Doctor Who – ‘World Enough and Time’

Series 10, Episode 11, Part 1 of Finale

CONTAINS SPOILERS

The Doctor, Bill, Nardole… and Missy go to answer a distress call from a ship. Other than Missy coming along there is nothing unusual about that, but the events started in this episode are going to have massive consequences for all four of them.

There is a massive ship, and we can see through its windows there are fields in there! The ship is near a fiery black hole.

The TARDIS appears in the top part of the ship. Missy comes out and introduces herself as “Doctor Who”, followed by Bill and Nardole. The Doctor is in the TARDIS, munching crisps no less. The plan has been for Missy to be more like the Doctor, answering a random distress call and having some companions to work with her, the Doctor is there to supervise.

The Doctor and Missy deduct that the ship isn’t moving towards the black hole, it is moving away from it. Or at least it’s trying to, it’s moving extremely slowly.

A blue alien, Jorj, enters the room in a state of panic and holding a gun. He asks if anyone is human, and says some hostile invaders detect signs of human life and take the humans away. If they kill the human, the invaders won’t come. The Doctor comes out of the TARDIS to try to help, but Jorj ends up shooting Bill, leaving her with a big hole in her chest.

There is a flashback to the Doctor and Bill talking about his plan to test Missy. Bill thinks it is a bad idea, but asks the Doctor to promise he won’t end up getting her killed.

Some mysterious beings dressed like hospital patients but wearing plastic gloves and with their faces covered enter through the lift. They communicate by typing in a keypad which vocalises the text in a robotic monotone voice. They take Bill away, and say they will “repair” her, but they won’t return her to her friends. Before she is taken away, the Doctor leaves a message in Bill’s subconscious telling her to wait for him.

After talking with Jorj the TARDIS crew find out that the ship was on its way to pick colonists up, it only had a crew of 50 on board. But the ship was heading for the black hole, so 20 of the crew went to the bottom of the ship to try to reverse it. They never returned, and now there are thousands of life readings down there, and then the creatures started coming through the lift and took the remaining human crew away, leaving only Jorj. At first it’s thought the ship was invaded, but that doesn’t seem possible. Nothing could come out of a black hole after all.

Meanwhile, Bill wakes up on a hospital table. She sees a strange bearded man dressed in rags. She also sees a surgeon, who tells her a “full conversion wasn’t necessary”, but “will be, in time”.

Bill gets up and walks around the hospital, which seems very creepy and old fashioned. There are signs to a Conversion Theatre. Bill overhears a robotic voice saying “pain” over and over again. She finds a room with lots of the creatures which brought her to the hospital, and finds the one pressing the button for “pain”. Bill hides as a nurse enters. The nurse accuses the one saying “pain” of “making a fuss” and turns a dial. “That’s better, isn’t it?” she says. The creature stops saying “pain”, but it still pressing his keypad. Bill finds to her horror that the dial isn’t for administering medicine. It’s just volume control. Another creature is saying “Kill. Me.” over and over again.

Bill notices a destroyed, burned city out of the window and is almost attacked by one of the creatures, but the man in rags knocks the creature out. He introduces himself as Mr. Razor and takes Bill to his office. He explains to Bill that she is still on the ship, but on the bottom rather than the top. There is a TV screen which shows the Doctor, Missy and Nardole at the top of the ship, but the image appears to be frozen. Razor tells Bill that it is live, that is what is happening on the top of the ship right now.

Time is moving very slowly on the top of the ship, and very fast at the bottom. This is all because of the black hole. Gravity slows down time, the closer you are to the source of gravity the slower time will move. The original crew that went to the bottom of the ship are by now long dead, and the thousands of life signs are their descendants from generations later, while for the top of the ship only days have passed.

Razor points out that they have been watching The Doctor raise his eyebrow for a whole week. Bill remarks that she has been waiting down there for the Doctor for years. She’s always wanted to see outside the hospital, but her mechanical heart won’t last long outside of there. Razor takes her outside briefly, and she is shown a decaying world, where everyone is ill. By this point the ship and everything in it is old and falling apart. As Razor puts it, “Our world is rust, our air is engine fumes”. The way to survive is to evolve, but evolution takes too long. Everyone will have to be “upgraded” to become like the creatures. We see one of them pressing his keypad to say “Die. Me.” over and over again.

The Doctor, Missy and Nardole are seen on the TV screen to enter the lift. Razor tells Bill the lift comes out in the conversion theatre, and takes her there. They find partially upgraded people in there, and Bill soon discovers she has been betrayed. The surgeon and the nurse she encountered earlier are there, and tell her that she is to be fully converted. It’s also implied everyone who is converted has to be tricked to get in there in the first place. The surgeon tells Bill her heart unit won’t last, and the world is not made for flesh anymore, so that’s why they have to convert. Bill protests that the upgraded people are screaming in pain all the time they continue to live, so is it really worth it? The surgeon just tells Bill they have developed something to sort that problem out now. It won’t stop people feeling pain, but it will stop them caring about it.

The Doctor, Nardole and Missy get to the bottom of the ship. While the Doctor and Nardole go to investigate, Missy looks up information on the computer. She finds out that this ship isn’t from Earth, but from Mondas, Earth’s twin planet. Razor comes up behind her, and tells her has been looking forward to meeting her. He pulls a gun at her and tells her that the Doctor will never forgive her for what she did to his friend. Missy replies that she hasn’t done anything to his friend, but Razor tells her “Oh, but I’m afraid you did, a long time ago”.

While this is happening, the Doctor and Nardole are in the operating theatre, and they run into what the Doctor recognises as a Mondasian Cyberman! He asks the Cyberman about Bill Potts. The Cyberman runs a check on the name and concludes “I. Am. Bill. Potts.”

Razor literally unmasks himself, and he is the former incarnation of the Master! “Hello Missy. I’m the Master. I’m very worried about my future. Give us a kiss!”

Missy and The Master enter the operating theatre, and say that what they are witnessing is the beginning of the Mondasian Cybermen. The Bill-Cyberman says to the Doctor “I. Waited. For. You.”, and the last image of the episode is of Bill’s human eye shedding tears.

The episode opens with the TARDIS materialising in a snowy landscape, and the Doctor coming out and starting to regenerate. This doesn’t impact on the rest of the epsidoe, which takes place before, but it’s a huge teaser.

Missy introducing herself as “Doctor Who”, saying it is the Doctor’s real name, is obvious fan trolling with whether he is called The Doctor or Doctor Who.

She asks what the Doctor’s relationship is to Bill and Nardole. Does he call them assistants, companions, pets, snacks? Bill answers that he calls them his friends. Missy prefers to call them “disposables”, and refers to Bill as “exposition” and Nardole as “comic relief” , and that is kind of the purpose they fit as part of a TV series.

There were quite a few meta references in this episode actually. The Doctor calls the mission “our usual Saturday”, implying that most of their adventures take place on Saturdays, which from the TV audience’s point of view they do as it is broadcast on Saturday.

Missy says Time Lords are only friends with each other. I think she is kind of implying there that she wants the Doctor to herself. There is a lot said here about the Doctor and the Master/Missy’s relationship. The Doctor has been very forgiving of the Master/Missy’s past sins, much more than he has been of the sins of others, it has to be said. The two Timelords have a very deep bond, complicated given that they are also enemies.

The Doctor says he and the Master made a pact to see all the stars together, but the Master was too busy burning them to ever see anything. The Doctor considers the Master/Missy to be his oldest friend. Bill points out the Doctor has lots of friends, and frankly better ones, why is this one so special? The Doctor says it’s because Missy/the Master is the person who is most like him, and Bill sees this as the main reason. “So more than anything, you want her to be good?”.

The quite jokey conversations between the Doctor and Bill were spliced with Bill getting shot at the start of the episode, which was a good choice, as it made that moment all the harsher.

Jorj (Oliver Lansley) appears to be the same species as Dahh-Ren, who was seen in ‘Oxygen’. The Doctor becoming blind effected the events of the Monks trilogy, so ‘Oxygen’ turned out to be an important episode for the overall series 10 arc.

The creepy hospital was like something from horror movies, complete with the sinister Mad Scientist-like Surgeon (Paul Brightwell). The cold, cruel Nurse (Alison Lintott) was very like Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.

The dystopian look of the city with people living in poverty and the corrupt regime running it reminded me of the film version of Nineteen Eighty-Four starring John Hurt (who as Doctor Who fans will know played The War Doctor in the 50th Anniversary specials).

The costumes for the Cybermen from the classic series look dated and almost amusing  today, but this episode managed to change those flaws into something very affective. They used the costume based on the ’60s Cybermen to an advantage. That they don’t much look robotic but instead like mutilated humans works very much in its favour.

It’s explained partly as these Cybermen being the result of desperation from people in a dystopian world, using technology that was almost certainly of poor quality. That particular scene with the Cybermen’s only way of being able to let people know they are suffering being muted was horrifying. The Cyberman conversion is intended to be a cure for death, but many of the converts suffer so much they want to die, but can’t. A fate worse than death indeed.

The Cybermen have never really been that scary per se, the real horror is the thought of being converted into one of them, and that was very much achieved here. In fact, I’d say they also succeeded in making the Cybermen scary as themselves, as they were a very unsettling, eerie sight.

Bill’s dreadful fate had echoes with Oswin in ‘Asylum Of The Daleks’ who realises she has been converted into a Dalek.

Nicholas Briggs provides the voice of the Cybermen, and the emotionless, mechanical voice while still sounding somewhat human very much added to the quality of this episode.

John Simm as the Master and as his Fagin-like alter ego Razor was great in this episode. To be honest in previous episodes I wasn’t much of a fan of his incarnation of the Master, apart from when he was Prime Minister Harold Saxon, but in this episode he was excellent. I actually didn’t get that Razor was played by John Simm, but I DID get that he was the Master. I thought he was going to turn out to be a later incarnation after Missy.

At times the episode had a big budget movie feel, especially with the spaceship and the black hole. The musical score by Murray Gold helped make it feel very epic, though once it got to the bottom half of the ship it felt very claustrophobic, which was fitting given that people were trapped there. Rachel Talalay has been one of the best directors the series has had, and she did a great job with this episode.

‘World Enough And Time’ was a very good episode indeed, one of the darkest with all the tragedy and horror. The great way the black hole was used, not as an immediate danger but how it effected time on the ship, and indeed the Cybermen themselves both showed one of writer and outgoing showrunner Steven Moffat’s strengths, finding terrifying concepts in things which people often overlook. This was only the first of a two-part final as well, there is a lot more to come in the second part.

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