety. So how does World Enough and Time hold up?
Dave Golder writes that “though some Moffat-doubters are probably going to like it a lot less we did, we thought it was bursting with great ideas, atmosphere, creepiness, surprises and WTF? Moments”, and Flickering Myth says, “This is an excellent piece of Doctor Who and not only are we getting two slightly unhinged Time Lords with flexible morals together, but we’re seeing a Companion who is very much human. If the closing chapter – next week – continues along this path, this will be an excellent goodbye from Steven Moffat and something that will be remembered in Doctor Who lore for a long time.”
“It begins on an enormous cliffhanger. It ends on about another three of them. And you know what? None of them feel cheap,” writes Rob Smedley. “Everything in World Enough and Time – all the twists, the turns, the timey-wimeyness – feels earned after such a strong and investing series. This feels like a brilliant start to a brilliant end of a brilliant series.”
Bedwyr Gullidge has words of wisdom: “World Enough and Time is a mind blowing episode. It is dark. It is terrifying. The majority of the time it is genuinely shocking. What I can say is do everything you can to avoid spoilers.”
While Simon Brew simply states, “World Enough And Time is a thoroughly, thoroughly impressive piece of work,” DWTV cautions: “Some major things happen here again. However, the key question is, will any of it stick? It’s hard to get 100% invested in the things that transpire when you have that nagging suspicion at the back of your mind that it can (and likely will) be undone… If he does follow through on some of the things, it will certainly be an ending to remember.”
Finally, Paul Jones enthuses that World Enough and Time is “not only one of the best episodes of this run but one of the best since the show returned in 2005 – and certainly one of the darkest.”
Frankly, we cannot wait.
World Enough and Time airs on BBC One tonight at 6:45pm.