“It’s red because it’s drenched in the blood of our people.”
Here we are, at the end of another series of Doctor Who, but this time with perhaps the most controversial and important twist to the lore we have seen in all of Nu-Who. The ‘Timeless Child’ that has been mentioned and speculated upon since the previous season is revealed to be The Doctor herself. This changes years of established lore and will certainly piss off some fans (especially the fans of the classic series). The Doctor isn’t even a Timelord anymore; she’s a mysterious being from another world. The timelords discovered she had regeneration abilities so experimented on her to gain their own regeneration abilities (and then limited the number of regenerations to 12). There’s some other stuff too, about the Doctor’s time in some secret timelord police squad called ‘The Division’ (and this is possibly where Jo Martin’s Doctor fits into things). I’ll start off by saying; I quite like it. I think the showrunners could have explained certain parts of the plot in more detail (the Brendan visions, the Doctor’s time with ‘The Division’) but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and wait until next season. Mostly though the changes allowed for a heartfelt and intense finale and tons of possibility going forward.
We pick up exactly where we left off last week, with the Doctor facing off against the Master in front of the boundary (with Ethan, Ko Sharmus and Ryan) while Graham, Yaz and newcomers Ravio and Yedlarmi were stuck on the cyber ship. The new characters didn’t have loads to do this week either and I’m not sure what the purpose of keeping them around actually was. Ravio and Yedlarmi are alive and on 21st Century earth by the end of the episode but I don’t know what good it does them – maybe they’ll come back in the festive special? Ko Sharmus had more to do thankfully, and his revelation that he was part of the team that sent the cyberium back through time (essentially kicking this whole thing off) was quite cool. I think the episode’s stakes could have been increased by killing off one of the spare characters. None of this really mattered when Sacha Dhawan’s Master was on-screen though; he stole every moment. His supremely campy, supremely unhinged Master is a fantastic portrayal of a well-worn character. The Moffat era’s take on the Master got too confusing by the end and Dhawan’s take feels almost like a reset button for the character. The timeline doesn’t add up for the character (I’m still not sure whether this is pre-Missy or post) but it doesn’t matter. Every moment Dhawan is on screen is a joy to behold.
The rest of the cast turn in good performances, although the supporting cast’s plotlines now seem like they’ll be wrapped up in the festive special. It feels almost pointless to say at this point, as she does it every week, but Jodie Whittaker once again gives a fantastic performance. Like the other Doctor’s before her, she carries even the wackiest plot points and dialogue – even when the other cast members aren’t. The scenes in this episode within the matrix were cool and often it was just Whittaker and Dhawan bouncing off each other or even just Whittaker talking to herself. The moment the Doctor overloads the matrix with all of her memories was a cool nod to fans and playing the Doctor Who theme in the background was a nice meta-touch. This scene seems to make the Morbius doctor’s canon too, although this isn’t too shocking anymore after the revelation that the Doctor is timelord #1. I mean, she’s not even a Timelord anymore – she’s something else. I understand some of the fans anger as this is a big change but when you think about, it really doesn’t change all that much. She’s still the same old doctor, flying around space and time having the same old adventures.
So all in all, I liked the finale. I feel aspects of it were a little rushed and overlooked but the twists were good (the cybermasters were sooo cool) and the performances were fantastic. Whittaker and Dhawan were phenomenal in their roles and I really hope he returns as the Master at some point, he’s too good to lose. One criticism I have which I think I share with everybody watching is; where on earth is Captain Jack?? It’s cruel of the showrunners to tease his return like that only for him not to show up when the Doctor most needed him. Hopefully he’ll make an appearance in the festive special, to crack the Doctor out of the Judoon prison. And I for one can’t wait.