The Doctor Who Regeneration Review is a weekly column cataloging all the times Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor nearly regenerates, or dies, in the latest episode of BBC America’s popular science fiction show. Since this is the
Scottish “cross” character’s final season — a fact the showrunners have enjoyed teasing in the promos — we decided to tease back. Most items are serious, some silly, and all measured with the Doctor’s ?.
Steven Moffat, the outgoing Doctor Who showrunner who has been helming the series since 2010, loves to recycle story lines and tropes on the regular. Certain episodes this season have proven this to be the case, especially this week’s penultimate “World Enough and Time,” which sees the dastardly return of the Mondasian Cybermen and the Master (John Simm). Yet it also includes a pivotal plot point last seen in the season eight finale “Death in Heaven.” In other words, a close (and human) confidant of the Doctor is transformed into one of the mindless Cybermen and used against him.
It’s also employed against the audience, to an extent, as the salvation of Bill is an easy emotional ploy meant to pull at the viewers’ heartstrings. And it works, though not nearly as well as the main aspect of the story established (and continued) by “World Enough and Time.” Taking a cue from writer and director Christopher Nolan’s science-heavy Interstellar, Moffat has concocted a plot in which time itself has become the enemy of the Doctor and his companions. Aboard a 400 mile-long ship teetering on the edge of a black hole, time moves far more slowly at one end than it does at the other.
As a result, the burgeoning civilization at the farthest end of the ship has plenty of time to seemingly create the Mondasian Cybermen — whose origins were largely bypassed in the 1966 serial “The Tenth Planet,” developed in the unproduced “Genesis of the Cyberman” series, and finally explored in the audiobook Spare Parts. Simm’s Master even name drops the “Genesis” title when he and his future self, Missy confront the Doctor and Nardole in the episode’s final scene, and it works beautifully as far as Doctor Who cliffhangers go. With his exit fast approaching, Moffat apparently wants to go out in a “timey-wimey” bang.