The Doctor’s archenemy, Missy AKA The Master, wants to become one of the good guys, so he sets her, along with his companions Bill and Nardole, on a mission, and things just get worse as they go, as they stumble upon the Mondasian Cybermen in this very offbeat and landmark episode of Doctor Who. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on “World Enough and Time.”
There had been a lot of hype about this episode of Doctor Who long before it aired. We already knew more than a few things. The Peter Capaldi Doctor would be regenerating by the end of this season, perhaps during the Christmas special, or as rumor had it, perhaps before then in the last few episodes of this season. We would see the first modern appearance of one of Capaldi’s favorite Who villains/monsters, the Mondasian Cybermen. And finally, not only would we be seeing the return of Michelle Gomez as Missy, but also the return of John Simm’s Master.
That last one is amazing, while we have seen different regenerations of The Doctor interact, we have never seen such an occurrence with The Master. Both are Time Lords, both cross paths through time, so not only why not, but why hasn’t it happened sooner. And just as some incarnations of The Doctor do not particularly like one another, we can only wonder how Gomez and Simm will get along, or not. I saw this on vacation, just before leaving the online world, and I know, the Twitterverse was on fire.
Trick or Treat
Now we open on an intense scene, the TARDIS landing on a barren frozen world, The Doctor, with some amazing longer and wilder hair than usual, stumbles out, mumbles “nooo…” and starts to glow his hands-and-head-regeneration-dance. Cue opening credits. Now, in some cases, this would mean it’s on and he’s regenerating, but as we’ve seen as recently as “The Empress of Mars,” The Doctor can apparently ‘fake’ this process, and in the aforementioned case, just for shits and giggles. Always remember, The Doctor lies.
When we come back, we are in some huge spacecraft at the edge seemingly of a black hole. The TARDIS appears and out steps Missy, speaking to anyone who will listen, although the deck is empty. She calls herself ‘Doctor Who,’ and Bill and Nardole her assistants (or companions, or pets or snacks, or disposables, although I liked her initial intro of Thing One and Other One, and even more, Exposition and Comic Relief). This is her test run as a good guy, and she is having quite the fun time playing at hero. It is a game to her, and The Doctor had better watch his back – she is still The Master no matter what she says or does.
The Name Game
Speaking of games, there’s a bit of a name game afoot here. Casual viewers of this show might not get it or understand, but Doctor Who is not the name of the main character, nor The Doctor’s real name. It has only been recently in the new series that the showrunners have begun a game of puns regarding the show’s title. It’s quite striking and odd for Missy to even put those words together to say “I’m Doctor Who.” I think she’s pulling a Doctor when she says she’s streamlining or saying it’s his real name.
If I was to go even farther about the whole issue of names, getting a bit anal retentive here, it’s Doctor Who, not Dr. Who. Two completely different things. Dr. Who is either Peter Cushing in a pair of movies about Daleks from the 1960s, or it’s the villain from the Rankin-Bass King Kong. Doctor Who is the long-running British scifi TV series. It’s a subtle but important difference, like Trekkie and Trekker. If one says ‘Dr. Who,’ the real Whovians know you’re not a real fan. But as far as Doctor Who being the Doctor’s real name, or taken name, I’m not sold. Yet.
The Doctor is monitoring the ‘mission’ from the TARDIS while eating crisps. It’s like movie day. However when things get hot, he’s out of the TARDIS like a shot. Things are coming, and they’re after humans. The blue man (they must have a lot of blue make-up in the BBC wardrobe department or bought a lot wholesale from the Blue Man Group) who sent the distress call is crazy paranoid, and shoots Bill when she fesses up to being human, puts a hole right through her, thank you, BBC special effects folks, good job.
From there we jump back in time, as we also assume the opening is flashbacked on as well. The Doctor (or should I call him Doctor Who at this point?) is trying to make Bill (and Nardole as well) understand Missy/The Master and why it’s so important he help her. They are the same, and friends as well as enemies. The Doctor even confesses to her being his first man crush. And the sexual electricity between the David Tennant Doctor and the John Simm Master was so intense, I would not even blink once at a Capaldi/Missy romance.
Bill however is afraid, really afraid of Missy. There is some discussion from Bill of why if Time Lords can change their gender and are beyond that mattering why they call themselves Time Lords. But that isn’t completely true, as I’m sure that Romana was referred to as a Time Lady quite often, wasn’t she? The bottom line however is how human The Doctor feels toward Missy, and equally, more specifically, how he has promised he would not get Bill killed. But again, what’s rule number one? The Doctor lies, and with that in mind also, perhaps Doctor Who is his name.
Pain and Time
Creatures with stocking heads come and take Bill away, supposedly to ‘repair’ her. As she explores her new surroundings having woken up, The Doctor explains his theory of what may have happened to this 400-mile long ship on the edge of a black hole and its missing crew. Bill finds herself in a scary hospital setting, with a thing in her chest – a new shiny heart – and dragging a glowing IV torch around with her. Very gothic, very bedlam, and an Alan Moore wannabe skulking around who wants to have tea with her.
Bill was led out of her bed by a machine-like voice repeating pain over and over again. When she discovers the source, it’s a man, who is ‘fixed’ by a nurse who just turns his volume down. The “pain” repetition is as scary as voices from the past like “are you my mommy?” Between Moore and Who, we learn that the black hole has made it so time moves very very fast at the bottom of the ship and very very slow at the top of the ship. Superman gravity. Timey wimey. And the parallel scenes carry through the rest of the episode.
Of course the whole experience at the bottom of the ship with her new friend is just a trap. I never did trust Alan Moore. And it’s not much of a shock for those of us who knew it was coming when the Mondasian Cybermen are slowly revealed. There’s a moment of full on terror when The Doctor and Nardole discover one in its full form. I never thought that original design was all that scary, but again, the BBC SPFX department proved me wrong again, brrrr… Especially when it’s Bill!
But then the real shock was who the Alan Moore wannabe really was. Even though I had suspicions earlier in the episode, it was slow coming and truly frightening emerging – the old man was The Master, as played by John Simm. We don’t actually see an alliance made between Missy and The Master onscreen so perhaps Missy might still be on our side, but somehow I doubt it. Things look very very bad, with two versions of The Master present at the genesis of the Cybermen, I can see quite easily a dying Doctor exiting the TARDIS in our opening scene.
This episode was so good, no wonder it ‘broke the internet in two.’ I really loved it, and have some comments as well as questions. I loved that The Doctor used his Venusian Aikido from way back in the Jon Pertwee days. Nice throwback on that one. I loved Nardole’s comment about maybe trying to be blue again. And I wonder if the time differences at the ends of the ship are why The Doctor’s hair is longer in the beginning? Although there were a few slow points, I think this was the best episode of the season so far. Next, The Doctor vs. The Master, the Cybermen, and Missy!
Next: “The Doctor Falls!”