Doctor Who s10 e11 – World Enough and Time.

Cold Open. 

The Tardis lands somewhere in snow.

The Doctor stumbles out onto his knees saying ‘No’ whilst regeneration energy pulses out from his arms.

Then the Titles and a spaceship.. 

A big one. A very big one and it’s headed into a black hole.

Next is the groan of the Tardis ‘Vworp Vworp’ sound on the spaceship’s Bridge and Missy then emerges as ‘Doctor Who’ making a speech to the room.

‘My disposables, comic relief and exposition.’ is quite a line about Nardole and Bill as she introduces herself to well, no-one on the bridge.

Meanwhile, The Doctor sits eating crisps whilst watching this test on his Tardis ‘iPad’.

Things become critical when a blue man from the crew enters the bridge and wants to kill Bill as she’s human. There are creatures coming up in the lift and they want humans. 

Here, the Doctor has to intervene.

Bill gets a big round hole in her body from the Blue Man’s blaster despite the Doctor’s protestations.

‘He’s having an emotion.’ says Nardole in flashback as The Doctor pleads with Bill to accompany Missy on a test run as she is still his ‘best friend’ and he wants his companions to accompany her.

Bill says ‘Promise me you won’t get me killed’, of course, he can’t promise.

Back to the spaceship and the lift arrives.

Hooded creatures emerge and say ‘Step away, she will be repaired.’

The Tardis crew and blue man let them.

‘Wait for me.’ Are the Doctor’s words as the Doors close on the lift.

Bill later awakens in a creepy hospital and starts to explore the rooms. All the while, she hears a metallic voice saying ‘Pain, Pain, Pain.’ 

She finds an old style hospital ward full of people that are white hooded and hooked up to drips. 

A scary Matron then enters.  She seems to calm the patient but has merely turned down the speaker on his head from ‘pain’ on the patient as Bill discovers after the Matron leaves.

Bill then has tea with a mysterious bearded man with an accent, who shows her the Doctor  and the others on a black and white TV screen. The man is effectively the caretaker. Mr Razor.

‘Time moves faster, top of ship very slow, very fast bottom.’ He tries to explain to her.

The TV is effectively a still picture.

‘Gravity slows time.’ Lecturer mode from the Doctor. 

Black hole and one end of the ship from the other.

Whilst mopping the ‘Conversion Therapy’ room as Razor’s helper, Bill looks out a window onto what appears to be a city. 

Bill has a vision of The Doctor saying ‘Wait for me.’

She later visits the city with Mr Razor, a dystopian polluted place. ‘You must be strong to leave the Hospital.’ 

Bill really isn’t after her surgery and has to go back there with him.

Venusian Aikido is used by The Doctor to escape the Blue Man – wahey!!!

The Doctor, Missy and Nardole then take the lift down. ‘It’s only been Ten Minutes’ comments Nardole.

Meanwhile, Bill persuades the Caretaker to take her to the lifts, but, he betrays her and takes her to the room where Cybermen are converted.

The Doctor gets Missy to search the Computer whilst the Doctor and Nardole explore.

‘Earth like planet, if Earth had a twin.’ Says Missy  looking at the computer whilst the Caretaker tries to talk to her.

Missy tries to warn him away from her.

Missy :- ‘This ship is from Mondas.’

Then..

The Doctor:- ‘A Mondasian Cyberman.’

The caretaker confronts Missy  after she says ‘Doctor!’ to attempt to warn him.

The caretaker pulls a gun similar to the one the blue man had and stops her.

He continues with ‘You would never be so self destructive.’

Yes, it’s the Master after he pulls off a rubber head.

‘Hello Missy, I’m the Master and I’m very worried about my future!’

The Doctor and Nardole find the operating room and a Mondasian cyberman.

They question it and it turns out to be Bill.

‘I waited for you’ and a tear through the metal eye.

Phew.

My view

As clever an episode of NuWho as there is. 

Incredible turn by John Simm under the prosthetic mask as Razor.

A shame the London tabloids spoiled his comeback so long ago. If you hadn’t known, it would’ve be epic.

Pearl Mackie superb once again as I seem to keep saying.

Pace of direction and musical score seemed perfect 

Clearly 9/10 and a high point of a good season. The menace of the cybermen was there.

Doctor Who s10 e10 : The Eaters of Light.

The Imperial Roman Army. Legio IX Hispana. 

Subject of ‘The Eagle of the Ninth’, a famous historical novel by Rosemary Sutcliffe and interpreted and re-interpreted since. 

I previously read and enjoyed ‘The Last Legion’ by  Valerio Massimo Manfredi, however, it linked into the legend of Arthur and had other tales to tell. 

The movie ‘The Eagle’ in 2011 was based on Sutcliffe’s book.

Now, the truth or otherwise of the disappearance of the Ninth Legion in the North of Scotland isn’t exact historical fact and pieces of artifacts show the Legion in what is now the Netherlands in the mid second century, around a century later.

It wasn’t unknown for a legion to be raised again after being annihilated, but, the Roman Army was cautious about the bad luck associated with defeats. It may or may not have been a direct continuation of the IX legion that landed in Britain.

Caledonia, as it was called by the Romans, was subject to a fair bit of Roman activity. 

Ultimately, it was never truly conquered in the way it’s province of Britania was. However, their control of the rest of the island did influence all the tribes on the island and also influenced and controlled trade.

The history and archeology are unfortunately sparse in terms of what happened with the Romans in Iron Age Scotland. 

There’s a lot of maybes to the history and, of course, modern settlements and roads have followed  over the Roman’s initial paths.

One day, there may be an answer about the Ninth, but it’s plight leaves it open to storytelling.

And that’s what Rona Munro did and did well with ‘The Eaters of the Light.’

Bill and the Doctor want to know it’s fate. As ever, the Tardis delivers them with Nardole and the team investigate. Bill goes off one way and the Doctor another. 

They come across Romans and Picts and eventually bring them on side to fight a beast that comes from a portal in the broch or cairn built into the ground. 

The beast destroyed the Ninth and was released by the young pict sent to guard in case it came. Which leads to a few Romans hiding from it and a few Picts hiding too.

A tale about the invasion of a land and the desperation in defending your culture from change leads to a need to cooperate to survive.

‘Survival’ was Munro’s last Doctor Who tale, for another Scottish Doctor and the end of the original run of Who before the 2005 revival.

The guest cast was young and did well, we had a few good lines from Nardole and The Doctor back toward the edgy grumpy one of Series Eight.

So grumpy that he’d sacrifice himself to guard the portal to ensure the beast doesn’t return but Bill sensibly whacks him with a Mirror. This shows she’s beyond Professor and Student relationship and clearly now knows what’s best for him.

Why grumpy again? Possibly as he’s let Missy out of the Vault after rescuing Bill and him from Mars. He wants to believe that she has changed, but as ever, cannot be sure of his fellow Timelord and ‘friend’.

We are reminded in the last five minutes of the edges that The Doctor and Missy occupy together, their shared knowledge, their past friendship. 

His fascination with Earth and her sceptical attitude to his do-gooding. We are almost back at where they were with each other in Series Nine just before Skaro and Davros.

Obviously, the Vault and the Doctor’s Oath are factors. He saved her life, she said she’d change.

It’s 8/10 from me. Capaldi, Mackie and Lucas were fine as usual. Dialogue and character dynamic working well and again keeping up with the high points of series ten.

The episode’s effects worked and the beast resembled ancient stone art. Not a dragon, not a beast, tentacles and a wolf like movement. I even enjoyed the talking crow.

A pity it wasn’t filmed in Scotland, although the Welsh countryside was convincing enough though and it worked. 

We are now onto the build up to the series finale. I think we are building to what exactly Missy and the Doctor have. 

She was in tears and moved toward him, he moved backward but did clutch hands with her. It’s a complicated relationship and questions can be asked on their past and where exactly they stand.

We’ve seen John Simm and the question is now as to how a multi-master tale can be pulled off. 

There’s much to anticipate.

Doctor Who s10 e9 – The Empress of Mars

Standalone Fun with nods to classic Who.

Mark Gatiss. A Renaissance Man of our times, one of the League of Gentleman, comedian, writer  for TV and otherwise, co-creator of BBC’s Sherlock, actor, Mycroft Holmes in Sherlock, Tycho Nestoris in Game of Thrones and huge Doctor Who fan, writer and contributor.

‘Sleep No More’ of the nine episodes that he has written for NuWho, was experimental, different and interesting using a ‘found footage’ format to tell a story in a different way. It also carried criticism from fans as it wasn’t easily accessible and thought confusing.

‘Empress of Mars’ is a delight in comparison. A romp, an episode with Victorians on Mars, led there by a servile Ice Warrior (or so it seems).

This episode played to the strengths of Capaldi and Mackie, we were drawn into the tale straightaway with no reference to the preceding mini-arc of the Monks. We have 1881, ‘God Save The Queen’ written on the Martian surface and an amusing opening in the NASA control room. 

British imperial redcoats getting to Mars finding it barren, but being used by their servant ice warrior to find his hive.

Our Queen of this story is the Ice Warrior Queen, who is woken and disturbed by a squaddie seeking loot. The most intriguing lines of the episode are when the Queen seeks Bill’s opinion as a woman.

Neville Catchlove was our Victorian antagonist. What a name. His greed and willingness to disregard his commander almost gave us Victorian Soldiers fighting the Ice Warriors, before The Queen, The Doctor and Bill diffuse the situation. Although that’s after Catchlove locks Bill and The Doctor up and that pesky sonic screwdriver still can’t deal with wood.

We also have questions of the superior tone used by the Victorians with Bill, a black woman and their treatment of the Ice Warrior that led them there as a servant.

The Doctor engages, tries to advise and tries to save the Soldiers from themselves and the revived Ice Queen and her Warriors. 

It’s not a case of The Doctor automatically being there for the humans, but he’s stuck with them after the TARDIS disappears with Nardole. Again the Twelfth Doctor won’t intervene for human stupidity, but rather for both species, which is consistent with his earlier grouchy appearances in Series Eight.

The references to classic who abound, Ice Warriors, also placed into NuWho by Gatiss on a Russian submarine. Monsters of the 60’s and 70’s most memorably with the Third Doctor on Peladon. Alpha Centuri, an alien Ambassador from well, Alpha Centuri, voiced by a 92 year old actress, Ysanne Churchman, who had played the character in the seventies. 

There’s a Queen Victoria portrait with Pauline Collins’ likeness as from Tooth and Claw in the Tenth Doctor’s adventures too. The Tardis previously went haywire around Ice Warriors in the Third Doctor’s first visit to Peladon in 1972’s Curse of Peladon. (Being a saddo and a whovian, I’ve seen that on DVD..)

It’s a standalone episode and it delivers. 8/10 from me, a return to form after the slight disappointment of Lie of the Land. 

My questions

The Tardis disappearing with Nardole and returning with Nardole and Missy. Nothing is linear, necessarily, in time and space.

Victorians on Mars in 1881. Yeah that’s a hell of a rocket, even with Ice Warrior help.

Missy? Did she save the day? Did she save Nardole? Did he seek her help with the Tardis malfunctioning? Why did the Tardis malfunction? What did Nardole and Missy do between leaving and returning to Mars?

And what of those Monks?

These may be questions resolved in the series finale episodes, I do feel the Monks will return and I have a suspicion that there’s another classic who nod in their reveal.

As for next week, Rona Munro is another writer who has written Who before. Although, it was ‘Survival’, the Seventh Doctor’s final adventure before the show was terminated by Michael Grade and the BBC’s corporate morons of the late 1980’s. Somewhat brilliantly though, we have our Doctor returning to Scotland, well Caledonia more correctly, and a tale of the missing IX legion..

I’ll look forward to ‘The Eaters of Light.’

Oh, and on reveals, we’re getting closer to the filming dates of the 2017 Christmas Special and possibly the last episode featuring Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor, there’s buzz that show insiders know who the next Who is.. we’ll see. Steven Moffat loves a misdirection if nothing else.

Doctor Who s10 e8: The Lie of the Land

Fake News/Alternate News via psychic Zombie Monks.

Bill narrates this episode starting in a distopian earth six months after the Monks take over. It’s a retold history where the Monks were a benevolent guide, but anyone realising the truth is caught by the thought police. Very 1984, very alien invasion gone wrong.

For me it lacked something. I’ve watched episode four times. I cannot fault Pearl Mackie, she sold me the story and convinced me she was at her last straw in shooting her professor. She’s Ace. No I’m mean she’s Ace like the seventh doctor’s companion, younger, brave at heart, true to herself. Much more than Rose. Not knowing like Clara, not fiery Amy either. I think that’s the upside.

Capaldi and Gomez. Doctor and Missy. Inside the vault. The other ‘last’ Time Lord. 

Lost but unbroken, proud, smart and unorthodox. Missy is a great creation and the interplay of words and accents and nuance again raises goosebumps. But she stayed in the vault after suggesting breaking the Monk’s psychic hold by killing the vow maker.

The resolution was poor. Bill as companion saves day after The Doctor fails. The love for her mother breaking the hold of the Monks.

My view

6/10. It wasn’t Extermis, it wasn’t ‘Pyramid’, the potential of a great resolution to the set up was there. 

I wasn’t happy with the ‘fake out’ regeneration. If The Doctor has regeneration energy to spare for tricks, then you think, the blindness, the blindness.. it’s an annoyance when you see it.

 Missy as a consultant Time Lord. Hmmm. 

The Monks leaving. The pyramid flying off. Maybe we’ll get more of a satisfying conclusion in the series finale. We are yet to know much beyond Zombie Monks that analyse time and alternate virtual realities. 

My last thought is that, perhaps there’s a longer edit or ‘director’s cut’ of this episode that might be more satisfying with ten or fifteen minutes of extra scenes.

Doctor Who s10 e7 The Pyramid at the End of the World.

An episode that more or less sets up the next one, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a tale in there.

In terms of story, our alien monks bent on world domination from ‘Extremis’ make a pyramid in the middle of an area where Earth’s different armies face each other.

The Doctor solves the issue with some peace and love, whilst also advocating attacking the Pyramid to show strength.

In a parallel tale, scientists are in a bio-chemical lab with crops and chemicals. 

It turns out that’s the next point of weakness on earth for the monks to exploit as a hungover scientist got a decimal point wrong.

Inevitably, the Doctor has to intervene but his blindness means he can’t work a mechanical numeric lock.

We end with Bill begging the monks for their help and to give her consent as the Doctor’s representative to their take over of the world. 

She also asks for The Doctor’s sight restored to let him escape from the lab.

The concept is one of consent, the monks won’t accept the UN Secretary General’s ‘consent’, they won’t accept the three generals of China, Russia and the US surrendering as they want a genuine affirmation of ‘consent’ to take over the Earth. 

‘To save you, we must be asked’

The Doctor realises the conditions of the monk’s help, he realises their domination and realises it’s the end of freedom on earth.

It’s an allegory after Brexit and the election of Trump. 

Popularist politics and people giving consent by voting for feeling and ideas over facts and reality. 

Perhaps, the simplification of political discussion and debate with a herd of voters overreliant on what they read and see in the media.

‘Power must consent to our dominion.’ ‘We must be wanted, we must be loved.’

Sounds familiar, the alien monks do have a parallel in the world and times that we live in.

There’s fear and paranoia and mistrust with a critical situation that the Doctor can resolve through talking with the army commanders. 

He can’t fix all the world’s problems on the horizon and be everywhere though. The Monks can and will as they’ve modelled for every situation in their artificial realities shown in Extremis.

Through logic and help from Nardole, The Doctor finds the laboratory and narrows the search for the World’s next possible crisis.

We realise that The Doctor isn’t infallible, his blindness doesn’t help in the end where he comes up with a scheme to destroy the laboratory.

The monks intervene after Bill’s heartfelt plea for help. She has no other option but to ask.

Lines worth recalling.

Air, Water, Food, Beer‘ – Nardole’s essentials for life.

It’s your world.’ – The Doctor emphasises his alienness at the point the Generals wanted his council and they end up trying to speak to the monks to give their consent as a ‘smart move’.

Oh my god

No, I’m the Doctor

Conclusion

A conspiracy thriller, a tale of threats and power. Facing fear, standing up to those more powerful than you.

The Doctor runs out of luck, his blindness and Nardole being incapacitated by the chemicals in the lab means the lock’s failsafe numbered tumblers beat him.

Bill acts from love and concern for her friend and the Monk’s take over the world. Quite a cliffhanger.

The Doctor is safe from the Laboratory explosion but is told 

Enjoy your sight Doctor, now you’ll see OUR world.’

I can’t fault Capaldi, Mackie or Lucas, they all excelled and were convincing. 

I felt it was a lot of story to get into 45 minutes. No doubt the usual critics will say it was too complex, it was ambitious storytelling , a development upon The Doctor previously being ‘President of the World’ in times of alien threat and at its core an allegory on power and threat and domination by ‘consent’. 

We also had the context of the Doctor’s blindness, insofar as he was fine for much of the episode until he hit a lock the sonics couldn’t beat.

The story continues in ‘The Lie of the Land.’

Doctor Who s10 e6 – Extremis.

In pre-credits we initially think the Doctor is escorted by an execution party to his death on a planet where executions are carried out for the whole galaxy. 

It turns out to be that the Doctor is to carry out the execution of Missy.

Now this scene is titled as Long Ago, but it’s at a point after Darillium. 

Missy comments on it. Clearly the Doctor and River Song did spend those years there and it also seems this is after her death.

There’s a speech made by Nardole to the Doctor that are his mistresses words. We also see River’s Tardis blue diary.

Plenty enough to bite upon there as a flashback in itself.

We return to the Doctor sat at the wall of the vault and his glasses have received an email..

Then the titles..

The University Lecture Theatre and the Doctor is at the podium in darkness, a group of men enter the room and the sonic glasses analyse their age height and build.

It’s priests, cardinals and the Pope himself.

‘Dottore – read the Vetitas.’

The Pope begging the doctor to read the Document that has sent a number of Vatican scholars to kill themselves. 

Then a comic scene in Bill’s house with the Pope appearing  whilst she’s on a date and a pile of bishops and priests in her bedroom have came out the TARDIS.

Team Who assembled.

We are then led into the Vatican’s hidden library of prohibited books.

The mystery is of a book marked ‘Veritas’, but at the same time robe clad aliens are using portals to enter the library and kill off the Cardinal.

We have a scene where Bill gets told off by Nardole. he removes his glasses and with them his friendly comic manner to tell her his ground rules before they go and explore one of the portals.

Meanwhile, the Doctor uses a gadget from the Tardis to try and restore his sight to read the book. 

He asks for help from a figure in the library that he believes is the Cardinal who sought their help, it’s the scary alien monks.

In flashback again, we have Missy’s last moments and the dialogue between them. ‘I am your friend’  she says. 

The execution square makes it’s zapping charge to kill Missy.

The Doctor also makes an Oath as a member of the Prydonian Chapter to guard her body for a thousand years…

So we have our Oath and our occupant of the Vault.

We travel with Bill and Nardole through the portals, once to the Pentagon then to CERN.

CERN have a suicide pact after reading the Veritas and we have a remarkable scene with a Professor there challenging Bill and Nardole to say random numbers and they both say the same numbers each time they are asked to do so.

In the library, The Doctor faces the alien monks, before he too goes through the portal, but not with the book but a translation on a laptop computer.

Bill and Nardole return to the room where the portals are centred and we get a conclusion from Nardole.

This isn’t real as the number test is a way of proving that you’re in a simulated environment and that’s what the scientists did with their death pact.

Nardole realises the projections and the things they’ve seen are simulations.

Nardole proves it by dematerialising in front of Bill, who then seeks The Doctor finding him in the Oval Office at the White House through another portal.

Bill asks The Doctor what’s real. 

The Doctor says that the Veritas is about a shadow world and the shadow test is that which the staff at CERN did with the numbers.

The Doctor realises it’s all a simulation and explains it to Bill and she realises the string of numbers said at CERN were all said by everyone as a way to prove the simulation. 

Bill then disappears and The Doctor faces the Alien Monk, he realises what Missy has said at her execution and looks at River’s Diary in his pocket.

He finds faith and uses his sonic glasses to send the email from his simulation. 

‘Your simulation is too good.’

‘Even a jumped up subroutine can send an email.’

We return to The Doctor at the Vault, Simulation-Doctor has beaten the Aliens practice invasion by emailing him from inside it.

He talks to the door of the Vault. ‘Missy, you said you were my friend.’

It is revealed in flashback that the Doctor fiddled with the wiring. He tells the executioners to look under fatalities caused by The Doctor. The executioners run as the numbers go higher and higher.

‘Something’s coming Missy and I’m blind. How can I save them when I’m lost to the Dark?’

My view

As good an episode of Nu-Who as there is. 

The set up is paced and deliberate, an ancient text, a prophecy, a mystery. A call on the Doctor by the Pope, the planet in peril. It’s been compared to Dan Brown and that’s unfair, it’s cleverer than that.

We have flashback, we have Missy and the Doctor and she’s been caught and he’s there as a member of the same species to execute her.

The Oath is interesting, presumably it’s a Time Lord thing, as is the guarding of the body, but clearly The Doctor has changed the rules by keeping his antagonist alive.

We hear Missy say she can change and be good, would we believe her? 

Would she change after years in the Vault? Would The Master help a blinded Doctor even if the earth was under Alien attack?

Missy and Doctor. An able being in Nardole who can pilot the Tardis and a random factor in Bill, whose humanity works with the Doctor.

So we have ourselves a series. It’s built up well and different genres have been at play with sci-fi and horror and scares all in the mix.

Moffat had tied up Darillium. He’s brought Missy back in an interesting way, although the Vault has been a mild distraction, The Oath may be more of a thing. Missy owes her life to the Doctor, but she’s been in a vault for seventy years or more.

The Master at the best of times has never been sane in either Nu or classic Who. The schemes and plans to kill the planet. The ideas to foil the Doctor. 

Could we have a twisted mix of Doctor and Master as the last of the Time Lords saving earth from a greater threat? 

Can the Doctor risk it. Would Nardole as his valet, minder and keeper of River’s conscience allow it? 

I wonder. 

As episodes go. 9/10 solid stuff that drew together the hints dropped and although knowing Missy was in the Vault isn’t earth shattering. theres plenty to draw on.

Doctor Who s10 e4: Knock Knock

A simple scare em. 

But as ever with Doctor Who nothing is ever that simple, we see Bill and friends seeking a suitable place to rent and coming up blank at the Estate Agent before a man offers them a house.

The man or ‘The Landlord’ is exquisitely played by David Suchet, with poise and timing and tone of voice as he once showed in Poirot.

The plot used timing, visual and sound effects well to set up the scares in a creepy old house that has a secret. The Doctor helps Bill to move using the Tardis but stays around after sticking his finger in the Air and noticing something.

I’ve only seen the episode as a standard version without enhanced sound, but speech and music were fine.

The episode worked in general, alien bugs, a dying woman and the Landlord uses occasional tenants to feed them and sustain her.

Bill’s questions this time took us into mentions about the ‘Time Lords’ and their collars, mentions of  sleep, regeneration and again, the Doctor’s age. 

Most interesting was saying the Doctor was her ‘Grandfather’ to her friends. A reference that runs back to the beginning of the show and that might or might not be significant. 

Moffat has teased us before and thrown us the odd red herring here and there in the past.

Again, the ending made as much impact as the bulk of the episode, with Nardole clearly nervous as The Doctor approaches him and it’s also clear that someone is held in the Vault. 

We hear piano music, not quite what we expect, having heard knocking previously and The Doctor approaches and addresses the Vault Door.

The two pieces of music that we hear are apparently ‘Fur Elise’ and ‘Pop goes the Weasel’.

The first is Beethoven, as per the ‘Bootstrap Paradox’ in the introduction of Series Nine’s ‘Before the Flood’, although that time it was Beethoven’s Fifth and a reference to how a time traveller could set a paradox in being.

‘Pop Goes the Weasel’ is a children’s song obviously. The question is what exactly is the reference here and how it is relevant and who’s playing it?

A pianist that the Doctor is familiar with, that he tells stories about his encounters with whilst fulfilling his ‘oath’ ? 

Someone that he’d share a meal with, in terms of the take away. The vault as a cell, possibly even a comfortable one?

Missy. The Master. We presume. The use of music as a code between them, it could be. Again, is it too obvious?

It’s difficult to guess otherwise. It’s going to be the series arc and be our drift toward the later episodes and towards what Twelve’s ending might be.