Sometimes, The Doctor himself, is the story.
This episode was feature length and had a lot to draw on from Series Ten as a whole and from the previous episode, World Enough and Time, in particular.
Missy, The Master, Nardole and Bill.
Cybermen, Mondasian Cybermen.
The Twelfth Doctor is trapped at the start by Missy and the Master as more and more Cybermen assemble in the city.
We see the Doctor turn tables on his arch-enemies and significantly Missy whacks the Master before Nardole saves the day with a shuttlecraft to them all to escape in.
Then, we shift pace to a seemingly pastoral scene. Floor 507 which is one of the ‘solar farms’ for the huge spaceship.
An injured doctor carried by Cyberman Bill from the mess of the used shuttlecraft that had bashed through floor by floor. An iconic scene and memorable visual.
Floor 507 is a rural scene with children and the knot-top cyberman as bizarre scarecrows in the fields.
Yes, but, in this sci-fi rurality, the part cybermen are rebuffed whilst the farmsteaders shoot out their later weapons at the knot-tops.
Possibly enough on its own as a story of resistance and struggle.
But, the ‘Exodus’ Cybermen will inevitably follow floor by floor and Nardole knows he’ll have to figure out a plan to evacuate the homesteaders as the injured Doctor recovers.
Cyberman Bill is left to herself in a Barn but she is seen as her old self, It takes a child with a mirror to make her realise the fear that others have of her Cyberman self and for the penny to drop that she’s beyond help.
The Doctor then appears, giving the child a kindly jelly baby and trying to comfort Bill.
Now, the Doctor can’t ‘fix’ Bill, As the Master cruelly reminds him, he was two hours too late reaching that bottom floor. He does get Cyberman Bill’s help in fashioning an escape for the farmstead people.
Whilst this is going on, The Master and Missy scheme.
They have a way out and despite desperate pleas from the Doctor, neither will stand with him as he intends to face the Cyberman hordes to allow the people to escape.
All they can then do is betray each other. Missy stabs him, the Master shoots at her with his screwdriver.
True to their natures, for all their menace and threat.
The Master does as you expect, but Missy perhaps had a long road to redemption cut from her.
The Doctor will never know that she turned good and he faces the Cybermen alone with his screwdriver and the traps laid by Nardole.
Numbers eventually tell and The Doctor is overwhelmed, beaten and shot at.
He blows up floor 507 to destroy the Cybermen.
Nardole succeeds in evacuating the people to the next highest solar farm level. In the twisted timestream of the giant ship, he may have given them a lifetime.
‘Without Hope, Without Witness, Without Reward’
River Song’s words, lived out by the Twelfth Doctor saving people on a doomed Mondasian colonist ship part headed for a black hole.
Dilated by time, damaged by the Master and Missy, thrown by his companions conversion.
Alone on the surface, ready to die, the Doctor fell.
Just enough time for a Whovian Miracle.
Heather from ‘The Pilot’ or the ‘girl with a star in her eye’ saves Bill, through her watery alien-ness and they together save The Doctor and they deliver him back to the TARDIS.
We’re back to Capaldi and the Snow as at the start of the previous episode, He fights regeneration off.
Doesn’t want to, wants to stay the same, his glowing arm ends are placed firmly into the snow.
Then he sees a figure in the snow, himself. The Doctor, not a Doctor, The Doctor.
The one we call the First Doctor.
Solid 9/10. I liked and it delivered emotionally.
We didn’t want Bill ending up a Mondasian Cybermen, we didn’t want a real reset/paradox with The Master dying. We didn’t really want a resolution with Missy either.
We didn’t want Nardole dying pressing the button.
We got emotion, we got Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor as he should be.
Not the ‘Am I a good man?’ that started this character but an evolution of the Doctor and an addition to the myth of the show.
He tried and nearly succeeded to make Missy good, he outwitted Davros, he didn’t fall and confess to the Time Lords after being betrayed, losing ‘his Clara’.
Series Ten delivered for Capaldi and yet he has the Christmas episode and our parting gift from Steven Moffat being we see the Thirteenth Doctor.