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Recaps / Television PopWrapped | Recaps

Doctor Who: 10x12, The Doctor Falls

Sydney Lanier Burke | PopWrapped Author

Sydney Lanier Burke

07/02/2017 2:22 pm
PopWrapped | Recaps
Doctor Who: 10x12, The Doctor Falls | Doctor Falls
Media Courtesy of BBC

"The Doctor Falls": an episode just too epic for one recapper. This week, I've invited a good friend along to help me get a handle on everything this episode has to offer.

Heading into this episode, I don’t know what I need beside me … a box of tissues? a bottle of wine? my phone to text everyone I’ve ever known in my excitement? What I know for certain was that I’ve been in bits waiting for it. I LOVE Pearl Mackie as Bill. I think she’s incredible. I’ve grown incredibly fond of Matt Lucas’s Nardole, which I honestly did not see coming. (I’ve apologised for this before.) Missy has been a fantastic addition to this series after an admittedly disappointing reveal.

But Capaldi. Oh, Capaldi. Peter Capaldi has somehow moved his way to the front of my personal list of favourite Doctors. The 12th Doctor snarled and riffed his way past 3 and 9 in my books (I might have a Doctor type.), and, if he goes in this episode, I am going to be devastated. I’ve had it in my head for months that I have until Christmas to live in denial about his eventual regeneration, and not having it 100% certain who will replace him doesn’t offer any comfort.

Well, I suppose it’s the deep breath before the plunge, isn’t it? Here we go.

Hi there, I’m Rossko from Finger Guns, you may know me from Doctor Who Event Coverage here on PopWrapped. I’m gonna invade Sydney’s recap with my own thoughts on the episode, so, if you see text that’s in this colour, it’s me.

BBC

“The Doctor Falls”

  • What an idyllic little setting. Rolling hills, kids on a horse-drawn cart, Cyber-patients chained up like scarecrows … um, okay. Welcome to Floor 507.
  • This is what I was referring to when I said you called it, I completely missed this in the previous ep. Nailed it! But yes, this was rather unsettling. I have a feeling The Master thoroughly enjoyed partaking in this particular practice.
  • This appears to be some sort of orphanage run by a kindly woman with a big gun. The kids are all horsing around, having a great time, until the woman forces them to bed in the evening. One girl, Alit, rolls her eyes and asks ‘again?’
  • A bunch of other adults have joined the gun-toting marm on the front porch to take down the Cybercrows heading toward the house. By morning, they are all back on their sticks in the field, riddled with bullet holes.
  • This scene was so cool, never really seen anything like it in Doctor Who before. I imagine this is how a Western written by Steven Moffat would begin. Seeing guns of any kind in Who is something I’m still not used to.
  • Alit is in the field when a ship comes blasting through the ground and crashes back down. Out of the smoke, a Cyberman carrying THE BLOODY DOCTOR steps out.
  • Is this the last time we’ll see Peter Capaldi’s name in the credits? What about the others? I already want to bawl.
  • Sadness. I was hoping they’d throw in Michelle and John’s name in the opening credits but never mind, a small gripe. Also, Chibnall, if you’re reading this: bring back the middle 8 to the theme ... cheers.
  • The Master and Missy are circling, interrogating, prodding The Doctor, who is going in and out of consciousness following a fight in the operating theatre where Bill was converted. They intend to kill him and have fun doing it. The Master, like many Time Lords, has always had a bit of an ego, and these two are really enjoying their own company.
  • I really love John Simm as The Master, he’s just phenomenally evil, so fun to watch. Nobody has a bigger ego than The Master; to now be in the company of a female version of himself must render him catatonic. Any requests?
  • The Doctor gets confirmation that the Cyberman is, indeed, Bill. “Ten years you spent up there, chatting. You missed her by two hours!” Ouch.
  • The Master had a ‘mutual kicking out’ of Gallifrey, then he got stuck in this ship, set up shop as a dictator, and basically waited for something good to happen.
  • ‘Set up shop as a dictator’ -- ha, that’s brilliant. Maybe he should move to America next.
  • The Cyber Foundries? I think we might hear that again sometime.
  • Where to the Cybermen go from here? Bit early to be thinking about this, but it’s an interesting point that, yes, obviously they’ll be back -- but how?
  • Missy notices something is off, and they’re both panicking. The Cybermen are coming for them, too!
  • I’m getting all heart-eyes for The Doctor here. “You two -- you should know by now. When you’re winning and I’m in the room, you’re missing something.”
  • #Capaldi4Life
  • When Missy hit The Doctor in the operating theatre, he fell onto a computer keyboard and took the opportunity to include two hearts as human variation in the Cyber-algorithm.
  • “You know the stories. There’s only ever been one way to stop that many Cybermen: ME!”
  • GIDDY. I’m gonna be living off this scene for weeks.
  • The Master wants The Doctor’s help but, while begging for it, insists that he’ll never beg for it. When The Doctor responds by flippantly shouting to ‘knock yourself out’, Missy steps in and does just that. She whacks the Master on the back of the head with her sonic brolly. She says she’s been on The Doctor’s side all along. She isn’t 100% sure that’s true, but she’s the only one conscious at the minute, and at least she might try to be good.
  • Nardole ex machina shows up with a ship. As The Master and Missy climb up to it, The Doctor is grabbed by a Cyberman. Missy grabs a sonic to help -- is it The Doctor’s or The Master’s? -- but Cyber-Bill fries the damn thing instead. Missy leaves The Doctor on the rooftop and climbs up the ship, but they can’t take off because Bill is holding the ladder.
  • Read this scene as a callback to Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart saving Kate at the end of Death in Heaven. That might just be me, though. Cyber-people with humans that are relevant to Who lore will always save you, it would seem.
  • The Doctor promises he’ll get Bill back, that he’ll fix it. I don’t see how, but, you know, I want it so I choose to believe him.
  • Back in the field, Cyber-Bill holding The Doctor. Where we started, remember? The Master, Missy, and Nardole step out of the smoke, and Nardole asks Alit for help.
  • Two weeks later … if The Doctor estimates that Bill was gone from the control room for ten minutes and The Master says she was waiting for ten years, and this floor is roughly halfway between them … my super-fantastic understanding of maths suggests time is moving twice as fast in the Cyber Foundries below. So they’ve been gone a month and been there two weeks … which is more-or-less 4.5 seconds back at the TARDIS. Is any of this important?
  • Mind. Blown. I just got a flashback back to my school days where I was trying to understand mathematics. My teacher had a bottle of whiskey in her desk; she always looked at me like I was the reason she’s going to keel over at any minute. I didn’t succeed in Maths. She knew it. I knew it. It was a waste of time for all involved. She’s probably dead now. But I digress...
  • Anyway, two weeks later, Bill is sleeping in a barn. The woman running the orphanage brings her blankets and explains that she has to stay out there because she’d frighten the children.
  • Anyone else remember someone who had to sleep in a barn?
  • Jesus! Wait, no ... oh, ok. I see what you mean now...
  • Bill can’t remember how she got there. The Doctor said she’s not dangerous, but the woman is clearly scared, too. She runs away and blocks up the door. The Doctor’s injuries are being seen to … still.
  • Alit comes to visit Bill in the daytime. She’s not scared.
  • I loved this scene. I don’t think Pearl Mackie has had enough recognition for her performances this, and this whole sequence solidifies this. Just wonderful, here’s hoping she takes over the world, Karen Gillan style.
  • Nardole is preparing all the people around for war. This must be badass Nardole because he’s accused of working them too hard.
  • Alit brings Bill a present. She says she knows Bill won’t hurt her, but she’s still apprehensive.
  • It’s a mirror. Bill sees herself as a Cyberman, and we realise it’s a mental projection of herself we’ve been seeing in the barn. The Doctor comes in, as Alit is running away. She tells him she gave Cyber-Bill a mirror, to which he offers her a jellybaby from a paper bag (for being kind) like it ain’t no thing that he’s just got that in his pocket.
  • Classic Who reference #1. Foreshadowing?
  • The Doctor is limping.
  • If I had a band, this is what I would call them.
  • Bill doesn’t know she knows she sees a Cyberman in the mirror. She doesn’t even know what a Cyberman is. She doesn’t really remember being converted. She is strong enough that she is mentally fighting the conversion. She still sees Bill until she’s forced to see the Cyberman.
  • Just a beautiful moment. I’ll spend my life wondering how they did these transitions.
  • The Doctor tells her she doesn’t have the luxury of having a temper anymore. She resents the idea. After all, she feels like he abandoned her for ten years -- of course she’s angry. Except she might blow things up if she’s angry.
  • Hmmm ... this sounds awfully familiar. Not sure if I’m referencing Who here or an ex of mine, though...
  • She cries because everyone is afraid of her. The Doctor wipes the tear, and they’re both surprised to see that it’s a real tear.
  • How does Capaldi do it? This scene seems somewhat throwaway at the time -- even though it ended up being monstrously important -- it’s just here at this moment you can read everything the Doctor is thinking just on Peter’s face. I’ve never seen anything like it on Doctor Who. I feel like I say this every time a Doctor I love is due to leave but, damn, whoever is next has some enormous shoes to fill. Tennant was electric, Smith was amazing, but Capaldi has taken the Who game to a whole new level I don’t think any of us thought existed. He is THE Doctor.
  • The Master takes some time to be cruel to Bill. She uses the Cyberman facade (well, to her, it is) to not give him the pleasure of knowing she’s upset by it.
  • "Well, doesn’t that take the fun out of cruelty" -- such a brilliant line.
  • The Master leads The Doctor and Lonesome Cyber-Bill into the woods, at which point we see some regeneration energy in his injured hand and he has to admit that he won’t be able to save Bill after all.
  • Bill doesn’t want to live if she can’t be herself. She doesn’t want to be a Cyberman when the technology eventually takes over her brain. She says it’s not possible to get herself back, but The Doctor adds that it’s also not possible for a Cyberman to cry. “Where there are tears, there’s hope.”
  • I wonder where Pearl had to go in her mind to hit this scene. She is absolutely glorious here.
  • Missy explains to The Master why she can’t remember being there with him. He sees that she has empathy -- something he lacks.
  • I’m not sure if I’m the only person who wants Missy to stay perfectly evil; this whole arc of The Master becoming ‘good’ has grated on me throughout the series. The Doctor needs a villain who is his complete equal, the other side of his coin. Exactly The Doctor, but the opposite in every way. I don’t need a nice Master, thanks.
  • Missy has identified lifts in the woods but gets told off when she calls one. It’s coming from downstairs and mightn’t be empty!
  • When Bill tells them all to stand aside, The Master quips, “Do as she says? Is the future going to be all girl?” The Doctor replies, “We can only hope.” OH MY GOD is that a clue?
  • Brendan O’Carroll as the next Doctor. US readers may not have a clue what I’m talking about here. Trust me, it’s better you don’t. This is a horrible joke that if it really happens I’m gonna throw myself into the nearest ocean.
  • Sonics and Cybers at the ready, the lift opens and out pops a Lumic-style Cyberman, which they immediately destroy. Apparently, down below, they’ve had time to evolve into a weapons-grade model.
  • This scene made me smile like a giddy child. I loved The Master’s ‘KILL IT, KILL IT, KILL IT, KILL IT’. His villainy, and his fear of death was on full display.
  • In four weeks? Is my timeline off? Am I failing to add in travel time between floors?
  • Doctor Who and logic have never played well together. It would seem Moffat knows this and is trolling the people who wants to take the time to work it all out.
  • The Doctor says they can’t make it to the TARDIS in the lift because that would give the Cybermen thousands of years to evolve to kill them and everyone else. I guess the lifts are slow? Because, once they’ve reached the control room, even allowing them 10 seconds (Control Room Time [CRT]) to slowly run to the TARDIS to leave would only have nine weeks passing on the bottom floor. It did take more than a minute CRT for the lifts to come for Bill in the first place … but that’s only one year on Floor 1056.
  • Exhibit A ;)
  • Maybe this is why I don’t do maths.
  • Are there three styles of Cybermen now? Operation Exodus is now underway, and they are blasting through the floors.
  • Nardole has augmented the field (because it’s a spaceship, remember?!) so that, when they fire their guns at, well, anything, it creates giant explosions. Meanwhile, Missy is trying to get The Master to give up his TARDIS for the escape, and The Doctor has put Cyber-Bill to work burning through some spaceship-y stuff.
  • Shout out to Matt Lucas, who has done the impossible and made me like Nardole immensely this year. I’ll admit, I definitely had my reservations about him joining the crew full time, but he’s smashed it, and I’m gonna be said to see him depart.
  • The Master’s TARDIS is broken because he was cocky too close to the black hole, burning up the dematerialisation circuit. Missy has a spark of a memory as she says a very scary lady once threw her against a wall and made her promise to always carry a spare dematerialisation circuit -- must have made quite the impression!
  • The one thing I love about John Simm’s Master probably more than anything is that he’s so determined, so evil and so dangerous, but, in reality, he’s actually quite rubbish at being a bad guy, despite his evil intentions. There’s always something he’s missing or doing that is to his detriment.  
  • The Doctor tells Alit that the Cybermen lack fear in their hearts and minds, but she can put it all back.
  • Now they wait.
  • The woman in the orphanage has taken a bit of a shine to Nardole. She’s not even put off by the idea that he’s not human.
  • She shoots at a Cyberman who walks in the room, not realising it’s Bill. She apologises, but Lonesome Cyber-Bill walks away. She finds The Doctor but gets interrupted by the Cyber-invasion before she can ask him whatever she needs.
  • Ugh. This scene was heartbreaking. Poor Bill.
  • The Doctor gives Alit an apple -- humanity’s first weapon.
  • The Master and Missy say they’re going to leave but want to know The Doctor’s plan. He just going to move them five floors. He knows he can’t win, but he’s doing his best.
  • When they walk away, he shouts at them. They’re not listening. He says he’ll be dead in a few hours, so let’s get their business out in the open. It’s not about winning -- it’s about being kind.
  • I’m starting to wonder if there’s been subliminal (or, at least, subtle) messaging about kindness this series because I’ve been harping on that exact word for a couple of months now…
  • Basically, if The Doctor runs away, everyone will die. If he tries, some might not. “Who I am is where I stand. Where I stand is where I fall.”
  • SOMEBODY GIVE PETER CAPALDI A BAFTA. IMMEDIATELY. DON’T EVEN WAIT FOR THE CEREMONY.
  • IS THIS HAPPENING?!
  • The Doctor asks The Master to be kind. He didn’t even bother listening to the speech, and he thinks it’s hilarious. Missy maybe did? She looks glassy-eyed. She is moved by him, but she turns him down and walks away with The Master.
  • Michelle Gomez killed this scene. Wonderful. Missy, staring deep in the eyes of The Doctor and refusing to stand by his side, despite everything, was gut-wrenching and was a stark reminder that Missy is The Master, after all.
  • The Cybermen stomp up to Alit, offering to upgrade her. Instead, she throws the apple into their midst and runs. Nardole activates it on his laptop and BOOM! Cyberfire. He explains, back at the house, that there are fuel lines under the whole floor level that he can take advantage of to create explosions.
  • Nardole is such a badass. "Nothing secret about it, babydoll".
  • The Doctor says that the Cybermen will now see them as a military threat -- not a farm for conversion -- and will retreat to make a new plan. The advantage is that they’ll stop tracking children, who can now evacuate!
  • The Doctor wants Nardole to lead the evacuation. He tries to make some excuses, but Nardole knows that The Doctor will blow up the whole floor with the Cybermen on it. They argue about the plan, but The Doctor makes him go in the end. Bill stays, too, to fight. Nardole doesn’t have the words to express himself, and Bill says they’ll eventually come to him. “You’re wrong, you know? Quite wrong. I never will be able to find the words.”
  • *salute* Nardole has a bigger purpose now, and it’s wonderful. Another terrific scene, more evidence to my own personal theory that the very best aspects of Doctor Who are these tender scenes between characters. These are the ones we remember.
  • Missy and The Master have made it to the lifts, but Missy plants her umbrella in the ground and makes him come over to hug her. She LOVED being him, being insane, being truly mad, and she will miss it. While she’s speaking, she’s stabbed him (gently, though) in the back. Even in dying, he can appreciate the artistry in what she’s done.
  • I love the acknowledgement from The Master that he’s almost happy that Missy still has that violent streak within her.
  • It’s a time for goodbyes, and I’M IN BITS. Nardole is leaving with the children, Missy has just adiosed The Master, and now Bill and The Doctor are acknowledging it’s their last stand.
  • Oh, man. Here goes.
  • “Hey, um, you know how I’m usually all about women and kinda people my own age?” (“Yeah.”) Bill smiles, “Glad you knew that!” Oh, what a perfect line! No Doctor-boyfriend here!
  • Doctor-Potts 2020
  • Without hope. Without witness. Without reward. That’s EXACTLY what he’s doing now.
  • And now the tears are coming. Peter Capaldi is amazing.
  • Missy gave The Master enough time to get to his TARDIS (and maybe have a cuppa!) before he’ll regenerate. She says it’s time to stand WITH The Doctor. It’s where they’ve always been going.
  • Oh, he’s mad. He will NEVER do that. He will never be good. As she walks away, he attacks her with his sonic. He gave her the full blast, he says, so she can’t regenerate.
  • “You see, Missy? THIS is where we’ve always been going. THIS is our perfect ending. We shoot ourselves in the back.”
  • Missy slumps back, and The Master gets on the lift to die. The laugh of madness returns for a brief moment.
  • It seems unlikely now, but I really hope we see John Simm’s Master again someday. He’s far too terrific as a character to leave us now, much like Missy really. Two perfect actors -- who will The Master be next? Place your bets now; it’s almost as exciting as who the next Doctor is going to be.
  • Nardole and co. make it through the tunnel to the other lifts. They only have one shot.
  • The Doctor is having fun blowing up Cybermen and reminding them of all the times they fell at his hand. He gets blasted, though, and starts the very-Doctory monologuing.
  • There’s a glorious connection to a Cyberman comic book story here -- Planet 14 from The Invasion, released in 1984 -- making it official canon. ‘Planet 14’ ended up being Marinus, visited by The First Doctor in 1964’s "The Keys of Marinus". Moff certainly did his research for this one. Spare Parts is still legit, too. Classic Who Reference #2.
  • He has fallen. The hands start glowing. WHAT IS HAPPENING? No no no no.
  • “Doctor. Doctor. Let it go. Time enough.” And he blows everything up around him with the sonic.
  • ‘LET THE STORM RAGE OOOOOOOOOOOOONNNN’.
  • He watches the explosion as if it’s far away. He hoped there would be stars when he finally died.
  • Tears stream, down my face. When I lose something I cannot replace. I WILL FIX YOU TWELVE.
  • Nardole is waiting by the lift, and Alit says they still might come. He explains that the Cybermen will still come either way. Oh, and the kids know that the woman in the orphanage (Hazran? Have we heard her name before now?) likes him.
  • Cyber-Bill is still standing. She finds The Doctor and breaks down. She’s crying, it’s raining, and the starry-freaking-eye of The Pilot opens. Heather, puddle girl, appears, and Bill is no longer in the Cybersuit.
  • Tears have now become me, and I’m an absolute state. This whole sequence was perfect. Stunning.
  • Bill asks if she’s dead, and Heather kisses her. Bill is a puddle girl, too. Cyber-Bill’s tears were Heather’s tears. She left them with her. She never forgot her, never left her, never really moved past her.
  • ‘Moffat hates LGBT representation’ -- Uh, REALLY?
  • They bring The Doctor’s body back to the TARDIS, which Heather can fly because she’s The Pilot! She can also make Bill human again -- everything is just atoms waiting to be arranged -- or she can take her traveling through the stars forever. Before she decides what she wants, Heather wants to show her around the universe a bit.
  • Bill kneels over The Doctor. She won’t believe he’s dead because he’s needed. She kisses him on the forehead, says she hopes to see him again, and cries. A tear lands on him; she almost brushes it away but stops herself. “Where there’s tears, there’s hope.”
  • And tears, the never-ending painjoy of Doctor Who. I’m gonna miss Moffat, too; he can write beautiful scenes. There are many to reference, particularly 11’s regeneration. Breath on a mirror? Outstanding, it’s back here in full force and the ‘fairytale’ theme of his first series with Eleven returns, with Heather and Bill now exploring the universe together.  
  • Bill joins hands with Heather and says that she’ll show HER around instead. She’s been through a lot since the puddles.
  • This was such a lovely scene and feels like Moffat was trying to redo Clara’s ‘dead but alive’ ending and had more success with it this time around. I wonder if Bill and Heather will run into Clara and Ashildr in the future? There is rumblings they’ve been filming at the Diner in Cardiff Bay this year...
  • The tear on The Doctor begins to glow.
  • We get a lovely montage of so many companions shouting “Doctor!” at him. They all needed him. Even Missy is there.
  • Doesn’t Rory feel quite the gooseberry right now...
  • He doesn’t want to go. When The Doctor was him. Oh, who is going to be fantastic?
  • I don’t want to go ... damn you, Moffat. I’m genuinely still not over that.
  • He refuses to regenerate. He stops the energy coming out. The TARDIS lands. He never wants to change his face again.
  • GOOD. CAPALDI AS THE DOCTOR FOREVER.
  • He steps out of the TARDIS into the snow, and we see the starting point from the previous episode. He shoves his hands into the snow, and the energy stops again.
  • THAT VOICE.
  • “I will not change. I will not. No, no, no, no. The whole thing’s ridiculous.”
  • After a little banter about who is THE Doctor, we see David Bradley’s First Doctor come into view
  • It’s such a damn shame that things like this get revealed or leaked so far in advance. It was fantastic to see David Bradley as The First Doctor again, but I really wish I had never known about it. The BBC never officially confirmed or denied anything, but there seemed to be enough evidence backing it up doing the rounds, with Bradley himself addressing the rumours. Ugh.
  • The Doctor and The Doctor will return at Christmas.

I’d heard the rumours that Original-Flavour Doctor was going to be in the Christmas special, but I didn’t know he was going to make an appearance in this episode. As far as ‘seeing another Doctor right now’ goes, I’m glad it wasn’t a surprise regeneration. I wasn’t ready.

I guess Twelve is another first Doctor really; he’s the first in the new set of regenerations he was granted. It’s all new again. Even he said he didn’t know what the rules were going to be this time. I’m glad we’ll get to see Capaldi as Twelve one more time at Christmas, and it’ll give me enough time to come to terms with him leaving. It might even give us time to get confirmation on who will be taking up the mantle next and decide just what we’ll love and hate about him/her.

This series was really quite fantastic. Yes, the momentum had slowed down a tad with the ‘better-than-average-but-not-great’ Monk trilogy, which seemed to stall the weekly adventures which The Doctor and Bill found themselves in. I loved the return back to classic Doctor Who weekly stories, and making it primarily about Bill and The Doctor, even if The Vault mystery was bubbling underneath throughout.

As for this episode, I thought it was great. A terrific finale, perhaps one of the best since Who returned (certainly up there in the Moff era) and a terrific send-off for Bill/Missy/Master/Nardole. Who are we taking bets on to return someday? It’s Doctor Who -- no-one ever really dies ... well, unless you’re Amy Pond and now far too famous to even consider returning.

The Doctor Falls was a tour de force of action but I’ll remember this episode fondly for its performance. Every main player brought their A game, I’ve never seen anything like it before. John Simm and Michelle Gomez were electric together; I just wish we could have seen more of them together. Being in their company was infectious, and I will watch his episode over and over just for them. Pearl Mackie gave the performance of a lifetime, and Peter Capaldi once again proves he’s one of the best actors of our generation once again. He’s a perfect Doctor, and it’s going to be horrendously difficult to say goodbye to him.

Bring on Christmas Day. I know what I’ll be doing that night.

I have to say that I’ve missed Doctor Who being on our screens weekly. The wait for this series was so long after we’d been quite spoiled. This episode had it all, though. I laughed so hard that I had to pause it. I just nearly cried. I sat wringing my hands for most of it. And I fell even more in love with these characters. It’s going to be a rough job getting used to a whole new Doctor/companion environment. But, hey!, we’ve done it before.


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