This week’s cold open is a bit of a doozie as far as cold opens go. We have been talking about and expecting Capaldi and Moffat to leave the Who-verse following season 10 for a while now. What wasn’t expected was that the second from the last episode would begin with the Doctor exiting the T.A.R.D.I.S. on a desolate icy landscape, looking worse for the wear, and immediately beginning the regeneration process.
The episode’s title, ‘World Enough and Time’ are a nod to one of Andrew Marvell’s metaphysical poems, titled ‘To his Coy Mistress.’ An all too fitting poem to accompany this episode. “Had we but world enough and time/This coyness, lady, were no crime” The entire poem has more than a few lines that mirror certain imagery sprinkled throughout this season. I love stuff like this and Moffat was always king of burying this stuff in subtext. Is it too soon to say I’ll miss him?
In the events leading up to that shocking cold open, the episode follows the Doc and gang to a ginormous colony ship in danger of being sucked into a nearby black hole. Throughout this season, the Doctor has tried to rehabilitate his rival/friend Missy, into coming over to the good guy’s side. On this outing, the Doc sits back in his T.A.R.D.I.S eating potato chips while monitoring Missy attempt to save the day under the moniker of Doctor Who. As usual, Michelle Gomez is a scene stealer, as she floats around the room sarcastically delivering false good-guy bravado through clenched teeth.
Moffat gives a master class in Doctor Who show-running through Missy’s dialogue, by pointing out Nardole and Bill as “comic relief and exposition” before continuing to lay out a blueprint of all the pieces necessary to create a Doctor Who episode. It got really Charlie Kaufman-esque, really fast. You can see Moffat throwing all the caution to the wind and time and space throughout this entire episode. Much like George Costanza you can tell Moffat intends to leave the room on a high note.
To add to the constant shocks that this episode is chock full of, Bill is shot center mass within the first ten minutes. Like, not by a pea-shooter either. This lunatic bastard of a gun leaves a hole in her chest the size of a basketball. Immediately after, she is carried off by some creepy Jacob’s Ladder looking dudes in hospital robes in order to be “repaired.” Before she is wheeled off, the Doc imprints a memory in her subconscious instructing her, “wait for me.”
Alarm bells are ringing! In Doctor Who history, I can tell ya, the waiting is the hardest part. This is Especially true in Moffat episodes. Both Amy Pond and Rory were subject to waiting for the Doctor in classic episodes, and it always ended in the most tear-jerking and tragic ways possible. Clearly, this is Moffat giving us one more of these emotional up your nose with a rubber hose moments. I gotta say I half commend him and half hate him for this one; he knows what he is doing and aiming for the feels.
The Doctor, Nardole and Missy are at the end of the ship closest to the black hole, and Bill being taken to the opposite end. Timey wimey is being extra wibbly and wobbly, and causing time to move slowly where the Doc is and time to be sped up where Bill is. Meaning in the ten minutes it takes the Doc to formulate a plan, Bill has already waited a few years.
The classic version of one of Doctor Who’s most popular baddies makes a comeback after being gone for 51 years. That’s right you guys, the Mondasian Cybermen are back and entirely as creepy as ever. It isn’t just their chilling design and approach either. This episode takes its time building up to the reveal of these guys. Moffat incrementally reveals the famous baddies in various forms of their evolution throughout the episode. Those Jacob’s Ladder looking dudes are apparently a Cybermen’s first form, leading up to the final form that we see in the episode's last few seconds.
The last five minutes of this episode were the best I have seen on Doctor Who in a while. You're exposed to a quick succession of impactful reveals that will have your jaw locked in the down position. Seemingly all at once you discover, Bill has gone through the excruciating process of becoming a Cyberman, while repeating “I waited for you.” in that chilling trademark Cyberman tone. The friendly and Monty Python-esque character Mr. Razor is revealed to be The Master (John Simm) while Missy appears to go full on evil and takes her place beside The Master and the Cybermen.
A resounding “Wait. What?” is the right response to have to any and all of that.
In the past, we have seen different Doctors on separate timelines come together to fight a common enemy. But this is the absolute first time we have seen two Masters team up against one Doc. But with all the good guy schooling that the Doctor has dropped on Missy, is she really doing the evil thing again or is she just faking?
Time to start taking bets on who the Doc will regenerate as. I feel like the scene between Bill and the Doc in which he reveals his past “man crush” on The Master is going to be a factor. This is the first time a Time Lord has revealed details on sexual preference. Since we now know they apparently are into ladies and dudes, could this be a pre-cursor to the first regeneration into a female Doctor? I have a good feeling that signs are pointing to yes. Tilda Swinton, anyone?
This episode was one of the absolute best in a while. Moffat and Capaldi seem to be going on a completely lit level. This one will go down as one of the classics without a doubt. Next week’s final episode, ‘The Doctor Falls’ has set the groundwork for an epic finale that looks to finish off not only Moffat and Capaldi’s run but also all of your feelings.