Doctor Who #993: World Enough and Time

"Positive attitude will help with the horror to come."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Jun.24 2017.

IN THIS ONE... The Doctor tests Missy's goodness on a colony ship trapped in the grip of a black hole.

REVIEW: Aside from the regeneration teaser, World Enough and Time opens with an amusing enough adventure in which Missy plays at being the Doctor, going just a touch too meta with it, but might wonder if 1) she's actually going to be redeemed by the end of all this, and 2) whether Moffat is pushing the female Doctor agenda and using the first act as proof of concept for fans not yet on board with the idea. By this point, I feel so primed for it, it's going to be a letdown if the new Doctor is fitted with the same old equipment. Anyway. As presented, this adventure with a giant ship slowly backing away from a black hole at first seems like a fun romp that surely won't dovetail into the actual series finale. And then Bill gets shot through the middle of the chest and all bets are off. Like, what?!

We soon realize she's been partially cybernized, and trapped at the faster-moving end of the ship (because physics), she's forced to wait years(!) for the Doctor while watching telesnaps of the adventure she's just exited. This whole idea is an exciting one, and rich with metaphor too. Being with the Doctor is like living in the fast lane, all action and thrills. Not being with the Doctor (though ironically, time moves faster for her), is boring old drudge. The title then, is well chosen. If you don't know, it's from Andrew Marvell's "To My Coy Mistress" (so Missy), and is the 17th-Century version of YOLO. Because of the story structure, and time going by so fast, Bill does seem to under-emote her moments. She's not distraught enough early on, and then naturally falls into a sort of complacency as the Cyber-hospital becomes her new normal. On her journey is Razor, an odd type who gets all the funniest lines, and who turns out to be the Simm Master. Now that I know, I can't unsee it, but despite having seen John Simm in the Next Time trailer AND being well aware of the Master's attraction to disguises, I never spotted it until it was too late. Well done. And he keeps telling "clever lies" and putting on "clever disguises" that are transparent, essentially hiding in plain sight. (In my notes, I put down "Doctorish presence".) As Razor, he's always prophesying doom, but does so with comedy, undermining the fatalism with hope, and hope becomes an important theme in the next episode. He's also quite cruel, sending Bill to the conversion theater in time for the Doctor's arrival.

That the show would let a companion get turned into a Cybermen is shocking and excessively dark (I do wonder if the idea came from the Cyberman "tear" used in certain designs, and creating that image here). And Mondasian Cybermen too. The ol' sock-heads, which here is played for as much creep factor as is possible. The proto-Cybs with no eye or mouth holes. The button on top of their IV bags, for controlling volume, not pain killer. And all of them screaming in pain. We now know the lamp-like headpiece is for delivering pain relief (it'll also be a weapon). It's frankly disturbing. And while the body horror would be so no matter what, knowing that it's happened to Bill is almost unbearable. Truly, if there was a plot point that deserved an uncontroversial deus ex machina, it's this one. The episode left the Siskoid household very nervous indeed...

THEORIES: Keeping the Mondas thoughts for next time, but did anyone else note a tell-tale TARDIS hum in Razor's room? Nothing smacks of a disguised console, though there is a monitor and a lot of blinking parts as is from a gutted capsule...

REWATCHABILITY: High - While Moffat pushes a bit hard on meta-textual elements, the crazy twists, turns and revelations make this an exciting and scary ramp up to the series finale.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

"By this point, I feel so primed for it, it's going to be a letdown if the new Doctor is fitted with the same old equipment."

I will spoil that, at the end of next episode, the Doctor will indeed be fitted with the same old equipment. But I mean that in the most misleading way possible.

This was a great episode. Next one is even better.

Let's give Moffat some credit for coming up with a way for the Doctor to be separated from his TARDIS that is not strictly insurmountable, but comes with serious costs (i.e., it means abandoning everyone else for years). Let's also give Moffat some credit for a black hole that almost certainly takes the steam out of the Blinovitch limitation effect, thus two Masters can coexist and even touch without things going blooey. (Without Blinovitch, couldn't the Doctor cross his own time stream? Maybe, but I bet the black hole makes navigation all but impossible.)

Brendoon said...

AS soon as the "long ship pointing away from a black hole" was mentioned in this episode my eldest son expressed dismay. "Ohhhhh!!! That's my planned WHO-RPG adventure down the tubes" he said.

This tale was complete WHO-heaven though!
It's surely the highlight of the season: The fact I can't remember if it has a contender or not may suggest so.
A good two parter comes with storytelling luxuries...

Siskoid said...

My own Who RPG series managed to do The Vampires of Venice a year before it came out, so you gotta be quick!

 

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