Day 57. 146 pages, 71,055 words.
The closing double-episode of the latest Doctor Who season finally crossed my television screen on Tuesday, thanks to the inestimable Hawkinses, and so we got to sit down and watch it. And here is my review. I have used spoiler tags.
 And I must also publicly credit Mr. H with a brilliant little punking that failed through no fault of his own and still deserves applause. For the past couple of seasons of Doctor Who, I have been complaining at the end of every episode when the “Next Week On” teaser drops spoilers suddenly, unexpectedly and thoroughly right before the end credits of the episode, never giving you enough time to turn the TV off. I resorted to covering my eyes and ears and going “lalalalalala” in order to avoid finding out every last detail of what was going to happen in the next episode, even if we were just about to watch it. Mr. H decided to edit together the second-last episode (which ended on a “To Be Continued”) with a “Next Week On” screen followed by a “Man Up, Hatboy” screen. It would have been a magnificent zinger and I feel it deserves full points even though that edited copy of the episode did not play thanks to a missing audio codec on our machine. Cosmically unfair and so here I am, giving the points.
I’m not entirely sure what to think about this season. Overall, I loved it. I love the new Doctor (of course) and think his character and interactions with humanity are perfect. Capaldi can stay. Coleman is amusing and tough, and if her character is a bit under-utilised and her wishy-washy love triangle with the Doctor and Danny Pink is a bit all-over-the-place, then I can still tolerate it because at least we’re moving past the Doctor’s-Companion-Falling-In-Romantic-Love-With-The-Doctor phase, which I always found a bit creepy.
Yes, the season was good and I liked most of the episodes, for all that I think I will need to watch the whole lot again because I’ve missed a lot of the dialogue and finer points of detail. What with crying babies, chattering co-viewers, and having to keep my kids fed and entertained, I just haven’t been able to give the episodes the attention I like to. I’ll have to get the DVDs and give them all another watch, in actual peace and quiet. But I got most of it.
And these final episodes were certainly fun to watch. Lots of stuff going on, lots of excitement and uncertainty and cool scenery, plenty of BSTs and technology and amusing one-liners. It was beautiful to see the Brigadier, in a sense, return to kick arse and take names just like in the good old days, and I got something in my eye when the Doctor saluted him.
I didn’t care for the Missy “twist”. And let me say it’s absolutely not because they turned the Master into a female. That was cool. I don’t think they need to over-explain why we have never really seen a regeneration-gender swap before (I am calling it ‘regenderation’ until told to stop), it’s just a thing and evidently if the Doctor’s not fazed by it, then that’s that. And once she revealed herself and started sinking into the character, she did a great job at “creepy manic genius”, very nice. And she also managed to blend a little of the old, classic, calculating-and-murderous Master into it as well, effectively moving the character on past the wacky young John Simm version and into line with the new Doctor and the old school feel of the series. And her Mary Poppins was truly creepy.
Especially since the Internet apparently already knows Mary Poppins was a Time Lord.
So what was not to like?
I don’t know. I guess once the Time War was dealt with and we started to see this extensive setup of Gallifreyan technology and plotting, I was ready for it to be another Time Lord. The Master was good, and I’m sure he / she would have been awesome to see again in later seasons, but right now it’s just too soon. Too repetitive. Let’s have Romana back, or the Rani, or even Rassilon if you want to hold onto the gender-swap. Heck, you want to make it really interesting, Missy could have been a new incarnation of the Valeyard since the Great Intelligence already hinted at the Doctor encountering / becoming that again.
Missy being the Master wasn’t just surplus to requirements, the entire plot was just too convoluted. I know this is what the Master is sort of famous for, but this really was crazy. Given the apparent tools at her disposal, this was what she came up with to do? At least his last plan, taking all those people from the very end of time and making them into Toclafane, was pretty impressive and utilised the given technology (ie. the Doctor’s route-locked TARDIS) to good effect.
And it was funny. I know, this screencap is from his slightly stupider plan, but this is the screencap he gets.
From the hints we started getting right from the start of the season, with assorted people being hand-picked and ending up in the Nethersphere, it seemed like there was something really amazing going on. And I know, put your fan expectations in the palm of one hand and the fucks given by the creators of the show in the other, and then smack yourself in the face from both sides … but it seemed like Missy was up to something more personal.
Missy was collecting the dead from all over the universe, and all through history. Even robots. The episodes where characters were dying, they were all over the place. They could have made far more of the idea that Missy had been collecting ‘souls’ from people who had died because of the Doctor. As it happened, she was just doing it with everyone. And everything. Forever. I mean, wow. And this was the result? What a dog’s breakfast.
Even the part with the dead continuing to feel, after death, obviously because of Missy’s storage of their consciousness … it just seemed like that alone would have made a cool idea for a double-episode (the Three Words alone were beautifully creepy, yet horribly under-used and poorly-delivered), and they were just trying to cram too much together and make it all work. And that whole plan with the Cybermen, no. What was that? The Master would know better than to try to conquer anything using Cybermen, wouldn’t he? And how was it supposed to work? Thing dies, consciousness is stored, body buried (or whatever, cremation was apparently a threat to this but dying ten million years in the past or the future wasn’t?), body upgraded, consciousness re-uploaded? What? And then end result, Cybermen out of the graves like zombies? Where did the rest of the Cyberman components come from? Nano-engineered out of the soil and / or morgue refrigerator drawers by the ‘rain’? And what was the point of saving all the dead, when it was only the ones with carcasses in 2014 Earth (a tiny fraction of the whole, surely) that would make viable Cybermen)? WHAT?
The Master’s last plan – conquering Earth using the Toclafane – he had to use a Paradox Machine to do that! Things from the future can’t kill their progenitors without one, it’s Made-Up Rule #272 in the handbook, go look it up. If Missy had been doing the same all up and down history and all over the universe and then used the Cybermen to conquer 2014-ish Earth (or to hand the entire army over to the Doctor to conquer the universe, or whatever her weird plan was), wouldn’t she have needed one this time too? It was basically sorta-kinda the same exact plan, wasn’t it?
Was that where her TARDIS was? I’d ask where she suddenly got a TARDIS from, but I assume there’s a Gallifrey-related answer, she has actually been there to get hold of all this tech or she is a reset version of the Master and has all the Master’s old toys. Don’t know.
And it was all over too fast. Given the build-up, and the nerdon-inducing references to the Gallifreyan hard drive and the Master’s TARDIS, I expected far more to happen. Instead there was just some baloney about Danny Pink being able to withstand Cyberman tech (Rose’s mum did it better), and then Missy got disintegrated. Screw you very much.
I sure hope the next season finds its shit again, because it really seemed to lose the fuck out of it here.
So. Now the Doctor has exorcised his Gallifreyan demons and fixed the Time War and is therefore safe to actually want to go back to Gallifrey. I suppose that’s what he’s going to do next time. Missy obviously knew more about Gallifrey than she was letting on, but that was a dead end, at least for now. The final scene, or second-to-final, was poignant – both parties lying to one another about their own situations in order to let the other go. I have no doubt this will come back to bite them both in the next season, particularly with the “no more lies” theme running through the show.
And the Doctor’s violent despair and frustration when he found out that Gallifrey wasn’t there, that was tough to watch. Especially since we know that the TARDIS is a living thing, perhaps an even more intimate lover than River Song was, and there he is beating the tar out of her.
And then Father Christmas, as played by Nick Frost, shows up.
Okay, Christmas Special. Expect wacky fun.
But then, find your shit again please.