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[personal profile] circular_time
I'm mostly reconciled.

Still not 100% satisfied about Bill, but otherwise, good.

I appreciate the callbacks, although I don't know how well the classic ones worked for new Who fans.

Some were subtle. "I'm the Doctor. The original, you might say," from The Five Doctors. Missy and Asshole reminding him of past deaths— including ones they were responsible for (falling off the radio telescope), as well as mocking Seven's ignominious ending which Lie of the Land seemed to contradict.

Most of all, I appreciated the symmetry of Twelve expiring on the TARDIS floor after wearing himself out dealing with the old Cybermen, echoing the First Doctor's ending. In the Hartnell-Troughton transition, the TARDIS helped him through (back when it wasn't yet called regeneration; he just said the TARDIS renewed him). With Twelve, she's trying her best to do so again by taking him back to his earlier self. I'm sure that sequence was moving for Capaldi, to be right there where the first Doctor he grew up watching ended his time aboard the TARDIS.

Other callbacks were more obvious, like his defiant invocations of Mondas and Telos and Voga — and all the other clashing canon (Marinus, a nice touch, and I'm very glad Spare Parts was NOT retconned). And of course all the past companions saying "Doctor" is a callback to the ending of Logopolis, plus Missy butting in to encourage him to survive (a clever inversion of Androzani, where the image of Ainley!Master tells him to die).

It looks almost as though he's crossed back to the moment just before the First Doctor stumbles into his TARDIS and expires. Which will be interesting, although I can't quite remember where Ben and Polly are at this point. (Hope Anneke's watching.) Fun choice to try and have David Bradley back and let the First and Twelfth Doctor cross paths. I do wish Susan would get a moment... you never know... although I'm keenly aware that new Who fans may have a limited tolerance for nostalgia. (That's what Big Finish is for.)

I especially appreciated the Doctor's impassioned speech to Missy and the Asshole. Good solid Doctor stuff with a minimal amount of boasting about how awesome the Doctor is, a new Who habit which I find irritating.

I'm a little torn about the fact that he couldn't save Bill, but we can't have two Androzanis. Just like Fallible Five, sometimes he fails very badly. I wish he'd apologized to Bill for letting her down not once but three times (bullying her into coming, telling her to wait for him, promising her he'd fix her.) But the dynamic between them while she was Cyber-Bill was amazing, some of their best acting. I loved the fact that the Doctor respected Cyber-Bill and didn't waste her time with pity, only understanding.

Missy stabbing herself in the back in order to help the Doctor, and then getting shot in the back and laughing about it— I'm going to miss Gomez SO MUCH, but that was a fantastic twist and a fitting exit for her too. I hope we get her back with Big Finish. (I'm still not much taken with the Asshole, but I can see why he's a popular Master for New Who fans.)

It's not really important but: Nardole? I don't understand how his plot thread was resolved. If the Doctor and Bill didn't destroy all the Cybermen in their last battle, then sooner or later that little community of humans Nardole's looking after are going to be wiped out. Possibly a loose thread to be tied up later. Great final scenes (?) for Nardole, though; he was a likable character by the end.

Bill. I wanted her to wind up with Heather all along, and yeah, Heather swooping in to save her seemed like the only way out of this mess for her. So I'm happy with that. Delighted with her going off with Heather and their hands clasping as they step out into the stars. I'm not quite reconciled for two reasons.

One, both Bill AND Danny have been killed (sort of) and been Cybered, and they're both black. I know new Who chews up companions more often than the old days, but... that's not a great track record on a show whose regulars are almost invariably white.

Two, regardless of whether Bill is dead-or-not, she's still the first lesbian companion, and many of us have been afraid she'd follow in the tracks of all the other dead-lesbians on TV (their chances of death are higher than any other kind of character). Her getting shot was so absolutely predictable that "Bury your gays... ONLY KIDDING!" feels like someone saying "don't be so sensitive!" after saying something particularly and deliberately hurtful.

Besides that: I just mourn the fact that Bill's great adventures with the Doctor never... really happened, after they struck up such a great mentor/student dynamic at the beginning.

When Bill was introduced, the Doctor asked her whether she wanted the past or the future. My ears pricked when she picked "future." saying she wanted to know that people in the future would be happy. What a lovely answer! That felt like the show was turning over a new leaf, trying to recapture some of the joy that has been part of Doctor Who as much as the horror. I thought that would set the stage for the season.

It... didn't.

Bill's adventures were the Doctor were almost uniformly grim. Apart from her first episode and her first few minutes on the frozen Thames, she almost never got to enjoy anything beautiful, magical, wonderful, worth tagging along with the Doctor for. Almost never a chance to flash that gorgeous smile or bright personality. She got worn down and forced to endure hell (Oxygen, the Monk trilogy) and show how strong she was inside. Also, the Doctor was unusually lousy at keeping his companion safe.

I feel like Twelve never got to have much joy either, although there were some whimsical moments last season (guitar playing, dueling with spoons). But no wonder Peter Capaldi's tired: he's had an awful lot of depressing stories!

Still, it was a worthy exit story for all of them, even if I'm not entirely reconciled about the way Bill was treated over the course of this season.

I just hope Big Finish and new Who can find it in their hearts to give us more joy and levity in between the angst and betrayals and losses. A few magical wonderful worlds as well as grimdark dystopias. We've got enough of that in the real world.
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July 2017

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