Review: The Doctor Falls

I was tense mainly because the show’s track record with two-parters had been so poor. The episode was not flawless – in particular some dialogue was rushed and some reveals under-explained but…all the main cast got some great opportunities to shine.

Pearl Mackie was excellent again. Bill has repeatedly been under used as a character and given really shitty situations over and over but Mackie has given the character great depth and emotional range. In this episode split between her self-perception as herself and the reality that she is a cyberman, she managed both humour and pathos in a way that gave the role great humanity. Given that she had to compete with Michelle Gomez, John Simm and Peter Capaldi doing some tremendous speechifying, it is even more extraordinary that her performance stood out.

Much of the episode had a kind of twisted take on the post-apocalyptix zombie film but without zombies. On the next floor up from the industrial cyberman world we saw last episode is an agrarian level. The small number of farmers (apparently all the farms keep their kids in a single farm house) are menaced oon a regular basis by the most basic hospital-gown cybermen.

Into this setting come, the two versions of the Master (Harold Saxon & Missy), a wounded Doctor, Nardole and Bill-as-a-Cyberman. Things only get worse and more desperate from there as the episode gets bleaker and bleaker.

The ending…

Well, without spoiling things Bill’s deus-ex-machina salvation is both clever and trope subverting. It gives a nice end to her misused character but leaves open the possibility of a return.

Meanwhile the other ending…well fake out regenerations have become so over used that any tensions from them has gone. Even so, a very clever end.

 

 

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6 comments

  1. Scurra

    No, Moffat didn’t quite nail the landing, because there was too much to do – the Masters subplot in particular got short-shrift (although I think that he got the Simm Master more ‘right’ in about ten minutes than RTD managed in half-a-dozen complete episodes), and Nardole fizzled out a bit too.
    But it felt like an excellent ending to a generally downbeat albeit consistently watchable series this year, and I shall miss both Mackie and Capaldi badly. And yet I’m also looking forward to seeing what comes next; the reason Doctor Who has been one of my favourite shows for pretty much my whole life is that if you don’t like a particular style, well it’ll be entirely different next week.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. David Goldfarb

    More like 500 floors up rather than “the next”, wasn’t it? Which is how they managed to create more modern-looking Cybermen in what seemed like a short time: the time differential.

    Like

  3. Lurkertype

    Capaldi and Mackie were superb. The ending wasn’t completely DEM, it did call back. Lot of callbacks.

    You really could see how Missy and the Master are the same person. Those two need to work together more often.

    The last shot delighted me.

    Like

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