Doctor Who Series 10, Episode 12: “The Doctor Falls” Review

I really don’t know what I was hoping for with “The Doctor Falls”. Perhaps just a decent conclusion to Peter Capaldi‘s era and some form of redemption for Steven Moffat, because (let’s face it) these last three years have been total wank, making me wonder why I’m still trying to cling onto Doctor Who in the vein hope it’ll get better.

Plus, it’s not like Moffat is known for doing extraordinary finales. He’s more inclined to push that aside for strong character study, with some sort of personal, or complicated catastrophe, in the background. I’m still inclined to say that Moffat’s best finale to date is “The Name of the Doctor” due to its powerful themes that reflect both The Doctor’s character and the show’s core elements, bringing about most welcomed exploration into this ancient creature of knowledge and discovery.

And then you fast-forward to the finale’s that followed which gambled their creative ideas for bullshit (and controversial) twists in order for Moffat to make himself look clever (when in fact he was being a complete twat).

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Honestly, I wish I could say that “The Doctor Falls” strayed away from all that bollocks but it doesn’t. Would I say it was better than both “Death in Heaven” and “Hell Bent”? Yes, but that’s not really saying much considering they were both massive piles of shit. Although, granted, if I was looking at the most consistent finale out of the three, then it would have to go to “Hell Bent” because (despite it straying away from all the good shit it promised) it at least concluded its narrative with at least some effort that felt somewhat natural to the characters onscreen.

Here, everything just ended-up being completely fucking baffling. I really hoped that things could only go up from “World Enough and Time” because despite being a boring build-up story (because I knew exactly what was going to fucking happen) it concluded with some really gripping ideas. But “The Doctor Falls” decides to discard everything it promises for a really slow burner, filled with really emotional moments (some of which really propelled Moffat’s unique writing abilities) but the rest of the episode just crashed and burned.

Okay, I’ll talk about the good points first.

Bill’s journey with The Twelfth Doctor has been one of the most engaging story-arcs ever seen on Doctor Who because she encounted possibly the worst edges of the universe, whilst constantly being pushed to new extremes, but strangely enough always stayed loyal to her tutor because she trusted him and enjoyed his company. This stemmed from the fact that he believed in her, giving her new meaning and even granted her the ability to look at herself in a different perspective and learnt her true strengths and capabilities, along with no longer feeling ashamed at who she was.

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But things became extremely complicated last week after she was shot and then partly converted into a Cyberman, before enduring ten long years stuck with a disguised Master in a fucked-up society, until she was ready for the full conversion, thus never being rescued despite clinging onto The Twelfth Doctor’s promise of salvation. Despite everything she’d been through it seemed like Bill would suffer the worst possible fate. Bill wouldn’t receive any kind of reward for all her bravery and would instead face the terrifying reality of becoming one of The Doctor’s most feared enemies; a cold, emotionless killer that wants nothing but to spread its own image across the galaxy.

The finale is effective in building-up this horrific realisation that Bill is no longer Bill by having us see her for who she still sees herself as, whilst everyone else is forced to see her as a Cyberman. The Twelfth Doctor explains that Bill is able to resist the conversion process, and still see herself as Bill, because of her exposure to The Monk’s back in “The Lie of the Land”, to which she maintained a mental block against their powers. This developed one of the most tragic storylines imaginable as The Twelfth Doctor had to face the reality that he cannot fix everything, whilst constantly fooling himself into believing otherwise through blind-hope.

And then you have Bill who has to face a reality where she may no longer be the person she used to be, forever being seen as a creature of destruction, and at any moment could finally lose what’s left of her personality and humanity. Of course there’s seems to be some kind of hope for Bill as she is able to resist the Cybermen’s control and still display emotion, even at one point shedding a tear, but for the most part it seems like vein hope that Bill can ever see a rewarding ending, only a triumphant death through noble sacrifice. I found this part of “The Doctor Falls” deeply emotional because I really liked Bill and to see her end this way was beyond heart-breaking.

But despite the depressing nature of the situation, Bill still kept strong and remained true to herself, and above-all, loyal to her tutor. Anyone else would’ve hated The Doctor, and despised him for betraying her in the worst possible way through trying to reform his greatest nemesis (The Master) and ultimately placing Bill in mortal danger, which led to her life being fucking ruined. I mean, fuck, I despise The Twelfth Doctor for being a fucking idiot and arrogant bastard. Poor Bill has suffered greatly but her kindness just makes her even stronger as a character because it shows how dedicated she is to The Twelfth Doctor and their unique bond cannot be shattered.

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Speaking of companions, Nardole really shines in this finale, pushing himself to a neat conclusion. It’s even great how we finally got a little insight into his past, and perhaps more reasoning as to why The Twelfth Doctor took him under his wing. Beyond reminding him of his late wife (River Song) The Twelfth Doctor wanted to bring redemption into Nardole’s heart, pulling him away from being a selfish con-man (not to dissimilar to Captain Jack Harkness) to someone that actually gives a shit and understands the meaning of heroism.

Throughout the narrative Nardole constantly pushes himself (despite maybe being either unaware or too stubborn to admit) and gradually becomes the true hero of the adventure as he finds ways to fight off the Cybermen and reassure the people of the spaceship. He even forces himself to agree with The Twelfth Doctor over the duties of saving the day and honours his friend’s final request of getting the people to safety and looking after them after the Time Lord is gone. It just showed underneath all that comedic, and often cold alien nature, there was a true hero waiting to be unleashed and his time with The Doctor finally paid-off.

But, I’m afraid this neat little bit of character development, and intense breaking point at the end of Capaldi’s era, is once again ruined by Moffat’s unstoppable ego, which continues to grow and grow, ultimately tarnishing what’s left of Doctor Who‘s quality and status as a respectable show.

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I guess you could say that publicity also had a hand in fucking-up our expectations (once again) but even Moffat eluded to the fact that we’d be getting this grand return for John Simm, along with a multi-Master narrative. But (like “Hell Bent”) this second half of the finale went in a completely different fucking direction from the first half and ultimately spoilt things. Yes, like I mentioned above, there were good moments, and plenty of emotional development for the characters to endure. I mean, Christ, The Twelfth Doctor was placed within his most desperate situation and was clearly just biding time for the inevitable throughout, but the execution was in many ways piss-poor.

Quite frankly, I’m sick and tired of seeing the Cybermen used poorly. For fuck-sake Moffat, you’ve had two attempts now to make them impressive, building on really cool concepts that looked to enhance their performance (and perhaps make them terrifying again) but then dropped the ball so hard that the Cybermen just don’t know what to do with themselves. At least they actually did something this time round (unlike in “Hell Bent” when they just stood around in a fucking graveyard for the majority of the narrative) but even then it was just embarrassing, resembling the dully constructed stand-off scenes from “Nightmare in Silver”.

Literally, that’s all “The Doctor Falls” is: a fucking stand-off. Moffat goes from telling us a truly horrific narrative which is utterly grim and unsettling, to a bland showdown that tries to desperately steal the grandness of “The Time of the Doctor”. Though “The Time of the Doctor” could’ve been made better, and focused more on the terrifying conflicts and emotional trauma The Eleventh Doctor was forced to endure, it was still more apparent and understood as to what kind of story it was telling (thus giving Matt Smith a fantastic conclusion to both his incarnation and era). Here, however, it’s just a confused mess that lacks any real originality and just spends an hour fucking around with stolen ideas, and Moffat’s fucking fucked-up fetishes, whilst trying to cram in actual good ideas, thus creating a cluster-fuck.

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The aspect that irritated me the most was what Moffat did to The Master. I mean, for fuck-sake Moffat, haven’t you finished pissing me off yet. How much more can you drag Doctor Who into the dirt, strip away its dignity, and call it your bitch? For too long now have I had to tolerate this man letting me down through the most disappointing and shameful acts. I’ll never forgive him for what he’s done to The Master. He has done nothing but tarnish this once brilliantly crafted villain. I’m sure Robert Holmes will be turning in his grave because of this bullshit!

And what really baffles me is the wasted opportunity of bringing Simm back. He does fuck-all in this entire episode. He spent the last fucking episode pissing around with disguises, only to be revealed in the last couple of minutes, to then be shoved out the fucking window for this pissing entry in exchange for another disgraceful Cyberman story. Literally, The Master becomes a tool to set things into motion, and that’s about it. At first I was delighted by his presence because the real Master was back, gloating about how he managed to rebuild the Cybermen and ultimately torture Bill throughout the duration of “World Enough and Time” and then taunting The Twelfth Doctor with her cruel fate.

Everything was moving forward to make Simm’s return triumphant, but then Moffat happened. The Twelfth Doctor quickly sabotages his plans and from then on The Master is made to become rather pathetic as he’s no longer in control and spends his remaining screen-time trying to escape the spaceship. Yeah, if you were expecting an epic showdown between The Twelfth Doctor and The Master, well you can go fuck yourself according to Moffat because that’s not what you wanted at all. No, no, no. What you wanted was a creepy fan-fiction where The Master spends awkward moments idolising himself, to the point where I was convinced him and Missy were going to snog.

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And onto fucking Missy. She continues to piss me off and display exactly why she isn’t The Master (like, at all). But, surprisingly, Moffat actually addresses this and has The Master become quite frustrated towards Missy, to the point where his cruelty elevates due to his pure desperation of no longer being in control of his evil scheme or his own fate. It becomes increasingly clear that Missy is just becoming a train-wreck of a character (in a fucking pathetic scheme to make The Master’s character more human, as he comes to understand his friendship with The Doctor).

This has been done before and to greater acclaim (cough, cough, “The End of Time”). In that narrative you saw both The Master and The Tenth Doctor at their most desperate and yet The Tenth Doctor tried to find common ground, begging The Master to see reason, to which he refuses up until he witnesses The Tenth Doctor protect him. This led to The Master sacrificing himself for The Tenth Doctor. Perhaps it hadn’t fully changed him, and maybe just returning the favour, but the point still stands that this was a much more clever attempt at showing The Doctor trying to get his old friend back from the darkness he trapped himself within.

Moffat’s attempts have just been extremely shallow, and fucking awkward (sometimes even cringe-worthy), and this is down to Missy’s character just being so dreadful and so far away from being what she’s meant to be. So I’m glad The Master showcases what his character is meant to be, i.e. cruel, manipulative, power-hungry, and filled with hatred towards The Doctor. Ultimately Simm’s return is played out like a poorly written fan-fiction, to which just adds further injury to “The Doctor Falls” as his contribution both serves as to make Moffat’s ideas apparently more clever, and to add absolutely nothing to overall plot.

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Take away The Master and it wouldn’t have made a fucking difference. I shouldn’t be saying that! I should’ve been given the best Master finale to date, but instead I’m left wondering why he was even brought back, as well as wondering why Moffat continuously pushes his sick, twisted (and quite frankly), fucked-up ideas into my favourite show. Good for you if you want a Female Doctor. But the majority don’t want that and the fact you’ve been forcing that shit down our throats to make it legit just sickens me to the core. You’ve abused your powers as show-runner to turn Doctor Who into a massive fucking joke and it’ll serve you right if all this backfires and the show is cancelled once again.

I guess I can take comfort in knowing that The Master killed Missy (after she tries killing him), thus cementing The Master’s core characteristics are stronger than Missy’s feminine, emotional-wreck, bullshit. Missy wanted to kill The Master in order to change him, thus proving that she could redeem herself (which again, makes no fucking sense and sounds nothing like The Master – therefore making her entire character sexist because it demotes The Master from being a strong, powerful, and compassionless creature of chaos just because he’s now a woman, to which he’s no longer The Master by both character and title).

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The Master ultimately gets the last laugh by preventing Missy from helping The Twelfth Doctor and laughs away knowing that despite not being able to change his fate of becoming a woman and losing his identity, he prevents himself from completely disregarding his name and function within the universe.

But, I suppose I can be really petty here (thanks to Moffat announcing that, as a fan, it is my right to decide what is and isn’t canon) by saying that Missy was never The Master all along. Apart from her own word we have no concrete evidence that she’s The Master (and was perhaps all along a mad Time Lady who took on his identity, maybe similar to Jackson Lake from “The Next Doctor”). Sure The Master thinks Missy is his future-self, but even he isn’t too sure, and nor is Missy herself. And, we never actually see The Master regenerate into Missy. It’s merely implied (which isn’t the same as seeing it).

I could say that Simm’s Master isn’t actually dying (because we don’t see any regeneration energy, he’s simply wounded and on his way to his TARDIS, to which he could easily heal himself without having to regenerate) and thus never actually becomes Missy. And considering Moffat is leaving at Christmas there’s no concrete evidence to support any of his bullshit is fact because he himself has left things wide open with mere implications in place which ultimately makes his version of events less and less likely to be fact. I don’t give a fuck if I’m being petty, I’m pissed-off with Moffat’s bullshit and I want it gone by any means necessary, and if that means having my own version of facts, then so be it!

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As for The Twelfth Doctor, sure Capaldi was giving his all, but the material ultimately let him down, specifically when it came to consistency. The Twelfth Doctor hasn’t really had any kind of consistency because his character changed week-by-week, and series-by-series, to suit whatever bullshit and mental idea Moffat had coming out of his arse that given moment. In that respect I just feel extremely sorry for Capaldi because the man is an incredible actor and has wanted to play The Doctor since his childhood, and upon receiving the chance in-a-life-time he’s been rewarded with nothing but incompetence by Moffat, resulting in Capaldi’s glorious moments being overshadowed by ridiculous fucking ideas that have made me want to boycott the show, thus destroying Capaldi’s chances of excelling.

Though it was incredibly tragic to see him endure this battle, and even make a poetic speech as to why he performs his acts. It’s not about winning, or because it’s “fun,” or “easy,” but because it’s “right… decent… and, above all… just kind.” It’s a great speech but sadly falls flat when his audience, i.e. The Master and Missy, fail to call upon their humanity and instead walk away with the intent of leaving The Twelfth Doctor to fight alone and possibly fall in the process. That, and, like I said above, The Twelfth Doctor’s final battle is just stolen plot-pieces from previous regeneration narratives, thus lacking any real originality or spark, and it has no real build-up, making it feel even less important or dramatic. It just happens.

And I guess you can’t really feel sorry for The Twelfth Doctor when it was his arrogance and stupidity that got himself and his companions into this mess in the first place (unless you can blame it on fate due to Missy having to be on the spaceship, but since that side of the narrative is so clunky, and devoid of any real imagination beyond fetish induced writing, you can’t real take that statement much further).

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Plus, the conclusion of “The Doctor Falls” goes down in Doctor Who history as being one the most abrupt, messy, and just soulless fucking travesties. Nardole just randomly gets abandoned (with the knowledge that the Cybermen will return, so chances are he dies along with everyone else The Twelfth Doctor died for – making his final battle even more redundant), and Bill has a magical fairy come along and solves all her problems. By this point I was just gobsmacked. I should’ve been joining my partner in tears over The Twelfth Doctor’s approaching departure but instead I was just fucking baffled by Moffat’s fucking writing. Goodbye tragedy and consequences and say hello to my latest “Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free-Cards” Heather, the all-powerful, and all-saving, puddle.

Just… Please Moffat… Just hurry up and fuck-off… My patience is at an end…

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By this point I think I’ve stopped caring. But deep down I’m just utterly mortified by how much shit Moffat’s been allowed to get away with, to the point where I’m not sure whether or not Doctor Who can now be salvaged. I mean, I really didn’t get why The Twelfth Doctor was trying to suppress his regeneration (though deep down I want him to in the vein hope that he stays long to be redeemed after Moffat’s constant fuck-ups to his era) as it just seemed completely out of character and just there to set-up the Christmas Special (but, then again, everything in this fucking finale seemed like a massive set-up for Moffat’s delusional last minute ideas).

So, yeah, I fucking hated this episode. There were some good moments, but not enough to keep all of Moffat’s usual shit at bay. And in earnest ruined what started off to be a redeeming series for both Moffat and Doctor Who. Heck, even the appearance of David Bradley filling in for William Hartnell as The First Doctor wasn’t enough to lift my spirits, because it just seems like another stupid Moffat idea to make himself look that bit more impressive when in fact he’s simply just lost the plot. I really can’t fucking wait until he’s gone so that his filth can finally be washed away.

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