Series Ten, Episode Eleven — “World Enough and Time”
By Brandy Dykhuizen. Not that we ever expected he would, but Steven Moffat’s not screwing around with his swansong.
Leading with a regeneration scene two episodes before the big event was a bold move, especially since this was not revisited once over the course of the next 45 minutes. (It felt like sort of a teaser trailer all on its own.) Throwing Missy and The Master into the same timeline and (potentially) killing off a companion after only one season were also daring choices. Put all these things together — and throw in the Mondasian Cybermen to boot — and you might just have a recipe for the wildest, most witty/wistful/wonderous/Doctoriest Doctor Who story yet.
There have been very few flops in Doctor/Companion dynamics in the show’s tenure, but Bill and The Doctor have one of my favorite relationships to date. Their rapport has been a true two-way street, with The Doctor being much less stingy with his respect and patience than with most.
We’ve enjoyed some truly touching dialogue this season, with this episode’s chats about gender politics and friendship being highlights. It was seeing The Doctor’s romantic hope at being able to end his loneliness that prompted Bill to take a great leap of faith and agree to be part of Missy’s trial run at goodness. Bill understands marginalization, so of course she’d go out on a limb to help her best friend. Where her smarts and logic might be prone to gaps, her emotional I.Q. is above and beyond the rest.
This is why her death, if that’s really where this is going, would be so especially upsetting. They all go out with a bang – Rose’s and Donna’s exits were infuriating as they were stripped of agency. Clara’s packed a punch because her weird brand of heart-of-gold arrogance lead straight to her demise. But Bill’s downfall is fueled by precisely what makes her a great companion to this burned-out and aged Doctor: her empathy and selfless, genuine wish to make everyone around her happy. It’s a cruel, cruel world out there, folks.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Rose found Torchwood. Clara found a classic TARDIS and Ashildr. Surely, surely, it can’t be the end for Bill. However, the girl is head-to-head with the one foe against whom the power of love is helpless.
The Master is back, less Overzealous OK Computer Fan and more Goateed Sociopathic Mastermind. (He’s upgraded his trademark black hoodie for a more grown-up, buttons-and-collared attire.) The thought of his future containing a glimmer of goodness was so unconscionable to him that he was willing to spend a decade wearing a mask. (I guess that means Missy was serious in her remorse, after all.)
Something cataclysmic is nigh. For a writer so full of secrets, after blowing the lid on the return of The Master and the Mondasian Cybermen earlier this season? You really have to wonder what the hell is coming next. I have a feeling Doctor Who is going out in an utterly bonkers, calamitous bang.
“Time Lords are friends with each other, dear. Everything else is cradle snatching.” – Missy.
Jorj: “Are you human?” Missy: “Oh, don’t be a bitch.”
The Doctor: “She’s Cleverer.” Nardole: “She’s Evil.” Missy: “Same thing.”
The Doctor: “She’s the only person I’ve ever met that’s even remotely like me.” Bill: “So more than anything you want her to be good.”
BEST MOMENT: The Doctor’s ginger and vaguely confused approach to the Mondasian Cyberman was perfect. It was an exciting choice to show the fully-converted creature for the first time through his eyes, and of course fantastically sad as he realized it was Bill. Her single tear out the Cyberman’s eyehole was a nice touch, showing the advent of the permanent tear marks on later models, and an allusion to Yvonne Hartman’s “I did my duty for queen and country” moment in “Doomsday”.
EPISODE’S MVP: No one fell short this episode, but Missy’s trademark irascible sass stole the show. Like Peter Capaldi, Michelle Gomez has the panache to deliver lines with an ease that would sound completely dopey out of a lesser actor’s mouth.
– “Oh, you’re blue! Nice!” Nardole loves his blue folk. Is Jorj of the same species as Oxygen’s Dahh-Ren?
– I love that the episode went through the bother of explaining time dilation, yet was completely fine with suspending all disbelief over the gaping hole through Bill’s middle.
– I kind of really hope there’s truth to Missy’s prattling about Doctor Who being his real name. What a glorious anti-climax.
– Michelle Gomez, Peter Capaldi, David Tennant, Karen Gillan – Doctor Who’s best characters since the reboot have all been Scots, IMHO.
– The Doctor’s WTF face when he heard The Master’s voice sent a li’l chill down my spine.
– “World Enough and Time” is lifted from the first line of Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress.” Missy sure as hell is anything but coy, so I’m curious to see how/if that allusion is further developed.
9 out of 10
Next: “The Doctor Falls”, in one week.
Before: “The Eaters of Light”, here.