I will miss Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor terribly but I liked this a lot! (Mostly) And I had a wonderful time livetweeting it along with other Who fans and watching everyone freak out in real time when the Big Cameos happened.
Some lists to summarize my thoughts, huge spoilers ahead obviously:
Sacha Dhawan is the absolute HIGHLIGHT of this episode, he deserves to go down as one of the best if not THE best Master in the show’s history.
The long LONG list of returning faces whose presence on set somehow did not leak to the media! Wow! Off the top of my head…. David Bradley, Sylvester McCoy, Peter Davidson, Colin Baker, a suspiciously un-aged Paul McGann, Katy Manning, Bonnie Langford, William Russell (I actually didn’t know he was still alive!) and Jo Martin!
What they did with the returning companions was wonderful! Better than I expected even! Both Ace and Tegan got to say goodbye to “their” Doctors, Ace got to smash up a Dalek with a baseball bat, just fabulous.
The callbacks! I never thought I’d see the day when Adric was mentioned by name in a modern-day Doctor Who episode.
Neither Dan or Kate died! Over the past few days Twitter has been insistent one of them would, but nope!
Both Jodie Whittaker and Mandip Gill really got to show off their acting chops here, especially in that last scene. I’m gonna miss Yaz terribly too… Unless she can return alongside the next, next Doctor maybe?
There was one very significant person absent from this episode: Ryan! He was mentioned but he should have been there, why wasn’t he?
On a similar note I feel like Freema Agyeman as Martha really ought to have been present in the final Companions scene too. I guess she’s the sole representative from her era whose character can convincingly return and who isn’t a sex offender, sigh.
I’m kind of bummed this episode didn’t even mention the Tegan/Nyssa romantic relationship that Russell T Davies established, although I suppose it didn’t de-canonise it either.
This episode definitely HAD a plot but for the life of me I couldn’t tell you exactly what it was. Still, who needs one in an episode like this?
This is my biggest complaint actually: there wasn’t a Doctor/Yaz kiss. I really, really thought there was going to be one. It would have made perfect sense. Some lovely things happened between them (see above image) but without a kiss the story just seems so unfinished somehow.
Oh wait, another Pro! Afterwards there was a trailer for the upcoming special and we finally got our first look at Ncuti Gatwa’s Doctor.
Yesterday #SachaOurMaster was trending all over Twitter for Sacha Dhawan. The Radio Times even reported on it.
Which is good except, what happened wasn’t a criticism. It was this:
Which is all sorts of wrong (Sacha Dhawan is not black, for a start) and also, y’know, racist and homophobic. So I’m very glad the fandom rallied around Sacha but I wish the British media paid more attention to how much shit anyone who has the audacity to be Not A Straight White Male in Doctor Who gets. Because jeez… one look at Outpost Gallifrey or whatever the place is called now (I always forget) and it’s right there in your face.
You’d think more people would take Doctor Who’s messages and mottos to heart, but they so rarely seem to.
Sigh, anyway, Dhawan is a wonderful Master and a class act and neither he nor any of the DW cast deserve this rubbish. There is at least a nice thread of praise for him here:
Hey! Less than 24 hours to go until the Doctor Who season finale! Time to throw out my final theory on Brendan’s identity, I guess.
I think… he’s the Timeless Child. But, more importantly, the Timeless Child itself is some sort of child sacrifice the rest of Gallifrey gave up, experimented upon, anything of that nature. When the Master speaks about it he sounds furious, like he’s talking about an atrocity. (And this is the guy who, you know, has committed several.)
They lied to us… the founding fathers of Gallifrey. Everything we were told was a lie. We are not who we think, you or I. The whole existence of our species… built on the lie of the timeless child.
So think The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas, the famous short story about a nation which is only prosperous because a small child is kept in a state of misery. (The episode The Beast Below has elements of this too, so…) Maybe Gallifrey’s the same, a whole world built on someone’s else’s pain. My favourite theory I’ve heard so far regarding this is that Brendan is linked in some way to regeneration, or perhaps is even the reason Time Lords regenerate.
Who knows, maybe I’m wrong! Maybe Brendan is the Lone Cyberman in a previous life or is some other version of the Doctor even, he could be anything at this point. But you know, we heard about the Timeless Child, here’s a incredibly mysterious character we first meet as a child…
Bonus round: “Brendan” apparently means “Prince” or “King.” Appropriate for a buncha people who call themselves Time Lords, right?
I haven’t really written much about Doctor Who for ages and I dunno why, I think just… I still appreciate it very much but it doesn’t quite grab me as much as it used to? That’s not a bad thing, fandom naturally has ups and downs. But hey, THAT TWIST! I was gawping at the screen. Doctor Who NEVER manages to keep things like that a secret! And now this new season seems like it’ll boost things up a notch plot-wise. I miss the big, ridiculous season-long arcs, even when they made no sense.
(are you ready for the THAT TWIST?)
Sacha Dhawan is playing not some random agent but The Master, and this is extra pleasing to me because we’ve seen him before in An Adventure In Space And Time, playing Waris Hussain. (This now makes him the second person from AAISAT to play a Time Lord in the main show, after David Bradley.) So yeah, really happy to see that! And so mad I didn’t put the clues to his identity together in the episode because there were loads of them.
The only thing I didn’t like about Simm’s return in World Enough And Time is that “Mr. Razor” isn’t some anagram of “Master”. I mean, yeah, they probably already had all the anagrams and variations used up in Classic Who, but it would’ve been so great.
I looked up what Razor Means and Its An Onld english word for a knife called Seax witch later translates to Saxon.
I’m beginning to suspect that you can defeat the master with some distracting word puzzles.
Steven Moffat: time lords are the most civilised civilisation in the galaxy, they’re billions of years beyond humanity’s petty obsession with gender and it’s associated stereotypes.
Steven Moffat: *turns the master into a misogynistic arsehole, who fixates and obsesses over gender for the entirety of THE VERY SAME STORY*
Steven Moffat: I am Progressive Person™
The Master has always been sexist. In Classic Who. In RTD Who. Missy’s basically the first time the character isn’t.
In Davies’ first Master story, for example, the Master laments that he was “Killed by an insect. A girl. How inappropriate.” Because getting killed by a woman is more shameful, somehow, in the sexist PoV.
Personally, I’m all for using a historically misogynistic character as an embodiment of the sexist/transphobic side of the fandom opposed to gender change in the show, particularly in a story that’s otherwise all for gender change and femininity as the future.
Wait, I’m sorry, is OP attempting to read the Master as an authorial mouthpiece who expresses the moral and political views of the show in contrast with the Doctor?
No, they’re saying it doesn’t make sense for a person from a background without gender roles to discriminate based on gender.
Sure, but it’s still 1) predicated on the assumption that the Master reflects Time Lord values and 2) ignores Bill undercutting the Doctor’s nice speech about the Time Lords by pointing out that they still call themselves lords.
Why would the Master even need to believe in gender to be misogynistic?
He uses misogyny to hurt people, the same way he used racist imagery to hurt Martha’s family. Of course the idea that he thinks a different colour or gender of hairless ape is inferior to another is absurd – they’re all laughably pathetic. But he knows that these prejudices can effectively and enjoyably inflict pain and express power – for the Master (as for many bigots, whether they admit it or not), that’s the entire point.
So the Master’s basically the Time Lord equivalent of a Reddit troll?