What were they thinking?
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.
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.