Doctor Who – Season 10 Finale

What were they thinking?

*Spoilers ahead*


Anyone who has heard my interviews or seen me talk about Doctor Who before probably already knows that I’ve been less than impressed with Capaldi’s episodes. It’s not Capaldi’s fault so much as the terrible writing.

Now to be fair, this season and the one before were better than his first season, so I had high hopes for this finale – my mistake.

Part 1 was brilliant, incorporating the concept of time distortion caused by a black-hole on a huge ship is just fantastic (I wish I’d thought of it), and knowing that so much time was going by for Bill while the Doctor was talking was nail biting. I loved it! At the end of part 1 when the Master is revealed I was on the edge of my seat and couldn’t wait for part 2.

What a let down.

I’ll start with the positives. The interplay between Missy and the Master was great. Bill’s inability to accept her Cyberman form was brilliant. Capaldi’s speech and Nardol were all fantastic.


The plot.

What plot?

As I said, part 1 had great promise. You’ve got two versions of the Master, you’ve got Cybermen attacking AND with the time difference, they’ve got years to evolve and plan before they attack the primitive solar farm filled with children, plus Bill is trapped as a Cyberman-how’s the doctor going to fix this one?

In my opinion, none of it was handled well.

Firstly, the doctor just explodes a level of the ship, kills some of the Cyberman (at the cost of his own life), but really he hasn’t solved the problem. They’re still on the ship and they still have the time differential, he’s only delayed the problem. So point one, the big bad Cybermen are still a threat.

Secondly, Bill is miraculously saved by Heather, the water girl from episode 1. Please tell me I wasn’t the only one who saw that section and just said WTF. I’m sorry, but I did not get the impression from that first episode that she was some kind of magical cosmic being who can control the existence of atoms. But suddenly she can recreate Bill in her human form, teleport them all to the TARDIS, and then go with Bill on some kind of star-travelling romp? Not to mention this hasn’t been foreshadowed AT ALL. Okay, fine, Bill had some tears in her eyes at the end of the first episode, but that does not warrant some kind of deus ex machina in the final episode. Do you know why season one’s deus ex was okay? Because throughout the entirety of Eccleston’s season there was mention of Bad Wolf, it was everywhere. Or, what about Saxon in Tennant’s episodes? Or Rose reappearing? Those things were all foreshadowed throughout the entire season and so when they came up in the finales it made absolute sense. Please correct me if I missed it, but Heather’s sudden appearance here felt like the biggest cop-out in screen-writing history.

Then Bill just leaves with her? Leaves the Doctor lying dead on the floor of his TARDIS and wanders off into the universe? They don’t even go to check on Nardol and the children from the solar farm. Considering how much I’ve enjoyed Bill’s character this was an extremely disappointing exit.

Then we have the Missy/Master issue. Doctor Who, as with most shows of this type, usually have an overarching plot line that goes for the whole season, then smaller arcs for each episode. For this season the overarching plot was the vault. Then it’s revealed that Missy is inside (twist!) and the season then becomes about her redemption. Brilliant, wonderful. Then in this final episode… Missy has pretty much no role at all. Go on, imagine the episode if Missy wasn’t there. NOTHING WOULD CHANGE. Her character evolution didn’t make a spec of difference to the plot. Sure, her final scene with the Master, and the juxtaposition of their two characters was fine and really, stabbing/shooting each other in the back is a perfect end for this character but it should have MEANT something. Missy was the main plot arc of this series and she meant nothing to its finale. How disappointing.

After being so excited after part 1, I am thoroughly and completely let down by part 2 and I can’t even bring myself to get excited for the Christmas episode-I can only hope that it’s not as bad.

I don’t think I’m alone in looking forward to a new era next year, with hopefully a new show-runner and writing that can actually adhere to the basics of plot, like foreshadowing and character development. Fingers crossed, I’m a big Doctor Who fan, and I’d hate to have to let it go.

I’d love to hear what everyone else thought – hit me up in the comments below.

[Writing Update – I am nearly finished Book 2 in Aart’s series, so make sure you’re signed up to the newsletter for the release note!]

About Saffron Bryant: Saffron is a scientist and a science fiction and fantasy author. Find her books here.


7 Comments on “Doctor Who – Season 10 Finale

  1. I thought the Nardole character was under-developed, and the actor, under-utilized. Brilliant comedic actor in Little Britain. We never get (or I missed) the story of how he came to be helping the Doctor as ‘not-a-companion’ or his back story. I’d be almost happier if he was just comedic relief, but that seemed to backfire. I never LOVED the Nardole character, yet when I think about my favorite sci-fi shows (or tv in general) the most compelling bit always includes developing deep feelings towards the characters. In this case though, some of the character acting comes across as cardboard-thin. And when it works, I think it can be when (brilliant, well-cast) actors provide some of their own dialogue, or actors with raw talent are given really good direction.

    Hadn’t thought about how the Missy character was wasted in the final episode – you’re so right! That was another big story arc that could have been spectacular, but ended up a fizzle. No redemption after all?

    I guess I just never felt the sense of CHEMISTRY from other series. Having bought into my love for the characters, such that it didn’t matter where or when they traveled, what challenges they were facing, it was a thrill just to see them on screen, see them interact. Though I will give props to Bill, there were some episodes where she acted the HELL out of dramatic scenes.

    And Deus Ex Machina, always a letdown. If they had an entire season to develop longer story arcs, they have time to give them satisfying resolutions.

    I will say, this was interesting in terms of the statement on gender roles made in the previous episode, and the notion that there was not any (threat? promise? subtext?) of sexual tension between Doctor and Companion(s) – not that such icky stuff belongs in sci-fi 😉 – but personally I enjoy that sort of thing. Like when a Companion starts developing ‘those kind of feelings’ for the Doctor, due to his youthful exuberance yet ages-old wisdom, and the feeling of safety he provides as a strange mixture of superhero, father figure, mad genius.

    My suggestion is this: practice writing your own Doctor Who script, one that can stand alone, yet is satisfying, as an exercise. (And easier than working out a huge story arc).

    • Oh Eric, it would be a dream come true to write a Dr Who episode!

      I’ve even investigated screen-writing a bit for that exact purpose (I even turned one of Nova’s books into a screenplay 😉 )

      I completely agree with what you’ve said. Nardol made me chuckle a few times but I think his character could have done far more.

      Ah, the icky romance… lol you know me well. Except I will say, I loved Rose’s story in that respect. However, because they used that for Rose- I think it will be some time before they can use that kind of dynamic again otherwise it kind of cheapens the experience, you know?

      I really loved the doctor’s talk about gender roles in the previous episode. I thought that was just absolutely beautiful and to me it did lay the groundwork for the potential of a female doctor. Personally, I don’t mind either way but the people who say that a female doctor would ruin the show should really consider that speech. I mean, if we lived in an entirely equal society where there were no gender roles or expectations, then it would make absolutely no difference to the character what their anatomy happened to be. And that’s what we should be aiming for, I think.

      I guess in the end the viewers know that Missy ‘redeemed’ herself, but the doctor and none of the other characters do, which is kind of important to the story. And like I said in the post, her redemption didn’t change the plot, like, in an ideal world her deciding to stand with the doctor would have turned the tide of the battle, or she would have had a way to bring Bill back from Cyberman form. She would have done something important. However, I think we’ll definitely be seeing either the Master or Missy in future episodes, so who knows, maybe that will play out.

      Fingers crossed for the Christmas episode!

  2. David Tennant (in my humble opinion) was the best Dr.Who, followed by Matt Smith. I gave up watching after they left. The show just wasn’t the same. Writers slacked off. But, that’s just me.

    • I couldn’t agree more, Harry.

      Tennant is my favourite, not only his character but also the episodes just felt… epic.

      It took me a long time to warm to Matt Smith (probably because I was still reeling from losing Tennant), but I do like him now that I’m used to him and he had some good episodes. I also really liked Eccleston, I just wish he’d had more time to really get into the role, rather than one season.

      Capaldi’s first season made me want to break the television. His second and third seasons were better, but still didn’t approach the epic feel of Tennant. And, as you can see from this post, the finale was a total let down.

      Fingers crossed for next year I guess!

      • Oh I totally agree with you Saffron, and I am left wondering what the last episode was all about and why!

        • Exactly Suzzi! I’m doing my best to keep an open mind for the Christmas special – maybe all will be revealed then?

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