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Erin Watches: The Doctor Falls July 3, 2017

Posted by Erin Ptah in Erin Watches.
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Watched the last episode of this season live when it aired, had so many thoughts that I had to go back and rewatch/liveblog, just to make sure I got them all in order.

Spoilers ahoy!


I kinda wish the look of the spaceship level had been something other than “pseudo-old-timey pastoral English farmland.” Although I guess “pseudo-old-timey Thailand rice paddy” would be harder on the budget. The numbers printed on the “sky” were a cool touch.

I love Simm calling the Doctor “my dear” — gender-neutralize that flirting — and their whole double-act about methods of death, with Missy’s cheery “any requests?”

“…everybody knows your stupid round face.” Simm: “Round?!” Missy: “It is, a little bit.” So much banter. SO much.

Great touch reconciling the different Cybermen backstories we’ve gotten over the years. Is their home planet Mondas, Telos, or…? Nope, it’s parallel evolution, every planet gets its own. (I wish they’d left out the US politics reference, though — we’re not on Earth or in the present day, it’s not relevant.)

More perfect banter: “Knock yourself out!” –[WHAP.]

They’re doing such a great job of using to full advantage the presence of two copies of the same person at different points in their personal timeline. Usually that just gets flubbed, or they kinda get treated as two different characters.

“I was secretly on your side all along, you silly sausage.” “Is that true?” “…Don’t spoil the moment.”

The handholding and all the emotional intensity was wonderfully shippy. As was Missy trying to leap to the Doctor’s rescue, even if CyberBill got there first.

Having Pearl Mackie playing in her own POV was really effective. They drew out the reveal longer than necessary — like, really, she even opened the mirror upside-down so they could have the music swell while she flips it over? Come on. We knew it was coming. But then we get to experience her perception of things, how dissonant everyone’s reactions are compared to what she’s actually doing.

(The episode doesn’t dwell on it, but there’s scathing subtext about how non-cyberized black people are treated on present-day Earth.)

“Jelly baby?” Yesss.

On first watch, I totally missed that “CyberBill can still cry” was set up as a plot point early on.

“I’m gonna be a woman. Fairly soon. Any tips?” Sometimes I think the writers are harping on the gender stuff too much — the Time Lord characters aren’t supposed to think gender is a big deal, so isn’t it OOC for them to bring it up every ten minutes? — but at least it’s done with snappy dialogue.

I like that the Master is basically having to deal with her own horny teenage self running around waggling his eyebrows at her.

Didn’t care for the random human hitting on Nardole. Felt like it was just thrown in to pad out the episode.

“Stand with me. It’s all I’ve ever wanted.” My heaaaart.

“I loved being you. Every second of it.” A surprisingly sweet bit of younger-self bonding. We’ve gotten them with Doctors, but never with a Master.

I like Bill’s little “you know how I’m usually all about women…?” bit. In-universe it’s a cute misdirect, gentle teasing between friends; for the audience it’s a meta-joke about shipping.

“It’s time to stand with him. It’s where we’ve always been going.” (a) yesssss, and (b) why does she go ahead and turn her back on herself? She knows what she’s like! She’s the one who just stabbed herself!

I’m disappointed we didn’t get to see Simm’s regeneration. Felt like a whole lot of Master-y buildup, and then it fizzled on every level — and in this case it’s not because something dramatic didn’t happen, they just had it happen offscreen.

The pacing with Heather’s appearance is weird. I would’ve gone with “Heather shows up, says it’ll be okay, triumphant music as she raises water!Bill out of the CyberBill body, relieved laughter, kiss.” Instead it’s “Heather shows up, Bill wonders what’s going to happen, kiss, turns out the thing already happened, triumphant music as she gives a post-hoc explanation.” Knocks some of the emotional wind out of it.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still better than if they hadn’t kissed at all! But it would’ve been so easy to arrange things so it happened at the emotional crescendo of the scene, instead of at a moment of “you don’t know what’s going on or how to feel, but at least they’re making out, eh?”

And it’s hardcore wonderful how they inverted the “angst and tragedy caused by lesbians dying” trope into “resurrection lesbians save the day.”

I confess I don’t understand how Twelve is so injured his body is trying to regenerate, and then he’s repressing the regeneration, but he’s not just…dying.

It is fascinating that they’re going all-out with having Twelve meet One. I’m so deeply curious what they’re going to do with him. There’s something specially delightful about how the whole concept of regeneration was invented so another actor could succeed Hartnell in the role without trying to duplicate Hartnell…and they ended up having to get an actor to duplicate Hartnell anyway, it was just pushed 50-odd years down the road.



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