- The problem with starting off your story with a flash-forward that shows the Doctor regenerating is that if you know Steven Moffat well enough, you immediately think “I bet it’s a fake-out.” I know the Doctor is supposed to regenerate soon, but we don’t even know who the Thirteenth will be yet!
- I enjoyed watching Missy doing her thing in the introduction – theoretically trying to be good while still being herself – but I hated everything else about it. Highlighting whether or not the Doctor should be called Doctor Who, referring to Bill and Nardole as Exposition and Comic Relief – the self-awareness is on such high levels that it ceased to be funny long ago.
- The Doctor has clearly just decided “Fuck my oath” as he sits in the TARDIS eating crisps while Missy walks around free. (Yes, I am getting so frustrated with this series that I’ve reached the point of swearing.) And Nardole can’t even be bothered to put up a fight anymore, because what’s the point? Hey Doctor, remember that electric-shock bracelet you put on Margaret the Slitheen back in Series 1? Maybe we could give Missy one of those just to be safe?
- I admit, I wasn’t actually expecting Bill to be shot. But immediately cutting away to a more light-hearted flashback once again made me think “Fake-out” and care even less than I already did. And sure enough, some people with bags over their heads turn up and assure us that Bill will be repaired!
- The concept of time running at different speeds at opposite ends of the ship due to the black hole is interesting – and also appropriate, because for much of this episode, I felt like I was on the end where time was going slowly. Even the big twists at the end are dragged out as long as possible so when you’ve figured out what’s going on, it takes the episode another minute or two of pointless teasing to confirm it.
- Is there anything else good about this episode? Well, the Doctor wanting Missy/the Master to become a genuine friend again because she’s the only person around who’s like him is good. The masked patients and their voice synthesisers going “Pain, pain, pain” are pretty creepy.
- When I realised that this was an origin story for the Mondasian Cybermen, I thought that was pretty clever too. (Not the rest of the episode, just that part.) It explains away the Cybermen’s low-budget appearance when they appeared in the 1960s, and it’s a pretty horrifying addition that they can feel pain but just don’t care about it. But then the script had to spoil it by going, “It’s a genesis of the Cybermen! You know, just like that episode Genesis Of The Daleks? See what we were getting at there, because surely you could never have had that thought on your own? SEE? SEE?!”
- I have to confess, I wasn’t that excited about the Mondasian Cybermen turning up in this series. In The Tenth Planet, I couldn’t take their ‘broken synthesiser’ voices seriously.
- So where exactly does all this fit in on the personal timeline of John Simm’s Master? After he regenerated, he spent all his time on Earth – aside from a few little trips to the end of the universe – until he was killed. Then when he was resurrected, he remained on Earth until he apparently died again. Everything between that and the first appearance of Missy is a blank. Does this maybe happen for him after The End of Time? Are we going to get an explanation for how he survived that episode? Are we going to see him regenerate into Missy?
I have not been happy with this season and as you can probably tell, this episode has made me feel even worse. I’m almost feeling angry. This episode isn’t like Extremis – it’s not trying too hard to be clever, it has all sorts of other problems. It has some elements that aren’t too bad, but it spoils those by meandering too much and dangling wasted potential in front of our faces. Two incarnations of the Master meeting each other, for example, would be really cool if everything around them was better than it is. And it continues to deliver things that I’ve had enough of. I’m sick of self-awareness, I’m sick of fake-outs, and I’m sick of seeing tropes and plot elements that I’ve already seen a bunch of times before on this show. I really hope the finale will be an improvement, but my hopes are not high. I just want to get to Series 11 so we can all start from scratch. Rating: 2/10.