Doctor Who 10.11: World Enough and Time
The penultimate episode of series 10 of Doctor Who was quite frankly brilliant. From the opening seconds of World Enough and Time our expectations are flipped on their head - apparently early previews trimmed the opening credits so the first hints of Capaldi's regeneration were kept secret for longer than most other aspects of the episode but what a way to kick off. For a moment I thought we might be seeing a Two Doctors episode which set my mind running through all sorts of possibilities - I even started thinking that John Simm might even be the NEXT Doctor and not The Master.
Playing with time in so many different ways - and NONE of them really involving actual time travel in the TARDIS, the first of Moffat's last three episodes manages to do something new and exciting from the off. Flashbacks, flash forwards, and the whole idea of time moving at different speeds from the top to the bottom of the spaceship offered lots of interest.
I twigged pretty early on that Mr Razor wasn't the person he was portrayed to be - something that I would most likely have missed had the whole John Simm reveal not been spoiled by the BBC's own promotional trailer at the beginning of the series. Even so Simm's interaction with Pearl Mackie's Bill was first rate and brought with it quite a few chuckles. Talking of Bill - the moment when she was shot was truly shocking and surprising and one thing we didn't expect at all.
The same criticism of the promotional machine can be levelled at the heavy trailing of the old-fashioned Mondasian Cybermen - I can't help but wish that we didn't have so many hints that the patients would turn out to be the first conversions - by not knowing that the 60s designs would make a comeback the last five minutes could have been the biggest twist since Vader was revealed to be Luke's father in The Empire Strikes Back. It really felt that Missy's discovery that the ship they were on was from Mondas and not Earth was intended to be a huge shock but that fell short.
Despite the heavy signposting, Rachael Talalay's interpretation of Moffat's script is stunning - creepy and edgy in a way that we haven't seen in Doctor Who ever before. This was a unique experience and coupled with Murray Gold's fantastically understated soundtrack we have something that was properly disturbing.
One thing I did feel was that this might well be the first time since Steven Moffat took over as show runner that he truly had time to be a bit playful. The post-credits moment when Missy introduced herself as Doctor Who was a wonderful jab at fans who cringe at The Doctor being named in that way - it was also a great play on how the character's name evolved over the early years of the show. It feels that, without the weight of running the show on his shoulders, Moffat may well be taking the opportunity for his last work on the show to realise some of his Whovian fantasies.
Talking of Missy - despite her fleeting appearances throughout the series, this was the first time Michelle Gomez had a chance to shine and shine she certainly did. We'll be sorry to see her go - let's hope Chris Chibnall can change her mind. Her brief interaction with John Simm's Master was a joy to behold and I can't wait to see more of their relationship next week.
It's obviously hard to judge a single episode in a multi-part story, but I'd suggest that even with this caveat, World Enough and Time, is possibly the best episode that Steven Moffat has penned since Blink. It's just a shame that he's hit this high point so late on.
The trailer for next week looks like it might cram a fair bit more action in along with the much more modern take on the Cybermen. Not wanting to comment on a story that I haven't seen yet, I still feel a little disappointed that the 60s Mondasian Cybermen appear to be ending up with the exact same look as the parallel universe Nu-Who Cybus Industries Cybermen. I'm hoping that we'll get one last surprise with an appearance of the eighties design somewhere in there - they're definitely canon seeing as an eighties head appeared in Eccleston's first season.
Two episodes left, and it seems like we might be getting more of the regeneration next week... I'm not sure I'm ready for Peter Capaldi to go just yet.