Saturday, July 1, 2017

Doctor Who--"The Doctor Falls"

      “The Doctor Falls” is the finale for the tenth series of Doctor Who. The series has been uneven, with a few highs, but mostly lows. Showrunner Steven Moffat appears to be running out of steam. As excited as I was for the writer of 'The Girl in the Fireplace” and “Blink” to take the reins seven years ago, I am equally grateful he is surrendering control to Chris Chibnall after this year's Christmas special. Does Moffat create a solid, last series finale before he goes out? Like most of the series, it is a mixed bag.
     The episode begins with the Doctor at the mercy of the Master, Missy, and Cyber Bill. The army of Cybermen are hunting down all humans and converting them to Cybermen. The doctor managed to sabotage the hunt by reprogramming the Cybermen to hunt beings with two hearts as well as one, so they all must flee. Cyber bill saves the Doctor from a hostile Cybermen attack, thereby proving she is still in control of herself. Nardole comes to everyone's rescue in a shuttle.
      They all wind up on a rural farm where a spinster is holed up with a bunch of children. The Cybermen are especially interested in children. As the Master puts it, because 'there are less parts to throw away.” Cybermen attacks have been sporadic, but when the master and Missy open a hidden portal, advanced Cybermen learn where the children are. Our heroes must prepare a defense for what looks to be a hopeless battle. Nardole tapping into a power source at the bottom of the ship is the only bright spot. The doctor's plea to the Master and Missy to stand with him go unheeded as the two depart. The Doctor plans to ignite fuel lines, killing as many Cybrmen as possible, to buy time for Nardole to escape with the children. The Doctor does not expect to survive. Cyber Bill no longer wants to live, so she joins him.
      All that sounds excitingly tense, and it is. But the emotional elements, which are the most important aspects of any story, fizzle out for me. Just before escaping, Missy changes her mind about helping the Doctor, but is killed by the Master because he cannot stand the thought of even a future incarnation of himself aiding the Doctor. Missy dies with the doctor believing she has betrayed him. The measure of one's character is what is done when no one can see, but Missy's redemption is overshadowed by the doctor never knowing he succeeded in reforming her. That is a bitter pill to swallow since the Doctor's optimism in helping Missy was a running theme throughout the series. 
     There is also Bill's turmoil of being trapped with her emotion intact inside a Cybrmen. In the end, she becomes a water alien and flies off with heather from the first episode. They leave the dying Doctor in his TARDIS. So he does not learn Bill's fate. Not to mention Nardole will be forever hunted by Cybermen with no means of escape. What a rough experience. No wonder he resists regenerating with all that on his mind. But then he encounters the First Doctor. We shall see what that is all about on Christmas.
    “The Doctor Falls” feels smaller than a series finale should. There is not as much action with the Cybermen as I would like. The ending is a serious downer in just about every respect. Yes, bill gets a happy ending, but it is strange and overly convenient for heather to show up, even if it was Bill's tears that attracted her there. Bill and the Doctor do enjoy some nice moments when he helps hr adjust to her new reality as Cyber Bill, but I was hoping for more all around. “The Doctor falls” I good, but it just does not deliver like series finale should.
      Rating: *** (out of 5)

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