In the first part of this season’s finale, the Doctor is trying to save the last vestiges of humanity.
In the future, humanity has been mostly wiped out in the Milky Way by the Cybermen. However, the Cybermen have taken massive losses as well. The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) arrives in the future just as Ashad (Patrick O’Kane) brings his dwindling forces to attack the last humans. Some of the humans are killed by “cyberdrones” after the Doctor’s anti-Cyberman devices fail, but the Doctor orders the Tardis Trio [Graham, Yaz, and Ryan (Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill, Tosin Cole)] to save the remaining survivors. Ryan and a human named Ethan (Matt Carver) escape with the Doctor on a Cyberman ship while Yaz and Graham escape with the other humans, Yedlarmi, Ravio, and Bescot (Alex Austin, Julie Graham, Rhiannon Clements).
Yaz’s and Graham’s group find themselves in a former Cyberman battlefield and board an abandoned Cyberman carrier ship. They try to take the ship to “Ko Sharmus,” a haven where humans can find a portal to a safe place where Cybermen can’t follow. Unfortunately, they also discover that the ship is filled with Cyberwarriors which are currently dormant. Ashad arrives and starts to activate the dormant Cybermen.
The Doctor’s team arrives at Ko Sharmus, who is revealed to be a person (Ian McElhinney) who monitors the portal to the haven. Ashad and the Cybermen start to move towards the control deck. Yaz manages to warn the Doctor about the small army of Cybermen inbound just as the portal opens, revealing Gallifrey. The Master (Sacha Dhawan) leaps through, proclaiming that everything is about to change forever.
Throughout the episode, we watch the life of Brendan (Evan McCabe), who was found abandoned in Ireland in the early 20th century. He grows up to be a police officer who seemingly can’t die. At his retirement, he is met by two men who say they’re going to wipe his memory.
I see a lot of people taking shots at this episode for ending with such a blatant cliffhanger line. To that I ask “Have you watched Doctor Who?” I mean, that’s literally a tradition from the very beginning. I acknowledge that the line “everything is about to change forever” is super cliche, but that’s really in line with Doctor Who.
The Doctor really seems to kind of be at her breaking point throughout this episode, being much more direct, less expositional, and colder towards others. As much as I have appreciated the positivity of the current Doctor’s demeanor and her willingness to try to hold fast to hope, it was good to see her have to deal with a very dire situation and be serious. Part of what makes the Doctor such a great character is that he or she is always smiling through a deep pain and feeling of loss. This season the Doctor has lost a ton, but this episode finally gives us a real idea of how much it’s been eating at her.
It’s interesting to contemplate how the Cybermen benefit from eliminating the remainder of humanity. The Cybermen have, historically, only come into being from the bodies of dead humans and we haven’t seen them attempt to breed more humans. Would they just convert the last 4 and try to take over all of the alien species? Because most of the species aside from humans are usually technologically or physically superior and humans apparently managed to kill most of the Cybermen. It’s unlikely to work out well for them. Since the Cybermen were a metaphor for communism (everyone is forced to be exactly the same), I feel like there’s a message there, but I can’t figure it out.
Overall, much of this episode is really writing a lot of checks that the next episode needs to cash.
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