The Doctor visits the holodeck. And unlike every holodeck-related Star Trek episode ever, it doesn’t malfunction.
Welcome to The Doctor Falls. His swansong. Kinda.
This story is a continuation of World Enough and Time where the Master creates the Cybermen, turns Bill into a Mondasian Cyberman (hate that term yuck yuck) and Missy does the fandango on both of the Doctor’s hearts. Oh, and Nardole eats Hula-Hoops. All of this is on a Mondasian spaceship. Nice.
Before I go on, may I register my disgust that Matt Lucas continues his bias against Monster Munch? Is he being paid to actively not eat them? Meh.
The story also features, spoilers alert, a guest cameo from someone who is in the coming-up Christmas episode. Yep, that bloke wot voiced Shansheeth Blue in Death of the Doctor. That being in the spin-off series The Sarah Jane Adventures. I know what you are thinking. Yes, him! Amazing isn’t it?
You may know this voice artiste as David Bradley who’d previously appeared in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, Dinosaurs on a VW Beetle, and Dinosaurs on a Bicycle. Oh, and he appeared as William Hartnell in An Adventure in Space and Time, the Mark Gatiss docudrama which everyone remembers for the cigarette-smoking Mondasian Cyberman.
I made a prediction in my last unreview, several in fact, about how The Doctor Falls would end. Most of them was wrong. Except for one. And that one was probably a no brainer anyway. Below is my predictions and a link to the unreview, just so that you know I’m on the level:
“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.”
Which one was right? Read on and find out. If you already know, read on anyway and try to look surprised.
As usual with the second episode of Moffat-helmed two-parters, this one starts off somewhere completely different. A little different. A hologrammatic rendering of the Welsh countryside on Floor 5707.
A bunch of farmers are attacked each night by the Cyberprototypes of Floor 1056 in a non-gory reenactment of Night of the Living Dead. Luckily none of them are done for copyright infringement since the film was never copyrighted. Small relief for these poor sons of the soil and daughters of the, um, yeah, anyway, they put up with this on a regular basis and stick the prototypes onto wooden crosses to act as scarecrows. Waste not, want not.
A child, possibly auditioning for the musical Annie, is surprised when a shuttlepod pops out of the ground and crashes back down again. From it comes a Cyberman carrying a drunk Doctor.
“I can tak’ all of youse on, ye cybersassenachs!”
“Of course you can!”
“Aye, and dinnae forget it!”
Cue flashback which isn’t really a flashback, and the Doctor awakes on a rooftop, the rooftop of the hospital where Bill lived for ten years.
This not-at-all-a-flashback is preceded by an actual flashback. In black-and-white and with a girl in a red coat so you just know that this is classy. Basically the Masters slapping the Doctor all about the surgery room. Flashback ends.
Missy and the Master are dancing on the rooftops along with Mondasian Cybermen whom are singing Step in Time. You may think that this is cheap reference to Missy’s Mary Poppins fixation and you would be partly right. But the song includes the words “It’s the master”. Not so cheap after all, eh? I wonder if the Moff knew of this link? Hmmmm…
The Doctor is restrained in a wheelchair and hung upside down by a gibbet. The Master and Missy are gloating over his deaths. Our hero is grateful that none of them witnessed the death caused by falling off an exercise bike.
CyberPotts stands nearby, watching without commenting, doing a sudoku. That tune she is humming is Baby Let Me Take You (In My Arms) by The Detroit Emeralds, fact fans.
The Doctor, being the Doctor, did a thing earlier. When Missy knocked him over earlier, in the black-and-white classy flashback, he hacked the Cybermen to give them a new bit of information about what makes a human human. He has told them that now they, the Cybermen, will convert two-hearted beings.
Missy and the Master give each other panicked looks and immediately skedaddle towards the exits so that they can defend themselves from the Cyberhordes.
The Master whips out his laser screwdriver thingie and Missy brings up her umbrella sonic thingie and they proceed to zap splat kapow the Cybermen.
“Ach, it’d be braw if ye knew someone who had defeated armies of Cybermon hundreds o’ times. Aye, that’d be grand!”
“Shut it, grandpa!”
Missy sucker-punches the Master and releases the Doctor. Missy is still torn between good and bad and the Doctor has no idea whether she is AC/DC. Complicated.
Nardole, who’d wandered off to find a packet of Monster Munch (Yay!), has hotwired a shuttlecraft. Now, it looks good here but when we saw it at the beginning of the episode, well, quite frankly it was a load of old pants. Bad CGI. Now it is glorious CGI if it isn’t a physical model. Erm.
Nardole sends down a rope ladder. The Doctor goes to grab it but a random Cyberman electrocutes him, lighting him up like a Christmas tree.
CyberPotts blasts the Cyberman with her gunhead. And yes, Greybeard Whovians, that is a reference to the Target novelisation of The Tenth Planet I think. On the back cover, right? Too lazy to check so y’all have to take it as gospel.
Missy and the unknocked-out Master try to shuttlejack the shuttle but Nardole ain’t having it. Nor is CyberPotts who has gripped the rope ladder in her hand to keep it from taking off.
Which is where the good-looking shuttle becomes a bad-looking shuttle and crashes down into the soil of Floor 1056 where some humans and an extraordinary amount of kiddies are working on a solar farm.
Time is a lot slower here which is either because it is the countryside and there is nothing to do but be bored or it is because this level is nearer the black hole so therefore time is running a little slower.
Nothing to worry about here except for the prototype Cybermen who are too impatient to wait for their fully converted cyberchums.
Two weeks are spent here between the crash and the upcoming Cyberattack. The Doctor recovers slowly but surely. And CyberPotts? Ah, a tragedy there…
Bill now lives in a barn. Not a nice barn but it has an en-suite, pool table and a collection of Enid Blyton novels. Not too shabby. But our Billie is not content. She doesn’t know why people are scared of her. “Is is the afro? It is the afro, ain’t it? I know you guys are jealous but this is just how I roll, yeah? Get used to the afro. The afro is here to stay.”
It isn’t the afro,
It is the fact that she is a Mondasian *shudder* Cyberman with a frickin’ gun in her noggin. Which she doesn’t notice until a child hands her a mirror, little brat, and she sees that while on the positive side she will never need to moisturise, it doesn’t matter because she is a Cyberman!
The girl runs off, mischief managed, and the Doctor, who came in after the girl, reassures her that at least she still has her human brain in charge. Which is why she sees herself as herself rather than the butchered CyberPotts that she is.
This is a neat trick. Can you imagine emotional conversation with a Cyberman who, no insult to Cyberman voice provider Nicholas Briggs, has all the range of a Moog synthesizer falling down a wishing well? No, me neither. And while I am mentioning him, isn’t it about time Nicholas got to do a bit of acting in front of the camera?
CyberPotts is angry. And you wouldn’t like her when she is angry. Her gunhead starts blasting, which blows the barn doors into millions of splintery bits. Nardole, outside and eating more Monster Munch, tells the farmers not to worry. “Just an ickle door explosion, nothing to see here.”
Bill cries and the Doctor wipes it away. Note that this is a weird thing. Cybermen don’t cry although if it were their party, they could if they wanted to. But the weird thing is this, when we previously saw a Cybertear, it was oily. CyberPotts’ is watery. What does this all mean? Did the Master not upgrade her tearducts? Tut-tut, cutting corners, eh?
The Master comes up…
“Hello, gramps. Me and my sexy future self have done that specific thing we are not specifically going to describe at this specific moment in time.”
“Ye have done well.”
The Master turns to CyberPotts.
“Hey, roboknickers. Hows it like in that tinplate cranium of yours? Now, be honest, since I will be a girl next time. How do bras work? Magnets?”
“Master, ye nurk. Dinnae tell us ye forgot that you wore a bra all through that business with the Axons, and the Nestene, the Krankies, and that Azal fella…”
The Master stops mocking her when she tells him that he is not upsetting her. If only he could see her tears under her cloth…
Why isn’t her tears soaking through her cloth face?
The Doctor, the Master and Weepy McCyberface take a walk through the woods. The Doctor starts to regenerate but he stops it by slapping and pinching his ears. Nobody notices.
The Doctor, wondering how a Cyberman can cry, is limping so much that he requires a stick to help him get along. Whatever his injuries are, they must be pretty serious.
CyberPotts is upset that her conditon may not be able to be reversed. But the Doctor reassures her by saying, “With tears, there is hope, dinnae ye ken?” Wise words indeed. Prophetic too.
Wise words over, they come across Missy in the middle of the shoddy forest. She has found a lift hidden via some type of hologrammatic cloaking device. Now, it looks like one of those door marches seen in Star Trek holodeck episodes but this is just a coincidence, how else are they meant to represent a real door in a hologrammatic world?
Missy uses her umbrella to sonic up the lift. Not a good idea but not as bad as her previous attempt to steal Concorde.
The lift comes up along with a Cyberman who is sick and tired of the muzak. When CyberPotts, with the help of the three Time Lords, shoots it dead, I am sure that it thanked them.
Thanks to Missy’s impatience, the Cybernet has been uploaded with their location. The Cybermen will now be coming to get them. Battle is now on the cards. But it isn’t as bad as all that, Nardole has discovered that the floor below has lots and lots of fuel pipes, water pipes, ketchup pipes and many other pipes with similarly burniness inside them. These pipes can be ignited to explode the Cybermen.
Meanwhile the Doctor has a plan. No, not just a plan but a Plan. Find ventilation conduit, evacuate the munchkins to the next solar farm up yonder just so that they can survive a little while longer until the Cybermen reach them again. This is a plan that will probably not work but even if they survive an extra minute, they can do a lot of things in a minute.
The Mr and Mrs Master want to leave and allow the Cybermen to convert themselves silly. All they need to do is go back down to the lowest floor where the Master’s TARDIS is. Next stop: Mar-a-Lago!
The Doctor pleads with them…
“Och, I’m nae tryin’ tae win. I’m nae doin’ this because I want tae beat soomone, because I hate soomone, or because I want tae blame soomone. It’s not because it’s braw. The Tin Vagabond kens it’s not because it’s easy. It’s nae even because it werks because it hardly ever does. I do whit I do because it’s right! Because it’s decent! And above all, it’s kind! It’s just that… Just kind. If I run away todae, guid people will die. If I stand an’ fight, some of them might live. Maybe not many as a mickle or a muckle, maybe not fer long. Hey, ye ken, maybe there’s noo point tae any of this at all. But it’s the best I can do. So I’m going tae do it. And I’m going tae stand here doing it until it kills me. And ye’re going tae die too! Some day… And how will that be? Have ye thought about it? What would ye die for? Who I am is where I stand. Where I stand is where I fall.”
Shades of Braveheart I thought.
“Sorry, mate. I am washing my hair that night, sorry,” says the Master applying a final bit of lipstick. “Catch you on the flip side, duckie!”
Missy is torn by her former self and the Doctor but chooses the lesser of two evils. Or should that be the greater of two evils?
Missy and the Master get to where one of the lifts are. All is looking good for their escape but Missy stabs him with a potato peeler.
“Et tu, Missy?”
“Kiss ma umbrella, ye bearded sassenach! I’m going tae rescue the Doctor, marry him, and have lots of babbies with him! And none will have a wee goatee!”
“You devious moo!”
“Ah, shuddup! Now ye’ll be turning into me so ye might want to loosen ye clothes.”
But the Master shoots her with his laser screwdriver, on the top setting ‘Unregenerate’, and wounds her fatally.
Both of them, the same person, stabbed in the back by one another. How poetic.
They laugh. The Master travels down in the lift and following a brief incident on the floor that houses the Mondasian version of Are you Being Served, carries on down to his TARDIS which is disguised as a tin of pineapple chunks. Missy is on her back, dying, and wondering whether she has time to comb her hair before snuffing it.
It is somewhat sad that Missy’s redemption happened without witness. Barring the Master but he isn’t likely to admit to anything.
You’ll note that we don’t see the Master regenerating. So who knows if Missy was telling the truth about this being where he turns into her? I like to think he regenerates into how he looked when Roger Delgado played the part.
The Cybermen cometh. They have upgradeth themselves so now we have the Pete’s World Cybermen and the Neil Gaiman Cybermen togethereth. And then they explodeth as Nardole’s explosive trick smashes them up. The Cybermen retreateth but this is only so they can come up with a different plan. Eth.
The Doctor downloads the location of the conduits from Nardole’s laptop, neatly deleting his browser history at the same time. Goodbye Mondasian Milfs. Sayonara Telosian Trollops and bye bye Pete’s World Perky Women.
He tells Nardole to help everyone leave. He wants to face the Cybermen alone. After a brief moment where they arm wrestle, Nardole admits defeat and leaves. Leaving nothing but a half-eaten bag of Hula-Hoops.
CyberPotts gets to stay because gunhead and she doesn’t want to live as a Cyberlesbian. Especially when there are no other Sappho-loving Cybes.
All the humans have gone. Only the Doctor and CyberPotts remain. They fight their final fight. CyberPotts with her gunhead zapping, kapowing, kasplatting her fellow Cybermen. The Doctor does much the same with his sonic screwdriver and lists the times he defeated them in the past…
“Telos where I sealed ye althe freezer department! Canary Wharf which ye willnae remember ’cause it happened to an alternate set of Cybermon! Voga with the bling guns! Earth, half a dozen times! Planet 14 with the lead pipe in the library! I even beat ye on the Moon with nail varnish! Aye, ye wee numpties!”
But even the Doctor, alone, cannot face the Cybermen without being shot. And he is. Several times.
His body tries to regenerate but he refuses. “Oh no ye don’t!” With those words he ignites all the pipes below. The Cybermen all die. Adios, Doctor. Adios, Cybermen.
On Floor 0512, which looks exactly like the floor they escaped from, Nardole waits for the Doctor. But he isn’t coming. And he has run out of crisps. War is horrific.
Downstairs, it is all a vast wasteland of burnt trees, shattered Cybermen. CyberPotts is still standing though. She finds the Doctor’s body and searches it for some jelly babies but the jelly babies are also dead. Not a good day.
CyberPotts stands there and – poof! – in a cloud of smoke, finds herself as plain old Bill Potts. Human again. Next to her, the Cybersuit falls to the ground.
“Hello, stranger,” says a voice behind her. Bill turns and it is Heather the sentient puddle lesbian from The Pilot. Yay! And all the Whovians punch the air! Well, some of them.
Heather restored Bill. In case you thought it was just a fluke and that Heather just happened to be passing. Oh, and she isn’t human. She is now what Heather is, a lesbian puddle. Which is nice.
Heather, having gnarly spacepuddle superpowers helps Bill to take the Doctor’s body to the TARDIS. Being a pilot, or The Pilot, Heather knows how to fly the TARDIS.
Puddlegirl offers Bill the chance to join her. To explore the universe, time and space, and enjoy lesbian antics to boot. Bill immediately accepts.
Before they leave, Bill cries. A tear drops from her face and lands upon the Doctor. “Where there’s tears, there’s hope.”
The TARDIS lands where World Enough and Time started. An icy plain. Inside the Doctor dreams of his previous companions.
Cue clips! We see..
Rose Tyler from Disobedient Wolf, Martha Jones from Daleks in Milwaukee, Donna Noble from Partners in Aspic, Jack Harkness from Distopia, Madame Vastra from The Undercrackers of the Doctor, Jenny Flint from The Crimson Horror of Fang Rock, Strax from I, Sontaran, Sarah Jane Smith from The Half-inched Earth, Amy Pond from The Possible Astronaut, River Song from The Pandorica Closes, and even Clara Oswald from Last Khristmouse. All from the modern series. Oh, and we also see Adric from Earthshock floating above the Doctor’s head, wailing, “I never knew if I was right, woooooooooo!”
The Doctor leaves because Ghost-Adric is getting on his nerves. The Doctor’s fists decide to regenerate. “Och, no!” And with that he punches the snow until they start behaving themselves. “Pesky fists! I will nae change!”
He hears his words echoed back to him through the snow. he looks up and sees a figure.
“Who are ye? I am the Doctor and I have had all me Monster Munch eaten by a bald sassenach, so I am mighty dangerous!”
The figure comes closer and it is a total shock to nobody but the Doctor. It is the First Doctor and this must be the South Pole where he regenerated. And one of my predictions, most importantly, was right!
“I’m the Doctor. The original you might say. And this is my little friend, Mrs Norris. Say hello to my future self”
“She likes your hair.”
With that announcement, the episode ends and millions of Whovians tear out their hair in frustration at the wait until Christmas for the resolution of this not-such-a-shock-thanks-to-the-interwebs ending. Not to mention the horrific thought that Nardole and the solar farm Mondasians are ultimately going to be converted no matter how far they travel up the ship.
The Christmas episode will feature the First Doctor as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Miranda Hart as the Ghost of Christmas Future, and the Ghost of Christmas Present? Has to be the Fourth Doctor, doesn’t it?
Random idle thought: I would love it if the First and Twelfth Doctors swapped placed. Capaldi regenerating into Patrick Troughton and Hartnell/Bradley regenerating into Basil Brush. That’d pee off the Greybeard Whovians no end. Boom! Boom!
So… How was the acting? Yeah, it was alright, innit.
Samantha Spiro was celebrated in the days before the episode aired. Who was she playing? What would be her special role? And then the episode airs and she is a female farmer. Not a farmer who raises females but a farmeress. Which is what she does with little scenes scattered here and there which is why her character isn’t mentioned in this unreview. Her name was Hazran. Good acting but I would have expected a meatier role from such an actress of thie calibre. Oh, and Hazran fancies Nardole. Yes, quite. Barking up the wrong tree there.
Matt Lucas was unleashing his secret badass here. At last. No more comedy stooge. Some comedy, a little stoodiness but Nardole. Makes. A. Contribution. Yes, exciting stuff. I liked Nardole but I get the feeling we will not see him again.
John Simm as the evil Master, all beard and sinister chuckle with a dab of mascara. Was he good? Of course. Seemed to be on Bitch Mode for most of the story. Not sure I liked that aaspect but I laughed so something must be working. Probably not the last we will see of him.
Michelle Gomez as the Master who is redeemed (until the next Master who will be all snake pits, poisoned pizzas and replacing the Queen of England with a poodle). Missy’s journey, if I may be pretentious, has ended with her nasty Osgood-killing self now a sarky umbrella-wielding do-gooder. Is this a good thing? Yeah, I’d say so. Loved her in this (I also loved Simm in case you were wondering). As with Simm, I hope that we get to see her again.
Pearl Mackie has also undergone a, plummy pretentious voice, journey. From parentless girl with a fantastic afro to sentient puddle with a fantastic afro. Um. No, really, she has come quite a long way. I think that Bill was the only companion to be so normal, grounded in reality and chips. So much in fact that she makes Rose Tyler look like a walk-on part in Eastenders. Now she is a wanderer in space and time with her girlfriend. Nice work if you can get it.
Stephanie Hyam returns to Doctor Who as the girl who can’t stop dripping. Except that she stop when she is in the TARDIS. Oh well, it is all good. It was great to see her. Especially since the Heather part of the puddle symbiont, if that is what she is, seems in charge now. Good news for Bill Potts. Good acting but slightly Byker Grove.
Peter Capaldi. Brilliant as usual. Great hair as usual. Not sure I can say much about him without it sounding like hero-worship. So in the words of Dylan Thomas…
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
That is how Capaldi acted. And I love him all the more for it.
This story also introduces David Bradley as the First Doctor. Some of the Rookie Whovians, the ones unaware that the show started in 1963, thought that David was the new Doctor. Yes, really. Just think about that for a moment. The mind boggles…
Although imagine if David Bradley was the next Doctor? That would be interesting. Imagine all those cosplayers digging their old radiation gloves out of storage; excellent.
I’ve still to be convinced on Bradley. He was fine in the docudrama but he has big boots to fill. Good luck, sir.
So should you watch The Doctor Falls? Yes, why miss out on a good adventure? This is the penultimate story of the Twelfth Doctor and this is where the countdown starts.
Christmas is coming and so is a new Doctor.