Doctor Whosday – S12E10 “The Timeless Children”

The Doctor finds out that her entire past is predicated on a lie.

SUMMARY

The Master (Sacha Dhawan) brings the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) to Gallifrey where he forces her into the Matrix, the computer that holds all of the knowledge of the Time Lords. He reveals that he was hacking it when he discovered a hidden cache of information. It turns out that Gallifrey was once home to the native Shobogans. Tecteun (Seylan Baxter), a Shobogan astronaut, discovered a child that was capable of regenerating infinitely. Tecteun figured out how to copy the child’s ability and applied it to all of the Shobogans, making them the Time Lords. Tecteun limited the Time Lord’s ability to regenerate, but the “timeless child” can regenerate forever. The Master reveals that the Doctor is actually the timeless child, but that the Time Lords kept erasing her memory. The Doctor, as the child, was inducted into a clandestine Time Lord organization called the Division, but even the Master doesn’t know what it did. 

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This somehow feels kind of Logan’s Run-y to me.

The Master shrinks Ashad (Patrick O’Kane), allowing him to steal the Cyberium and combine the Time Lord genes with the Cybermen, creating a race of immortal “Cyberlords.” The Master plans to use these to take over the universe. The Doctor manages to escape the Matrix by showing it all of her memories to overload it just as Ryan, Graham, and Yaz (Tosin Cole, Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill) arrive with Ko Sharmus (Ian McElhinney), Ravio (Julie Graham), and Yedlarmi (Alex Austin). 

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The headpieces are really unnecessary, man.

The Doctor discovers that the shrunken Ashad was in possession of the “Death Particle,” a weapon that destroys all organic life on a planet, held as a weapon for the last Cybermen. The Doctor sends all of the survivors away so she can detonate the particle, but finds herself unable to do so. Ko Sharmus appears and detonates the particle as penance for his failings, while the Doctor escapes. She makes it back to her TARDIS on Earth, just in time for her to be imprisoned by the Judoon. 

END SUMMARY

So, the season comes to an end and, true to the promise, this episode delivered a revelation that changed the entire history of Doctor Who. It turns out that there aren’t just 13 Doctors, a War Doctor, and a Ruth, but that there are, in fact, probably an enormous number of incarnations of the Doctor throughout time and space. While this might seem like it’s coming out of nowhere, the episode actually makes reference to this being proposed in a much earlier episode. 44 years earlier, in fact. In the Fourth Doctor serial “The Brain of Morbius,” a machine hooked into the Doctor’s brain shows the past regenerations of the Doctor and then a host of other faces. The intention of the scene at the time had been to show a number of surprise previous incarnations of the Doctor. Later, when the twelve regeneration limit was imposed, the writers ignored the faces. In this episode, we see all of these faces again, revealing that they were, in fact, previous faces of the Doctor. So, this episode really just confirms something that the show was supposed to tell us years ago.

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Trippy, but… I mean, it was the 70s. 

I definitely enjoyed the idea of the Master once again trying to create and command an army of Cybermen, but it makes a lot of sense for him to try to use the Time Lords as the basis for them in order to make the Cybermen unbeatable. Sacha Dhawan’s version of the Master is interesting, because he represents a combination of the technology of the earlier incarnations of the master, the humor of the John Simm version of the Master, and the cruel insanity of Missy. I mean, he committed Time Lord genocide… somehow. However, I will say that this episode suffers from a pointless Deus Ex Machina in the form of the Death Particle. It’s literally the exact weapon needed at the exact time it’s needed. The Master leaves it for the Doctor as a test of her principles, but it’s insane that Ashad just had it in the first place but didn’t bring it up previously. It’s even more frustrating because he could just have mentioned it WHEN HE THREATENED TO DESTROY THE EARTH TWO EPISODES AGO. 

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And he was too good of a villain to go down that easily. One button push by the Master? That’s it?

Still, while there definitely have been better season finales and the showrunners still have trouble with sincere emotional moments, it was a pretty good cap to the season.

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Doctor Whosday – S12 E9 “Ascension of the Cybermen”

In the first part of this season’s finale, the Doctor is trying to save the last vestiges of humanity.

SUMMARY

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).

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Has time travel, still doesn’t have enough time to set up a trap.

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. 

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It’s been a rough couple of centuries.

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.

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He’s so happy.

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.

END SUMMARY

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.

Like the double fakeout with Amy Pond that season?

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. 

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She seems to not give a damn at this point and I like it.

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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Doctor Whosday – S12 E8 “The Haunting of Villa Diodati”

The Doctor and The Tardis Trio encounter Mary Shelley on a significant night.

SUMMARY

It’s 1816 and Percy Bysshe Shelley (Lewis Rainer), Lord Byron (Jacob Collins-Levy), Mary Shelley (Lili Miller), her sister Claire Clairmont (Nadia Parkes), and Byron’s physician Dr. John Polidori (Maxim Baldry) are at Byron’s vacation rental, Villa Diodati. There have been a number of storms this year due to it being the year without a Summer. The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) shows up during such a storm along with Ryan, Graham, and Yaz (Tosin Cole, Bradley Walsh, and Mandip Gill). After they arrive, Percy Bysshe Shelley goes missing and his room is covered in gibberish and strange symbols. Strange figures then appear throughout the house, the walls start moving, and dead body parts start moving on their own. 

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It’s no Ozymandias.

The Doctor realizes that these events are caused by a high-tech security system. She manages to prove it just as a figure starts to appear within the house, revealed to be a half-complete Cyberman (Patrick O’Kane). This appears to be the Lone Cyberman that Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) warned the Doctor about in “Fugitive of the Judoon,” but the Doctor chooses to stay and confront it. The Cyberman is revealed to be named Ashad and that he is hunting for the Cyberium, the substance that the security system is protecting. Ashad time traveled to the villa, but his power was drained. He uses the electrical storm to recharge himself, setting out to find the “guardian,” revealed to be Shelley.

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Either the first Modern Prometheus or possibly Galactus’s offspring.

The Doctor and the rest of the house find Shelley, who had found the Cyberium previously. The Cyberium is apparently the accumulated knowledge of the Cybermen. His gibberish was apparently calculations. Ashad threatens to kill Shelley, so the Doctor absorbs the Cyberium from him. Ashad then threatens to destroy Earth, so the Doctor gives him the Cyberium, despite Jack’s warning not to “give it what it wants.” The Doctor and the Tardis Trio depart, using Percy’s scrawlings to follow Ashad. The experience inspires the writing of Frankenstein.

END SUMMARY

Okay, this was a solid build up to the last two episodes. It continued the plotline of the Lone Cyberman started in “Fugitive of the Judoon,” while also being a classic “historical celebrity” episode, and the ending is the perfect antepenultimate cliffhanger. So, right now, the finale could well involve Cybermen, the Master, Doctor Ruth, and Jack Harkness. I know it probably won’t have all of those resolve in this series, but dang, that would be a ride. 

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Please come back to me, Jack.

This episode did a lot of things right that others in this season didn’t pull off well. First, the pacing was great. It had a cold open to set the atmosphere, the Doctor and crew arrive, then we’re slowly given more and more clues that something is very wrong here. The reveals of the secrets are given the proper amount of weight and reactions by the cast, which is something they have sorely lacked at this point this year. 

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They later put on a production of A Christmas Carol, I think.

The moments revealing the essences of the various characters, too, were well done, focusing more on showing us who they are rather than telling us. I particularly love the moments of Lord Byron trying first to seduce the Doctor with his confidence, only to hide behind Claire when he thinks he’s in danger. While Lord Byron’s behavior (he was typically not considered a coward), as well as Claire’s response to it, don’t correspond with their historical personas (she was pregnant with his child at this point and didn’t seem to hate him until after she gave birth), the changes made the episode more interesting. 

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Also, the moment of the Doctor claiming the Cyberium was pretty awesome.

I also loved that, at the end of the episode, there were still more mysteries, including whether or not Graham saw an actual ghost. It really fit the Gothic theme. Overall, just a solid episode to set up for what I hope will be an explosive finale. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.