Saturday, July 1, 2017

Hospital for Heroes: An Overanalysis of "World Enough and Time"

Nice job bringing back the original design, Moffat, but somebody forgot about the crotch flashlights
I've missed a whole chunk of the season on this blog, including what I call The Pyramid Trilogy, one of the weakest Moffat episodes in a while, a mediocre Gatiss episode, and the first episode of the new series to be written by a classic series writer, "The Eaters of Light."  Overall, the season has been pretty good.  Not as good as the other two seasons of the Capaldi era, but both of those seasons were just extraordinary.  Oh, and I guessed a major plot point.  I guessed, not only that Missy was in the vault, but that she was in there because the Doctor promised he would guard her if she was spared from execution.  The only thing I guessed wrong was that I guessed it was the Time Lords trying to execute her, but other than that I think I was pretty dead on with that.  Now, onto this week's episode.

I feel like I'm the only one with mixed feelings about this episode.  Not saying it wasn't better than an everyday old throw away like "The Eaters of Light," it was definitely a good episode, but I didn't get the thrill out of it that I thought I could have.  I largely blame this on the BBC announcing the episode's big surprises months ago.  Sure, if they hadn't said that the original Tenth Planet Cybermen were coming back, I would have guessed it halfway through.  It was hard to miss that design.  But they not only announced, before the season started, that John Simm would be returning as the Master, they made sure to tell us that it would be in this damn episode.  So I'm a little surprised to find that some people didn't see what was coming when John Simm removed his disguise.  That was a bit obvious to me.  I'm like "Well, I'm looking for John Simm to show up in this episode, this guy is vaguely the same height and weight as John Simm, sounds kind of like John Simm, and the Master did love disguises like this in the classic series.  That's probably John Simm in a bunch of makeup."  Sure enough, it came out that Brian Minchin wanted a twist pulled straight out of the classic series, and John Simm pulled off the dupe as well as Anthony Ainley ever did.  But Ainley used to have his name taken out of the credits sometimes to avoid spoiling the surprise.  The BBC made it blatantly obvious that this guy was John Simm, and if they hadn't made announcements about him, I never, ever would have guessed what was happening.

If you notice, in one scene where the Saxon Master is still in disguise, the music in the background is the same used in some of John Simm's other scenes as the Master during the 10th Doctor era.

I'm so glad that when they brought back the Tenth Planet Cybermen, they kept their bizarre speech patterns, because that's what I loved most about those Cybermen.  It's creepier than any Cybermen that have come since.  It also underscores the creepiness of Bill's death in the final scene as a twisted robotic voice informs the Doctor of who she is.  I think Bill is pretty clearly dead at this point, as there's never been anyone in any episode, or even any expanded universe materials, who has become a fully converted Cyberman and was brought back to human.  But of course, Moffat likes to kill off characters, but then give them some sort of weird, extended life like River being saved in the library and Clara having a TARDIS and some adventures with Me before she actually returns to her moment of death, and I imagine Bill will get something like that. Perhaps that's where Heather, the girl from "The Pilot," will come back in "The Doctor Falls," as everything in "The Pilot" pointed to the Cybermen being involved, and pointed towards her coming back, and we're running out of time for her to come back.

Some people I've been talking to have been saying that the Doctor has little connection to Bill and doesn't really care about her, and that he might have sacrificed her in a larger scheme to save Missy's soul.  I find this theory extremely suspect because I think we've seen plenty of signs this season that the Doctor cares about Bill.  I think he's going to be really torn up about Bill, seeing as how he lost Clara and River Song.  Moffat is getting pretty kill happy in that he's killed off two companions in a row, whereas there had only been one long-term companion before the Moffat era to die while traveling with the Doctor.  The 12th Doctor is officially the worst babysitter of any of the Doctors.

Why the hell is the Doctor regenerating at the beginning of the episode?  Obviously it takes pace at some point in the future.  The Doctor's hair is a lot longer than it is in the rest of the episode, suggesting it's very far off in the future for him.  But is this from the end of "The Doctor Falls"?  I think "World Enough and Time," "The Doctor Falls," and the Christmas special are all going to be a three part episode, and either that regeneration scene from the beginning of "World Enough and Time" won't actually come to pass until the end of the Christmas special, or else he's going to somehow begin regeneration in "The Doctor Falls," but not fully complete his regeneration until the end of the Christmas special, which has already been confirmed to be Capaldi's last episode.  That or it's all a fake out; this is the second time we've seen him "regenerate" this season, after all.

There's this one scene in the trailer from next week with the Doctor, the Master, and Missy all standing together on a clifftop pointing their screwdrivers (or in Missy's case, an umbrella) at the same target, which gives me hope that maybe the Doctor brings out the good in both of them, not just Missy.  It occurred to me that Moffat writes Missy more like an antihero than a true villain, and I wonder if this finale is actually going to end with Missy's redemption and transformation into full-on good guy...who's still an antihero.  Someone will inevitably reboot it in the past, because the Master is too good a villain to waste on redemption, but it would still be a great ending for the time being.

Well, we'll see today as we brace for Moffat's final season finale as showrunner.  I think this one could be a real doozy.  Until then:

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