DOCTOR WHO – SEASON 10 EPISODE 12
THE DOCTOR FALLS
WRITTEN BY STEVEN MOFFAT
DIRECTED BY RACHEL TALALAY
And here it is, the episode we’ve been waiting for, the episode that has caused this recapper to lose sleep all week. Will Bill come back? Will we meet the new Doctor? Will we meet an old Doctor? Will Missy fall on the side of the angels, or is there just too much devil in her? Are you ready?
No, me neither.
Let’s do it.
We open on green fields with pastoral, Songs of Praise music playing in the background. A horse and cart loaded with laughing children rides through a field, passing scarecrows that are the patients from the last episode in their pre-Cyberman form. The children arrive at a house and one of the girls stares up at the sky where huge numbers are printed. As night falls an alarm rings and the children are told to hide under their beds while a matron takes a shotgun and goes outside. The scarecrows are marching on the house. The owners of the house shoot them down and the next morning we see them being chained to poles in the fields as new scarecrows.
The girl from before, Alit, wanders off on her own. A crack appears on the ground and a shuttle bursts from it before crashing on the ground. A Mondasian Cyberman emerges and walks across the field carrying a man in its arms. The Doctor.
After the titles, we see the Doctor, half-conscious being taunted by the two Masters. We cut to a flashback showing that after the end of the last episode the Masters knocked the Doctor around a bit as Nardole did a run for it.
On the roof of the hospital the Masters slow dance and talk about regeneration until the Doctor, tied to chair, interrupts them. They mock him some more and show him Cyber-Bill (with a detailed description of the horrors that entail being put in one of those suits).
They show him the city has become a factory for Cybermen and Missy wonders how he feels, seeing the origin of the Cybermen. The Doctor tells her that Cyberman are constantly having origins and, like Donald Trump, they are inevitable. Couldn’t finish the season without one final Doctor Woke!
And speaking of, a beacon lights up atop the hospital and the Cybermen begin marching. The Masters don’t know why it’s happening and the Doctor tells them that Cybermen or cyber-space, you should always read the comments because eventually, they become an army. Right, I’ll stop highlighting Doctor Woke moments now and get back the episode.
The Cybermen are marching on the hospital and the Doctor reveals that when they were kicking him around the control room earlier he managed to quickly change the Cybermen’s programming to search out two hearts instead of one.
The Cybermen arrive at the roof and we see that Missy’s Sonic is her umbrella, just to lock in that she is the evil Mary Poppins.
The Doctor tells them that the only proven way to stop that many Cybermen is him and the Master asks for help before Missy knocks him out. She unties the Doctor and tells him she’s been on his side the whole time.
The Doctor calls Nardole who shows up flying a shuttle. They get the Master up and send him onto the shuttle. A Cyberman grabs the Doctor from behind and begins electrocuting him but Cyber-Bill blasts it, killing it. The Doctor collapses.
The Masters try to leave but Cyber-Bill stops the shuttle. The Doctor promises to fix her and then we’re back to the start and green fields.
Two weeks later, the matron from the farmhouse takes bedding to the barn where Bill (human Bill) is sleeping on the floor. Bill wakes up and it’s clear that the matron is terrified of her even as she says that she knows she’s not dangerous.
The next morning, Alit goes to see Bill while Nardole has the farmers building barricades and strengthening up the house’s defences for the inevitable arrival of the Cybermen. Alit takes a mirror for Bill and we see that she is still Cyber-Bill after all. The Doctor arrives and explains to her what a Cyberman is and why she is one. She is less than pleased and blows a hole in the barn wall with her head laser.
The Master arrives, telling the Doctor that he has (with himself) found something. As they walk through the field the Doctor stumbles, and a little bit of regeneration energy appears at his hands before he pulls it back.
In a clearing in the forest, Missy shows them they’ve found the lifts. The Doctor begins forming a plan for evacuating the children as Missy, trying to be helpful or causing trouble, calls the lift.
They arms themselves and the lift opens revealing a more modern Cyberman. They all blast it. Now the Cybermen know where they are and Doctor realises that due to the time weirdness if they take the lift up 500 floors the Cybermen will have thousands of years in the lower decks to work out how to stop them.
On the bottom floors, alarms sound and the Cybermen, old and new models, fly up through the ceiling.
The farmers begin preparing for their arrival while Nardole upgrades their guns. Missy realises that they can’t go up to the Doctor’s TARDIS, they can go down to the Master’s.
The Doctor takes Bill under the house and gets her to blow a hole in the wall, revealing the service ducts of the spaceship.
As night falls and the farmers wait for the arrival of the Cybermen, the matron makes a pass at Nardole and then accidentally shoots Bill (who is fine). She goes outside and begins to ask the Doctor something but the Cybermen arrive before she can speak. Everyone mobilises and the Doctor gives Alit an apple to throw. The Masters tell the Doctor they’re leaving and he gives them a great Capaldi speech that boils down to this: The Doctor stands and fights and tries to save as many as he can because it’s the right thing to do. The kind thing to do. He asks them to stand with him and the Master smirks and tells the Doctor he hasn’t listened to a word of what he just said. The Doctor pleads with Missy and asks her to stand with him as it’s all he ever wanted. She says the same, but also that she won’t. She grips his hand and walks away.
An army of Cybermen march across the field until they come to Alit. Alit tosses her apple into the centre of the group and, due to Nardole’s upgrades, it explodes.
The Cybermen fall back and the matron takes the children down the ducts access in the cellar. The Doctor sends Nardole with them and Nardole protests as he thinks the Doctor’s plan is to evacuate everyone and then blow up the whole floor, taking as many Cybermen out as possible.
The Doctor tells him that Nardole has to do it, has to keep them safe because he’s stronger. Nardole tells Bill she’s coming with but she says she’s staying. This recapper got tears in his eyes and Nardole says goodbye, taking the children to safety.
The Masters call the lift. Before they can get in Missy calls him over and they share a hug. As they’re hugging she tells him how much she enjoyed being him and how much she misses it. They part and we see she has stabbed him. He compliments her on the move.
Bill and the Doctor prepare for their last stand. Bill goes to the back of the house and the Doctor marches out in front, ready for the end.
Missy helps the Master into the lift and tell him he’ll have enough time to get to his TARDIS and regenerate. He asks her why she killed him and she says it’s time to stand with the Doctor. He tells her they never will and as she walks away he shoots her in the back. He tells her not to bother regenerating as he gave her the full blast. They both start laughing. The Master descends in the lift and Missy lies on the grass.
The Doctor runs through the forest blasting Cybermen and calling out the names of the places he’s fought them before. He tells them that they always lose and then, one of the Cybermen blasts him with its head laser, telling him that Doctors are no longer required.
He begins to regenerate and then says, “Doctor, let it go. Time enough.” And blows up everything.
The flames clear and the Doctor lies on the floor, sad that there are no stars to look at as he dies.
A few floors up Nardole is in green fields with the children. He tells them that the Doctor has destroyed most of the Cybermen so they’ve got some time before they appear again.
Below, a broken, stumbling Cyberman finds the Doctor’s body. The Cyberman, Bill, weeps over the body and looks up at the rain, where she sees an eye with a star pattern in it. Heather from episode one, the water woman, emerges from a puddle. Bill looks at herself, dressed in different clothes. Behind her, Cyber-Bill stares at the sky before collapsing, an empty shell.
Heather kisses Bill. Bill looks at her hands, which are dripping water. Heather tells her that she is like her now and it is a different kind of living. Bill says they can’t the Doctor and Heather tells her they won’t.
In the TARDIS, the Doctor lies on the floor while Heather, the pilot, flies the ship. She tells Bill that she can make her human again or she can come with her and have adventures.
Bill says goodbye to the Doctor, telling him that she hopes she sees him again one day before leaving with Heather to explore the universe. And even though I’m really going to miss Bill, this is a great send off.
The Doctor begins to regenerate. We see flashes of past companions and friends saying his name: Rose, Martha, Donna, River, Clara, Captain Jack, Amy, Missy, everyone! He jumps to his feet and begins to repeat the final lines of the Doctors who came before him. “I don’t wanna go,”etc.
He cries out and stops the regeneration. And I can’t help but think that it’s not an issue of him not wanting to become another Doctor, and more that, as he said earlier, he’s lived long enough.
And just as I come to that conclusion the Doctor says he never wants to change again.
The TARDIS lands and the Doctor runs outside. We’ve back to the beginning, the Doctor in the snow, screaming at the sky and regenerating. There is about a minute left of this show and I have the horrible feeling we’re not going to see a new Doctor.
He punches the ground and declares that he will not change. And someone emerges from the snow. So I was right, we won’t get a new Doctor. But we will get an old one.
‘I’m the Doctor,’ says the newcomer. “The original you might say.”
The First Doctor smiles at the shocked Twelfth and Christmas can’t get here soon enough.
Well played, Doctor Who.
Where to begin?
Doctor Who has a rep for copping out when it comes time to kill companions. There is usually a loophole that lets the companion live but leave the show. With Bill there was no way they were going to leave her as a Cyberman, that was for sure. It’s too cruel an end to this wonderful character to have her cut up and shoved in a machine. The ending they went with, paying off the opening episode’s storyline about Heather, was perfect. Bill isn’t dead but she won’t be coming back. She gets to have adventures without the Doctor and though it is very much like Clara’s final fate, it works because of how well they seeded then Heather character and how much we wanted Bill to live.
The two Masters were incredible. John Simm’s portrayal being toned down from the hardcore insanity of Davies’ version was nice and Michelle Gomez should be in every episode of this show as she is too wonderful for words. They were perhaps underused but with both of them, a little goes a long way. Their final scene was masterful (Ha!) and the perfect way for those two idiots to make their exit.
The plotline of the house under siege is classic Who and the whole episode dripped with a sense of hopelessness and last stands. There was always the sense that the Doctor would save the day but with that sense was the worry about who would survive to see the end of the episode.
Oh, I should probably mention that ending as well, huh? It had been leaked that David Bradley was returning as the First Doctor (a role he played in An Adventure in Space and Time) so I was expecting his return could happen. Still, when it did it brought all kinds of lovely warm feelings to my heart. Bradley is an incredible actor and his portrayal as William Hartnell was fantastic.
The great thing about this is that as well as meaning that we’ll get a Two Doctors Christmas with a regeneration in the mix, it is now canon that the older Doctors can be recast. A very interesting prospect for the future.
I’m not going to lie, I wanted the regeneration or I at least wanted the identity of the new Doctor to somehow be revealed. Oh, well, guess I’ll have to wait for my Christmas presents like everyone else.
Body Count: 2. Both Masters.
Best Line: “Doctor!: Rose et al.
Predictions for Christmas: Bickering. Regeneration. Female Doctor.