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 Whosdays (Series 12) – Ep. 1&2 “Spyfall”

The Doctor returns, fam in tow, to deal with a global spy crisis and an old enemy.

SUMMARY

All around the globe spies are suddenly being killed. The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Graham (Bradley Walsh), Ryan (Tosin Cole), and Yaz (Mandip Gill) are summoned to MI-6 by C (Stephen Fry), the head of the clandestine organization. C is quickly killed, but after telling the Doctor and the Tardis Trio to find O (Sacha Dhawan), the spy tasked with monitoring aliens, and to look into Tech CEO Daniel Barton (Lenny Henry). Yaz and Ryan discover that Barton is partially alien while the Doctor and Graham find O. Yaz is pulled into another dimension by aliens called the Kasaavin, only to pop back out after exchanging places with another alien. The group, including O, follow Barton onto a plane, only for the Doctor to realize that O is not who he seems. It turns out that he is actually the latest incarnation of the Master. He abducts the Doctor via the Kasaavin and leaves the rest in a crashing plane.

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Walking out of a vineyard in a tux is very Bond.

The Doctor leaves a message from the past in the plane that saves the group and emerges from the Kasaavin’s dimension in 1834 along with Ada Lovelace (Sylvie Briggs), the first computer programmer. The Master attacks the Doctor at an inventor’s convention, only for Ada to shoot him. The Doctor and Ada meet with Charles Babbage (Mark Dexter), who inadvertently gives the Doctor a way to travel in time through the Kasaavin. Ada grabs her, throwing off the trip and bringing them to 1943 in Paris, where the Master is commanding the Nazis. The Doctor and Ada are saved by spy Noor Inayat Khan (Aurora Marion). 

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And he did make a “Master Race” joke in “The End of Time,” before you ask.

The Master reveals that he had the Kasaavin kill spies to draw out the Doctor. He also reveals that Gallifrey, the Time Lords’ home planet, was destroyed, before the Doctor reveals his non-Aryan nature to the Nazis and frames him as a spy. The Doctor, Ada, and Khan all return to the present using the Master’s own TARDIS. Barton reveals that he made a deal with the Kasaavin to rewrite humanity’s DNA to use as data drives. The Master, having lived through the 77 years since the Nazis, helps set the plan in motion until the Doctor arrives and reveals, in the nick of time, that she used his TARDIS to create a failsafe. The Kasaavin, now aware that the Master was planning on betraying them, abduct him. The Doctor returns Ada and Khan to their times and visits Gallifrey, finding that the Master destroyed it. He left a confession saying that all of Time Lord history is a lie, citing something called the “Timeless Child.”

END SUMMARY

Upside, this was a well-done episode that managed to feel a lot more like an old Doctor Who episode that still has the updated sensibilities and motivations of the more recent series. Downside, Gallifrey is dead again for reasons that are not yet revealed and the “does it, doesn’t it” nature of the planet is starting to get old for me. Still, this was the most I’ve just enjoyed the show in a while. 

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They nailed the badass entrance again.

The spy aspect of the episode, while ultimately mostly only the inciting incident, does provide an excuse for both a wardrobe change (which everyone rocks) and also a reason for Graham, Ryan, and Yaz to have high-tech gadgets independent of the Doctor. I also would be lying if I said I didn’t relish any opportunity for a few James Bond references. Stephen Fry’s appearance as C, though brief, was a nice throwback to the original M from the Bond series. It’s made only a little more meta if you know that M was a position named for Mycroft Holmes, the supposed original spymaster for England, who was portrayed in Sherlock Holmes by… Stephen Fry. 

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Also, the nature of the spy killing is like if Jason Bourne tried to fight the Chitauri. One-sided.

The main improvement in this episode was how seamlessly it worked in the themes that Chris Chibnail seems to be trying to put out there with the narrative. It celebrated the achievements of women while also never coming off as “preachy” or aggressive with it. The narrative was also paced much better than most of the previous series, where there often was a feeling of rushing to the conclusion. 

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They let the Master ham it up, and that’s always good.

The return of the Master was pretty much inevitable, but I admit that I thought he/she would stay dead longer this time, particularly since the Master was not present for either of the previous odd-numbered Doctors. This incarnation, though, appears to be able to blend together all of the best aspects of previous Masters/Mistress, with elements of humor, madness, and ruthlessness, but also adding an amount of seeming introspection that he only showed at the end of his last run as Missy. Having him destroy Gallifrey for apparently moral reasons is a good way to set up what I assume will be the central story of the season, because what could be so bad that the Master finds it morally reprehensible?

Overall, I thought this was a good return to the series. I look forward to seeing if the show has really now found a way to be different enough while also still the same.

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.