Written by Steven Moffat – Directed by Rachel Talalay
More of this, please. When the first 10 minutes of an episode make you go “What the- what the what?!?!?!” then you know the rest is going to be a blast. World Enough and Time was an awesome episode only ruined by the spoilers given in the teaser trailers for the episode.That being said I feel like next episode is going to be epic, mainly because I haven’t a clue what’s going to happen.
Missy earns her keep in this episode, which initially I thought would be hard to do when adding John Simm’s charismatic Master into the mix and if the rumours are true and she is to leave with Peter Capaldi as part of the fresh new start for next series I am going to miss her. I love that we re-visited Doctor Who lore and remembered that Missy and the Doctor were friends a long time ago and it was heart-warming to see the Doctor long for that companionship again. After all, despite his long history with humans, it’s easy to forget that he isn’t one; he isn’t a human with Sherlock-like skills of deduction and reasoning and the pull to be with someone who is like you can overcome your better judgement. Michelle Gomez is endlessly entertaining as Missy. The fact she is a murderous psychopath is often played for jokes as the Doctor desperately tries to make her good again and you are never sure whether to believe her conversion or not. It’s not until she meets her past self that it is suggested that she was generally trying to reconnect with the Doctor again and it’s that juxtaposition with what she and the Master do to Bill that makes the moment even more horrifying.
As I said the trailers for this episode ruined most of the climactic reveal at the end of the episode, for me. For instance, since I knew John Simm’s Master was going to be in the episode in some form I was looking out for him and as soon as he appeared as Razor I saw through his disguise immediately, even though Simm did a great job in portraying this creepily helpful, endearing yet mysterious character. However, I do recognise that this is just me and I know that some people were completely fooled.
I also would’ve preferred if we didn’t know that the patients were going to be turned into Cybermen eventually as, again from the trailers it was clear that that was the direction in which the episode was going. I feel like if they had kept that reveal more under wraps then it could’ve been unclear whether it was some new monster, Cybermen or even Daleks again. However, I did like the idea that these are the first Cybermen ever and the fact we’ve almost come full circle again connecting with Classic Doctor Who lore. It’s also slightly horrifying to think that one of the Doctor’s companions is the first ever Cyberman, a race which will continue and evolve to cause unspeakable chaos. I’m glad that, even if somehow that doesn’t actually end up being the case and Bill escapes somehow, that the idea was entertained because it adds a real darkness that I feel has been missing tonally from Doctor Who since Series 5. It also proves the Master’s wickedness that he would do something like this as it is sure to drive the Doctor insane. It’s especially interesting to see what effect this will have on Capaldi’s Doctor who always seemed to be at least 80% in control of the situation and his own emotions, unlike Matt Smith’s Doctor who often bore his heart on his sleeve.
Some viewers old and new might not know that Doctor Who began as an educational show about science which eventually evolved into what we know and love today. The tagline of Doctor Who on BBC iPlayer is ‘Adventures in Space and Time’ and I think the show is at it’s best when it tackles and works both of those concepts at once. I think they expertly handled the idea of time moving slower in one part of the ship compared to the other because of the effect of gravity in a black hole and it made for some great comic relief as well as an interesting and engaging concept. Reminiscent of the motif of Amy Pond’s character ‘The Girl who waited’ it’s this initial comic element that makes the final lines of the episode ‘I waited for you’ so heart-breaking. The writers managed to make this complex idea fun and relatively easy to follow with a fantastic conclusion at the end of the episode making this probably one of my favourites of the season so far.
I, as many viewers of this series, might be, am too young to remember the Mondasian Cybermen from 1966 but I think we can all agree they are creepy. The scene where one of the patients continually presses the ‘pain’ button is etched in my memory mainly because it went on uncomfortably long. It reminds you of the tragedy of the Cybermen and why they were created in the first place. Even Bill, who as one of our main characters and companion of the Doctor who we expect to be moral and kind, couldn’t stand hearing the figures cries of pain and turned down the volume on their speaker not out of cruelty as the nurse did but out of sorrow and self-preservation. We see again this drastic change of tone throughout the episode from banter and not-so-subtle hints at the Doctor being called ‘Doctor Who’ to a masked figure crying out ‘kill me’. Writing of Moffat and the direction of Talalay shine through in this scene in its sheer simplicity and horror that doesn’t let you go until Bill leaves that room.
Whenever you love a character on a TV show too much it seems something horrible always has to happen to them. I know I sound a bit like a broken record on this site but once again Pearl Mackie proves why she is the best part of this show and why fans are going to be fighting hard to keep her on for at least one more season. It’s clear that the writers have as much respect for Bill as the fans do and if this is going to be the end of her storyline then they are definitely sending her off in style. With very little of the Doctor to bounce off of, Mackie carried the majority of the episode on her back expertly and though this episode was a slow burn I was never bored and was quite happy being on the edge of my seat for 25 minutes as the tension and mystery grew and grew.
Bill’s relationship with Razor the strange man who turned out to be the Master was also played just right achieving a perfect balance between comedy and heart. Although not nearly as much time passed in this episode, parallels can again be drawn with ‘The Girl who waited’ in which you can really feel the effect of time on someone who is waiting for someone they trust to return. Just like with Amy Pond, you can feel Bill slowly losing faith in the Doctor, epitomised in the scene where she chooses to go with the master instead of waiting for him. Just like in the Amy Pond episode, it serves to show the great tragedy of the Doctor that even though he can travel where ever and whenever he likes throughout the whole of space and time he somehow is never there in time for the people he cares about the most.
We all know that these last two episodes are going to be a big send off for the Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi who, despite occasional poor writing and story arc choices by the creative team, has always shined through. The complete 180 from Matt Smith’s Doctor served the series well and I have thoroughly enjoyed this season’s focus in particular on him being a professor/teacher figure to his companion, not just a long-term friend. You trust a teacher in a different way than you would your best friend because you look up to them and expect them to know the answers so when they don’t when they are completely at a loss as the Doctor was at the end of the episode, it’s terrifying.
This episode carries my strange belief that the best episodes of Doctor Who don’t give the Doctor much screen time but I don’t think that’s a negative thing because it means something when the Doctor finally shows up, if he’s as good as Capaldi, then you enjoy every second. I imagine Capaldi’s Doctor is going to have to sacrifice himself for someone which leads to his regeneration and I hope it’s not wasted because he has been incredible.