Farewell Forever, Bill Potts. I'll See You Again Tomorrow Morning.
Five hundred and thirty days ago, I set foot on the Time Treadmill and watched both the original unaired version of An Unearthly Child and then the version that was first broadcast on November 23, 1963. Since that day I have walked almost 1,894 miles on the treadmill and have taken over 3.6 million steps. I lost close to seventy pounds of fat and put back on about ten pounds of muscle, lost nearly eight inches in my waist, and have now (with one last exception) watched every single episode of Doctor Who ever broadcast -- including reconstructions of the 97 currently-missing episodes. Tomorrow morning I will cross the finish line when I view Twice Upon a Time. Today I watched the two part story that wraps up the storylines for both Bill Potts and Nardole, not to mention Missy.
So let's talk about that.
World Enough and Time
(TARDIS Data Core Recap)
The Doctor decides to take Missy on a trial run to see if she really is reformed. He picks a distress signal from deep space, and then sends Missy (along with Bill and Nardole) to go Save the Day. It goes badly.
I absolutely love the setting for this story - a four hundred mile long colony ship, which has run smack into the gravity well of a black hole. Due to the extreme gravity, the nose of the ship (where our heroes arrive) is experience time at a much slower speed than the tail end. It is all perception, of course, so it's not like they feel the effect of the time differential. But when Bill is unexpectedly shot through the heart, and then taken to the back end of the ship for surgery to be saved, it creates a circumstance in which Bill must wait a full ten years for the Doctor to arrive to save her.
Unfortunately, before the Doctor gets there Bill is turned into an original Mondasian Cyberman. Also: the man who has befriended her for the past decade turns out to be the Master. - the John Simm version last seen being carted off to Gallifrey in The End of Time Oops.
This is such a great story, and the slow reveal of the origins of the Cybermen is creepy as hell. I adore the very original Tenth Planet Cybermen design, especially their very unique speech pattern. It was just briliant to see them faithfully on screen again, and heartbreaking to see CyberBillPotts.
Holy cow, what an excellent episode with a magnificent cliffhanger.
The Doctor Falls
TARDIS Data Core recap)
And now, the payoff for the entire season and the summation of the Twelfth Doctor's entire story arc. Because of the time dilation, it's not just a matter of taking an elevator back to the front of the ship. The further they go, the more time the rapidly-evolving Cybermen have to figure out how to stop them. Most of the story takes place about halfway along, on an agricultural deck that seems like a small farming village in the English countryside. The Doctor and Nardole take it upon themselves to defend the community there against the encrouching Cybermen, while CyberBillPotts slowly begins to understand what has happened to her. Meanwhile, the Master and Missy go round and round with each other and are deliciously evil.
As the Doctor prepares to make a final stand, he tries to convince the Master and Missy to stand with him, in this epic speech:
I'm going to be dead in a few hours, so before I go, let's have this out, you and me, once and for all. Winning? Is that what you think it's about? I'm not trying to win. I'm not doing this because I want to beat someone, or because I hate someone, or because, because I want to blame someone. It's not because it's fun and God knows it's not because it's easy. It's not even because it works, because it hardly ever does. I do what I do, because it's right! Because it's decent! And above all, it's kind. It's just that. Just kind. If I run away today, good people will die. If I stand and fight, some of them might live. Maybe not many, maybe not for long. Hey, you know, maybe there's no point in any of this at all, but it's the best I can do, so I'm going to do it. And I will stand here doing it till it kills me. You're going to die too, some day. How will that be? Have you thought about it? What would you die for? Who I am is where I stand. Where I stand, is where I fall. Stand with me. These people are terrified. Maybe we can help, a little. Why not, just at the end, just be kind?
It is a fantastic moment that perfectly summarizes everything I had ever hoped for from Peter Capaldi as the Doctor. It's only been a year, but I had forgotten hust how great this episode is. For me, Bill's final story resolution (which I will get to in a bit) completely overshadowed all of the awesome the first time around. Here, watching it again this morning, I was riveted.
Of course the Master and Missy don't buy into the noble cause, they decide to run away. Except Missy stabs the Master in the back (thus triggering the regeneration that will become her), and then the Master shoots Missy in the back and apparently short circuits all future regenerations. It is a beautifully fitting moment.
The Doctor convinces Nardole to rescue the survivors in the community and take them to a higher deck while he blows up the entire level and destroys the Cybermen. At the end, it's just the Doctor lying lifeless on the smoking ground, with CyberBillPotts grieving over him.
Grr, and then.
The magical space girlfriend from The Pilot shows up, changes Bill from a Cyberman into a magical space person herself, the two of them magically take the Doctor back to his TARDIS, and then the two of them magically fly off to see the universe together.
You know, exactly like how at the end of the previous season the dying Clara was saved by the magical immortal girlfriend, and then the two of them left the Doctor behind while they magically flew off to see the universe together.
Really, Steven Moffat? Really?!?
I hate this ending for Bill so much it makes me angry. But I've had a year to get over it now, and thankfully it left me able to thoroughly enjoy absolutely everthing else about the story. This is, like, 99% a fantastic story that stands as a perfect summation for everything the Doctor should be - doing the right thing because it is right, doing the kind thing because it is kind, without hope, without witness, without reward. I just wish Moffat hadn't gotten so lazy just at the last moment.
So here we are. The Twelfth Doctor's regeneration has started, he doesn't want to change, and he finds himself face to face with the First Doctor in the final moments of The Tenth Planet about to go through his first regeneration. Sixty more minutes of viewing, and I am done with Phase One of this ridiculous project. Thank you, my dear imaginary readers, for coming along this journey wth me. Tomorrow I will have video from my final steps and will write a brief post. Tuesday I will write a longer summation of the entire project. Wednesday I will fly to Las Vegas and celebrate like a mo-fo.
I'll catch you in the morning.
Companion(s): Bill Potts, Nardole
Episode(s): World Enough and Time / The Doctor Falls
Steps Walked: 14,512 today, 3,622,646 total
Distance Walked: 7.02 miles today, 1,893.78 miles total
Push-ups Completed: 0 today, 6,747 total
Sit-ups Completed: 0 today, 1,029 total
Weight: 247.54 lbs (five day moving average), net change -59.76 lbs