12 Notable Moments From The Doctor Falls (Part 2)
Mark McCullough makes his choices from the final episode of Series 10.
6. The Backstabbing Master
There is a lot you can say about the Master’s final scene as the imagery, parallels and character development are exquisite. Foreshadowed twice earlier in the episode with Simm’s hazy memories of the circumstances of his regeneration, and in the Doctor questioning what the Master would die for. The latter is answered as the Doctor’s speech resonates with Missy causing her to make a stand against her biggest enemy: herself. This single moment represents the culmination of Missy’s character development this series, and incorporates themes introduced as early as Series Three of the revival. There’s a paradox involved too as Missy essentially creates herself, but the argument could be presented that she does so to help bring her to the point she’s at now, to finally stand with the Doctor, all she’s ever wanted.
From Simm’s perspective, he gets what he deserved with the delightful imagery of being stabbed in the back, a just desserts moment for his brutal betrayal of Bill last week. There’s also a culmination of his character arc here, the self-preservation side of him. In Series 3’s finale, we see him confront the Doctor and threaten to blow-up Earth, but ultimately doesn’t because that would involve killing himself. Yet here he kills Missy in a manner that prevents her from regenerating. Why does he change his mind? The answer is really quite simple, having recognised Missy’s redemption he no longer considers her as the Master and decides that he would rather die than become her.
Looking at where this leaves things, due to the memory loss when two incarnations of the Time Lords are together the Simm Master becomes Missy with a hazy recollection. The narrative earlier shows she has some recollections though, so logically she assumes the Doctor has left her for dead (not realising he himself died on the ship too), and develops an obsession with Twelve because of the impact his speech had on her. This revelation reshapes the character of Missy into an almost purgatory version of the Master, something which fits exceptionally well with the afterlife imagery of Series 8 and puts her character arc in a never-ending loop with the Twelfth Doctor’s.
When you think about it the similarities between Series 8 Doctor and Series 10 Missy are frightening. Which actually parallels Series 10 Doctor with Clara in that both help the respective Time Lords become better people, so Twelve is essentially taking on a Clara role here with Missy. There’s an argument to be put forward that the Master has some recollection of events so you could theorise that having seen her redemption, she actually decides that is what she wants, and facilitates the Doctor Clara meeting to initiate this?
5. The Doctor Falls
It’s at this point I’m going to have a little gripe at the episode’s title, due to the implications of the word ‘falls’. There’s negative associations with the idea of a fall, understandably it is used here in the context of death, but it’s hard to dissociate the idea of a fall from grace which does the Doctor here an injustice. This episode represents a coming to fruition of the sentiments echoed in Extremis about virtue being true only in a situation without hope, or hope of reward. In essence, it’s about doing the right thing in the face of adversity, making a stand. The Doctor himself says where he stands is where he falls, but there’s nothing negative about what happens, he goes out in a blaze of glory. He makes a stand when no one else will, and this perfectly encapsulates who he is. The scene itself is fantastic too, it was a joy to see Capaldi running through a forest blowing up Cybermen. Although I think the highest praise I can give it is this: I think if The Doctor Falls had been the end of Doctor Who, it would have been a send-off for the character of the Doctor that would have been befitting of the years and adventures he had been on. His ending perfectly encapsulated everything that makes character special and defines who he is. Calling that a fall doesn’t sit well with me, but if that’s my only criticism of this wonderful finale, that really says it all.
4. Bill’s Ending
Take a bow Steven Moffat, that’s all that really needs said here. Last week, I said that I had faith that he would avoid falling into that horrible trope against LGBT characters, it’s safe to say he proved me right, and then some. The ending he crafts for Bill is nothing short of perfection, when all hope appears lost as CyberBill cradles the dead Doctor in her arms. It is at this point that Heather from The Pilot makes her return to save Bill. The sheer out of the blueness of this twist genuinely had me grinning when I watched it safe in the knowledge that Bill got her happy ending. It’s not entirely out of the blue as there were two very subtle hints to this fact earlier in the episode. The first is the mirror and reflection imagery where Bill sees herself as a Cyberman, which can be seen as a call back to heather with the puddle in The Pilot. Also established in that episode was Heather’s ability to travel in time and space. The other potential hint comes from the Doctor’s final words hoping there are stars, a reference to the defect in Heather’s eye that director Rachel Talalay expertly shifts to shortly after. Bill’s ending is nothing short of what she deserves and represents a wonderful statement from the show in forms of the kiss between Bill and Heather. It’s true to Bill’s characterisation too as being a subversion of the shows tropes making the meta comment that the Doctor will always be back because he is needed (which can probably be extended to the Master), and the fact that she maintains that role of looking after the Doctor inverting the Doctor-companion relationship one last time.
3. The Companion Montage
As the Doctor is lying ‘dead’ in the TARDIS following Bill’s departure, we see a slither of regeneration energy appear on his forehead where Bill’s tear landed. It is at this point that the companion cameos come in via a montage of them calling for the Doctor. Initially this is restricted to just showing the current companions Bill and Nardole, but as the TARDIS powers up we travel down memory lane to the start of the revival. We see Rose, Martha, Donna, Jack, Vastra, Jenny, Sarah-Jane, Amy, Clara, River and finally Missy. Two of these are more notable than others, Missy because it is grouping her with the Doctor’s companions cementing her redemption and how much she means to him. Also notable was Clara, who the Doctor shouldn’t have been able to remember, yet does. My favourite theory behind this is the fact that regeneration energy could have fixed the Doctor’s memories. However, it does remain to be seen what this actually means, but it certainly opens the door for a return for one of the show’s best companions ever.
2. The Doctor Doesn’t Want to Change
I’ve heard a few comparisons between The Doctor Falls, and The End of Time. Obviously, there are some similarities: both feature the Simm Master, both are the adventure which causes the Doctor to regenerate, both feature cameos from previous companions, but most pertinently the fact that the Doctor’s regeneration is presented differently to the norm. In The End of Time, the idea of the Doctor not wanting to change is introduced here, but it is apparently for more egotistical reasons that what is presented here, and as such was quite divisive with the fans. Tennant was also able to hold off his regeneration for a bit as he embarked on his farewell tour, divisive for the same reason as before. Here Moffat uses that same concept and expands it, giving a reason that is much more likely to be well received by the fans. The revelation adds new weight to the concept of regeneration too by framing it as something painful and traumatic that the Doctor in this instance would choose to avoid it even if that cost him his life. Moffat has a wonderful ability to be able to reconcile divisive areas of the show without directly affecting the original material, it is my hope that he is able to do so here for The End of Time, because I genuinely love that episode and hope that more people will now be able to appreciate it.
Arguably Doctor Who’s worst kept secret was finally confirmed in the final scene of the episode which directly followed on from the opening of World Enough and Time. We re-join the Doctor in the snow as he is about to regenerate, but now we have context behind it and understandably there is more behind his exclamation of ‘Nooo’! We also learn that he is not alone wherever he is, and the other person present is also insistent on the fact that he doesn’t want to change, and the foolishness of the notion. As the Doctor introduces himself, the figure is revealed as none other than the First Doctor. The First Doctor replies echoing the Twelfth Doctor’s sentiment that he’s not just a Doctor, but the original Doctor. Obviously, this is truer for One, however it can also be said of Twelve because of the fact that he is the start of new regeneration cycle, so these two Doctor are in a sense the same corresponding number. The cliff-hanger perfectly sets up a multi-Doctor regeneration Christmas special that is sure to have fans feeling like big kids again come Christmas Eve.