So we’re finally here – the beginning of the end for both Peter Capaldi and showrunner Steven Moffat as we begin their final story arc before both leave for good this Christmas. And what an episode they’ve delivered to begin the endgame – not only do we have Missy centre stage once again but we also have the return of the (spoiler alert!) Mondasian Cybermen all the way back from the 1960s and the first multi-Master/Missy crossover ever.
The episode starts off firing on all cylinders with a regeneration tease, and a rather intriguing premise – namely, a 400-mile-long spaceship reversing away from a black hole, and Missy rather humorously taking over as the Doctor. After some light-hearted banter and another sly tease of the Doctor’s name by Moffat, the shooting of Bill was somewhat of a shock – especially with that large hole in her chest – even if there was little doubt we’d be seeing more of her later. It also made the flashback scene even more poignant – the conversation between the Doctor and Bill was wonderful, digging deeper into the Doctor’s relationship with Missy as well as a timely pondering of human mortality.
The pre-upgraded Cybermen with their concealed faces and robotic cries of pain were truly terrifying and succeeded in making the Cybermen scary again
Once we re-join Bill down in the hospital, the episode takes a very dark turn and is the creepiest Doctor Who has been for a long, long time. The pre-upgraded Cybermen with their concealed faces and robotic cries of pain were truly terrifying and succeeded in making the Cybermen scary again, truly pushing the boundaries of a teatime family TV programme. Moffat has always been a master at injecting some genuine horror into Doctor Who (the early Cybermen are reminiscent of his earlier Gas Mask Zombies, which truly spooked ten-year-old me), so the show will certainly suffer in the scare department once he departs.
The use of a black hole to slow down time at the bottom of the ship was a very clever conceit, enhanced further with the use of the television screen to get real time comparisons. However this did slow down the episode somewhat, and while it was necessary to show the passing of time in Bill’s monotonous life, I did find myself itching to get back to the quickfire wit of the Doctor, Missy and Nardole, who were side-lined for a bit too long.
Despite a mid-episode lull, ‘World Enough and Time’ did nevertheless build up to a wonderful crescendo at the end. The twist concerning the Master’s disguise was wonderfully played, and after a quick tease this episode it will be marvellous to truly see him in action with Missy next episode. Indeed this reveal as well as that of the Cybermen would have been far more effective if they weren’t promoted so heavily before, yet were still effective in conjunction with the many twists.
As for Bill, this is certainly the darkest turn the show has taken for a companion. As we saw with Clara last series, Doctor Who has a habit of backtracking and undoing the more terrible fates for leading companions, but if the rumours are true and this is how Bill exits then this is one of the boldest steps the show has taken in a long time.
There seems little chance of slowing down next week – with Masters, Cybermen and explosions galore, as well the start of a certain regeneration, we potentially have one of the biggest episodes in the show’s history!