It barely feels like yesterday that we were being introduced to Peter Capaldi’s stern but ultimately kind-hearted 12th Doctor, yet here we are reviewing his penultimate episode.
The Doctor Falls follows The Doctor as he takes a “last stand” of sorts against the Cyberman, trying to protect a group of children living on the same ship introduced as last week, and trying to save companion Bill, who is now a first generation Cyberman. He’s helped- sort of- in a Doctor Who first, by two versions of the Master- Michelle Gomez as Missy, and John Simm as The Master (again) and the ever lovable Nardole, who has proved to be a very capable companion this series.
The ending to the episode was a little disappointing; I’m not going to lie. I was hoping we’d get some idea of who the new Doctor may be, especially with the amount of times we got glimpses of regeneration energy. We have now a long wait until Christmas to find out the identity of the new Doctor, and you can read about our speculations of the new Doctor’s identity here. However, I am excited to find out how this “little adventure” between the 12th Doctor and the very first Doctor (played by David Bradley, who had played William Hartnell, the actual 1st Doctor, previously). This cliffhanger ultimately proves, though, that when it comes down to it, the TARDIS really does know the Doctor the best- she’s ignoring his requests to stop regenerating and show him what he was like before he did so (cough, cough, grumpy).
However, it was seemingly the last episode for a whole host of characters, including both versions of the Master, played by Michelle Gomez and John Simm, Pearl Mackie as Bill and Matt Lucas as Nardole. While both Bill and Nardole will be missed, we got a somewhat satisfying conclusion to their stories. Bill, much like Jenna Coleman’s Clara last series, became another entity of sorts and went off to travel the universe with Heather from the first episode of this series. This did seem a little like an ass pull, as we weren’t expecting it, but Bill seemed happy enough with this (even if she did believe The Doctor was dead). Nardole, meanwhile, was left to protect the remaining children on the solar farm, and his goodbye with the Doctor gave us one of the most heartwarming moments of the series as he says goodbye to the Doctor and Bill. In regards to their departures, though, I would like to ask that at least one of the Doctor’s companions in this new era gets a happy ending- i.e., no memory losses, getting trapped in alternate dimensions or becoming another entity- just once!
The episode also does a great job of showcasing Pearl Mackie’s Bill. We had already seen this, earlier in the series, with the three-parter fight against evil “monks,” as Bill was able to resist the Monks’ reprogramming. In this episode, she proves herself, fighting against the mind control of the Cyberman and ultimately sacrifices her human self to help in the fight against the Cyberman. Pearl Mackie outdoes herself as Bill realises that she’s the monster, there’s no way to stop this, and how she adjusts to this. She will be missed.
Peter Capaldi’s Doctor is one for making great speeches- including his amazing anti-war speech last series- and this episode did not disappoint, with Capaldi’s Doctor making a heartfelt plea to the Master(s) to stand with him for once. It’s sweet, spectacular and features A class acting from Capaldi. The speech helps to change the mind of Missy, who finally decides to the right thing and stand with the Doctor, killing John Simm’s version of the Master to allow for his regeneration into her. Although this ultimately backfires on Missy, it was nice to see her taking to heart all she’s learned this series and very much intending to do good. It also proves John Simm’s skill as the Master, as his rebuttal is both hilarious and Master-like as you can get.
I do have to admit there wasn’t much focus on the actual villains of the episode- the Cyberman- but we can’t blame them for that, as their appearance was overshadowed by the brilliant acting of Capaldi, Gomez and Simm. All in all, this was a great end to this series of Doctor Who, and whilst the ending was a little annoying, it does open up exciting possibilities for what looks to be an amazing final episode for Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor.