Human Flesh is Not Enough on This Week’s Doctor Who

Doctor Who “World and Enough Time” Review

Hello and we’re back as we witness the penultimate regular episode of Series 10 for Doctor Who, “World and Enough Time.” I’m trying a bit more of structured format with this review, consider it a genesis, if you will.

The Gist of It

Capaldi’s hair is going borderline Pertwee and the Doctor is giving Missy a test run to prove she can be good because at the end of the day, Missy/The Master was his first friend and longest friend and apparently his man crush. Somewhere the shippers pump their first in the air, Tumblr goes nuts. Thusly, the Doctor is giddy at the chance to reform his friend, who is the closest person left like him. They were going to see all the stars together, but the Master got sidetracked with burning them.

Bill is skeptical because Missy really scares her. Rightfully so. Because taking Missy for a test run to answer the distress call of a massive colony ship is going to have consequences and the return of an old face or two.

Spoilers!

The Spoiler-y Review

 This episode opens with the Doctor stumbling out of the TARDIS alone onto snow and beginning his regeneration. I am not prepared to say goodbye to Peter Capaldi. This season is where he finally felt like he was clicking as the Doctor under some better writing but alas. All things end, as a powerful bad wolf once said. 

Before the regeneration happens, the narrative moves back in time where  the Doctor is giving Missy a test run as a Time Lord for the force of good as he observes from the TARDIS eating crisps. While I cannot tell which flavor exactly, I can tell they’re not the bastard Prawn flavor. He sends Missy to a huge colony ship giving off a distress signal, that is trapped in an event horizon due to being close to a black hole. They also find 49/50 of the crew have disappeared and instead thousands of unknown lifeforms are detected. This is going to go swell.

 Michelle Gomez is on her A game as always, and I will also be sad to see her go. That being said, her bit of fourth wall calling Bill “Exposition” and Nardole “Comic Relief” and calling herself “Doctor Who” is really delightfully taking the piss out of this show and it’s history. The whole “oh he used to be Doctor Who until he dropped the Who as it was too on the nose” is, I’m assuming, a jest at the end credits from older Classic Who serials where the older Doctor actors were credited as “Doctor Who.” Again, can’t Michelle Gomez just be the next Doctor? She’s fab. But alas. Maybe the trade off can be she exits and her husband is a recurring character? I remember your Beeb days, Davenport. The North remembers. 

Anyway, this test run starts going tits up when a Blue Man Group reject puts a twist on things, and before we know it there’s a giant hole shot through Bill within the first ten minutes. NOT. COOL. NOT COOL SHOW. This harkens back to a promise she asks him in a scene that takes place earlier in time, to not get her killed. 

Bill is taken below ship and wakes up with what looks like a cyborg heart a la Tony Stark and is some type of hospital that has a conversion theater. If eagle-eyed Whovians saw that, some of you may have already guessed what’s up. At this point I was sliding forward on the couch a bit more, waiting to see if my hunch was correct. We’ll get there shortly. The Doctor is trying to mind connect with her via timey whimey because of course. She find herself also being helped by a hipster Klingon named Razor, who is going to be known as Hipster Klingon or HK hereon out in this review, as she tries to make sense of where she is and what’s happening. All she hears is the word “pain” repeated over and over in a robotic monotone way by each patient with hoods over their head. It is, rightly so, a bit grim and horrifying. What we’re seeing, which isn’t fully revealed until later on but is strongly hinted at from the get go, is the Mondasian Cybermen being ‘born’, the old school off-brand LEGO looking adorable but oh so creepy kind that were the first kind of Cybermen to appear in Who. The hospital is trying to make the colony’s population strong via cyber modification to take back control of the bridge (which because of the a time dilation through the ship courtesy of the black hole could take a very long time) in a way that time cannot ravage or weaken their human flesh, and so a legendary villain is created. Come for the Missy in the field bits, stay for the Cybermen origin story! And boy, is it a tragic and terrible one as the colony ship full of Mondasians have no idea what their metal evolution will become.

At the bottom of the ship is where time moves faster and for the Doctor and rest at the top of the ship time moves slower. Bill wants to get back there, but the nurse who runs the place appears and reminds Bill everyone there works for her and if she leaves the hospital her false heart will stop. And so, Bill and HK watch the Doctor like its afternoon telly. But unfortunately, her luck starts to run out and she’s about to be converted fully into a Cyberman thanks to her new friend betraying her. 

It is later on, speaking of the  grunge devil, that Hipster Klingon runs into Missy and starts getting vaguely cryptic and I fucking called it that Hipster Klingon was Simm Master! Pretty early on I realized it was John Simm. The Master always did love his disguises. But Missy doesn’t recognize herself/himself or remembers she was on this ship long ago. The Master isn’t happy about his future (aka Missy going for redemption) and points out the Doctor is going to find it hard to forgive Missy when she’s essentially done an awful thing to Bill…but she hasn’t yet, right? Nope, as he reveals himself as her past self, it’s something she had done to Bill a long time ago when she was him. I’m sure this is not what Missy expected in facing her past demons but it’s of note this is the first time we’ve seen two Masters on screen in Who history. Love the duds, Simm. 

As the strange self-reunion is happening, the Doctor and Nardole comes across a Cyberman and of course, because it’s Doctor Who the Cyberman is totally Bill and it’s totally heartbreaking when he realizes it. She waited. She waited, and the episode ends with the Masters pointing out it’s a genesis…of the Cybermen. 

In Conclusion

The events of this episode are shown out of chronological order and rather in a patchwork order dictated by what’s happening in the narrative, which kind of reminds me of the Sherlock episode “The Sign of Three” in which the scenes were not linear by time but by what is happening in that scene and they’re stitched together to tell a larger story. Not surprising as this is a Moffat episode, after all. Once you start getting a hint of what’s going on (with the Cybermen genesis and Simm Master) it’s a bit a delight waiting for the payoff, and for once this was actually well-executed. Bravo, Moffat, see I can give him credit where credit is due! And so yet again it seems Simm’s Master will be the direct or indirect cause of the Doctor’s demise, and it also seems Missy was not actually bluffing in wanting to turn a new leaf. But is she now siding with her (literal) past or conning herself to save the day? Alas, there goes my pet head canon theory that the previews were a misdirect and Simm was coming back to actually play a Valeyard regeneration, and not actually the Master. That would have been quite something. 

The neat thing is I was genuinely surprised this was the origin story for the Cybermen. I somehow missed seeing them in the teaser trailers or Who news for this episode, which really was a good thing and honestly they and Simm should have been kept a secret. The impact would have been incredible. But I did know the old school Mondasian ones were appearing from the general series trailer in the beginning of the season, but luckily much of that never gave the story of this episode terribly away and, dare I say, it actually felt like a good reveal a la the Daleks controlling the media/Bad Wolf in the Ninth Doctor days. I’ve been a bit wary of Moffat taking past canon and making it too much his own, like literally hitting a reset button on Gallifrey’s fall, but for now this is actually pretty neat, fairly tragic, and good way for one to do the Cybermen’s origin story even if does feel a bit Soufflé Girl-ish/Danny Pink/Brigadier (oh Lord preserve me I’m still pissed over that one) in terms of Bill’s fate.

It seems overall Moffat’s gotten his groove back, one last time unto the breach. Don’t let us down, Steve. Carry us through the finish line for your run. If he can pull off the series finale and Christmas special in this fashion, then he will have left on a high note after a quite rocky, much polarizing tenure.

But let’s just hope it doesn’t end up like the ridiculous fuckwittery of The Return of Doctor Mysterio or Time of the Doctor. My hope is Capaldi has a well-written exit, because he was fantastic and deserves to go out on a high note. 

Until next time, with the Fall of the Doctor. 

  Grade: B+

Assorted Musings

  • Love the rapid fire deduction between the Doctor and the Master.
  • Seriously please just want Bill to be happy and make it out okay please don’t let her end up being a Cyberman forever, Moffat.
  • Even with a cyber heart and in a shitty situation Bill Potts is making friends and just wants to hug and she is precious and should be able to go back home, finish school, and live a happy life. 
  • If there is not some comedic play at how rapid-fire fast and funny Gomez, Simm, and Capaldi can be dialogue wise where they all banter in top Time Lord Banter I will super upset.
  • Also just realized the Saxon stuff was like ten years ago and wooooooooowww. 
  • I still would kill for an Ace cameo where she picks up Bill as an intern or something for A Charitable Earth. 

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