Mondasian Cybermen, Steve Austin, black holes, oh my!
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a series of Doctor Who in possession of a finale, must be in want of Cybermen Yup, another finale featuring our favourite cyborgs. No, not the Daleks. Not the Ice Warriors either. Cybermen! As you’d know if you’d paid attention to the second word of this unreview.
World Enough and Time, the penultimate episode of the series. The Doctor is at risk of falling, if we can believe what the title of the next episode claims, and regenerating into Kris Marshall, Miranda Hart, Danger Mouse, Pearl Mackie, Rory Kinnear, Tilda Swinton, Zach Braff, Michelle Gomez, Scrooge McDuck, Actor McActorface… Blah, blah, blah!
The title comes from a Andrew Marvell poem. I could quote it but since every Tom, Dick and Blog will do it, I won’t.
Let me unravel the plot and make it more straight-forward. Ish.
Teaser shows the Doctor, if it is the Doctor, stumbling out of the TARDIS out into the snowy blowiness of outside. Collapsing onto a lamppost, he says, “Nae, nae, nae, ye is my bestest friend ye are. I bloody love ye. *hic* Whit is a lamppost doin’ in the middle of this snowy tundra? Ach, crivens, not Narnia again!” And with that he begins to regenerate…
But this is the future, the Doctor’s probable future. Now, or rather in the future, um, the Doctor has sent Missy to answer a distress call. Bill does not like the idea of this, Missy scares her. Nor does Nardole except for the version of Nardole that the Doctor keeps in his pocket. Don’t ask. We do not mention Pocket Nardole.
The Doctor will be watching to make sure that Missy behaves and doesn’t accidentally hold the universe to ransom. Again.
Ship, TARDIS. TARDIS, ship. Ship, black hole, black hole, ship. Just like that.
Missy erupts from the TARDIS like a snake in a can – BOING! – and introduces herself. “I am Doctor [expletive deleted] Who, mercurial jackanapes whit a TARDIS time machine. It stands fer Transporting A [expletive deleted] Rascal Dimensionally In Style. Aye,” turning to Bill and Nardole, “and these are my wee pets, Frick and Frack, Dick and Dom, Dumb and Dumber or as I like to call them; Comic Relief and Exposition. Now point me to the [expletive deleted] black hole and I will rescue ye or something!”
During this, Bill and Nardole wince. Embarrassing or what?
The Doctor is in the TARDIS, eating Marsh Minnow crisps, and telling Missy how to behave. “Nae shrinking and less insults!”
A blue man arrives.
“Would ye like a fried Mars Bar?”
“Missy! I dinnae offer crispy chocs. Try jelly babies instead!”
The blue man demurs. He has already eaten. Plus he’d rather know which one of them is human. Why? Because something nasty is travelling up in the elevator, something that wants to eat humans?
Bill admits to being human, “Yeah, I’m a human. Why, are you a racialist or something?”
The Doctor pops out like a snake in the can – BOING! – much to Missy’s disgust. “Ye cannae jist copy me. Find ye own style!”
The Doctor tries to stop the blue man, Jorj, his name is Jorj, from shooting at Bill. He fails. He shoots her. She now looks like she could appear in that 1990s movie Death Becomes Her, ragged hole through her chest. Bye bye, heart,. Bye bye, Bill Potts. Hello, rewatch of Death Becomes Her.
To lose one companion may be seen as being unfortunate, but to lose two smacks of folly. Is this a repeat of Face the Raven? Will the ravens and the crows join forces? “Kar!” “Klara!” “Kar!” “Klara!” What bird will echo Bill’s name down the ages? Pelicans? Puffins? Titpeckers?
The elevator stops. And out comes the, the… surgeons that moisturized Cassandra? They ain’t Cybermen! Boo! Hiss!
“We can rebuild her,” claim the bandaged figures in their Sparky the Piano voices, clearly fans of The Six Million Dollar Man. “Better, stronger, faster wifi connection.”
And they are gone. With Bill.
The Doctor sends Bill a psychic message but. really, he looks like he is trying not to fart.
Anyways, there is a big faff with Jorj and Missy but once they stop wrestling in jello, Jorj mentions how the skeleton crew went down to the boiler room two days ago to throw more puppies into the furnace but haven’t come back. And that loads of life signs have suddenly appeared. “Weevils, it is always weevils,” he moans.
The Doctor explains, with his red pen, how a black hole has weird temporal effects. So the part of the ship where they are is slower than the bottom of the ship. Time passes normally at one end and slooooooooowly at their end.
The bandaged Moog-voiced people are the descendents of the skeleton crew. Why they didn’t bother to come back is a mystery. But what we do know is that they decided to do it like they do it on the Discovery Channel. Voila! Population implosion!
Now, ahem, the people went down to make the engines reverse them from the black hole, yes? But surely the spaceship. 400 miles long, only has a finite amount of fuel. So why haven’t they run out of it in the hundreds of years that they have spent skimming along the black hole? One explanation is that the thrusters are located at the top of the ship and so, while they’ve run out of puppies, the puppies are still in abundance at the top. Does that make any kind of sense?
I am not advocating puppies as fuel by the way. I am making an obscure reference to a three-second scene from The Simpsons twenty or so years ago. Yes, I am that nerdy.
The Doctor shows Jorj a bit of the old Venusian aikido, a bit or Barsoom baritsu and his upped dukes (‘dukes’ being slang for ‘fists’, dear boxing muggles) so that the Doctor, Nardole and not-evil-at-all-nudge-nudge-wink-wink Missy go down in the lift to rescue Bill Potts.
Bill wakes up. Everything is blurry and faintly 1940s with a bit of steampunk thrown in for good measure. Her heart feels a little metallic. A blurry doctor looks at her, then some kind of hermit looks at her. So far, so League of Gentlemen (the comedy series and not the film starring, I think, Jack Hawkins).
When Bill wakes up again, she stumbles off the gurney and makes her way our of the hospital ward. Someone is calling out for help in an electronic voice. It sounds like Daft Punk.
She sees three wards: In, Out, Shake It All About. Interesting thing here is that the signs are in the same font as the white on black TARDIS font. Coincidence?
She finds a cloth-faced patient. His mouth isn’t moving but the word ‘pain’ is coming out of his drip/glowing box. Bill hears noises and ducks behind a curtain.
The hairy hermit enters with a nurse (matron?), and turns down the “Help”. They exit. Come back in. Exit again. Come back in, and exit for good this time.
Bill plays with more of the glowy light drips until the whole ward is shouting “rain”, “spain”, “drain”, “plain” except for one patient who says “Drink! Arse! Feck! Girls!”
The hairy hermit, who is a balding Hagrid lookalike with a dodgy Russian accent and not so tall, makes friends with Bill;
“Hello, I am very pleased to meet you, Billski. My name is Mister Razor.”
“No, no, niet, don’t bother trying to vork out if my name is an anagramski. Just accept it.”
Mister Razor is the caretaker/caketaker (he likes stealing cakes and cleaning up the evidence of cake thievery). In this hospital, he is the odd one out. Would any hospital employ someone who looks like they keep several disfiguring diseases just in their underwear alone? I think not.
Razor invites Bill to drink tea with him and watch the Doctor on TV. “Yes, I love Doctor Who but I think that the current one is not a patch on the sixth one, niet?”
Of course, the footage is from a security camera and because of the whole time dilation thing, the show proceeds one second every few days. But on the plus side, no commercial breaks.
And so Bill passes days, weeks, months, years in the hospital waiting for the Doctor. Plus she is now the tea lady for the entire hospital. Every now and then she sees an image of the Doctor telling her to wait for him.
A bit later, Razor and Bill go outside into the 1940esque city where the skies are paved with metal with the number 1056 stenciled on the underside, the people are made of meat and metal, and people are dying out. Razor tells Bill that people are being converted so they can survive Operation Exodus.
“Billski, this planski will take our glorious comrades up the liftski to the top of the ship vithout dying on the vay.”
“Why would you die on the way?”
“Ah, black holeski. Niet goodski for human lifespan, would take centuries to go upski.”
“But surely it didn’t take me centuries to go down?”
“Um… Oh, Billski! Lookski! A flying kitten!”
This conversion would also allow them to survive centuries of elevator muzak.
More years pass and Bill finally gets Razor to take her to the elevator but it is all a trap. Bill is to go through total conversion. “Sorry, Billski, was lie.”
The patients, under the control of the doctor, hold Bill down. The doctor pulls something out of his gladstone bag. She protests about the pain that they feel. “Ah, yes, but see this thing here? It will inhibit emotions so you won’t care about the pain of the conversion and your subsequent centuries-long existence,” the doctor reassures her.
“But I will still be in pain!”
“Yes, but it’ll save us a fortune in painkillers.”
The elevator finally arrives without the Doctor, Missy or Nardole looking visibly older. Lying Mister Razor. All that muzak has reduced them into primitive savages. A quick buzz of the sonic screwdriver sorts them all out although Nardole now says “ook” between every word he utters.
The Doctor tells Missy to update his Facebook page while he and Nardole venture off in search of Bill. “Nae pictures of kittens,” he warns her. “Oh, and see whit is goin’ on, aye?”
The Doctor and Nardole make it to the hospital, so the elevator must be quite close, and to a surgery room which is as close to cobwebs as can be without spiders. If that makes any sense. In a word; derelict.
In the room are clothed-faced bodies, the Doctor and Nardole look over these semi-converted patients. All we need now is Doctor Dorian and Turk to complete the ensemble.
Missy, let us not forget this raven-haired minx, the hairy layabout Mister Razor approaches her.
“Drokk off, frellface!”
Missy is not impressed. She has finished playing Angry Birds and ha discovered that the ship didn’t come from Earth. It came from Mondas
Mondas, dear Whovian Rookies, is where the Cybermen originated from. No, don’t mention Pete’s World or that Lumic guy, nuh-uh. Mondas is the Cyberhomeworld and also Earth’s twin planet. You know how twins typically have a good one and an evil one, yes? Mondas is the evil one.
Razor snips off Missy’s pigtails and aims a gun at her.
“Ye willnae shoot me, you southern jessie!”
“Niet, I vill notski.. It vould be likeski shooting meski, rightski?”
“Whit are ye jabberin’ aboot, beardboy?”
“Do youski notski rememberski being hereski beforeski?”
“Stop putting ‘-ski’ on the end of nearly every word ye utter, creep!”
“Sorry, love. You may recognise me from my previous job as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, but tonight Matthew I will be…”
…and Mister Razor takes off his rubber mask to reveal, in actual fact, that he is Harriet Jones!
“I am Harriet Jones, former Prime Minister!”
“Aye, I know.”
Harriet Jones take off this new rubber mask to reveal a nondescript bald man.
“I would have gotten anyway with it if it hadn’t been for you meddling kids!”
After a brief scene where Missy slaps Mister Razor around the room, he takes off the mask to reveal the face of – duh duh DUH! – the Master! The one that wot was that Harold Saxon. Yes, him! Why isn’t his skull flashing on and off, curious. But he has that classic Delgado/Ainley goatee, so all is forgiven.
This would have been a bigger surprise if Mister Razor hadn’t sounded like John Simm doing a cod-Russian accent. Oh, also if ‘Mister Razor’ wasn’t an anagram of ‘Master Sizer’. Which, if anything, proves nothing much besides his identity unless the Master has adopted a stage name for his hip-hop music career.
“I’m M to the A to the S to the T to the E to the R, DJ Master Sizer, woot-woot!”
Yeah, and you thought Missy dabbing was bad enough…
The Master disguised himself so that Bill wouldn’t have recognised him as being ex-PM Harold Saxon by the way. Which speaks volumes about how much he overestimates young people’s interest in politics. Bill might not have known who he was anyway. I suspect it was just an excuse to stick on a disguise.
The Doctor, after pointing his sonic screwdriver all over the shop, opens up a door to reveal a Mondasian Cyberman!
Mondasian Cybermen? Really? Really? Aren’t all Cybermen, barring the ones made by Cybus Industries, Mondasian? No, Telos was more of a 24-hour service station/cemetery than planet of origin. To my mind, Mondasian is what all Cybermen are. Like all Jews are Jewish despite not being born in Jerusalem.
Anyhoo, the Doctor asks the Cyberman where Bill Potts is. The Cybe says, in its Moog-voice, “Bill is dans tous ses états. She waited for you. This Cyberman is Bill Potts. This scene is not ripping off that scene where Rose Tyler’s mother from an alternate world is converted. Honest! And as for a finale copying th the converted Danny Pink scene, I couldn’t possibly comment.”
The Master and Missy sweep into the room like royalty. “Hello, plebs. Basically this is genesis of the Cybermen. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it!”
Beneath her mask, Bill Potts cries. And the Master laughs all through the closing credits and ten minutes into the programme afterwards. He likes a good maniacal cackle.
Bosh! The End! Or is it? Another episode to go, the conclusion to the series and the fate of CyberPotts.
This is the fourth genesis of the Cybermen if you take into consideration that the spin-offs are all canon. Now, don’t make me punch you. It is all canon! But this origin retcons the Big Finish audio Spare Parts and, thankfully, retcons the Voord evolving into Cybermen origin from The World Shapers (a comicbook story serialised in Doctor Who Magazine, comic fans). The only origin it doesn’t retcon is Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel since that took place in a parrallel universe and, therefore, doesn’t count.
The Doctor is seen to regenerate at the beginning of the story, yes? Amidst snow. What if he is at the South Pole during the events of The Tenth Planet? Maybe a certain CyberPotts is there too? So theory time! The Doctor crosses his own timeline to find Bill. Bill is near the Snowcap base. He finds her and diverts his regeneration into restoring her humanity. Now either this kills him and Bill becomes the Doctor or they both go their separate ways. In any case, I predict the appearance of the First Doctor. Maybe I should bet money on this?
Second theory: it wasn’t the Doctor who was regenerating. Missy regenerates into a copy of the Doctor. Doctor rides off into sunset. The John Simm Master stamping his feet in frustration.
The second theory will be the one that might be right. Look at the clues. Missy is pretending to be the Doctor. And the Doctor says that of all the people in the universe, Missy is the most like him. Of course this might just be a giant bluff. All this foreshadowing being nothing more than fluff on a needle.
World Enough and Time was celebrated as being the first multi-Master story but it isn’t. That was The TV Movie. And that beat this epsiode by one Master if you add the snake Master to the Eric Roberts and the unseen Master at start of story.
Oliver Lansley plays Jorj, blue janitor alien guy. Nuff said. Next!
Alison Lintott as the Nurse is practically an overweight Nurse Ratched. This, I thought, was pretty cool. Not in enough scenes sadly. Oh well…
Paul Brightwell as the surgeon. I liked him. Surprisingly given his lack of scenes. He plays a very good sinister surgeon with excellent bedside manners.
Matt Lucas as Nardole didn’t get to do much in this. I hope that his part will step up a notch for the finale. As such he did not set a foot wrong. Even during the dance number. Loved that umbrella-and-soapy-frog routine. Oh, and he was excellent when he wa eating that Jaffa Cake. Bravo, Matt, bravo!
Peter Capaldi, likewise, didn’t get to do much. He was great buty he wasn’t the real focus of the story. Nay, the focus was on the body horror of the Cybermen and the plight of Bill Potts.
Michelle Gomez excels as the Missy Master. Love her pee-take of the Doctor at the beginning of the story. And as for her claim that ‘Doctor Who’ is his real name, well. Love love loved that. No doubt, some people failed to see the joke but you can’t please everyone.
Pearl Mackie, this is her story. She shines as Bill, the girl who waited. Or should that be woman? Bill is much more adult than Amy Pond in so many ways. The demise of her character, if demise is the right word for someone who is still technically alive. Loved her performance. It had all the gravitas that Amy’s wait didn’t quite achieve. Loved it.
John Simm? Hidden behind a mask. Can’t really speak about his performance other than for what I have already alluded to in the main body of this unreview. Maybe next time…
So should you watch World Enough and Time? Yes. Simple as.
Roll on next week and the finale. Hold on to your hats, we are in for a bumpy ride, pardners!